What got me started smoking cigars?
It started in grade school really. My older sister dated a guy that she eventually married. He always had a carton of Kool cigarettes laying in the front seat of his car when he would come to visit. Now I knew better than to ask to have one and I knew better than to just take them but I did the latter anyway, taking a pack at a time. Now whether he realized he was missing a pack and just never mentioned it or if he never missed the absence of it I have no idea. Inevitably I would take a pack and sneak out to the barn and commence to smoke them. I never inhaled (no I'm not Bill Clinton) that was one aspect of smoking that never appealed to me and I never got any good at inhaling. My desire to smoke cigarettes lasted only a few years into my sophomore year in high school and only then when I was drinking a cold beer. No I do not condone under-age drinking but it was what it was. My first introduction into cigars was the same said brother-in-law would occasionally have a couple packs of Swisher Sweet cigars. Along with a pack of Kools, I'd help myself to one or two Swisher Sweets. Once I got my drivers license for some odd unknown reason the draw of smoking never much appealed.
My introduction into cigars beyond the Swisher Sweets was my oldest brother giving out King Edwards for the births of his children. Though I enjoyed the smoke of a cigar it was not something I craved.
Just a little over two years ago a friend of mine invited me to our local B&M cigar shop. I had frequented it in the past to buy empty cigar boxes to keep nik-naks and what-not in but had never bought or smoked any cigars. When I took him up on the offer he bought me an Oliva Serie 'O' and from that moment I was again intrigued about smoking. I enjoyed the fact I did not have to inhale and for the first time had experienced a Premium cigar. Now frequenting the B&M in the past I noticed a Montecristo sign in the window. It was actually one of the few Premium brands that I was familiar with. The next visit I smoked a Montecristo White Series cigar and my love affair with the brand blossomed from there. I enjoyed everything about that cigar and it still remains my favorite cigar to this day. No matter what I smoke I always judge it by a Montecristo White Series. There quality is superior and the flavor profile is consistent with every smoke I've had.
Now I'm no expert but there are two things vital to a great cigar experience in my opinion. Because without these two things even a great cigar can be foreseen as a low quality smoke and that is not on the cigar, that is on the novice smoking it (in my opinion).
The first one is a matter of personal preference and in regard to the style and gauge of cigar. The first thing is the cut you use on a cigar. My personal preference is a punch on any cigar 54 ring gauge or larger. Anything less than 54 ring gauge I use a V-cutter and if the style is Belicoso or Torpedo, I cut at a 45 degree angle with a guillotine cutter. I've had cigars that had a hard draw and learned if you bite down on the end of the cigar slightly it tends to open the draw without butchering the head of the cigar. Yes I know there are cuts that are popular such as X, Star, Crown utilized by V-cutter enthusiasts and there is nothing wrong with that if that is your preference. The one biggest mistake however that I see is people using a guillotine cutter is cutting way to much off their cigar. You simply want to removed the cap and nothing more. Balmoral actually makes a guillotine cutter with a backstop on it to help get the depth right.
The second one is in my opinion absolutely necessary. It is the toast and lighting of your cigar. If you do not toast and light your cigar proper it may result in re-lights and inconsistent burn. First off holding your cigar at an angle put the foot into the heat of the flame not into the actual flame. You simply want to toast the outer edge of the foot completely around the circumference of the cigar. This should not char the cigar up the sides, this is a result of holding it in the flame and not merely in the heat above the flame. Once you have toasted your cigar place it in your mouth with the band upright. As you hold the flame so the heat is now on the foot and not just the edge you will draw in and as you are exhaling the smoke rotate your cigar about an eighth of a turn and continue to draw and rotate until the band is back in the original position you started at. Now once you completed this exercise take the cigar from your mouth and invert the ends so the foot is facing you. Once you have the foot facing you, blow on the foot and the entire foot should be cherry red. If indeed the entire foot is cherry red you have lit your cigar properly for a great smoke.
Now the heat source you use is a matter of personal preference. I prefer to use a torch lighter. My persona favorite at the moment is a 5Vegas Table lighter.
For more information about Cutting and Lighting a Cigar I suggest you check out our eBooks section.
Also check out our Journals section to enhance your smoking experience.
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