Posted by: The Prince of Whales | April 14, 2010

Cigar Virgins read on


If you have never smoked a good cigar, here’s a few thoughts on how to start.

  1. Make sure you have enough time – allow a good 40 mins for the sort of cigars I mention below. Cigars need to be savoured in one session not rushed. You can’t smoke half and save half for tomorrow. Once its out, its finished as condensation from the smoke will taint the remaining tabacco.
  2. Pick a cigar that’s not too long or too fat … start off easy.  Say a Montecristo No.4 (129mm long and 42 ring guage) or a good non Cuban such as Te-Amo World Series that offers a range of Robusto cigars (124mm x 50).
  3. If you want a drink to go with it, a good malt or fine brandy is great,  but my personal favourite is a mug of tea.
  4. Make sure it’s in good condition. Place the cigar between your first finger and thumb, squeeze gently. There should be a springiness in the cigar; not too dry and brittle. Press in the tabacco lightly, it should bounce back. Cigars need to be kept in moist conditions to retain the oils that create the flavours, so Uncle John’s Christmas cigar that’s been sitting in the cupboard for a couple of years, or even a few weeks, wouldn’t be great.

    Be careful not to cut away too much of the cap

  5. All good cigars have a cap over the mouth end – a separate piece of tabacco that must be removed before smoking. There are lots of devices for cutting cigars and lots of different ways to cut. For your first few times stick to the easiest. Ask the tabacconist where you bought the cigar for a cutter; they usually give plastic guillotine style cutters away free. Look at the cap itself  and try to make about an eigth of inch cut so that you remove the tip of the cap. Take too much and the wrapper will unravel; too little and the draw on the cigar will not be sufficent.
  6. Relax … that’s the tricky bit over!
  7. Use matches or a butane lighter to light your cigar. Hold the cigar in front of you and give the end a little toasting – putting it in direct contact with the flame. Roll it round and toast all the tabacco on its end. Then put it in your mouth and use your match or lighter to light all the end, rotating slowly as you draw to ensure an even burn. Its important the cigar end is all bright and well lit, with no dark spots of tabacco that have not quite caught hold. If you have any of these, either reapply the lighter or blow on the end to get an even glow.
  8. Don’t inhale the smoke. Simply draw the smoke into your mouth, hold it for a few seconds,  experience the flavours and then blow it out.
  9. If left unattended, a cigar will go out relatively quickly. I find about 1 “toke” a minute is about right.
  10. If it does go out, don’t worry. Simplycarefully remove any ash and relight the cigar; as long as its not been out for too long it will be OK.
  11. Don’t smoke the cigar to the very end. The character of the cigar will change as you progress down its length. The more of the cigar you smoke, the more concentrated the flavours become. A good rule is never to smoke the last inch of any cigar and once you get into the last third, be ready to lay it to rest in the ashtray. Don’t bother stubbing it out, it will simply go out of its own accord within a few minutes.
  12. Don’t worry about the band, the cigar label. You can either carefully remove it before you start, or whilst you are smoking.

So if you would like to join your first “herf”, the American term for a lively gathering of cigar smokers, come down the Prince any weekend around last orders. See you then!

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