Cigars bring people from all walks of life together; without a doubt, the art of cigar enjoyment is a social endeavor. And nearly every time I enjoy a cigar in good company, no matter how much I know and understand cigars, I always learn a new trick from a fellow enthusiast. Cigars are very much subjective; from the flavors you experience and the strengths you prefer all the way to how you handle, cut, and light your cigars. It seems every enthusiast has different methods or “tricks” for enhancing their cigar experience – some are excellent ideas and others not so much. So here’s our list of our top 5 “tricks of the trade” so to speak. You may find by practicing these tips, you’ll experience greater enjoyment from your cigars.
Have you ever been met with harsh flavors after relighting your favorite cigar? Have you ever experienced an uneven burn? If so, then the act of purging can be a great friend. Purging a cigar helps to refresh the blend, especially when relighting. It also helps aid in correcting a canoeing cigar (a cigar that burns unevenly down one side). To purge, draw through the lit cigar and then push air back through it towards the ember. You’ll notice bursts of flames at the foot of the cigar if done correctly. This technique works wonders when you accidently let your cigar extinguish because it helps pull out all of those unpleasant flavors from the charred tobaccos and burns them off along with any unwanted tannins. In addition, if your cigar is canoeing, you can rotate the cigar so the canopy of the burn is on the top and then purge it; this allows extra heat to reach the uneven burn and helps the wrapper reset itself. Some individuals regularly purge their cigars once or twice, even if they aren’t experiencing any problems, simply to help refresh the blend in order to pick up tasting notes that otherwise may be muddled due to stale smoke.
I’ve seen hundreds of cigar enthusiasts, even experienced gurus, incorrectly cut a torpedo. And I cringe every time because they set themselves up for disaster. You should never cut a cigar, especially a torpedo, past the “shoulder,” which is where the rounded head of the cigar begins to connect with the body. In doing so, you’ll cut too much off the cap and the wrapper leaf will begin to unravel. Many enthusiasts cut too far down on a torpedo because they want more smoke or they feel the draw is too tight. Instead of cutting more off the head of the cigar, try cutting torpedos at a 45-degree angle. This creates a better channel for the smoke to pass through and in turn, the angle allows you to focus the smoke on specific parts of your palate, granting you the ability to discover different flavors that otherwise would have gone unnoticed. This works incredibly well on cigars like Natural Big Dirt Torpedo and other complex, full-flavored blends. Also, you should always use a guillotine cutter for torpedos.
To Cello Or Not
This is one debate that will never cease: keep or remove the cellophane? Fact is, cellophane is porous and will allow your cigars to breathe, so they will not lose freshness. Whether you keep the cellophane or discard is solely personal preference but consider if you’ll be traveling or aging your cigars. We recommend keeping the cellophane on if you’re traveling or handing out cigars as it helps protect the wrapper. However, when aging, you may want your cigars to thoroughly marry each other as they will become more flavorful and therefore we recommend removing the cellophane from cigars you plan on aging for an extended period of time. Keeping the cellophane on will delay the marriage process and may prevent your cigars from picking up other interesting nuance such as cedar from your humidor.
Toast The Foot
When most of us complain about an uneven burn, we usually blame the blend, blender, or poor quality control by the manufacturer. 90% of the time, the fault is our own. If you don’t light your cigars properly, they won’t burn properly. To ensure you have a proper light, toast the end of your cigar fully before puffing on it. When puffing, rotate the cigar while applying the flame and when you’re satisfied, turn the cigar around and gently blow on the foot. If you see the entire foot glowing red, your cigar is properly lit. If not, then repeat the process.
Season, Season, Season
Many enthusiasts season their humidors each winter and every summer, but few actually pay attention to their humidors in spring and fall. This is bad and incredibly important. Your humidor keeps your cigars in perfect condition and if you don’t maintain your humidor all year round, you may be disappointed with your cigars. Winter is dry and cold while summer is moist and hot. You’ll need to add more humidity to your humidor during the winter months and you’ll need less humidity during summer. But during spring and fall, when the weather constantly fluctuates, you really need to focus extra time and attention on your humidor since these are transitional periods when humidity and temperature drastically change on a daily basis. Drastic fluctuations are far from ideal and if you’re not paying attention during these transitional periods, you’ll find your cigars may not perform to your expectations.