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Old 10-21-2008, 11:46 AM   #1
Da Klugs
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Default Cigar Smoking Technique

So you learn a few things along the journey of discovery that is cigar smoking. There are so many, it's what keeps the hobby fresh. Nothing like sitting down next to a brother/sister and "noticing something". I'm pretty slow but over time you pick up things that can be useful.

How you choose to smoke a cigar is many times based upon circumstances. Time constraints, location, need to do something productive while smoking, etc can all have an impact on "how you smoke". The interrelated subject is "what you choose to smoke". Anyone with more than 1 cigar is confronted with this choice.

But.. let's stick with technique.

Once you choose to smoke a specific cigar, for whatever reasons it comes to you to do so (mine more often then not are that I could find it) there are basic things you need to do.

Cut: Most folks use some form of guillotine cutter. Either single blade or dual blade. Lots of hype regarding which style is better and within style which brand. Palio and Xikar being the most popular dual blades. Personally, I tend to cut most cigars with my $ 1.50 single blade Havana cutter. The very thin razor edge seems to be the most reliable for me particularly with crumbly older cigars. However, the Palio and Xikars do a fine job as well. One technique I have seen is to lay the cutter flat on the table, put the cigar in vertically, and make the cut with the cigar head resting on the table. Seems to be pretty good at making a straight cut, particularly with the Xikar and Palio, where a bit of twisting and off angle cuts are easy without a firm steady hand. Going too slowly on a cut is normally where problems of "pinching" occurs. So commit to the cut!

Once you have smoked a particular cigar / box sometimes you find cigars that have a draw that is looser than you prefer. For me, this is the application for a Punch. By making a smaller hole/restricting airflow in the cap vs cutting the whole thing off, the draw can me made to "feel" more normal.

Light: Lots of chatter about "how to" light a cigar. Cedar strips, toasting to avoid flame touching the tobacco with torches, soft flame lighters, etc, etc. From my perspective have never really noticed a difference in flavor based upon "how a cigar was lit". However, there are huge differences in how a cigar smokes based upon the light. I believe that most poorly burning/running cigars start with a bad light.

There are probably an infinite number of ways to get a good light. Here is one. I toast the foot.. flame on or a little off of the tobacco. In between I blow on the glowing foot. Take no draws on the cigar during the process. Try to get the entire foot including the wrapper glowing. Usually its 2-3 toast and blow alternations to get a good even burn. After it is achieved wait a few seconds and start taking light draws on the cigar and recheck the evenness of the burn. If necessary torch and blow again.

Starting with light vs heavy draws on the cigar helps prevent an initial run and improves the burn for the entire cigar.

Draw Intensity: How hard you draw on a cigar has a big impact on the flavors. The nature of a cigar and where it is in its burn interrelate on this issue as well. Drawing too heavily and sharply will tend to heat a cigar beyond it's optimal flavor profile. However, cigars that are too moist (too being relative to what you like) may require heavier or more frequent draws to get the proper amount of smoke. This relates to a separate but related issue of what RH to store your cigars and why some folks choose to "dry box" (store cigars in lower RH just prior to smoking).

Every cigar has it's sweet spot, at least for me, regarding the pace and amount of draw to "get it's best". It's something you need to think about but tends to come naturally... sometimes through a head spinning surprise.

Frequency of Draw: Numbers like every 30 seconds or 45 or 1 minute get thrown out as being the "right pace". I think every cigar has it's optimal pace. Older dryer = lighter puffs, longer intervals. Newer, wetter harder puffs shorter intervals (cuz they will go out is one reason). It really depends mostly on how hard you draw and finding a "pace" that makes the cigar taste best for you.

Nose Modulation: Everything we give him he stick up his nose! (Old Cheech and Chong line) Try eating or smoking something while pinching your nose. No discernible flavors! The sense of taste regarding smoke comes primarily from your nasal cavity. For me it was a serendipitous thing for many years. I'd smoke a cigar... smoke in the mouth, smoke out the mouth. Got preferences. Bought more of them. Basically a happy lil mouth smoking camper. Then the SOB named Bruce noticed my "technique" and showed me the "nose exhale". The world changed from there. Every cigar I smoke I exhale some portion of the inhale consciously through my nose. Milder cigars... more nose. Stronger cigars.. less nose, but every cigar some nose. Usually more nose at the beginning of a cigar less at the end. If you don't do it now, you need to learn.

Summary: Storage RH starts the process. Cutting it right sets the stage. Lighting it evenly positions you for pleasure. But, the combination of finding a cigars pace and consciously modulating the strength of draw and the amount of "nose" on exhale is "it". Once you get "it" there are many paths to enjoy any particular cigar at any point in its all too short death by fire.

Of course we violate many of these rules by hot boxing some of the worlds finest cigars in PPP's.
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Last edited by Da Klugs; 10-21-2008 at 08:05 PM. Reason: missing "of"
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