First of all, I have to admit: To some people this may seem as simple and obvious as opening your front door, but using your head and using your hand accomplish the same goal, however one leaves you with a headache and one doesn’t! I have seen people cut a cigar and light the wrong end. I have seen people cut about an inch off the top of the cigar and then light up. I’ve smoked a cigar from the foot just to see if it tastes different. BTW, not worth repeating.
As we all know, sometimes the simplest of things are not actually that simple and when someone explains what seems rather obvious, it turns out not to be. Have you ever tried to help a friend with jumper cables get a car started? Can you imagine what the outcome could be if you happen to cross the cables and connect them wrong? Something so simple could really put you in the hospital instantly. But I digress.
Just like opening a bottle of old wine, cutting and lighting a cigar the proper way can make the experience 10x’s more enjoyable. I like drinking wine; not wine with a side of crumbled up cork.
Consider the construction of a cigar. Its basically a pile of bunched up leaves (imagine a buritto filled with straws) then wrapped with a final outside leaf to make it look pretty and add the final touches of complex flavor. The final cigar wrapping looks like a barber pole and on the top of the cigar is left over tobacco leaf. This leaf is cut, then pasted down to make a smooth surface and not leave a flap of tobacco hanging off. Then a very important piece of tobacco is pasted on the top. This top piece, or CAP is a small circle of tobacco placed on the top like a roof on a building. Then subsequent smaller caps are placed on top of that. The result is a multilayered cap of tobacco that create a seal on the end of the cigar. Hence its like putting a postage stamp on the end of a straw and folding it down over the straw to create a seal. As a result one can not push or pull air through this cap.
In order to smoke a cigar, one has to open up that Straw or Cigar and allow air flow through the length of cigar. That means the CAP needs to by punctured. That’s literally all that is required. JUST PUNCTURE THE CAP. For all intensive purposes, a few tooth pick holes would do the trick. Most people use a proper cutter which looks like a goofy set of scissors. If a cutter is used, ONLY CUT enough to open the cigar. There is no need to cut below the cap and remove it completely. If the cut is below the cap, then the cigar will unravel and the smoker will wonder why the cigar is falling apart. This may seem extremely simple, however I see people decapitate cigars all the time and 5 minutes later the cigar is falling apart.
Lighting the cigar
First, What Not to Do: Don’t use a tree branch to light the cigar, don’t use a sheet of xerox paper to light the cigar, don’t use an old paint brush to…..you get the point. If you use a material that has chemicals in it to light a cigar, then guess what the cigar will taste like? You guessed it. The cleanest and least intrusive material is always best. So after you’ve found your favorite light to grab, slowly char the end of the cigar. I would recommend charring the outer most edge so the wrapper leafs becomes ignited evenly and the center is not as charred. This produces a ring of gray, lit and slowly smoking tobacco around the outside edge of the foot of the cigar. During this process, do not inhale or draw any air through the cigar. It is not necessary. Once the outer most edge is ignited and gray, then blow a bit of air through the cigar pushing any fumes and smoke out. Not inhaling. This pushes any lighter fluid residue and external flavors out of the cigar. After all, you bought a cigar to taste the tobacco, not the lighter fluid. Then take a few small draws on the cigar and light the inner circle of tobacco to completely ignite the end of the cigar. Because the outer most tobacco is already ignited, the center will ignite very very easily and quickly. This only takes 1 or 2 seconds to do. And there you have its
If the cigar goes out for whatever reason, push a little bit of air out through the cigar, light the outermost tobacco, or wrapper leaf only and then the rest will take care of itself.
Once again, this may seem extremely simple, but its always the simple things in life that cause the most headaches.