Smoking Your Cigar

Guillotine cigar cutter - Orchant Seleccion Palio cutter A cigar can provide a great deal of enjoyment, and it should not be rushed. Allow yourself time to appreciate the whole experience, from choosing and cutting to lighting and smoking. The pleasurable ritual of smoking a cigar begins with cutting it. Most modern experts agree that the best way to cut the head of your cigar is with a guillotine-type cutter. Never use your teeth, a knife, or your fingernail. The cut should be careful, clean, and crisp, without any damage to the cap.

When your light a cigar you can use a butane lighter or a wood match. There are also special long slow-burning matches designed for cigar smokers available. A properly lit cigar is always more enjoyable than one that isn't, so take it easy when you light one. Older well-matured cigars burn more easily than younger ones. To get the best of them, cigars should be smoked slowly. They should not to be dragged on or puffed too frequently. This will lead to overheating and spoil the flavour.

If your cigar goes out, don't worry: this is quite normal, particularly if you have already smoked half of it. Tap the cigar to remove any clinging ash. Then blow through the cigar to clear any stale smoke. Relight as you would a new cigar. There are two things that should not be done: first, don't roll a cigar near your ear. It tells you nothing at all about a cigar; second, you should never warm the length of the cigar before smoking it.

Cigar Band
Guillotine cigar cutter - Orchant Seleccion Palio cutter The cigar band was introduced by the Dutchman Gustave Bock, one of the first Europeans to get involved in the Havana cigar industry, somewhat after the introduction of the cigar box and labels, and for the same reason: to distinguish his brand from the many others on the market. The band has another minor function, that of protecting the smoker's fingers from becoming stained (this was important when gentlemen wore white evening gloves).

The cigar bands of older brands tend to be much fancier (with gold leaf in abundance) than those of modern brands. Those aimed at the very top of the market in particular Cohiba, Dunhill, Montecristo, and Davidoff, for instance-are all simple and elegant. The brands on non-Havana cigars with Cuban brand names tend to be similar to the Cuban original, although they vary in small details (a typical one being that they bear the date of origin of the brand in the space where the Cuban versions says 'Havana').

The question of whether to smoke a cigar with the band on or off is purely a matter of personal choice. In Britain, it has traditionally been considered a matter of "bad form" to advertise the brand you are smoking, an inhibition which does not apply elsewhere. If you insist on removing the band, it is best to wait until you have smoked the cigar for a few minutes. The heat of the smoke will help to loosen the band from the wrapper and will make the gum on the band less adhesive and easier to remove. If you try to take the band off the cigar before starting to smoke it, you will risk damaging the wrapper.