The Three Aspects Of Cigar Construction
The construction of a cigar includes the three main aspects that are usually observed during the tasting of a cigar, the draw, the combustion and the ash.
It is easier to observe if a cigar has a bad draw than to identify some particular organoleptic characteristics through retronasal olfaction. However, a good tasting experience is mainly driven by the latter. Such qualities can be affected by the mechanics, although, we will see below that there is very little correlation between the mechanics and the presence/absence of flavours in a cigar.
The draw should allow air to pass through the cigar with the right amount of resistance. Too little resistance may cause the cigar to become too hot. A slow pace while smoking is probably the only behaviour we can control to avoid any unpleasant consequences.
Too much resistance can spoil the smoking experience, even if the cigar’s flavours are not affected. It is often sufficient to massage the cigar in the areas where it’s possible to feel that the obstruction is located. The more love in the massage, the greater the chance you will not be totally disappointed.
Some people call this the burn. It’s how long a cigar remains lit. From a tasting perspective, the cigar should remain lit for as long as possible.
The relighting of a cigar, unless carefully done while the cigar is still warm, is not recommended. In fact, relighting triggers a smoke affected by residues of the distillation that have condensed in the remaining portion of the cigar. This generates more nicotine and potentially off flavours.
One thing that you can do, whether the cigar needs to be relit or not is purging. When you note that some off flavours replace the more pleasant ones, while the cigar is lit or being lit, blow outwards through the cigar repeatedly. Basically, this is the contrary of what you do when you draw smoke from the cigar into your mouth.
There is no guarantee that the off-flavours will totally disappear, but it’s always good to give the cigar another chance. This can be precautionary as well, you don’t need to wait for the unpleasant flavours to arrive in order to purge your cigar.
The golden rule is to smoke slowly. Generally speaking, the smaller the gauge, the slower you need to smoke. There is an acceleration effect in the flow of air which naturally speeds up the combustion and raises the temperature level. Therefore, it’s important to adjust the distance between the puffs to the cigar’s own pace of combustion.
Finally, it is important to remember that a good burn depends on many factors. These include the soil, the tobacco processing, the quality of the leaves, the blend and the rolling of the cigar.
The ash is the unburnt part of the mineral content of tobacco. The darker the ash, the less complete the combustion is. The more the cigar contains tobacco with multiple constituents, the more difficult it will be to complete the combustion.
Holding the ash, as far as you can, attach it to the burning ember. This helps to moderate the combustion temperature. The longer the ash, the less oxygen that reaches the burning end of the cigar, which in turn reduces the burning temperature and cools the smoke. Pleasant flavours find a colder environment better for combustion, this is important to remember if you want to enjoy all the flavours a cigar has to offer.