A Plugged Cigar: To Save or Not to Save?

Winston Churchill thinking.

Every gentleman has been there; you have been saving an exceptional cigar all day to relax with during the evening. It’s a peaceful night; you pour yourself a drink and recline into a comfortable position, the cigar is cut and lit, but there is a problem. Your draw becomes devilishly hard, and smoke volume is low, with a stricter draw you try putting in extra effort to puff on the stogie. This extra effort and force it takes to draw on the cigar creates terrible technique and subsequently bitter and harsh flavours. Sadly, it happens. Premium cigars are 100% handmade, and this, unfortunately, means that sometimes, on the very rare occasion, there is an individual variable that has led to the inconsistency. Thankfully at Havana House, we always replace a plugged cigar and send it back to Cuba for inspection.


We all know that making the time for a good stogie is a conscious decision and that every moment is precious to many working professionals or those who have earnt retirement, so a plugged or dud cigar is sadly a waste of that treasured time. You expect your time with a cigar to support your respite and deliver you some focus and perspective on life, so when your favourite stogie cannot provide an enjoyable smoking experience, then you are forgiven for getting a little bit upset. This begs the question; what should a gentleman do if he is to fall under the misfortune of a plugged cigar?


Below are a few suggestions to help you if caught with an irreplaceable plugged cigar, we advise reserving these last resort techniques for a desert island stranding or something of similar ilk if another cigar is unavailable or you do not want to send it back to the provider for a replacement.


  1. The reason most cigars get plugged is that the finish on the cigar is rolled much too tightly, or sometimes a bunching near the top of the cigar occurs. If you have ever watched a professional roller at work, you will notice they will spend quite some time finishing off the cigar where the cap is applied, if the roller gets this moment wrong a stray leaf can close off all the airways, and that becomes a plug. If the plug is near the foot of the cigar, there is a great chance the heat will unravel the plug as the tobacco softens and if the plug is near the band, massaging the stogie between your fingertips combined with the heat should help open it up. If none of these go-to suggestions work then you may have to get a bit more serious and utilise some of the techniques below.


  1. Utilise a metal skewer or bamboo satay stick to pierce a hole all the way through the cigar or at least until you can feel the plug has been opened up. This can run the risk of the stogie burning a bit too hot and fast, but as aforementioned, this technique can be a better solution than having nothing to smoke at all.


  1. Number three only really works with more extended variants such as double coronas and dahlias. Cut your cigar in half and smoke it reversed. This works most times; you may notice quite a bizarre smoking experience because cigars are rolled to be smoked from the foot to the cap. As the blend burns backwards, you may encounter unexpected and surprising flavours.


We hope no-one reading this has to be put in the situation where they cannot just pull out a fresh stogie from the humidor and stick with the standard cigar-smoking option. However, if you are stuck in the tundra and that last Cuban has a plug, we hope you can draw (excuse the pun) some good advice from this guide. If you wanted to find out more advice on cigar-smoking, why not take a look at these other guides:

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