Cigar 101 for Beginners!

Posted June 29 2015

Cigar 101 from Generic Puzzles


Generic Puzzles

Cigars; a right of passage to any man on the journey to sophistication. A true staple of manhood.

If you are a lost lamb looking for guidance on your first cigar purchase we're on point, helping you understand the finer points of cigar selection, preparation and smoking.

No matter the celebration we’re here to tackle the daunting task of Cigar selection for the uninitiated.

Cigars are like wine, you need to develop a connoisseur-ship; understand the nuances of selection, consider the taste,
the smells;
the diligent preparation,
the location of the vineyard,
the year of growth,
among an abundance of other elements to fully appreciate the fine craftsmanship and delicate flavors involved.

STAGE 1: The Anatomy of a Cigar

1. The cap/head –  the part you are looking to remove pre-smoke. This will need to be fully cut off - choose from the arsenal of tools listed below.

2. The Shoulder – the line where you are looking to cut across, where the rounded nub begins to straighten

3. The Foot – already cut for you, this is the part you light when you are ready to smoke.

4.The Filler - the inside of a cigar and usually consists of bound, fermented tobacco leaves. In a premier cigar, these leaves are hand folded to allow air passageways down the length.

A considerable amount of time and skill goes into rolling a quality cigar, you need to consider air flow, burn rate - the tobacco consistency alone is a carefully crafted science.

In Cuba, the torcedors (cigar rollers) are regarded as exceptionally skilled workers who spend their lives working in the industry, their skills are passed down through generations like a-kin to a family heirloom.

By blending a variety of tobaccos, makers can create a unique character and tastes with distinctive strengths and flavors. Like vineyards the country of origin can be an important determinant of taste, different growing environments are conducive to different aromas. It's important to note only a cigar with filler produced in one place is regarded as “puro” or pure.

5.The Wrapper: Obviously, this is the outside of a cigar – this is where the cigars flavor originates (yes you heard right), the wrapper is both the most complex and expensive part of any cigar.

The wrapper defines the cigars flavor, aroma and character. Cubans are regarded as the premier growers of supple wrapping leaves which is why Cuban cigars are so sought after.

The wrapper itself is grown underneath huge canopies made of gauze, traditionally in Southern America, and are defined by their colors. The 7 classic color classifications are: Double Claro, Clarom Colorado Claro, Colorado, Clorado Maduro, Maduro and Oscuro (seen below).

*Legal Asterix* Cuban cigars are actually illegal in the US so don’t let anybody fool you.

Cigars: The Rules

Location: If you are looking to indulge in a cigar – do not buy from any of the following locations: gas stations, convenience stores, currency exchange or tourist shops. These cigars may well be cheap, but cheap gimmicks are not what a real gent smokes. Cigars in these places will be be as tacky as their china plates and week old beef jerky.

Experiment: Variety is the spice of life, choose from different cigars before you settle down. Like finding your choice beer, wine, cut of beef or girlfriend – it probably took a fair bit of experimentation to find the perfect one

Rating: A reputable, independent ranking system always takes the edge off!

Like all sophisticated goods, cigars come with an independent rating score going from 1-100. One of the most popular rating sites is:

We like them. They make choice easier that little bit either.. Their rating systems doesn’t take Einstein either – you’ll be Winston Churchill in no time.

95 – 100: Classic
90 – 94: Outstanding
80 – 89: Very good to excellent
70 – 79: Average to good
Below 70: Forget about it.

Feel: A quality cigar should have a consistently colored wrapper, a solid construction and steady level of filler all the way through. Poor cigars will be rough in texture, lumpy, inconsistent and soft, when rubbed between your thumb and forefinger.

Pricing: In order to get a solid start in this game, you should be pricing yourself around $5-$8 bucket – this will mitigate your risk of a furious rage if cigars aren’t for you; or it transpires to taste like your sucking pure gasoline through a straw.

Odds are your first experience is going to be far from ideal - you should look to save up for a higher end cigar once your get the hang of it. Learn the ropes first, don't go straight for the jugular.

Smell: open your nostrils wide and capture the rich aroma emerging from the foot of the cigar. The pre-light aromas are a promise of the indulgent flavors to come.

How to cut a cigar?!

Now you have purchased your cigar; you have your Che Guevara on, what’s next?

Well, you need to give the proper cut to really look the part. For this you may need a tool or two - to disperse with the head end.

There are 4 cutting choices:

1. A Guillotine: tailored to cutting – this is for the sophisticated gent. Simple, effective and inexpensive. Buy one. Be careful not to cut too far into the cigar, a few millimeters is usually enough.

2. The cigar punch: Now the cigar punch is a tool that is used to cut a circular hole in the cigar cap. This is beneficial for beginners, people who use the guillotine standard often cut too high, this results in the cigar unraveling during the smoke.

Cigar punches can only be used on cigars over the 40 size – they cannot be used on torpedo cigars which are too small.

3. A sharp knife: Okay caveman. This will result in the same conclusion as the guillotine, however it relies on significantly more love, care, and diligent finger work.

4. Your teeth: This will make you look like a ferocious idiot. Never do this.

The proof of the pudding is in the smoking:
How to Smoke.

1. When lighting a Cigar use wooden matches or butane lighters. Paper matches or gas lighters produce chemicals which can negatively affect the flavor of your cigar – you don’t want the taste going awry.

2. Before you light a cigar run the flame under the foot and rotate the cigar a couple of times. Avoid touching the cigar with the flame but simply heat the tobacco for a smoother burn when lit.

3. Smoke your cigar between your thumb and index finger. Don’t hold between your index and middle – it looks ridiculous.

4. Cigars are not inhaled like a cigarette - they are puffed. You want to draw the smoke into your mouth, not into your lungs.

Cigar smoking is supposed to be leisurely, and some can take hours to burn through. As you smoke the cigar, take the time to enjoy the taste and aroma – take note of what you like and what you don’t. You are a work in progress.

5. There is no such thing as a ‘quick’ cigar. Choosing a cigar depends on the amount of time one has to smoke it. Make sure you know the approximate time it takes to smoke a particular cigar. You cannot store a half-smoked cigar with much success – choose the cigar that burns for the length of time you’d like to smoke to avoid waste.

6. A cigar is finished when there half-to-a-quarter left – don’t smoke it down to a small nub, this will taste awful as the smoke becomes bitter and harsh. Once you have finished, do not stub or grind this can split the wrapper and make a nasty mess.

Booom. Now you’re in the clear. Go get ‘um you little rascal.