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Back in April I gave some advice on how to get your buddies into smoking cigars. I’ve been thinking today about “beginner smokers”, and how intimidating the cigar world must look to them. We take cutting, lighting and storing our cigars for granted, but these seemingly simple actions require a somewhat experienced touch.
While we’ve written in-depth on these topics before, today I’m going to breeze through all you really need to know to about smoking cigars in as few words as necessary. These tips are for someone who’s never smoked a cigar before, or the beginning smoker who has tried a cigar here or there and liked it, but wasn’t sure exactly what they were doing or where their hobby was headed.
1. Cut quickly, with confidence. Even aficionados tear the wrapper occasionally. Don’t panic. Guillotines, aim above the first cap line. Punches, dead center.
2. Toast the foot (hold the flame near the foot without actually touching it). Puff and spin while lighting your cigar to get an even burn. Blow on the end to see what part is not lit, then touch it up.
3. Don’t inhale. Think of your mouth as a billows. Puff the cigar a few times if you’re not getting much smoke. Hold the smoke in your mouth momentarily, blow out. Don’t blow smoke into someone’s face.
4. Pay attention to the taste. Pick out flavor notes (coffee, chocolate, etc.). Notice if the base flavor is earthy, leathery, toasty or earthy. Analyze the spiciness — is it peppery, sweet or exotic? Think about the overall strength and “body” of the cigar.
5. Use your observations to guide you to new cigars to try. Being able to describe what you do and don’t like about a cigar to others will help them point you in the right direction.
6. Purchase a small humidor to store your cigars. Make sure it is properly seasoned. Use a hygrometer to measure humidity and temperature. Keep levels near 70°F and 70% humidity. Use a humidification element to regulate humidity.
7. Let the cigar go out on its own by letting it rest in the ashtray. Dispose of the butt in a timely fashion.
That’s really all you need to know to get started with this relaxing and rewarding hobby. Besides the pure luxurious pleasure of smoking the cigar itself, you’ll meet new and interesting people who share your passion for premium tobacco. You’ll learn a great deal about how a cigar is made and the difference between cigars from various countries and manufacturers.
A few of you will become obsessed aficionados who post on cigar web forums all day, with your own chair at the local B&M for when you finally decide to leave the house. A few others will stock up on inexpensive bundled cigars and puff several a day, with smoking becoming as integral a part of their image as your haircut. Of course, some may find that cigar smoking is not for them and move on.
Most cigar smokers simply enjoy a cigar here and there on special occasions or during leisure activities. The important thing to remember is that there has never been a more exciting time to get into premium cigars. The incredible variety, quality and affordability of cigars continues to improve. Don’t worry about Cuban cigars right now, there are plenty of stateside options that are just as tasty. Just sit back, relax and smoke away, confident in your knowledge of the seven steps above.