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Smoking Tips

 Cuban Cigar House

Picking a cigar:
Pick the color wrapper you prefer, dark or light. Gently feel the cigar between your fingers (don't roll it because that could cause the wrapper to crack) to see if it's too moist or too dry. Inspect the construction of the cigar to insure there are no cracks in the wrapper and the cap is in good condition. While some cigar smokers like to hold the cigar up to their nose and sniff the product, others find this distasteful when they see someone put a cigar up to their nose and then put it back in the box. If you must smell the tobacco, just hold your nose 12 inches over the box of opened cigars and take a breath, this should be sufficient for you to determine the bouquet of the cigar and it will cause fewer problems for other customers.

Cutting a cigar:
Many feel that using a guillotine type cigar cutter or cigar scissors is the most effective way to cut a premium cigar. Be careful not to cut past the cap of the cigar. Besides a guillotine type cutter, some smokers use a sharp knife, a cigar punch, a V cutter and some even use their teeth. Perhaps the most difficult cutting instrument to use is the cigar scissors which requires practice, a steady hand and a good eye.

Lighting a cigar:
The foot, or tip of the cigar should be started by using a long wooden cigar match or a butane lighter. Avoid candles, paper matches, a stove and lighters that use lighter fluid (naphtha) because the chemicals and odors can affect the taste of the tobacco. When using a match, wait until the sulfur burns off before lighting the cigar. The ideal instrument is a butane lighter.

Start lighting a cigar by holding it at a 45-degree angle over the flame, about 3-4 inches from the tip of the cigar (depending on the height of the flame you're using) and rotate the cigar until the foot begins to ignite. Never letting the flame touch the cigar, slowly puff on the cigar while rotating it around the flame.

Take a look at the foot and make sure the cigar is burning evenly. To insure a proper light you can gently blow on the foot to insure a complete lighting. Once the cigar is lighted let it sit for a minute as the short delay will allow the freshly lighted cigar to stabilize.

Letting the ash burn:
Most premium handmade cigars (those costing from $3 to $30 each) will hold a very long ash before falling off. The ash on cheaper cigars tends to flake easily and fall off more frequently. Properly grown and maintained cigar tobacco will have a whiter ash than the sometimes very gray ash produced on lower quality cigars. While some smokers like to see how long the ash on a cigar can grow before falling off by itself--keep in mind when in a public place where cigar smoking is permitted--or at a party, you don't want cigar ashes to fall on your clothes, a floor, or a rug. It's always wise as you see the ash starting to gain length to gently tap it off.

Keeping the cigar band on or off:
It's mostly a personal decision when opting whether to take a cigar band off or leave it on while smoking ones favorite cigar. Some say that leaving the band on promotes conversation among cigar smokers, while others say it's a showy thing to do that shows a lack of proper cigar etiquette. If you do decide to remove the cigar band make sure you let the cigar heat up before taking it off as the heat from the cigar will help loosen the glue that holds the band on. Remember too, that taking the band off some brands of Cuban cigars (even after heating), like the Montecristo, is very difficult and can result in damage to the cigar wrapper.

Relighting and putting a cigar out:
Perhaps one of the most overlooked aspects of cigar smoking is relighting an extinguishing cigars. On the subject of relighting, cigars by nature will go out if not puffed on every few minutes, so relighting a fresh cigar isn't a problem. While some contend you can save a partially smoked cigar for more than 24 hours, it's best to avoid relighting a cigar that hasn't been smoked in more than 2 hours. When relighting a cigar hold the flame in front of the foot and blow out to help expel any old gases or ash that may have become trapped in the cigar. After that step, follow standard lighting procedures. To extinguish a cigar, just let it go out by itself in an ashtray. Stubbing-out a cigar produces a stale odor that can linger in a room. Once you're sure your cigar is out dispose of it in a safe manner.

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