I can still remember my first cigar. It was like it was yesterday. It was a special father and son bonding moment for me. I remember the lessons I learned in that one sitting about not only smoking and enjoying a cigar but about life as well.
That is what lit a passion for me, and I've smoked 1000s of cigars since then and want to share my stories, thoughts, and learnings with the new up-and-coming aficionados.
Let's get one thing straight before we begin, the art of smoking a cigar can quickly become a costly hobby. I always recommend trying out a few cigars before really diving deep into this world. You can achieve this by either buying a smoking cigar at your local tobacconist, lounge, or with friends and family who enjoy smoking cigars.
For beginners, I recommend starting with light to mild-bodied cigars. Not something too heavy and robust because it can ruin your experience and get a cigar buzz which is the same feeling as being intoxicated but without the booze.
If you decide to go the route of trying your first cigar at your local shop/lounge, don’t be afraid to mention the fact that you’re a new smoker and are looking for advice on a good beginner stick.
Now that we have the goods, it's time to enjoy them. Cigar accessories can become a hobby of their own with the different types of cutters, lighters, boxes, holders, picks, and the list goes on. However, to enjoy a cigar, you only need three items: a cigar, a lighter, and a guillotine cutter. As you are trying out a cigar for the first time, I recommend borrowing the cuter and lighter from one of the people you are about to smoke with. I will be going into depth about lighters and cutters in a future article.
Before lighting a cigar, the first thing to do is to cut the cap off. This is where the cutter comes in handy. Don’t try to be the cool guy and bite off a piece of your cigar or cutting it with a knife; you will ruin your smoking experience. That is why cigar cutters have been invented to help us enjoy a cigar to its full potential. Find the cigar "cap," which is about 3mm from the closed tip of the cigar. This is the sweet spot for cutting your cigar: it will keep everything intact and leave you with a fantastic flavorful smoke. Once you find your "cap," open the guillotine cutter and place the blades right at the point where you want to cut the cigar and then with one swift move, cut the "cap" off clean.
Now we can toast the cigar! This is where the lighter comes into play, and I recommend using a torch for this process. You can also use cigar matches or cedar strips, but it can get quite frustrating if not done correctly. You don’t need to get an expensive lighter right off the bat, but make sure the lighter you are using is a butane lighter, as other types of lighters can ruin your smoking experience.
With your lighter in one hand and the cigar in the other, it's time to toast your stick. It's always best to toast the cigar before; this helps bring in all the flavors and avoid making the cigar burn hot, which will ruin your experience. Toast the cigar for about a good minute or until the foot of the stick is evenly lit. At this point, you can bring it to your mouth and finally enjoy the smoke.
One thing to always remember when smoking a cigar is never to inhale. Unlike a cigarette, a cigar can and will get you sick if you inhale it. As you draw the smoke into your mouth, make it pass around your tongue, hitting your cheeks and gums to be able to enjoy the taste entirely. Once you have happily enjoyed the flavors, you can release the smoke back into the atmosphere.
When smoking a cigar, you shouldn’t draw more than once every 60 seconds, and this will keep the cigar well light and reduces the chances of you needing to relight it. Always keep in mind that a cigar, depending on the vitola (size and shape), should take you a minimum of 30 minutes to enjoy. Cigar smoking is a passion, and you should take the time to enjoy it.
If you find your first cigar relaxing and flavorful, you should commit to the cigar journey. However, if you don’t, I recommend trying a second or third as every cigar is made differently and will taste different.