Whether you are just starting out in the cigar world or are looking to freshen up on the basics, this guide will help you turn from a beginner to a refined and well-educated smoker!
Click a topic, or scroll down to learn everything!
What Cigar Should You Buy as a Beginner?
Before you even learn how to cut, light and smoke a cigar, the first step is to buy the stogie you are going to smoke! Choosing which one to have your first time with can be a difficult and important decision. There are so many cigar brands, shapes, sizes and wrapper colours out there that coming to a decision may seem a little overwhelming. To help you on your journey, here are some cigars we recommend for beginners.
Juliany Petit Corona
Petit cigars are perfect for beginners because they are smaller, meaning you won’t have to spend hours smoking it when you just want to give cigars a go! Despite this, even the most experienced smokers return to this one as it is just so great! With an incredible depth of flavour and great value for money, this stogie is an ideal starting point. Plus, the relatively low cost means that you won’t feel too disappointed if you decide that this cigar isn’t for you.
Montecristo No. 3
The Montecristo brand is one of the best-known makers of cigars. As a premium cigar company, their products are enjoyed by many an aficionado around the world. In fact, the Montecristo No 2 is even considered to be the best cigar in the world, and the No 4 is a best seller! While these cigars from the Montecristo range tend to be tailored to the more experienced cigar lover, the Montecristo No 3 provides a great entrance into the cigar world with its milder blend. Going with a milder cigar is important for a beginner, as anything stronger is likely to be far too overpowering to start with. This is because cigars are made entirely of tobacco, making it a big jump up from a cigarette! In addition to its mildness, the Montecristo No 3 is also great for beginners as it is guaranteed to have a good draw and even burn, making it an uncomplicated smoke – which is what you want for your first time!
Camacho Machitos Orange Connecticut
Another quick smoke comes in the form of the Machitos Orange Connecticut from Camacho. They are a smaller version of one of Camacho’s larger sticks, but pack just as much flavour in, giving you an intensely tasty smoke.
For more cigars perfect for beginners, check out our top ten cigars recommended for those looking to enter the world of cigars!
How Much Should You Pay For a Quality Cigar?
A question that many new smokers have is how much they should be paying for a cigar. While it may seem like you might have to splash out and spend a small fortune to get a quality smoke, it can actually be fairly reasonable, with quality cigars available from around £5. There are a number of factors which will affect the price of a cigar, such as the brand it is from, how long the tobacco used to make the cigar was aged, how big the cigar is, how many you are buying, and any taxes that may be added!
How Do You Prepare a Cigar For Smoking?
The first step in cigar preparation is to cut the cap with a cigar cutter. Removing this part allows for the smoke to leave the cigar easily, without damaging the structure of the cigar. Using a knife (or your teeth!) is a big no-no, so a proper cigar cutter, such as a guillotine, cigar punch, double-blade cutter or V-cutter will be required. It is important to use a quality cutter with a sharp blade to ensure a clean cut. Using a blunt, or low-quality cutter can cause damage to the wrapper, which you want to remain intact. The cap is a small piece of wrapper that has been glued to the end of the cigar. Only 2-3mm of this needs to be removed with the cutter. Use a strong, quick motion to chop off the end, as this will prevent the wrapper from tearing. For those new to smoking, a double-bladed guillotine cutter is the best bet.
Do You Remove the Band Before You Smoke a Cigar?
This is a matter that is debated back and forth between even the most advanced aficionados out there, so as a beginner it is fine to be unsure of the protocol regarding band removal! There are a number of arguments for and against removing the band. Firstly, if you smoke a cigar with the band still on, and the band begins to burn, your cigar will just taste like burnt paper, which is not good! To prevent this from happening, some remove the band as a preventative measure. On the other hand, the band is usually affixed to the cigar with a small amount of gum adhesive. Sometimes too much of this is used and the band can become fused to the wrapper leaf. This means that when the band is removed, a small amount of the wrapper will come away too, which can impact the structure of the cigar. It can be best to start smoking for a few minutes and allow the heat of the cigar to soften up the gum, allowing you to easily undo the band!
How Do You Light a Cigar?
Lighting the cigar takes a surprising amount of skill; although it is sure to become like second nature with time! The first step will be to choose what you are going to light the cigar with. As cigars are a little more complex than cigarettes, it may be an idea to upgrade any cheaper disposable lighters for some long cigar matches or a butane lighter, although there are a few more lighter options out there.
When lighting the cigar, the first step is to toast the foot. This is different to fully lighting the cigar, as it ensures that the wrapper and binder are burning as well as the filler. Toast the foot by holding the cigar at a 45-degree angle a little way from the flame, so it isn’t physically touching but is close enough to gently toast. Puff a little on the cigar and then check that it is burning evenly. The wrapper and binder at the foot should now look white. Expect to put in some extra toasting on some brands, particularly for those who have selected a cigar with a lot of oily ligero tobacco as part of their blend.
Next, bring a larger flame about half an inch away from the foot to ignite the filler. Draw in air through the cigar and the flame should take hold of the foot. At this point, you will be able to exhale a puff of smoke! Once lit, you may want to wait a minute to allow the burn to stabilise and burn evenly.
How Do You Smoke a Cigar?
Learning how to smoke a cigar will also take some skill and practice. Regardless of whether you are an existing smoker, or you are new to the world of the stogie, you should aim to draw on the cigar around every 60-120 seconds. Smoking too quickly can make the cigar burn too hot and can even make you feel ill, however, not smoking it for more than a few minutes will cause it to go out. Slow and steady is very much the recommended approach though, as allowing the cigar to rest will let the flavours caramelise and will give both the cigar and your mouth a chance to cool down. Once your cigar passes the halfway point and gets to be much smaller, you will want to extend this resting time a little.
The main guideline for cigar smoking though is you should not inhale the smoke. Unlike cigarette smoke, cigars are not inhaled, as there is too much tobacco and smoke; if you did you would be coughing up a lung! When ‘puffing’ on a cigar is mentioned, it is quite literal. Instead, draw smoke into your mouth, hold it a moment, and then blow it out.
How Far Down a Cigar Should You Smoke?
Another hotly debated issue in the cigar world, knowing how far down you should smoke a cigar is often more down to personal preferences than actual rules. Some smokers say that the best part of the cigar is the first half, and so only smoke that much, but that seems rather wasteful! Other cigar lovers argue that around three-finger widths should be left by the time you have stopped smoking. Another method is to stop smoking when you hit the cigar band (if you have kept that on!), although again this could be very wasteful depending on where the band is positioned on the cigar!
It also really depends on the type of cigar you are smoking. Some cigars turn hot and harsh as it burns closer to the nub, making the second portion of the smoke less enjoyable. However, many cigars taste great right up until the end, making it well worth your while to stick with it. As you experiment more with different types of cigars, you will soon discover which ones work best smoked longer, and which should be left to burn!
Can You Relight a Cigar?
Cigars tend to extinguish themselves if they are not puffed on every now and then, so you may find that you need to relight your cigar. To do this, hold the flame just in front of the foot and blow through the cigar to get rid of any trapped ash. Then simply repeat the lighting process. Do try to keep the cigar going on its own though, by taking a puff every minute or so, as continuously having to relight it may cause the cigar flavour to change into something less pleasant tasting. Relighting a cigar is also only okay if it is the one you have just been smoking. This means that if you decide you’ve had enough of a cigar and want to leave it for another day, it would actually be better to just start fresh than try and relight a cigar that has been left for more than a few hours.
How Do You Put Out a Cigar?
The best way to put out a cigar is to just let it rest on an ashtray and extinguish itself. Cigars should not be stubbed out like you would with a cigarette. If you stub out a cigar you will soon regret it due to the bad smell that it will release! This smell occurs due to the oils and tars that build up as the cigar burns. Stubbing it out releases them, and can cause a stale, lingering odour. As a cigar only burns when it is actively puffed, simply letting it rest will allow it to put itself out fairly quickly. However, if you are in a rush and want to ensure that the cigar is fully out, you can extinguish it in some (non-alcoholic) liquid, although this is certainly not very dignified!
How Do You Store Cigars?
If you just want to try one cigar soon after you have bought it, then you don’t need to worry too much about storing it. Many singular cigars now come in tubes, which is the perfect place to store the cigar until you smoke it. These tubes can then be kept to carry around more cigars in future. Other cigars will arrive in a clear plastic wrapper, and as long as this is kept in a cool and dry place, this should be fine if you are planning on smoking it within a couple of days. Decided you want to smoke cigars more regularly? Invest in a humidor, so that you can keep your collection in the best condition possible. Without a humidor, cigars dry out, which can cause cracks and wrapper peeling, as well as making the cigar lose its flavour and burn quicker.
When it comes to cigar smoking, knowing where to start can sometimes be a bit daunting, so we hope that this guide will provide all the information you need. If you do still have any questions, then please get in touch, either via the comments below or through our social media channels!