Follow our guide for how to care for and enjoy your cigars.
Choosing the right cigar is the all-important first step. But the way a cigar is cared for, the way it is prepared, cut and lit, all have a big impact on the overall experience and enjoyment...
Testing your cigar is in good condition is a simple process; just hold the cigar between your forefinger and thumb and gently squeeze. If there is a slight springiness, the cigar will be in a perfect condition. If it has too much give it will be 'wet' and if there is a crackling the cigar will be 'dry'. A simple but effective test.
Whichever style of cutter is used, ensure the blade is sharp - if it's not, the cigar cannot be cut cleanly. Secondly, always be positive in the cutting action to ensure the best result. A sharp double-bladed cutter or a cigar punch, used confidently, will give a perfect cut every time.
Remember not to cut too much off the end. You only need to remove enough to expose the filler inside. Cut too much and your cigar could unravel.
A jet flame lighter is ideal to light a cigar quickly indoors or out. Alternatively, long slow-burning matches can be used or, for the real traditionalist, long thin pieces of cedar known as 'spills'.
However you light your cigar, the procedure is the same: gently rotate the end just above the flame - continue until partially alight - take a draw on the cigar to encourage the burn - repeat the process ensuring the burn is even.
Once you’ve cut and lit your cigar, draw the smoke into your mouth and hold it there for a few seconds, perhaps swirl it around like a fine wine, then let it out. Remember not to inhale the smoke.
It's best to leave the ash and not tap it off. It works like a buffer, stopping the burning 'cherry' from overheating the smoke.
Cigars should be kept away from direct heat or light. A humidor is the best way to store your cigars, as they keep an even moisture level and temperature. If you haven't got a humidor, a low 'room temperature' generally works well, which is around 68°F/20°C, though for long-term storage even a basic humidor is recommended.