When cutting the cap, you want to ensure you only use an actual cigar cutter. Ripping it with your teeth or sawing it as I did shouldn’t even be considered as it can destroy the cigar, causing it to unravel completely. Take the cutter, and at the closed end nearest the wrapper, find a small line wrapping around the cigar about 3mm from the end. This is where the cap was secured to the cigar and where we ideally want to cut the cigar to ensure it remains intact and that the flavor profile isn’t compromised. Taking the guillotine cutter, gently slide the blades, so they just touch the point where you want to cut the cigar. Then, in a swift motion, cut the cap clean off.
If some tobacco becomes loose, lick the tip of your finger and use your finger to smooth down the tobacco. The saliva will act as an adhesive and hopefully, prevent the cigar from further unraveling or getting bits of loose tobacco in your mouth.
Now it’s time to light the cigar. For this, you can use wooden cigar matches or cedar strips which most tobacconists are happy to give away. However, it can be tricky enough with a lighter, so I highly recommend purchasing an inexpensive torch lighter from the tobacconist. Bear in mind that you require a torch lighter because other types of fuel can impact the flavor and aroma of the cigar.
Once you’re ready to light the cigar, hold the cigar sideways in your dominant hand so it rests between your thumb and fingers and can easily be rotated with the twist of your fingers. Holding the lighter in the other hand, ignite the lighter and slowly bring it to the cigar, being sure you can clearly see the foot of the cigar that you’re lighting. The goal here is to toast the cigar, not light it.
Think of it as a marshmallow. If you light the marshmallow on fire, it becomes burnt and bitter, but if you slowly rotate it, so it’s lightly touched by the flame of the campfire, it becomes this golden treat, so many of us crave. Cigars are much the same way. If you light it quickly, it will begin to burn too hot and affect the flavor of the cigar. Instead, slowly rotate the cigar in your fingers as the flame slightly grazes the foot of the cigar to lightly toast it to perfection. Take your time. It’s perfectly acceptable to spend a minute gracefully toasting the cigar until the entire foot is evenly lit.
Once the cigar is evenly lit, bring it up to your mouth and begin to enjoy the smoke.
Unlike a cigarette, cigar smoke should never be inhaled. The risk is extraordinary, and you will certainly make yourself sick. A cigarette is a habit, whereas a cigar is a passion. As you slowly draw the smoke into your mouth, allow it to float around your mouth, being sure to let it pass over and under your tongue, against your cheeks and your gums. Then, once you’ve enjoyed the taste of the draw, allow it to escape back out into the world gracefully.
A cigar doesn’t need to be drawn more than once every 45-60 seconds. Smoking it too quickly can make you sick or cause it to overheat. Smoking it too slowly, on the other hand, will cause it to extinguish and ideally, you never want to relight a cigar.
If you spend the time enjoying the cigar and find it relaxing and flavorful, chances are cigar smoking is a journey worth taking. On the other hand, if you find it challenging, dislike the taste or are appalled by the smell, cigar smoking may not be for you. However, I do recommend giving it a second, third or even a fourth attempt as every cigar will taste different. Not to mention, you might just need to hone your skills which we will delve further into in the next chapter of this series on learning how to smoke cigars.