As many of you know, I am a big fan of cigars. I enjoy smoking a good Cuban or Dominican cigar after a long working week. Unlike cigarettes, cigars are considered as a symbol of class and style.
From seed to shelf, from filler to wrapper, there are many things every cigar smoker should know. Being a cigar connoisseur and an experienced smoker, I would like to share some of them with you today.
A brief history
Many historians believe that cigars were first invented by the ancient Mayans. In 1492, Christopher Columbus discovered tobacco from the Native Americans who showed him how they smoked the leaves. Columbus brought the idea back home and since then smoking started gaining popularity. Soon a tobacco-growing industry was established in Cuba and ships were distributing tobacco to Europe and Asia.
Every cigar is made up of three main parts: filler, binder and wrapper. The wrapper is the visible cover leaf, which contributes significantly to the flavour since it touches your mouth and tongue. It is the most delicate, perfect and expensive leaf. The binder is the strong and dense leaf, which holds the filler tobacco in place. The filler can consist of several different types of tobacco. Filler leaves must be perfectly bunched to make a cigar that will burn slowly and offer a fine flavour and aroma.
Types of cigars
Cigars come in many different types, sizes and shapes. It is ok if you don’t know all of them. What is the difference between Figurados and Parejos? What is a Robusto, Toro or Churchill? In my guide, you can find all the answers and more. If you are wondering why a cigar’s size and shape matter, you should definitely read it.
How to cut and light a cigar
Yes, these things also matter. You must cut a cigar and then light. Usually, you can see a slight taper at the head of the cigar, which is also called the shoulder. Don not cut under the shoulder line. If the wrapper unravels, that means you have cut too much and your cigar will burn too hot.
Lighting is a delicate process that should take some time. Light a cigar with minimal direct contact, otherwise, it might taste like pure char. Keep a cigar above the flame, but don’t let them touch. Rotate your cigar so all parts are equally heated. When you see a glowing ring and thinly blackened edges, take the first puff. The ember should burn evenly.
Smoke slowly and enjoy
Take your time, enjoy the cigar and savour the moment. A perfectly created cigar will burn slow and cool. For example, a five-inch cigar should last for about 45 minutes. You should puff every 30-60 seconds. If you smoke too fast, you will definitely overheat your cigar and make it bitter. On the other hand, smoking too slowly can have negative consequences too. Your cigar might go out and you will have to relight it. If you light it over and over again, your cigar will get unpleasant flavours of carbon, char, sulphuric fumes and bitterness.
Are Cuban cigars the best?
There always will be arguments over which cigars are the best. For many years, Cuban cigars were considered to be the best in the World. The truth is that nowadays there are many other fine cigars, not only Cubans. Dominican, Nicaraguan and Honduran cigars can compete on the quality level with the greatest Cubans. Every cigar is remarkable in its own way.
How to choose a cigar wisely
It is important to have an idea of the cigar’s strength before buying one. You should know whether you want a mild, medium or strong cigar. Wrappers can often indicate the cigar flavour: the darker it is, the more likely it will be sweeter and stronger. Dark wrappers usually have been longer at the plant or have been raised at higher altitudes. The additional sun exposure makes them oily and sugary. Light wrappers indicate mild or medium-bodied cigars that will be more appreciated by new smokers. However, sometimes looks can be deceiving. If you are not an experienced smoker, always ask a consultant to help you choose the best cigar.
Price doesn’t always indicate quality
Sometimes inexpensive cigars taste much better than pricey ones. At the same time, you should understand that the finest materials, construction and quality control always cost money. Some tobaccos need more time to age and ferment, so these factors will also raise the price of a cigar. Generally, the high cost is always justified. However, some cigars can be expensive for no reason and here you have to be careful. Even if an expensive cigar is good, there is no guarantee you will like it. The only way to know is to try it. If you find the cigar extraordinary, you know it is worth the splurge.
Alessandro Rocco Pietrocola is an entrepreneur and investor based in London and operating mainly in Europe, Asia and Oceania with main focus on UK, Baltic Countries, Russia, China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Middle East and New Zealand as area of interest! At the moment is the CEO of Astorts Group. He is an UK FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) Approved Person and is has great experience as director of regulated companies. He uses to dedicate part of his life to inspire others and help them achieve the most out of their life. Since he was 20, he had successfully founded and managed several companies operating in the field of management consulting, wealth management and fintech. He loves travelling, he is a cigars lover, an amateur golfer and a dapper man.