A Beginner’s Guide to Smoking Cigars: Rituals, Etiquette, and Enjoyment

Cory Carnley

August 10, 2023

A Beginner's Guide to Smoking Cigars: Rituals, Etiquette, and Enjoyment

Smoking a cigar is more than just lighting up and puffing away; it’s a sensory experience requiring knowledge and appreciation. For beginners venturing into the world of cigars, there’s much to learn beyond simply lighting one up. From selecting the right cigar to understanding the proper technique, this guide aims to introduce newcomers to the art of smoking cigars.

Choosing the Right Cigar

Before you embark on your cigar-smoking journey, selecting the right cigar for your taste preferences and experience level is crucial. Cigars come in various sizes, shapes, and flavors, offering a distinct smoking experience. For beginners, a milder cigar is generally recommended, as it will be more approachable and less overwhelming. Look for cigars with a Connecticut or Ecuadorian wrapper, which tend to be smoother and less intense.

Inspecting the Cigar

Once you’ve chosen your cigar, take a moment to inspect it. A well-made cigar should feel firm and free from soft spots or blemishes. The wrapper should be smooth and evenly colored, with no visible veins or discolorations. A consistent texture and appearance are indicative of a well-crafted cigar.

Cutting the Cigar

Properly cutting the cigar is crucial in ensuring a smooth draw and an even burn. You’ll need a sharp cigar cutter for this task. The goal is to create an opening at the cigar’s closed-end without damaging the filler. Place the cigar on the edge, leaving about 1/8 to 1/16 of an inch from the cap. This will help prevent unraveling while providing adequate airflow for an enjoyable smoke.

Toasting and lighting

Toasting the foot of the cigar is the first step to lighting it. Hold the cigar at a 45-degree angle and gently rotate it over the flame, about an inch away, until the foot starts to smoke. This ensures an even burn and eliminates harsh flavors from the initial ignition. Once toasted, bring the cigar to your lips and draw in gently while continuing to rotate it. The heat from the foot will light the tobacco evenly.

Smoking Technique and Etiquette

Smoking a cigar is a leisurely process that invites you to savor each moment. Unlike cigarettes, cigars are not meant to be inhaled into your lungs. Instead, draw the smoke into your mouth, allowing it to swirl around your palate to appreciate the flavors. Exhale the smoke with a gentle puff, letting it escape naturally.

Remember that smoking a cigar is a social activity that comes with its own set of etiquette. Avoid inhaling the smoke deeply, as this can lead to discomfort or even nausea. Additionally, do not frequently tap or flick the ashes off the cigar; allow the ash to fall off naturally to maintain an even burn.

Pairing and enjoyment

Cigars are often enjoyed with a beverage, and pairing them with the right drink can enhance the experience. Aged spirits like whiskey, bourbon, or rum complement the complex flavors of a cigar. A mild-bodied cigar pairs well with a light lager or a glass of white wine for beginners. Remember that pairing aims to create a harmonious balance where neither the cigar nor the drink overpowers the other.

Respect the time

Smoking a cigar is a deliberate and time-consuming endeavor. It’s not something to rush through but an opportunity to unwind and appreciate the moment. Allow yourself ample time to enjoy the entire cigar, which can often last 30 minutes to a couple of hours, depending on its size.

Smoking a cigar is a timeless ritual that combines craftsmanship, patience, and relaxation. For beginners, learning about selecting, cutting, lighting, and smoking a cigar will lead to a more enjoyable experience. Remember to respect cigar smoking traditions and etiquette, and never hesitate to ask experienced specialists for advice or recommendations. So, whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or simply seeking a moment of tranquility, smoking a cigar can offer a unique and rewarding escape from the daily hustle and bustle.