In your den or at a cigar bar downtown, lighting up can evoke a number of responses.
Sometimes it is a communal experience, sharing a quality cigar with good friends. Then there are the days you just want to relax and enjoy a smoke in solitude. Before you decide how you want to smoke, though, you should consider what you want to smoke. That's why we've created our latest tutorial, Cigars 101. We aim to provide everything you need to confidently choose, prepare and enjoy cigars no matter the occasion.
Cigars 101: Things to Keep in Mind Before Lighting Up
The first thing to know about cigars 101 is that many factors go into choosing the right cigar and enjoying it to its full potential. But once you have a grasp on these concepts, you'll be able to make informed decisions everywhere. It doesn't mean just choosing the most expensive cigars. There is significant nuance that gives each cigar a unique flavor and aroma. Then you need to prepare and light it correctly. And extinguishing a cigar correctly involves some additional skill. To give you a broad overview of that process, we've compiled the following Cigars 101 tips.
1. Know Your Colors
You might already be familiar with many of the terms below. They are often included along with the packaging of your favorite cigars. But you might not know their precise meanings. In fact, they all describe a shade or color of the wrapper. The color will be the first thing you notice about each cigar, and it has a big impact on flavor. Often, it reflects how the wrapper is grown or dried. From lightest to darkest, here are the different color terms.
- Double Claro (or Candela) - Using heat to dry a wrapper quickly leaves these light green or yellow cigars with a mild, sweet flavor.
- Claro - These beige colored wrappers are often grown in the shade and dried in the air. This minimizes the flavor of the wrapper for emphasis on the tobacco inside.
- Natural (or Colorado Claro) - A darker brown color and richer flavor than the claro comes from growing these wrappers in the sun.
- Colorado - A bigger, richer flavor comes through these brownish red wrappers, wich are generally grown in the shade.
- Colorado Maduro - As its name implies, this darker color falls between the colorado above and maduro below. It offers a medium, balanced flavor to a cigar.
- Maduro - Though the maduro can appear nearly black, it is not the darkest. Pressure or fermentation leaves it very dark brown or red. Its flavor can be intense, but is typically quite sweet.
- Oscuro - A combination of more mature wrappers and longer fermentation result in this dark appearance. You'll find a very deep, rich flavor to these aromatic wrappers.
2. Size Matters
Like color, there is an easy way to tell the diameter of your cigar. But there are many more choices in this category. First of all, you'll want to remember that the diameter is described in increments of 1/64th of an inch. An easier way to say that is that if you want a cigar that is 1 inch around, grab a 64 ring cigar. The cigar ring gauge is typically how you measure diameter. Most are smaller than that 1 inch example. A typical cigar falls somewhere in the 32 and 52 gauge range.
The higher that number, the more surface is being burned. That leads to a fuller and slower burn for your high ring gauge cigar. And the length is expressed in inches. So that makes it pretty easy to determine the overall size. Typically you will see it expressed as 6 x 32, where the first number describes length and the second is ring gauge. Being able to eye the size of a cigar is an important aspect of mastering Cigars 101.
3. Consider the Shape
Again, you'll find a series of terms used to describe the shapes of different cigar styles. You'll find them in two broad categories: parejos and figurados. The first refers to straight sided cigars and includes a variety of more specific cigar types. Many classic cigar shapes like the Churchill and robusto fall into the parejo category.
Then there are the figurados. Basically, this category contains all the others. It refers to cigars with any shape. And sometimes they can be unique or even artistic. The culebra, which is three separate cigars attached as one, would be considered a figurado. Other examples are the perfecto and torpedo.
4. Learn How to Light It
Selecting the perfect cigar only becomes a perfect experience after you light it. First, cut the end with a cigar clip or bite it off if you're feeling rustic. Start the process with a cigar match. Don't use a source with any chemicals that could alter the taste of your cigar. But some experts say a butane lighter is a pretty good alternative though we still prefer a match. And even with the match, don't put it near the foot of your cigar immediately. Let the sulfur on the end burn off first and then start the process known as toasting.
Place your lit match below the cigar by several inches and allow the foot to light on its own. Don't let the flame touch the cigar, but start rotating it while puffing to ignite the entire surface. Add a little bit more oxygen (blow on the lit end) to make sure the burn is spread evenly. And when you're satisfied, take a moment to let the cigar breathe before taking your first real tug. After all, knowing how to smoke a cigar is a crucial facet of Cigars 101.
5. Smoking and Extinguishing
Now you can finally enjoy the labors of your effort. The benefits of our Cigars 101 course are clear when you take that first luxurious puff. But there is a protocol to this part of the process, too. If you're a cigarette smoker, you'll initially feel the urge to inhale. You probably know that this isn't the preferred method. It leads to overpowering your lungs and usually a lot of coughing.
Instead, just suck the smoke into your mouth and exhale. After a few big pulls, you'll see that beautiful smoke billow out and fill the room. And since great cigars burn slowly, you can -- and should -- take your time. It might take as long as a couple of hours to finish a good sized cigar.
Don't get too anxious about ashing your cigar, either. The sign of a quality wrapper means the ash will stick around for a while. You'll want to gently knock the buildup off throughout the session, but you'll get an idea for the regularity. Cheaper cigars require more frequent ashing. And when you're done, don't stub the cigar out like you would a cigarette butt. Instead, preserve the fresh aroma by letting it sit for a few minutes and extinguish itself.
Enjoying a great cigar doesn't have to be an intimidating concept.
Cigars 101 aims to provide a brief overview of the process. While there are several items to keep in mind to master Cigars 101, these key steps will get you started. We hope you've learned a thing or two about the experience so many men and women enjoy. If so, consider sharing our tutorial with your friends on social media. And let us know in the comments section below if you have a favorite cigar brand or style.
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