How to light a fine cigar

First, resist all offers by others to light your cigar as this is one pleasant task that only you can do, thoroughly, and at your own pace.

The objective is to ignite the entire end – an unevenly lit cigar will draw less effectively, spoiling what should otherwise be a fine smoke. A long cigar match is the preference of most serious cigar smokers (although a good gas lighter will do the Job equally well). So, select one from the box, strike it and allow the sulphur to burn off. Next warm the foot to prepare it for lighting; taking care at all times not to char the wrapper. Then place the cigar in your mouth and keep the tip of it ever so slightly above the flame. Puff gently and the flame will leap onto the cigar. Rotate the cigar in your lips while you continue drawing on it-just above the flame, never in it. Then blow on the lit end of your cigar to see how much more ignition needs to take place and reapply the flame, if necessary.

Once they reach cruising temperature, cigars sometimes go out, so immediately reapply the flame, as needed. If your cigar has been left unattended for a longish period, not more man an hour or so, first dislodge the ash and charred tobacco before relighting. Then puff through the cigar a couple of times to get rid of the staleness. Your revived cigar should then taste fine.

The right way to smoke a fine cigar

First choose the moment for a relaxed smoke. Cigars should never be inhaled deeply, just draw the smoke in lightly and let it roll around your palate while you concentrate on the aroma and taste.

You do not have to constantly puff a cigar, as it should remain alight if you take the occasional relaxed draw on it. Do not worry if it goes out occasionally especially as it gets near the last third, just relight it. How quickly or slowly you smoke a fine cigar is up to you, just enjoy every moment of it.

Some smokers like to see how long they can keep the ash on their cigar without dislodging it, although they’re usually careful not to drop ash anywhere but in a nearby ashtray. It’s a good way to calm down if you’re feeling stressed out. You do not need to keep flicking ash off a cigar as it is not like a cigarette but how long you wait until you allow it to gently drop off is entirely up to you. After all, it’s your cigar. The consistency of its ash is a testament to the quality of a fine cigar and is worth studying.

Never stub out a fine cigar, as this will make a mess and release noxious fumes. The faithful companion that has given you so much pleasure should always be allowed to die a dignified, natural death. If you rest a cigar in an ashtray, it will soon expire.

Installing a cigar humidor

Fine cigars are a natural product and need special care, which can be difficult in air-conditioned or centrally-heated environments. Ideally, cigars should be kept at 60 or 70 degrees Fahrenheit with 65-70 per cent humidity, well away from any extremes of temperature.

Generally speaking, a cigar’s flavour usually peaks within two years of its final rolling. Like fine wine, some premium cigars will continue to mature for up to 15 years, and sometimes far longer, if they are kept properly. Ideally they should be aged in their original box, or in a cedar-lined humidor containing a hygrometer to monitor the humidity level. An enormous range of well-made humidors is available, hand-crafted from the finest wood, precious metal, plastic or glass.

Pocket cases, tubes & travel humidors

The ideal pocket cigar case is one that expands like a telescope to accommodate and protect the largest or smallest of cigars. Elegant tubes, made from silver and other quality metals, are also available.

Cigars in a pocket case or tube, unless it is one that comes with a mini-moisturising unit, should be smoked within a few hours, or otherwise returned to their original humidified ‘home’.

Emergency storage

If you’re travelling away from home or business and haven’t got a travel humidor or pocket cigar case with you, a temporary solution is to keep your cigars in their original box or tube inside a sealable polythene bag together with a slightly damp sponge – but do not let it touch the cigars.

Or you can lightly spray the inside of the bag with water. This method will keep most cigars smokeable for up to five days but you will need to re-moisturise the sponge or the inside of the bag every day -twice a day in exceptionally hot conditions.

Ashtrays, matches & lighters

Something that is not always immediately obvious to the beginner is that a long cigar requires a longer than average ashtray (otherwise it will topple off and make a mess) and there are many fine designs available to match any decor. Aficionados prefer to use long cigar matches, so they can take their time igniting the end of their favourite cigar. You should always let the match’s sulphur burn off after striking before applying the flame to your cigar. The use of a taper to light a fine cigar is another elegant tradition. Gas lighters are also excellent and have the advantage of being able to deliver a continuous flame.

There are even some specially designed to light the entire end of a cigar in one go. Petrol lighters should always be avoided, as they will impregnate the cigar with an unpleasant flavour.

Reviving dry cigars

Moisture will evaporate from a cigar that is left in an unhumidified environment, but it can usually be replaced. The success of this depends on just how dry the cigar has become. Revived cigars will never taste as good as well-kept cigars that haven’t been allowed to dry out, but at least they won’t be entirely wasted.

A practical method which requires dedication and patience is to place the entire box of dried cigars in a large, partially closed, clear polythene bag together with a moist sponge or small glass of water – but do not let the water touch the cigars. Keep topping up the water, and rotate the cigars every other day – remembering to swap the cigars at the bottom of the box with those on the top. The cigars, if they are not too far gone, should be revived in about 3-5 weeks and ready to smoke.

Investing in fine cigars & smokers’ accessories

Over the last few years, there has been an increase in the interest and sales of rare cigars (usually auctioned with fine wines) and classic tobacco accoutrements such as lighters, smoke stands and personalised ashtrays, cigar boxes, cigar bands, labels, antique humidors and cutters.

Sayings about cigars

“To know how to smoke is to recover certain forgotten rhythms, to re-establish communication with the self. If there is a secret to the cigar, it is to be found in the slow, dignified, measured gestures of the smoker, where l see more than a habit, a ceremony.” (Zino Davidoff, The Connoisseur’s Book of the Cigar)

“A woman is only a woman, but a good cigar is a Smoke.” (Rudyard Kipling)

“If l paid $10 for a cigar, first I’d make love to it, then I’d smoke it.” (George Burns)

“l smoke in moderation.” said Mark Twain, “Only one cigar at a time.