Hi I’m Joe Box,
Cigar lover, leading authority on all things cigars and the alias behind CigarBox. I help lovers of the leaf right across the globe maximise their cigar smoking pleasure.
I do that through education, cigar reviews and making it easy for people just like you to buy a great range of cigars and every accessory you’ll ever need to smoke them, through my online stores.
‘The 5 Things Every Cigar Lover Should Know (but no one tells them until it’s too late)' has been created to transform the smoking experience of everyday people who love to indulge in a stogie or two, be it a newbie or connoisseur alike.
Without the information in this guide odds are you may be making a few common cigar smoking mistakes that are killing the whole cigar smoking experience. By better understanding some of the best-practices attached to cutting, lighting, seasoning your humidor and even ending a cigar’s life with dignity, will help make every future interlude fun, enjoyable and one you’ll want to tell all your mates about.
Use this guide, follow the tips and enjoy your stogies forevermore. I can’t wait to hear about how it’s made a difference for you!
A Cigar Lighting No No
One of the biggest mistakes cigar smokers make usually happens when lighting up and that’s putting too much heat into the cigar. Putting too much heat in has a negative impact. It usually happens when drawing the flame through the cigar. If you’ve ever wanted to get a stogie lit very quickly and made a decision to draw on it while lighting, then you may have experienced this yourself?
The key to lighting a cigar correctly starts with putting a flame generated from a good quality cigar lighter up to the cigar itself and well before even thinking of bringing it to your lips and taking your first puff. You see, heat is the enemy to flavour. If the cigar has too much heat put through it at the beginning of your smoke, there's a good chance it will overheat, causing a spike in bitterness coming through to your palate. It will hit you as you reach the middle of the stick and tends to carry right through to the end.
To avoid that from happening, grab a torch flame lighter and ignite it, then raise it to the cigar on a 45° angle. Slowly char the end of the cigar by holding it still in one hand while rotating the lighter in a circular motion. Keep going until the cigar is fully lit all the way around the outer edge and through the middle. When you see all black parts of the cigar turn grey in colour, you are ‘good to go’. To be 100% sure it’s fully lit, simply blow on the end of the cigar to check. If you are lighting a cigar for a friend, give the cigar a wave in a crescent moon-like shape to simulate drawing air through the cigar. This is another useful way to know if it's fully lit.
The key is to take your time and do it right. If you’re gonna invest an hour or more to smoke a cigar, it’s worth taking a minute or two to start things off by lighting it the right way.
The key to a perfect cut is cutting the cigar in a straight line, making sure you don’t encroach on the shoulder. This is why a guillotine-style cigar cutter tends to be the preferred weapon of choice for most. It helps make a clean straight line cut. The issue with using other cigar cutters, like a punch-cut for example, is its size. It has to be large enough to take out the entire cap of the cigar, so it opens all of the channels through which the smoke flows. If its diameter is too small for the ring gauge of the vitola you are smoking then you might need to punch the cigar several times. This will ensure the whole cap is removed and allow you to draw through all of the channels of the cigar.
The open end of the cigar is called the ‘foot’ and the closed end is called the ‘head’ of the cigar. It's the head of a cigar that you cut. The aim is to keep within the confines of the cap and to retain the shoulder at all times. It’s only the very top layer of tobacco that you want to remove. Making a cut too far down from the cap must be avoided. Why? Cigars are delicate creations. Whole tobacco leaves are aged and fermented, before taken to be hand-rolled. The only thing that holds the entire cigar together is a little bit of rice paper and a dab of vegetable gum. So if you cut past the cap of the cigar, it will cause all the leaves of your cigar to unravel. So be sure not to cut too much off the end of your stick to get that perfect cut.
What draws your cigar smoke to an end? It has less to do with what length is left on your cigar and everything about when you’ve reached maximum enjoyment. Cigar smoking has been described as a form of relaxation, and for some, it’s just like meditation. But the main reason why you smoke a cigar is to enjoy the flavour and the taste.
Once you have reached the point of maximum satisfaction and enjoyment, it’s time to call an end to your session. This is usually when you will see one of the cardinal sins of cigar smoking made - mostly by those new to the experience - stubbing out your cigar!!
A major etiquette ‘faux pas’ is to stub out your cigar. To stub a cigar out into an ashtray, or anywhere else for that matter, is incredibly poor etiquette and it makes the place where you’re smoking it, stink. When a cigar is stubbed all of the residual smoke that has been left in the cigar, along with some of its oils, break through the side of the cigar, generating a pungent aroma. It’s a ‘stink’ that is off putting for both you the smoker and others around you.
The right thing to do, is to let your cigar ‘die with dignity’. When you sit satisfied and exhilarated at the end of your session, simply lay your stogie to rest. With no burning agent in the cigar your resting cigar will go out by itself. It’s not a cigarette. It does not need to be extinguished. So remember etiquette, respect your cigar and be sure to let it die with dignity.
Mouldy Cigars? Plume or Bloom!
‘Oh no, I think my cigars are mouldy, should I throw them out?’
Another common rookie oversight is confusing Bloom, also known as Plume, for what is first thought to be mouldy cigars. Mould can grow on cigars just like it can on anything that retains moisture. It can happen on cigars too, but more often than not, you are probably not seeing mould.
A cigar is constructed with fine tobacco leaves that contain oils. These oils can come through the leaf to sit on top of the wrapper leaf and then crystallise to form what looks like a little bit of white mould to the naked eye. What you are actually seeing is the crystallisation of those oils on the cigar. This shows that the cigar has been kept in very good condition and indicates controlled ageing of the cigar.
Mould will generally appear when the humidity in your humidor is too high. It will appear as a pale-green, almost blue residue and look more spotty or ‘furry’. Plume on the other hand will appear as white dusty spots.
There is quite a bit of misconception around this topic, especially online. You’ll read how plume or bloom is commonly and inaccurately characterised as mould. To help, follow this pretty good rule of thumb: if it is light, white and dusty and you can rub it off with your finger it’s most likely to be Plume. But, if you are adamant what you see is mould, please feel free to contact me via email@example.com and I will happily buy them off you at 20c in the dollar...but you can’t get grumpy with me if you find out that I could resell them as well-aged cigars, at double their retail price ;-)
Seasoning Your Humidor The Right Way
‘I just bought a wooden humidor, should I put my cigars in straight away?’
No, stop! Here is a big mistake people make when they go buy a new home for their ‘gars. It’s completely normal to be excited about the purchase of your new cigar humidor and understandable that you want to get your cigars straight into their new resting place. But, here’s the problem with that; wooden humidors are generally lined with cedar.
Cedar has been the wood of choice for manufacture of both cigar boxes and cigar humidors, for hundreds and hundreds of years. There are a number of good reasons for that. One, it enhances cigar flavour and another, it helps to optimally regulate both humidity and temperature. When your new humidor arrives the Cedar within is very very dry. In fact during the manufacturing process of some humidors, it’s not uncommon for drying crystals to be dropped in to help absorb as much smell as they can out of the wood. So if you drop your cigars straight into your humidor without preparing it first, it will strive to reinstate the moisture level back into the wood itself. It does that by absorbing what it can from all things in its immediate environment. What that means is extracting as much moisture as possible out of your humidifier and more dangerously, out of your cigars.
To combat this, the first thing to do with a new humidor is to get as much moisture as possible back into the Cedarwood. Over time there have been many different ways to achieve this. The easiest and best ways to make this happen right now is by using high percentage humidification packs. These are better known as Seasoning Kits. They deliver 84% humidity from a 320g pouch. The trick is to drop one of these kits into your humidor for every 25 stick volume it can hold. Simply drop them straight into your humidor, close the lid and leave it for 14 days. Don’t open it and don’t take a peek inside. After two weeks this process will put the maximum amount of moisture back into the humidor. Doing so serves a couple of different purposes; first it will create a perfect environment for cigar storage and second, because you have prepared your humidor the right way it will retain an optimal level of humidity for longer, meaning you won’t need to replace your humidification pouches as often.
Just be sure not to make the giant mistake of getting a wet cloth and wiping down the inside of your humidor. Yes, the cloth may be damp and wet, but the problem is it won’t put enough moisture back into the wood. It will only go into the surface layer of the Cedar, and by doing that you run the risk of the Cedar warping, causing damage to your beautiful humidor. So whether your humidor is old or new you will be handsomely rewarded by seasoning it correctly. Here’s to perfectly aged cigars!
Follow These Tips to Maximize Your Cigar Smoking Experience
There you have it…..
Hope you enjoyed reading ‘The 5 Things Every Cigar Lover Should Know (but no one tells them until it’s too late)? The aim of this guide is to shed some light on a few common mistakes that can dampen your cigar smoking experience.
They are just a few, but important things to help make your life as a ‘lover of the leaf’ a great deal better. A great cigar smoking experience matters. So go make everyone a winner!
Joe Box - Your Brother of the Leaf
PS: To help maximise your cigar smoking pleasure you might like to go check these out;