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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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Old 10-21-2008, 11:53 AM   #2
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Default Re: Smoking Technique

Wow. Great info. I've read most of this before, but there are a few new considerations and it's nice to see it all in a neat little package.
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Old 10-21-2008, 11:58 AM   #3
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Default Re: Smoking Technique

i too have found everyone has their own ritual as to how to cut light and draw on a cigar. i'm right there with you on lighting except i tend to draw in and usually blow out a time or two also just to clear some of the bitterness from the lighting process.

BTW, i love my punch. i have it on my keys all the time and use it for cigars like the chisel and a few larger RG cigars to give a more concentrated draw. i think it's an under-rated way to cut the cigar. not to mention how clean it can be compared to other techniques sometimes.
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Old 10-21-2008, 12:03 PM   #4
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Default Re: Smoking Technique

Thanks for the post. I have been trying to exhale more and more out through my nose as I am blowing out of my mouth. The first time it was bad really bad but that is because I was trying to blow it all out my nose. I had to learn the hard way that it is not all exhaled through my nose.

I know exhale is a poor choice of words because I don't inhale but I think you can understand what I mean.
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Old 10-21-2008, 12:16 PM   #5
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Default Re: Smoking Technique

Great post. When I get out of class I am going to print this out for some friends. I am very grateful to my father for teaching me the art of the snork. It has changed my appreciation of smoking greatly.
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Old 10-21-2008, 12:38 PM   #6
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Default Re: Smoking Technique

great post Klugs, thank you

Quote:
Originally Posted by Da Klugs View Post
Nose Modulation: Everything we give him he stick up his nose! (Old Cheech and Chong line)
Ah, I get it! Is that what this guy was doing? http://www.cigarasylum.com/vb/showthread.php?t=1556
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Old 10-21-2008, 01:26 PM   #7
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Default Re: Smoking Technique

Nice post

This should be a sticky!!
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Old 10-21-2008, 11:56 AM   #8
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Default Re: Smoking Technique

great post kluggs, i had the clouds parting, angels singing, and heavenly light shining down upon me experience when i finally figured out about nose exhaling as well...
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Old 11-07-2008, 11:29 PM   #9
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Default Re: Smoking Technique

Exhaling through the nose- best thing I ever learned. I can't believe no one I smoke with does it- it is good to see it mentioned so I don't feel like I am crazy. I don't remember who I picked that up from but for years I have been enjoying cigars so much more than before.
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Old 11-17-2008, 10:34 PM   #10
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Default Re: Smoking Technique

Excellent info.
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Old 11-18-2008, 04:19 AM   #11
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Default Re: Smoking Technique

how would one go about learning the nose exhale thing? I assume that to exhale through the nose, you have to inhale into the lungs? Am I stupid for this belief? I've been reading more and more about the nose thing and I just have no idea how to do it. Little help please.
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Old 11-18-2008, 05:46 AM   #12
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Talking Re: Smoking Technique

Exhaling through your nose is the only true way to taste the entire flavor profile of a cigar.

Flavor is a combination of two sensory perceptions: taste and aroma. The first part of the flavor duo of taste and aroma is perceived by the taste buds and other sensory tissues on the tongue. It is this area which perceives non-volatile stimuli such as: salt, sweet, acid (sour) and bitter. These taste buds are generally located in very specific areas on the tongue (sweet in front, salt next and along the sides, acid (sour) next and along the sides, bitter in the rear and from side to side covering the back of the tongue). However, all types of taste buds can be found located sparsely throughout the tongue's entire surface.

The olfactory (scent) receptors in the nasal passages, in contrast, are fine-tuned and discriminating. A normal person can tell the difference between 4000-10,000 smells.

I was at a cigar event where Christian Eiroa was presenting Camacho cigars. He explained and demonstrated the process as follows:

Take in a draw of smoke, hold it in your mouth for 3-5 seconds, place your tounge up on the roof of your mouth behind your top row of teeth, and exhale throuh your nose. (Note to newbies at this, make sure you don't take in too much of a draw, and also let some smoke exhale out of your mouth either before or after exhaling through the nose...and don't inhale)

By following this process, you will soon begin to be able to discern the complexities and distinct flavors of cigars.

(As a side note, milk is perfect for cleansing your palate before smoking a cigar.)
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Old 11-18-2008, 05:56 AM   #13
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Default Re: Smoking Technique

Quote:
Originally Posted by Buena Fortuna View Post
Exhaling through your nose is the only true way to taste the entire flavor profile of a cigar.

Flavor is a combination of two sensory perceptions: taste and aroma. The first part of the flavor duo of taste and aroma is perceived by the taste buds and other sensory tissues on the tongue. It is this area which perceives non-volatile stimuli such as: salt, sweet, acid (sour) and bitter. These taste buds are generally located in very specific areas on the tongue (sweet in front, salt next and along the sides, acid (sour) next and along the sides, bitter in the rear and from side to side covering the back of the tongue). However, all types of taste buds can be found located sparsely throughout the tongue's entire surface.

The olfactory (scent) receptors in the nasal passages, in contrast, are fine-tuned and discriminating. A normal person can tell the difference between 4000-10,000 smells.

I was at a cigar event where Christian Eiroa was presenting Camacho cigars. He explained and demonstrated the process as follows:

Take in a draw of smoke, hold it in your mouth for 3-5 seconds, place your tounge up on the roof of your mouth behind your top row of teeth, and exhale throuh your nose. (Note to newbies at this, make sure you don't take in too much of a draw, and also let some smoke exhale out of your mouth either before or after exhaling through the nose...and don't inhale)

By following this process, you will soon begin to be able to discern the complexities and distinct flavors of cigars.

(As a side note, milk is perfect for cleansing your palate before smoking a cigar.)

Thanks man. That is a great technique for me to try. I'll give it a whirl the next time I light one up.
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Old 11-25-2008, 01:11 PM   #14
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Default Re: Smoking Technique

Quote:
Originally Posted by icantbejon View Post
Thanks man. That is a great technique for me to try. I'll give it a whirl the next time I light one up.
Train yourself with MILD cigars... if you start with stronger ones before you learn to modulate the amount of smoke you won't have a very pleasant experience. Once you get the hang of it, it's a whole new world of flavors/aromas.
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Old 01-19-2009, 10:47 AM   #15
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Default Re: Smoking Technique

Quote:
Originally Posted by Buena Fortuna View Post
Take in a draw of smoke, hold it in your mouth for 3-5 seconds, place your tounge up on the roof of your mouth behind your top row of teeth, and exhale throuh your nose. (Note to newbies at this, make sure you don't take in too much of a draw, and also let some smoke exhale out of your mouth either before or after exhaling through the nose...and don't inhale)
Take this with a grain of salt, as it's a newbie opinion... Tongue in place as above, tighten up your throat like you're going to swallow, and then give a light cough. You're not really inhaling, but this forces this smoke out through your nose.
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Old 11-25-2008, 01:40 PM   #16
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Default Re: Smoking Technique

Exhaling through the nose was taught me by Scott, the Front Range Herfer. My entire smoking experience was changed at that moment, and I am eternally grateful to him. The only downside is that I have no desire to smoke with a sinus cold.

Thank you Scott!
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Old 12-01-2008, 01:53 PM   #17
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Default Re: Smoking Technique

Something else that is very useful is purging the cigar - blowing through it for a breath. I've found that doing this after the flavors start to go off a little can refresh them again. I usually do it a ocuple of times per cigar, usually after the halfway point.
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Old 01-19-2009, 10:37 AM   #18
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Default Re: Smoking Technique

Quote:
Originally Posted by Da Klugs View Post
... hot boxing some of the worlds finest cigars in PPP's.

Huh? Sorry, I don't understand what that is but I certainly don't want to do it. What do you mean?
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Old 01-19-2009, 10:41 AM   #19
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Default Re: Smoking Technique

Quote:
Originally Posted by Catfish View Post
Huh? Sorry, I don't understand what that is but I certainly don't want to do it. What do you mean?
Late at night certain crazy freinds pull out silly expensive old cigars and put them in Puff Puff Passes. (Couiple puffs and pass it on to the next smoker) It's fun and a great way to experience the contrast in flavors. It also tends to overheat the cigars a bit unless you are careful. (hotbox)
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Old 01-19-2009, 10:47 AM   #20
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Default Re: Smoking Technique

understood. Thanks. I have big luv for all my Brothers-Of-The-Leaf but I have to say, I don't ever think i could be part of a Puff-Puff-Pass. Call me whatever ya want, that just sounds kinda yuck-o.
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