We all start at the beginning with everything new we do in life. Enjoying a finely crafted cigar for the first time is no different. So, with that in mind, we've put together a few tips on the proper etiquette for cigar smoking so you can enjoy the experience without looking like a novice.
Choose the Right Cigar
If you're new to cigar smoking and you're offered a selection of cigars, it's wise to choose a milder, longer, fatter cigar. Most new cigar smokers make the mistake of choosing a shorter, thinner cigar. The problem with this choice is that short, thin cigars produce a hotter, more intense smoke. When smoking your first cigar, take it slow. It will be much smoother and will make for a more pleasant experience. One puff every minute or so should keep it lit and ensure it does not burn too hot.
Remove the Cellophane
Need we say more…unless you like the smell and taste of burnt plastic?
Leave the Band On
This is mostly a matter of choice. However, trying to remove the band right off the bat may destroy the cigar, causing it to unravel. Although some cigar smokers remove the band for collecting, it's best to leave it until later. This will not only keep the cigar from unraveling during the smoke, but also show others that you have good taste in what you smoke. You can always remove the band towards the end of the smoke. The heat produced from the ember should loosen the adhesive of the band, making it easier to remove.
Cutting Your Cigar
Trying to smoke a cigar without cutting just makes you look like an amateur. Although you've probably seen guys bite the end off of their cigar before lighting it, it's not the best way to go about it. First, if you bite the end off your cigar you may bite too deep and destroy the wrapper, causing it to unravel. Second, biting the end off leaves a ragged end and you will get a mouth full of tobacco. However, this is not necessarily a bad thing as some people like to chew on their cigars before and during the smoke. Finally, cutting the cigar lets others know you have a bit of class and style. Using a guillotine cigar cutter or cigar punch gets the best results without cutting too deep.
Nothing will destroy the flavor of a cigar quicker than using the wrong lighter. Most cigar aficionados will agree that using a Zippo style lighter will fill the cigar with the taste of lighter fluid. If you must use a lighter, it's best to use a butane torch or soft flame lighter. However, most long-time cigar smokers refuse to use anything but wooden matches or a cedar stick from the box. They claim that using cardboard matches, or anything else, imparts a distasteful flavor that lasts throughout the cigar.
Cigar smoking isn't like smoking a cigarette. Cigar smoking is more of a relaxing social hobby in the company of others. A cigar is enjoyed slowly; like sipping a fine wine, not chugged like a cold beer on a hot day. For those reasons among others, cigar smokers don't inhale. Not only is inhaling bad form and ill-advised, it may make you look a bit foolish and give you a case of the “green-gills”. Nothing screams amateur like choking, gagging and wheezing from the thick smoke filling your lungs.
It's About the Taste
Cigars are about taste, they are not about the nicotine. In fact, talking about the taste of a good cigar is the most common way groups of cigar smokers bond with each other. Even if you are new to cigar smoking, most will appreciate your take on the brand being smoked. You can speak to them about how the cigar tastes when first lit and how the flavor changes as you smoke. You can also talk about the way it reacts on your palette and how it burns. Attention to details, such as these, will let others know you are one of them, and can appreciate a finely made cigar as much as they do.
When You're Done, Set It Down
Finally, when you're finished enjoying your cigar, simply let it go out in the ashtray. It's not proper etiquette to snuff a cigar like a cigarette. Since premium cigars maintain a certain humidity level (at least the good ones do), they don't stay lit unless puffed. Furthermore, cigars are not usually saved to relight later. Not only does it look a bit tacky to pull half a cigar out of your pocket, but they don't taste nearly as good.
Whether you're a novice cigar smoker or a seasoned veteran, following these rules for etiquette are of the utmost importance. Cigar smoking is something that is savored, enjoyed and shared with others.
To talk more about cigar smoking etiquette or any other cigar-related topic, please contact us. We are more than happy to help out fellow cigar smokers, anytime.