Of the various questions submitted by our readers and followers on Facebook each week, there is one query in particular that seems to come up again and again:

“How far down should I smoke my cigar?”

It’s a perfectly rational question, one that I myself can recall asking way back when I was but a fledgling BOTL. So I figured I would share with you the answer I was given at the time:

“As far as you want. Just don’t burn your fingers.”

This bit of sage advice came from someone in the industry who had smoked more cigars in his life than I had eaten meals in mine. He knew what he was talking about.

Never mind the “etiquette guides” that suggest ending a good smoke at the half-way mark (what a waste!), or even those that profess the notion that where the band lies dictates the stopping point of your cigar. Many of the best cigars, in my opinion, don’t reach their full flavor potential until the final third. On more than one occasion I’ve hit a cigar’s “eureka!” moment only after removing the band and burning into it’s “forbidden zone.”

On the other hand, I’ve enjoyed a fair share of sticks that I was perfectly content with abandoning at the band-line or before. This was  due either to their strength, an overly-hot burn, my disinterest, or simply because I was sufficiently satiated. But never out of politeness or protocol.

Cigars, like most of life’s little pleasures, can be spoiled by rules and, dare I say, regulations. It’s important that when taking in a great smoke we focus on the true meaning of the act: relaxation and reflection, unfettered by any obligations. What a chore it must be to restrain one’s enjoyment by adhering to de rigueur guidelines prescribed by some guy in a suit that likely has never known the pleasures held within the last couple of inches of an Oliva Master Blends 3.

In summary, your cigar is yours, to enjoy how ever you see fit. Just how far down should you smoke your cigar? I’m not afraid to employ a toothpick when necessary. To paraphrase my original cigar mentor, do you. “Just don’t burn your fingers.”

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