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Cigar Smoking for Dummies

How to choose my first cigar?

Most cigars that are available in the market are cheap machine-made. Buying them is not recommended, because this won't be a good experience. You may try samplers. But anyway it should be a handmade cigar.

Cigars come in different sizes (shapes, vitolas). They are measured by inches in length and ring gauge (1/64th of an inch) in diameter. The longer a cigar is the cooler the smoke. The fatter a cigar the more blends of tobacco it may contain. Better begin your cigar-smoking experience with mild cigars, so look for a cigar with 46 ring and at least 5 inches length. The taste will be more mellow and the burn not too hot. Good sizes to start with are Corona, Robusto, or Churchill.

The most common way to determine a cigar's strength is by looking at the wrapper. This is the outermost cigar leaf wrapping the filler and the binder and the darker the wrapper is, the stronger the cigar will be.

I want to start smoking cigars, but can't decide whether I should start with Cuban or Dominican cigars...

Well, everything depends on your own taste. However, the task of choosing the first cigar in your life should be taken seriously and with the utmost responsibility. Cigar smoking requires a smoker to know the whole set of rules and have a serious knowledge base to make the process a delightful one. We advise to start with mild cigars. If you are a novice in cigar smoking, you may be not ready for the powerful and rich taste and the superb cigar may appear as a very harsh and aggressive one. Don't let your first experience become the last one. Start carefully. Learn more. Become a true cigar lover. And cigars will definitely pay you back.

When I read things like: "this cigar has a coffee aroma... this cigar has a distinctive pepper flavor", what does this mean? Do cigars contain aroma additives?

Definitely not. If you can feel such aromas while you smoke, it means that the cigar you are currently smoking was produced with the high-quality tobacco after all necessary stages of the preparation process. Organic substances of the tobacco change their molecular structure when heated, so that various aromas may appear. Sometimes aroma additives are used in cheap cigars. If the package is saying there is a "cherry" or "vanilla" tobacco product inside, the manufacturer is using artificial aromas at least for this very product.

Several years ago I decided to quit smoking cigarettes and now smoke cigars only. But I still shake off the ashes when I smoke. A friend of mine claims I shouldn't do this. Is this right?

Your friend is 100% right. One can easily estimate the quality of the tobacco leaves the cigar is made of by the ashes. If the ashes are dense and do not fall until they reach 2-3 centimeters in length - the tobacco is good. Besides that, ashes make smoking somewhat milder as they cool down the smoke. That is why a smoker may feel the cigar become a bit hotter and harsher after the ashes are shaken off.

Should I take the plastic cover off the cigar before I put it into a humidor?

It depends. You should first determine the result you want. When cigars are in the humidor, their flavors mix up and enrich one another. If you want to keep the aroma bouquet of some specific cigar unchanged, you better keep it wrapped. If not - it's better to unpack all the cigars in the humidor so that they can "breathe" and exchange flavors. Some cigar experts do this deliberately to make cheaper cigars gain a somewhat more prestigious taste from the neighboring exemplars.

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