The Beginner’s Guide to Cigars: A Subtle Long Honored Tradition

Cigars | Learning Leaf | Lifestyle
November 15, 2022

A quick start guide to understanding the rituals, traditions and etiquette of cigars.

There is something unique and special about smoking cigars. Whether you’re just curious about how they taste or you’re an aspiring aficionado – cigars and the traditions surrounding them can be enjoyed by anyone. If you’re a beginner, this is a great place to start to understand the general etiquette and rituals around cigars.

Hand Rolled vs. Machine Made

These are the primary types of cigars and they differ in taste and quality. Hand-rolled cigars are generally the preferred choice for both connoisseurs and beginners. This is because they are purely made of tobacco and lack preservatives and chemicals found in machine-made cigars. Both the filler and binder of the filler in hand-rolled cigars are made of 100% tobacco leaves. However, hand-rolled cigars are more expensive than machine-made and thus ideal for special occasions. For the casual smoker, an affordable mass-produced cigar may be the best option.

Storing and Selecting Cigars

A moist cigar is a good cigar. Most tobacconists store cigar supplies in a humidor to keep them moist. A humidor is a box that maintains the relative humidity of the cigars so that they stay fresh. This means that a mid or low-quality cigar that is handled properly can actually taste better than a high-quality cigar that is stored improperly. When selecting a cigar to smoke, give it a little squeeze. A good cigar will have a slightly spongy quality, while a bad one will be hard and dry.

What’s the hype behind Cuban cigars?

Cuba has had a profound influence on the cigar industry. Cuban cigars are made following a tradition that’s been around for centuries and hasn’t changed in over a hundred years. Cigars made from Cuban tobacco produce a strong, authentic smoke, and are meant to be smoked slowly. The rich flavors and distinctive aromas speak to their unique blend of sun, sea, and soil, making smoking a Cuban cigar a luxurious experience.

The Rules of Cigar Smoking

When it comes to cigar smoking there is no shortage of traditions and etiquette that is expected. Smoking cigars properly has some key differences from cigarettes or other smokable products. Here are a few universal do’s and don’ts that every aspiring aficionado should understand and abide by: 

Cut your cigar carefully.

The cap needs to be removed before lighting your cigar to allow air and smoke to move through as you draw. Our recommendation is the punch method which helps preserve the structural integrity of the cigar and does not require any special equipment.

Do not inhale.

Cigars aren’t meant to be inhaled. This allows you to savor your cigar, drawing the smoke into your mouth, and holding it for a while before releasing it. Take a moment before repeating the cycle.

Use matches to light your cigar.

The fuel from standard lighter often creates a harsh and unpleasant chemical taste that can damage your cigar. We recommend using matches made for cigars, but standard matches can work in a pinch.

Do not ash your cigar.

The ash build-up helps limit the air being drawn into the cigar and keeps it burning at a mild rate which improves the flavor. Gently rotate your cigar to keep the ember burning evenly and the ash clinging to the cigar.

Purchase Cigars at Turning Leaf

Since they create such a memorable social experience, cigars are great to enjoy with friends. The history and origins of these cigars will make you appreciate them even more. Whether you’re an aficionado looking for a great place to find cigars, or a beginner that needs some guidance, Turning Leaf has you covered. Contact us today to inquire about your favorite brands, or stop in one of our nine locations across the Midwest.