Where to Begin? –Tips for the Novice Cigar Smoker

With so many cigar brands and cigar varieties on the market, an aspiring cigar connoisseur can easily be overwhelmed if they don’t know exactly what they’re looking for.

In order to fully appreciate a cigar, it’s important to understand where the flavors are coming from.

Anatomy of a Cigar:

  1. A filler tobacco at the center. The filler gives the cigar most of its flavor and strength, and makes up most of the volume of the cigar.
  2. A binder that holds the filler together. The binder is a tobacco leaf that is wrapped around the filler tobacco. The binder complements the filler’s flavor but does not add much in terms of taste.
  3. A wrapper covering the entire cigar. The wrapper is a single tobacco leaf wrapped around the binder. The wrapper contributes a lot to the flavor and characteristics of a cigar, roughly 60%. In general, the darker the wrapper the sweeter the flavor and the lighter the wrapper the less flavor and drier the taste. Wrappers should contain no blemishes, tears, or other imperfections.

Cigar smoking tips:

  • Sample a variety of brands and blends to determine which tobacco you prefer the most. It is a good idea to purchase single cigars rather than a box until you know for certain which types of tobacco suit you.
  • Novice cigar smokers should first start with mellow cigars.
  • Cigar humidors are the best way to store cigars. If you do not have a humidor, be sure to only buy a few cigars at a time to avoid them going stale. Leave cigars in the cellophane and store in a Tupperware container to keep them as fresh as possible.
  • When you are ready to smoke the cigar, the cap of the cigar needs to be cut. A straight cut with a guillotine cutter is the most common type of cut. Cut about 1/16 to 1/8 of an inch down. Do not cut into the body of the cigar as this will cause the cigar to unravel.
  • To light the cigar, puff and rotate while lighting the cigar with matches or a lighter.
  • Do not inhale the smoke.

Cigar lingo:

Band: The strip of paper that identifies the cigar’s manufacturer and country of origin

Blend: The types of tobacco used to make the cigar

Body: The intensity of the smoke

Draw: The amount of air that gets sucked through a lit cigar

Finish: The taste that lingers on your palette after a puff. Full-bodied cigars often have a complex, distinctive flavor that lingers.

Foot: The end of the cigar that you light

Head: The capped end of the cigar that you cut and put in your mouth

Ring Gauge: The diameter of a cigar

Some suggested cigars for the beginning smoker:

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