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Cigars 101: A Beginners Guide

Updated: Oct 23, 2020

I have been smoking cigars since I was 18 years old, which is about 20 years ago. Throughout my cigar journey, there was extraordinarily little as far as what to do, where to start, who should to talk to. In this series, I will break down all that I have learned in my time in the tobacco business, from the basics to the intricacies of plant growth.

The Beginning:

Choosing the right cigar for beginners is sometimes harder than you think. You will be surrounded by people who will give you opinions and throw names out of cigars “you have to try.” The suggestion is to try EVERYTHING, but you still must start somewhere. Here are some things you should look for when choosing a cigar for the first time. Generally, when picking a stick, the darker the cigar, the stronger the cigar. To start, you want to look for a cigar that is lighter in color, almost caramel, this is called Connecticut shade. Connecticut shade cigars are lighter in flavor and are less likely to get you sick.

How to pick the Cigar:

Now you know what shade the cigar should be, but how do you pick one? There are many shapes and sizes when it comes to what you will find in a cigar shop. Yes, size and shape matters, but at this point in the game, its not important. The cigar should be firm with some mild give, it should be smooth with little blemishes and an oily texture. You can smell the cigar, however, do not touch it to your nose or face, especially if you do not buy it. It is gross, do not do it. Lastly, assess the price. There is no reason to start with a $20 cigar when you do not know what you are tasting. Remember, little by little try everything.

Cutting the Cigar:

There are a ton of different ways to cut a cigar. Through my travels I have seen people tear off the cap with their fingernails, biting the tip, hole punch, V Cut, and guillotine cutters. You can cut a cigar any way that you want as long as you don’t cut below the cap line and the opening allows for good airflow and draw.

Lighting the Cigar:

“FLAME ON” Okay just kidding, but did you every think that there would ever be a technique to lighting a cigar? One thing to always keep in mind is that you’re burning leaves, although more on the humid side, but leaves nonetheless. There are many ways to light a cigar, and you will develop a personal preference. In all honesty, light it which ever way you want as long as you enjoy yourself, but, certain pitfalls do not allow you to get all the flavors out of your cigar thus you will not let the cigar show it’s true potential. There are a few schools of thought, to toast or not to toast. Luckily this is also your personal preference but you will get

different flavor notes with each process. When choosing a type of flame, you will have several choices to pick from. Some of the choices include but are not limited to, cedar spills, cedar matches, standard wooden matches, soft flame and torch lighters. Here is the process that i choose to use which involves a torch lighter most of the time.

1. Perform a cold draw – This will give you a preview on how your cigar will taste. It will change when lit.

2. Toast the foot – Place the lighter far enough away that the flame is not touching the cigar. You want to use the heated air at the tip of the flame to toast the leaves while making a twist motion with your fingertips. This will ensure even toasting.

3. Place the cigar in your mouth, still keeping the lighter away to just use the heated air, light and rotate. Take slow, long puffs and make sure the ember doesn’t get too hot.

4. Most importantly .... Enjoy!

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