The Art of the Cigar – Part 1
There’s an awful lot of crap spoken about cigars.
About how you should and shouldn’t do things.
About what rituals you’re supposed to observe and what’s good manners and what isn’t.
Ignore it. Or at least most of it, anyway.
There are nowhere near as many snobs in cigars as you’ll find in wine, but they are out there – so be on your guard. Most of them talk the aforementioned crap.
Here’s a little list of basics you’ll need to make sure you get the best from your smoke, and don’t show off your ignorance along the way.
Don’t sniff the cigar by holding it in direct contact with your nose. That’s disgusting. Would you want to smoke a stick with someone else’s snail trail along the barrel? You’ll get the best indication of aroma by a gentle sniff at the foot (end) of the cigar.
Don’t squeeze the hell out of cigar – it’s not your long-lost buddy. By all means use gentle pressure from thumb and forefinger to subtly test for any hard spots, but don’t go overboard. You’ll crack the wrapper.
Use any cut you like. Punch a hole in the end with a, er, a cigar punch; guillotine clip; wedge cut – hell, chop it at an angle with a light sabre if that’s what tickles your fancy. Just don’t make great claims about how your amazing cutter increases your taste sensation a million-fold. That’s just more crap. A good, honest, straight cut will do everything you’ll need of it 99% of the time, but if you prefer something else, crack on. This is your downtime, no-one else’s.
Light your cigar with a match, spill, torch or soft flame. Just stay away from petrol flames as they can taste a little odd through a cigar. Butane is great as it’s odourless and tasteless. Perhaps using a £50 note may be considered a little ostentatious. Or crap, even.
Take the band off or leave it on, whichever makes you feel more comfortable. Most cigar lovers tend to remove the band having smoked say, the first third. This makes the job easier as the cigar is warm and also avoids burning the band itself. Just don’t be one of those people who buys a Cohiba and leaves the band on just so they can be seen to be smoking one.
Finally, in this installment – don’t go around foisting your opinions on all and sundry. Your opinions on cigars may or may not be crap, but ramming them down other cigar lovers’ throats most certainly is. There’s always someone who knows more than you – and if you show off, you’ll get found out. It’s one of the unwritten rules of cigar camaraderie.
So, accept that this isn’t a game of one upmanship – the unwritten rules strictly forbid such tawdry behaviour. You could have one pound or a million in the bank – and should still sit comfortably and chat to the cigar smoking chap or lady next to you. That’s how this gig works.
Enjoy yourself, enjoy any company you may have; enjoy the skills of the farmers, tobacco workers, blenders, rollers and retailers that made sure the stick reached your hands.
And don’t take any crap.