Picking a cigar:
Pick the color wrapper you prefer, dark or light.
Gently feel the cigar between your fingers (don't roll it because that
could cause the wrapper to crack) to see if it's too moist or too dry.
Inspect the construction of the cigar to insure there are no cracks in
the wrapper and the cap is in good condition. While some cigar smokers
like to hold the cigar up to their nose and sniff the product, others
find this distasteful when they see someone put a cigar up to their nose
and then put it back in the box. If you must smell the tobacco, just
hold your nose 12 inches over the box of opened cigars and take a breath,
this should be sufficient for you to determine the bouquet of the cigar
and it will cause fewer problems for other customers.
Cutting a cigar:
Many feel that using a guillotine type cigar cutter
or cigar scissors is the most effective way to cut a premium cigar. Be
careful not to cut past the cap of the cigar. Besides a guillotine type
cutter, some smokers use a sharp knife, a cigar punch, a V cutter and
some even use their teeth. Perhaps the most difficult cutting instrument
to use is the cigar scissors which requires practice, a steady hand and
a good eye.
Lighting a cigar:
The foot, or tip of the cigar should be started by
using a long wooden cigar match or a butane lighter. Avoid candles,
paper matches, a stove and lighters that use lighter fluid (naphtha)
because the chemicals and odors can affect the taste of the tobacco.
When using a match, wait until the sulfur burns off before lighting the
cigar. The ideal instrument is a butane lighter.
Start lighting a cigar by holding it at a 45-degree angle over the
flame, about 3-4 inches from the tip of the cigar (depending on the
height of the flame you're using) and rotate the cigar until the foot
begins to ignite. Never letting the flame touch the cigar, slowly puff
on the cigar while rotating it around the flame.
Take a look at the foot and make sure the cigar is burning evenly. To
insure a proper light you can gently blow on the foot to insure a
complete lighting. Once the cigar is lighted let it sit for a minute as
the short delay will allow the freshly lighted cigar to stabilize.
Letting the ash burn:
Most premium handmade cigars (those costing from $3
to $30 each) will hold a very long ash before falling off. The ash on
cheaper cigars tends to flake easily and fall off more frequently.
Properly grown and maintained cigar tobacco will have a whiter ash than
the sometimes very gray ash produced on lower quality cigars. While some
smokers like to see how long the ash on a cigar can grow before falling
off by itself--keep in mind when in a public place where cigar smoking
is permitted--or at a party, you don't want cigar ashes to fall on your
clothes, a floor, or a rug. It's always wise as you see the ash starting
to gain length to gently tap it off.
Keeping the cigar band on or off:
It's mostly a personal decision when opting whether
to take a cigar band off or leave it on while smoking ones favorite
cigar. Some say that leaving the band on promotes conversation among
cigar smokers, while others say it's a showy thing to do that shows a
lack of proper cigar etiquette. If you do decide to remove the cigar
band make sure you let the cigar heat up before taking it off as the
heat from the cigar will help loosen the glue that holds the band on.
Remember too, that taking the band off some brands of Cuban cigars (even
after heating), like the Montecristo, is very difficult and can result
in damage to the cigar wrapper.
Relighting and putting a cigar out:
Perhaps one of the most overlooked aspects of cigar
smoking is relighting an extinguishing cigars. On the subject of
relighting, cigars by nature will go out if not puffed on every few
minutes, so relighting a fresh cigar isn't a problem. While some contend
you can save a partially smoked cigar for more than 24 hours, it's best
to avoid relighting a cigar that hasn't been smoked in more than 2 hours.
When relighting a cigar hold the flame in front of the foot and blow out
to help expel any old gases or ash that may have become trapped in the
cigar. After that step, follow standard lighting procedures. To
extinguish a cigar, just let it go out by itself in an ashtray. Stubbing-out
a cigar produces a stale odor that can linger in a room. Once you're
sure your cigar is out dispose of it in a safe manner.