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Expert Tip: Relighting Your Cigar

Despite our best efforts, sometimes the cigar we are enjoying goes out. You know the scenario; you retire to your inner sanctum to relax and enjoy a fine premium cigar when something pops up, whether it’s a family member needing you, a funny YouTube video, or an affection-starved pet, and you get sidetracked. While it’s preferable the cigar you’re enjoying would not go out at all, should the worst happen, there is recourse to salvage your cigar and make sure the flavors are not significantly degraded. Before we move on to the specific procedure, the most important thing to remember is not to let an extinguished cigar remain unlit for too long. When a cigar goes out, the unsmoked tobacco goes into a state of shock and the oils dry up. The amount of deterioration will vary from cigar to cigar, but it is imperative that you not let your cigar sit extinguished in excess of an hour, otherwise you may be lighting something that’s not worth your time or effort. So remember, should your cigar go out, act fast and follow the steps below.

Step 1: Ash Maintenance

You want to relight the tobacco, not the ash (ash has a tendency to not burn well). Tap the end of your cigar in an ashtray, knocking off any excess ash from the foot until you only see mostly burnt and unburned tobacco. You need to be forceful enough to get the job done but wear your “white gloves” as the wrapper on a previously lit cigar will be very dry and easily susceptible to damage.

Step 2: Clearing the Cigar

As I previously mentioned, the tobacco in the filler is in a state of shock and smoke can be easily trapped in the folds of the leaves which, over time, can create a fairly acrid taste if immediately drawn onto the palate. To prevent this, put the cigar in your mouth as you normally would but instead of drawing in, blow firmly into the cigar several times. This should push any trapped undesirables out of the foot.

Step 3: Toasting

With your lighter in hand, hold the cigar about an inch from the flame and toast the already charred surface. You may then need to move the foot closer to the flame. Twirl the cigar as you toast the foot to ensure an even light. I highly recommend a torch lighter for this. Although it can be done with matches or a traditional lighter, a torch flame can cut through any remaining ash with ease.

Step 4: Lighting

As soon as the cigar is toasted, bring the head to your mouth and keep the flame just off the foot. Continue to rotate the cigar in your fingers ensuring you are lighting the foot evenly. This step is very similar to how you would light any cigar normally, but you will want to be careful not to draw on it with too much force. The idea is to light it slowly so the cigar can re-acclimate.