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Top 10 Most Asked Questions About Cigars

In no particular order, here are answers to 10 of the most commonly asked questions about cigar smoking
Posted: July 19, 2010

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Q. Many cigars are sold in individual cellophane overwraps. Should I remove the cellophane prior to placing the cigars in my humidor? What about tubes and bands? Are cigars best stored "naked"?

A. Cellophane serves several purposes on a cigar—in states that require each cigar to have a warning label, it makes this notification much easier to accomplish, and it prevents damage to the cigars from excessive handling in cigar shops. But once you've bought the cigar and are placing it in your humidor, we recommend you remove the cellophane. Cellophane will prevent humidity from reaching the cigar, and you'll find the cigars will respond to humidification better if the overwrap has been removed. The same holds true for cigar tubes, whether glass or aluminum; these tubes will completely close off a cigar to humidification if left on. However, if you intend to transport your cigars \(such as in a coat pocket\), it may be a good idea to keep a few tubes or cellophane overwraps handy to protect the cigars during transport.

As far as bands are concerned, it's a matter of personal preference. Some people like to remove them, but when possible, we generally choose to keep the bands on \(outside of our tasting procedures, of course\). First, it makes identifying the cigars much easier, and it also prevents inadvertent damage to the cigar's wrapper that can occur while removing the band.

Q. Can I use my Zippo lighter to light a cigar?

A. It's probably not your best option. We suggest using wooden matches or, better yet, strips of cedar called spills. These will light your cigar without imparting to it the taste or odor of the oil found in lighter fluid. If you wish to use a lighter for your cigars, we recommend one that uses butane as its fuel, as these types of lighters are odorless. However, some smokers insist on using their old Zippo lighters, which may have sentimental value. If you're one of these people, just make sure that when lighting your cigar, the flame of the Zippo does not touch the cigar's foot. Once the cigar is lit, you may also choose to give the cigar one (and only one) outward puff, to clear it of any impurities caused by the lighter fluid.

Q. My grandfather always dips his cigars in Cognac or rum. Is this a good idea? Why does my tobacconist warn me against it?

A. Your grandfather probably started doing this decades ago, when cigars were shipped drier and humidification technology was not what it is today. Dipping the cigars in those years helped impart moisture to a dry cigar. Today, however, cigars are generally shipped and stored in optimally humidified conditions, and dipping a cigar in Cognac or rum will only serve to make your cigar soggy. What's more, the smoke will not taste like what it was dipped in, another reason we strongly recommend leaving the Cognac or rum in a glass, and enjoying it alongside your cigars.

Q. I've been told you should only smoke a cigar halfway. Is this true? How can I tell when a cigar is done?

A. The golden rule here is that a cigar is done whenever you're no longer enjoying it. But as a general maxim, we smoke our cigars about half to two-thirds of the way down. The reason is that a cigar gets hotter and more powerful the further down you smoke it, and its flavor changes as tars and moisture build up near the cigar's head. Smoke it too far, and you risk ruining the great flavor you've been enjoying. But this is simply a suggestion—if you're still enjoying the cigar as its lit end is about to burn your fingertips, go right on smoking it. Cigar smoking, after all, is about enjoyment.

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