Once you’ve grasped the basics of cigar smoking and know more or less what it is you are looking for in a cigar, you can start to look for ways in which you can enhance your cigar smoking experience.
In this guide, we will share some of our advice and top tips to help you get the best out of your cigar.
Using a Humidor
While a lot of cigar lovers will have a humidor, we cannot stress the importance of owning one and using it correctly enough.
We could give you a hundred tips on how to make your cigar smoking experience better, but at the end of the day, if your cigar hasn’t been properly stored in a humidor, then it just won’t smoke right no matter what you do!
We have already compiled a full guide to choosing and using humidors and the different options you have available, so be sure to check that out if you haven’t got a decent cigar storage solution sorted yet!
Key Points on Humidors
There are a few key things to remember about humidors, which can help to enhance your cigar smoking experience.
- Pick a quality humidor, we recommend one lined with Spanish cedar wood.
- Ensure the humidity is between 65-70%.
- Keep on top of the maintenance of your humidor, checking on the sponge or refilling the humidifier.
- Don’t cram cigars in, but also don’t have too empty a humidor. Fill any big gaps with cedar wood or boxes, or upgrade to a bigger or secondary humidor if you have too many.
- Leave cigars in a humidor to age them and experience developed flavours.
- Add different cigars together in a humidor for alternative flavour and aroma experiences. Find out more about mixing cigars in our previous post.
If you read our humidor guide, then you would have seen us mention the process of ageing cigars. Ageing some of your cigar collection is just one way in which you can enhance your cigar smoking experience – although it is a bit of a long game.
Many cigar aficionados will opt to buy a larger box of cigars and put some aside for future smoking. These cigars can then be popped in a humidor and enjoyed every month or year (depending on how many you have).
It can be really interesting to see how the flavour and aroma develops over time and if any new tastes present themselves. Be sure to keep a tasting journal as you smoke them, so you can keep track of your thoughts and feelings for these cigars as you try them.
You can learn more about how to age cigars properly in our previous post.
Cleansing the Palate
Moving away from things you can do to improve your cigars, there are a few things that you can do for yourself that can help enhance the cigar smoking process.
One of the key areas this can be achieved is by ensuring the palate is cleansed throughout the smoking experience.
Cigars are packed full of complex flavours and aromas, and while some are intense and bold, others are more subtle and require some well-trained tastebuds to detect.
So, if your mouth is overwhelmed with cigar smoke or tainted with the lunch you ate earlier, then you’re never going to experience the full range of flavours on offer in your well-crafted stogie.
How to Cleanse Your Palate
When it comes to cleansing your palette, you are aiming to clean away flavours lingering in your mouth and refresh your taste.
While you might use mouthwash or a mint after a meal to refresh your mouth, this is a bad idea before a cigar, as the minty flavour is likely to overwhelm and make your smoke taste of mint, rather than help to cleanse.
Instead, your best bet is to have a sip or two of water or bitter lemon. If you’d rather nibble your way to a cleansed palate, then try some ginger or a lemon sorbet!
Another element to this is considering the order in which you smoke. While many will only choose to smoke one cigar at a time, if you’re making an evening of it with multiple stogies, then it can be a good idea to start with the mildest and work your way up to the strongest. That way, the flavours of a strong cigar won’t linger and overwhelm a milder cigar later on.
Learn to Taste Properly
While it may sound silly – there being a right and wrong way to ‘taste’ – adapting the way you taste your cigar could actually make a world of difference in the smoke you experience.
In the context of cigars, learning to taste properly largely refers to learning how to distinguish different flavours and find the subtleties hidden in your cigar. There are a few ways you can taste a cigar properly:
- Smell and taste the cigar before you light it. Place it in your mouth and see if any key flavour notes instantly hit you.
- Take the smoke slow, so that the cigar doesn’t overheat and cause issues that may affect the taste.
- Let the smoke linger in your mouth to experience a more pronounced aftertaste.
- Retro-hale the cigar, exhaling through the nose to detect any further flavour in the aroma.
- Ensure your palate is kept fresh.
Look for Any Issues
Another way to enhance your cigar smoking experience is to identify any issues with your cigar and the way it is smoking and try to remedy these.
You can’t have a perfect cigar smoking experience if there are problems with your cigar. It’s better to discard a damaged cigar than to experience a bad stogie.
When you are smoking, you may notice the burn on your cigar becoming uneven, which can indicate an issue. Alternatively, you may notice an issue before even lighting up, such as insect damage or humidification problems.
While some issues will be impossible for you to fix, others can be remedied at home.
As you can see from the graphic below, there are a number of burn issues that can affect your cigar. While some may not be fixable, with a bit of patience and good lighting technique, you should be able to get these cigars back on track for a better smoke.
Canoeing is one of the most common cigar burn issues, with one side of the cigar burning much faster than the other, making the cigar uneven. To help remedy this, you should slow the speed at which you smoke to help cool the cigar down.
The more you puff a cigar, the hotter it gets and the quicker it burns, so slowing this down can give you a bit more time to rescue the side that isn’t burning. By taking more infrequent and gentler puffs, the cigar may right itself even.
If this doesn’t work, then stop smoking and let the cigar cool before clipping the end with a cigar cutter to make it straighter. Before you relight, blow through the cigar to expel any chemicals that have built up within the cigar.
The best way to spot if your cigar has been affected by cigar beetles is to examine the stick for any pinprick holes, or see if there’s any black dust in your humidor around the cigars.
If there are signs of damage from cigar beetles, then you will want to discard the cigars and seek measures to prevent future damage. You can take a look at our guide for advice on how to prevent cigar beetles.
One issue that you may be able to resolve at home is humidification issues. If your cigar is over-humidified, then it may feel spongey and damp, whereas an under-humidified cigar may feel dry and brittle.
- An under-humidified cigar should be put back in the humidor, at 70% humidity, and left for a week.
- An over-humidified cigar should be placed back in the humidor, surrounded by some cedar strips, and left at the right humidity for a week.
Whether it arrived damaged, got bashed about in your bag or suffered an accident when you were cutting it, there may come a time when you’re presented with a cigar that has some damage.
Luckily, you may still be able to recover things like peeling wrappers or little cracks. The best way to do this is to use natural pectin and some extra tobacco to help patch up any problem parts. You can check out our guide to repairing cigars for full instructions!
One of the best ways to enhance your cigar smoking experience is to learn how to successfully pair your cigar with food or drink. By matching or contrasting flavours from food or drink items, you can create more complex tasting experiences and may even draw out hidden notes within your cigar.
Finding the perfect marriage between cigars and another ingredient can be tricky to get right, so check out our guide to pairing first to learn the basic rules and discover some essential pairing types.
You can then explore our more specific pairing guides to discover more tips and ideas:
- Pairing Beer and Cigars
- Pairing Food and Cigars
- Pairing Cocktails and Cigars
- Pairing Coffee and Cigars
- Pairing Japanese Whisky and Cigars
We hope this guide has given you some good insights into how you can achieve an improved cigar smoking experience!
For more cigar smoking tips, news and the latest releases, follow us on Facebook and Instagram.