Whether you don’t want to look like a novice or just want to lay down the law on your fellow smokers, here are some common bad practices that go by unnoticed too often.
This seems like a natural thing to do for most novice smokers. You might get lucky and have everything go smoothly. But in the worst case scenario, the person who rolled your stick went a little glue-happy with it and you’ll end up ripping a part of the wrapper right off. Almost as bad, but more subtle, your premature peel causes micro-tears in the wrapper that aren’t easily visible. As your smoke rolls on this can cause all sorts of problems. The wrapper can split more and start to unravel, leak smoke out of the tears, or worse yet, explode just when you were getting to the sweet spot of the cigar. Avoiding all of this is simple. Wait until your burn line is about an inch away from the band. At this point, smoking will have warmed up the glue enough to peel it off without massacring your smoke.
Some smokers can get a little hasty when it comes to clipping the cap. They then proceed to fight with the cigar for the length of the smoke, shooting down any chance at relaxation and reflection. This vital step should not be rushed, as it will have a major impact on your smoking experience. Take note of where the cap ends, and cut above that line. You only need to slice off a small amount, just enough to get the draw that you want. If you’re using a punch, remember that it’s more of a twisting motion than pushing in. Pushing too hard on it usually results in a cracked cap, which will give you a leaky draw.
This one applies mostly to those brave enough to take on the strongest of cigars, say the Joya de Nicaragua Antano 1970. If you’re not sure of your nicotine tolerance or are just plain afraid of getting “cigar sickness,” it’s highly recommended that you eat a big meal before smoking. If you do end up turning green and hugging your old porcelain friend, there are a few things you can try to mitigate the chance of you body jettisoning your insides. Stop smoking immediately; it’s only going to get worse. Try to get some fresh air. Hydrate. If you can stomach some food, try to eat a little. Some smokers have also claimed that having something sugary can help get you back to normal quickly. This may be folklore, but it’s worth a try.
If you’ve been following our blog, then you’ve heard us say it before. In fact, maybe we’re starting to sound like your dad. But it bears repeating. It’s like many other things we do in life: eating without tasting, conversing without listening, etc. I’m not about to go on a rant about mindfulness and yoga. But if you’re not going to pay attention to that stick you just paid $10 for, then what’s the point? In my experience, the more you pay attention, the more flavor you find. I always get the most out of my cigars when I’m doing the reviews because it’s just me and the cigar. No distractions.
Sometimes people hear that “toasting” the foot before officially lighting their cigar is a good idea. And it is. Just try not to go at it with the delicacy of “Fireball” from The Running Man. You only need to evenly char the foot, getting a thin, black ring around the wrapper. This will give you a much better chance of an even burn. Another problem commonly seen is charring the wrapper on the body of the stick. This happens when smokers dip the cigar downward when trying to light it. Carelessly heating the wrapper like this can affect the flavor and burn. You want to keep the oils in the tobacco intact until it’s their turn to ignite. Keep the cigar parallel to the floor and the lighter at a 45 degree angle for best results.
As creatures of habit, it’s completely natural for us to find our favorites and fall into a routine of pleasant, but monotonous smoking without really noticing. That’s why I’m here to close the lid on your humidor and direct your eyeballs beyond the horizon. I’m not saying you need to abandon your dearly held favorites, far from it. You probably smoked a lot of dog rockets to get to that one stick that does it for you, and that’s a notch in your belt as a brother or sister of the leaf. However, just as there is an endless amount of new beers, liquors, movies, shows, music, art, and dental floss to fall in love with, so it is in the world of tobacco. Your next favorite blend could be just one smoke away. If you want to dive head first into this rabbit hole, the fastest way is to start trying some samplers. Sure you might not love every smoke in a variety pack, but it’s a small price to pay for the swiftness with which your palete will evolve and the excitement of trying new things.