Cigar purging is the subject of a lot of internet controversy, which happens to be my least favorite kind of controversy. I think that in a lot of ways, cigar smoking is highly subjective. I think there’s no definite right or wrong way to smoke a cigar, though tons of people would tell you otherwise. That being said, here’s a little bit of information on the act of purging a cigar.
Purging a cigar involves blowing air into it until all the cold smoke comes out of the foot. There are a few reasons for doing this; for one, it “refreshes” the cigar by getting the cold/old smoke out of it. Sometimes when I’m smoking a cigar, particularly one with a tight draw that requires a lot of effort, some harshness will develop from the heat of the smoke. By purging the cigar, that old smoke is removed, allowing the cigar a second chance to make its point.
Another reason to purge a cigar is to fix the burn. Sometimes if the burn line gets a bit crooked, a good purging will set it right. For example, if a cigar starts canoeing, it’s possible to fix the burn by purging it with the canopy up. I’ve learned from experience, though, that it’s important to let the cigar cool for a minute or so after purging it, otherwise the next few draws can be hot and bitter.
The most controversial reason for purging is to save a partially smoked cigar. While I’m not a fan of this practice in general, sometimes your hands are tied. I’ve been in a couple of situations where I was prematurely torn away from a pricey Churchill, and nothing is worse than throwing away 5 or 6 inches of good stogie. In that case, I’ll purge the cigar and let it go out of its own accord. I’ve never had much luck re-smoking smaller vitolas, but if there are 4 or more inches left on a cigar I’ll definitely save it for later in a pinch.
I don’t understand why opinions are so polarized about this particular issue—the way someone else smokes a cigar shouldn’t affect you too much. And I’m not going to say I don’t cringe when I see someone bite off the cap of a cigar or put it out by mashing it into an ashtray, but it’s not going to ruin my day. The most important thing is enjoying the cigar, regardless of how you do it.
Personally, I purge any cigar I’m smoking at least once or twice throughout the smoke. As somebody who reviews cigars, I think it’s important to refresh the stogie every so often, as it helps me to pick out tasting notes that would otherwise be muddled by the old smoke that goes stale in the cigar when it’s resting. But that’s just my personal opinion—at the risk of stirring up some more controversy, does anybody feel like weighing in on cigar purging?