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As many of us find ourselves with a bit of extra time on our hands due to social distancing, our favorite cigars prove to be more “essential” than ever. But, after a couple of weeks, even the greatest of cigar selections can start to feel a bit mundane.
To help you mix things up and keep your stogie routine interesting whilst stationary, we’ve whipped up some suggestions for optimizing your extra at-home smoke time.
A cigar’s ash is an unavoidable by-product of any smoke session, but did you know it can also be an art form?
Keeping a thick ash at the end of your lit cigar helps you maintain a cool burn and draw, so it’s advisable in a practical sense. However, when you challenge yourself to keep that ash hanging on for as long as possible, that’s when the real fun begins. This is known in some circles as the “Long Ash Challenge.”
Whether deliberately or by chance, you may have already participated in this particular cigar sport. On more than one occasion I’ve become caught up in conversation while smoking a cigar, only to discover that I had inadvertently built up an impressive ash in the process. My mission then becomes to keep the big ash going as long as possible.
Simple in concept, this can be quite difficult in execution. Many factors play into a particular cigar’s ability to hold ash, including the size of the cigar, the quality of its construction, the type of tobaccos used, and more. With this in mind, here are a few tips for keeping those lovely long ashes intact.
Long ashes are a sign of quality, so naturally a premium, handmade cigar using long-filler tobaccos will be your best bet when selecting a long-ash contender. Generally speaking, the better the construction of the cigar, the stronger the ash, and cigars rolled using the Cuban “Entubado” method are known to produce particularly tough ashes.
Another aspect to consider is the cigar’s size. Traditional sizes like Robusto, Toro, and Churchill tend to perform best for building ash, while cigars that are especially small like a Corona or extremely thick like a Gordo are typically less dependable. Also keep in mind, of course, that your ash will only be as long as the cigar you choose.
You’ll want to minimize distractions and position yourself in an environment that’s conducive to preserving ashes. Wind is never a good look for the long ash challenge. Select a place where you can concentrate and focus on nurturing that ash where you are undisturbed by the elements, or anything else.
You just can’t rush a long ash. Take slow and easy draws, allowing about a minute between each puff, and be gentle in your handling of the cigar. You’ll want to maintain an upward tilt to the cigar as you hold it in your hand, and be careful not to jolt the ash at all when taking a draw. Some guys will even hold the cigar completely vertical for the entire duration of its burn, which is not the most comfortable way to smoke but is certainly dedication.
If all else fails you can fall back on an old trick that is rumored to be none other than Sir Winston Churchill’s very own long-ash-hack.
Legend has it that when meeting with foreign dignitaries during his tenure as British Prime Minister Churchill would insert a thin piece of metal wire into his cigar running lengthwise from foot to cap, hidden inside. This would preserve the ash entirely while he was smoking, unnerving those guests that would oppose him and giving him an upper hand in negotiations.
Maybe you’ve already been in the ash game for a while, or perhaps you’re a natural, and you’re looking to take your ash prowess to the next level. That’s where the ash-stand comes in.
To perform an “ash-stand”, you first need to accumulate a good amount of ash on your cigar. Next, you find yourself a flat surface on which you balance your lit cigar so it is standing upright on its ash.
This fickle feat requires a very sturdy ash, a very steady hand, and usually lots of practice.
Think you’re up for the challenge? Send pics of your ash achievements to our Facebook page and we’ll proudly post them up. Good luck!