Posted on 7th Sep 2021
Here at GQ Tobaccos, we often get quizzed about cigars and the best ways to enjoy your smoking experience.
For this blog, we have put together some of our frequently asked questions, giving you a one-stop shop for all the answers you need.
Cigars are made either by hand or by a machine. A handmade cigar is where the tobacco leaves were picked, sorted and bundled by an individual, not a machine. The cigar itself was fashioned by a skilled cigar roller using a handful of tools.
Alternatively, a machine-made cigar is where most or all of the cigar was made from a machine, with processes such as picking the leaves, grinding up the filler tobacco and rolling the cigar completed using a machine.
Why is my cigar hard or cracking?
If your cigar is firm and cracking under light pressure, this is a sign that your cigar has dried out. This is quite a common issue to overcome.
There are plenty of reasons cigars can dry out, with many users opting to store it in a sealed humidor for 8-10 months to allow the humidity to be soaked up.
If you encounter a hard, dried out cigar, we would recommend putting it on a non-humidified humidor. Alternatively, if you don't own one, place it in a sealable plastic bag with holes poked in it with a sewing needle. The aim is to bring the cigars to a consistent humidity level that is below 70%, which could take a few days.
Now take a new sponge and dampen it with distilled water. Place the sponge inside the bag and let it sit for a full week or more. This starts to introduce humidity to the cigars slowly but will not cause the wrapper to burst.
After a couple of weeks your cigars should look and feel much healthier. While they are not ready to smoke, it is safe to place them back in regulated humidor. Allow them to rest for a while, then enjoy them as you would any fresh cigar.
Why is my cigar burning unevenly?
Properly lit cigars should burn evenly, so long as it is well constructed. If you discover that one end is burning faster than the other, simply wet your finger with a drop of water and gently moisten the side burning too quickly, which slows down the burn on that side, permitting the rest of the cigar to catch up.
Should the band be removed before lighting a cigar?
No, removing the band at this stage can damage the delicate wrapper leaf. If you want to remove the band, do this after smoking for around five minutes. When the cigar has warmed up the band it will be easier to remove, and even then the band needs to peeled off rather than pulled off like a ring off a finger.
Can you relight a cigar if it goes out?
Yes, firstly tap it gently in an ashtray to remove any excess ash and then gently blow through it to clear out any stale, residual smoke that could linger within the filler.
Now re-apply a flame to burn away the edge of the wrapper and then light as with a new cigar. This is only recommended if the cigar has been extinguished for less than an hour as any longer than that and the cigar may taste bitter or charred.
Do you inhale cigars?
The main guideline for cigar smoking is that you should not inhale the smoke. Unlike cigarette smoke, cigars are not inhaled, as there is too much tobacco and smoke and would cause you to cough up a lung!
Instead of inhaling into the lungs, draw smoke into your mouth, hold it a moment, and then blow it out.
What's the best way to age my cigars?
Many collectors choose to age their cigars in boxes, keeping like cigars together. We would also recommend keeping them at a slightly lower temperature and humidity level than normal. Move the aged cigars to a desktop humidor when you are ready to begin smoking them.
A lot of cigar brands are available in cabinet presentation, where the cigars are banded together with a ribbon in a format that makes them perfect for aging and long-term storage. While aging boxed cigars are acceptable, these cabinet-packed smokes are even more attractive aging candidates, therefore frequently commanding higher prices at auction.
What makes a proper lighter for cigars?
There are two critical features you should look for. First, the type of fuel it uses needs to be a cleaning burning fuel such as butane.
Most other lighter fuels give off a chemical or kerosene-like odour that will change the taste of your cigar.
Secondly, the lighter needs to provide a large enough flame to light the whole cigar. The 'blowtorch' style lighters have become very popular, mainly because they burn at an extremely high temperature and can complete the job from several inches away. Remember, properly light the cigar as you never want to put the foot directly into the flame. The larger and hotter your flame is, the further away you can keep the cigar from it and gently draw the heat up.
When is the right moment to tap the ash off the cigar?
The ash is very sturdy and will hold on the cigar for between three quarters to one inch. You should consider lightly tapping it off every half an inch or so. The ash is actually good as it absorbs some of the heat and allows the cigar to burn cooler, enhancing the flavour and the smoking experience.
If you have any questions about cigars or cigar smoking etiquette, please contact GQ Tobaccos today.