Cigar smokers have many rituals. They vary from where they smoke to what they are going to drink while smoking. I will spend time rolling the cigar carefully between my finger to get a sense of the smoothness or ‘toothiness’ of the wrapper. I will take a moment to look at the overall aesthetics of the cigar. I may even sniff the foot to get the bouquet of the cigar.

If you have received help from the tobacconist, you’ve decided what shape and size and wrapper; it is now time to cut and light your cigar. I don’t want you to just grab a cutter and not understand how the different cuts affect the smoking experience. Maybe you’ve invested time in learning flavor profiles from different countries and the variety of shapes. I implore you to take a moment now and learn about the choices of cuts.

All premium cigars require an opening to be made at the head. We need to make a clean delicate cut that does not tear or break the cap that has been placed on the head. This cut is vital, as it allows you to draw the air through the cigar properly. A guillotine provides for a straight cut across the head. When I use this the guillotine I place it on the table, open it and stick the cigar in the middle. This has insured me that I will not cut too much.  A V cut makes a wedge cut in the head. This cutter is great for making consistent cuts. A piercer or punch cut makes a hole through the cap in the head. When I use this cutter, I line up the punch in the middle of the cigar and with a little pressure slowly twist the blade into the cigar. Your cut needs to be made carefully; it should be made just at the cap. If you cut too much the cigar will unravel. This is most upsetting and can make the cigar unsmokable.

We are now ready to light our cigar. Remember, do not let the flames hit the cigar as this can affect the flavor of the cigar. Butane lighters are usually the choice of the cigar smoker, as the fuel is colorless and odorless. Another great choice is a cedar match. Make sure if you are using matches to wait a moment for the flame to burn the sulfur off. Put the cigar in one hand and the lighter in the other, hold the cigar at a 45-degree angle to the flame and rotate the cigar. This requires some patience but is well worth it. When you get the flames too close you can burn the cigar; which can give the cigar a burnt taste.  When you see smoke start to rise you can now take the cigar to your lips and gently puff and rotate the cigar.

I enjoy my time smoking and love my rituals. Take the time to discover your rituals. Cigar smoking is time to be with friends and enjoy their stories and life experiences. It’s a time to sit quietly and reflect on life, or just enjoy a game. However you choose to spend your precious time,  make it a better experience with a properly lit and cared for cigar.

By Tara Lee Maloney

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