How to Appreciate Cigars

By Lee Johnson
time, your cigar, it
Cigar image by Mat Hayward from

Cigar smoking is a fun but initially baffling pastime. Most people would be able to smoke a cigarette without instruction, but cigars are entirely different. Cigar smoking is all about flavor, and if you don't smoke a cigar in the correct way, you won't be able to appreciate it as intended. If you've been bought a cigar or treated yourself to one, learning a few basic guidelines for cigar smoking can help you learn to really appreciate cigars.

Cut the cigar with a quick and decisive movement. Correct cutting helps prevent the cigar from unravelling as you smoke. The "cap," or rounded end of a cigar, must be cut off cleanly before you smoke it. See Resources for more detailed information on cutting.

Put the cigar in your mouth. Wait for a moment until you start to get a taste of the wrapper in your mouth. A lot of the cigar's flavor actually comes from the nicotine-free wrapper, and taking a moment to taste before you light up can help you identify which flavors come from the smoke itself.

Light your cigar with a match. Gas lighters affect the taste of cigars, and as a result, are widely shunned by aficionados. There are special cigar matches available, but any match will be suitable. Hold the flame to the open end of the cigar, ensuring that it is all lit evenly. If you leave some portions unlit, the cigar will burn unevenly. Exhale over the lit end to check that it is all lit evenly.

Keep the smoke in your mouth. Do not inhale when you smoke cigars. It is literally about the taste, and inhalation is likely to lead to you coughing or feeling generally ill. Cigars aren't meant to be inhaled, but because of the prevalence of cigarettes, it is a common error when smoking cigars.

Relax and take your time. If you smoke a cigar too quickly, it can spoil the taste. Remember, cigars are supposed to be appreciated. You wouldn't drink a glass of wine in one gulp, and likewise, you shouldn't rush cigars. Take around a puff a minute and the cigar will actually taste better. Taking puffs too frequently overheats the cigar and releases excessive amounts of nicotine, resulting in a bitter, unpleasant taste.

Note the flavor of the cigar. After you've got it smoking nicely, and you're getting a good hit of the flavor, you can start to identify the components of the taste. Perhaps there is a nutty taste or caramel undertone. As you smoke, try to pinpoint the different components of the flavor.

Re-light your cigar within two hours if it goes out. Tap the cigar to remove any excess ash and burn away any superfluous bits of wrapper. Light the cigar in the same way as you did before, and continue to smoke the cigar.

Leave the cigar in an ash-tray to go out if the taste begins to spoil. During the last two inches of a cigar, the taste will deteriorate. When this happens, just leave the cigar in the ash tray and let it burn out. You can stub cigars out, but this isn't necessary. It is better to let the cigar go than to end up with a bad taste in your mouth. Cigar aficionados know when a smoke is spent.

About the Author

Lee Johnson has written for various publications and websites since 2005. His articles have appeared in "Sandman" magazine, the "Crewe Chronicle" and on the website Beyond Hollywood. He is primarily a music journalist but has written on many subjects. Johnson has a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing from Manchester Metropolitan University.