A Guide to Cigars and How to Care for Them

Cutting, Lighting and Smoking a Cigar

Cutting/Piercing
Hand-made premium cigars must be cut or pierced before they are smoked. There are a variety of piercing devices available, and the choice is simply a matter of personal preference. If you prefer to cut your cigars, it is very important that the cutting blade is very sharp because a dull blade will ruin your cigars. Hold the cigar at eye level to ensure you are cutting a straight line. Place the head of the cigar into the cutter, taking care not to cut into the shoulder (where the cap meets the body of the cigar), as this will cause the cigar to unravel. Use constant, quick pressure to cut off the end without crushing the cigar.

Lighting
To light your cigar you need the correct lighter. Some cigar buffs use cedar strips, called spills, but most people use matches or a lighter. If you opt for matches, wooden ones are best because stay lit longer. If you prefer a lighter, be sure it uses butane fuel so as not to effect the cigar's taste.

When you are ready to light your cigar, be sure that the flame does not touch the cigar. Direct contact with the flame can flavor the cigar with residue from your lighter or match. Instead, hold the cigar above the flame and rotate it to lightly char the foot. Then, place the cigar in your mouth and continue to light as you rotate the cigar, gently puffing in every few seconds.

Once the cigar is lit, remove it from your mouth and check the foot to make sure it is burning evenly. If it isn't, blow gently on the foot to ignite the tobacco which is not burning. If one area is burning faster than the others, simply wet your finger and apply it beneath the quick-burning area to slow it down.

Smoking
If your cigar starts to burn hot while smoking, gently blow through it to blow out all the smoke. Then, simply set the cigar down for a minute, wait, then smoke as usual!

Extinguishing a Cigar
Opinions differ as to when to stop smoking a cigar. Some say once the cigar has burned halfway down, it is done. Others smoke it all the way down to their fingers. There really is no right or wrong answer, so do what feels right to you. If you reach a point when smoking your cigar is no longer enjoyable, just put it down. Unlike a cigarette, do not stomp it out or smash it. Just let it extinguish itself.

Relighting a Cigar
If your cigar goes out, do not just relight it and continue smoking. If simply relit, the tars present in the cigar will cause the smoke to taste charred or stale. Before relighting, tap off all of the gray-white ash on the end of the cigar. Next, place the flame below the cigar until the heat from the flame causes the tip to ignite into a bright yellow flame. Then, gently blow through the cigar for a few seconds to burn off the tars built up in the cigar while smoking. Your cigar will now smoke as if it was freshly lit.

Cigar Shapes, Sizes & Colors

There are two basic categories of cigars: Parejos (parallel sides) and Figurados (irregular shapes). Within each category are a variety of cigar types, further distinguished by their size. There are two standards of measurement used to describe a cigar - length and diameter:

  • Length is measured in inches or centimeters
  • Diameter, referred to as the ring gauge, is measured in degrees of 1/64th of an inch.

Although different manufacturers will use different names, ring gauges and/or lengths for their particular cigars, the chart below offers a good, general point of reference for some of the most common cigar types (arranged alphabetically):

Parejos (Parallel) Sides:

Cigarillos

These small cigars, popular in Europe, are about the size of a cigarette.

  • Smoking time: approx. 10 minutes.
  • typically 3 inches in length
  • 20 ring gauge

Churchill

A large corona-format cigar, named after Sir Winston Churchill.

  • Smoking time: approx. 45-60 minutes.
  • typically 7-8 inches in length
  • 48 ring gauge

Corona

The most familiar size and shape for premium cigars. Generally straight-sided with an open foot and a closed, rounded head.

  • Smoking time: approx. 30-45 minutes.
  • typically 5 1/2 inches in length
  • 42 ring gauge

Corona Gorda

A larger version of the classic corona.

  • Smoking time: approx. 45 minutes.
  • typically 5 5/8 inches in length
  • 46-48 ring gauge

Double Corona

Because of its similarity to the corona, this large cigar is often called a "double corona."

  • Smoking time: approx. 45-60 minutes.
  • typically 7 5/8 inches in length
  • 48-50 ring gauge

Gigante or Presidente

The largest of all cigar types, give yourself plenty of time if you purchase one of these.

  • Smoking time: approx. 60-90 minutes.
  • up to 10 inches in length
  • up to 64 ring gauge

Gran Corona

A longer version of the corona gorda.

  • Smoking time: approx. 45-50 minutes.
  • typically 6 3/4 inches in length
  • 48 ring gauge

Lonsdale

Named after the Earl of Lonsdale, this cigar is characterized by its length.

  • Smoking time: approx. 45-50 minutes.
  • up to 7 inches in length
  • 40-42 ring gauge

Panatela

A long, thin cigar, often braided to create Culebras.

  • Smoking time: approx. 35-45 minutes.
  • typically 7 inches in length
  • 36-38 ring gauge

Petit Corona

A smaller version of the classic corona.

  • Smoking time: approx. 25 minutes.
  • typically 5 inches in length
  • 40-42 ring gauge

Robusto or Rothschild

Named after Baron de Rothschild, this short, fat cigar is also known as a Robusto.

  • Smoking time: approx. 25-40 minutes.
  • typically 5-6 inches in length
  • 50 ring gauge

Figurados (Irregular Shapes):

Belicoso

Similar to the pyramid but the head is polished, or rounded off, instead of pointed.

  • Smoking time: approx. 45 minutes.
  • typically 6 inches in length
  • 48-52 ring gauge

Culebras

This strange cigar is actually made of three panetelas braided and banded together.

  • Smoking time: approx. 25-30 minutes.
  • typically 5 inches in length
  • 33 ring gauge

Perfecto

A distinctive cigar shape that is closed at both ends, with a rounded head, and usually with a bulge in the middle.

  • Smoking time: approx. 45 minutes.
  • typically 5-6 inches in length
  • 48-52 ring gauge

Pyramid

A sharply tapered cigar with a wide, open foot and a closed head.

  • Smoking time: approx. 45-60 minutes.
  • typically 6 1/2 inches in length
  • 52 ring gauge

Torpedo

This cigar features a closed foot, a pointed head and a bulge in the middle.

  • Smoking time: approx. 60 minutes.
  • typically 6 inches in length
  • 60 ring gauge

Ring Gauge/Ring Size

This is a standard industry measurement for the diameter (width) of a cigar, the size of which affects the overall flavor. The fatter the cigar, the more developed and full a cigar will taste. A wider cigar will also burn slower. The measurement is calculated in degrees of 1/64th of an inch.

You can get an idea of how thick your cigar is by taking the the ring gauge and dividing it by 64. This will give you the width in inches (see chart below). A cigar with a ring gauge of 64 would be one inch in diameter. A cigar with a ring gauge of 32 would be a half of an inch (32/64).

Helpful Hint:

Try to select a cigar with a larger ring size if you tend to have a heavy draw. A smaller ringed cigar will tend to taste harsh if your draw is heavy because you are scorching your smoke. Even the finest cigar won't taste proper if you don't know your draw.

Wrapper Color

Cigars come in a variety of colors which tell a lot about the cigar. Generally, the color of a cigar wrapper is a good indication of the strength of the cigar. A darker wrapper indicates that it has fermented longer and, therefore, will have a stronger taste. Below are the major color categories:

Double Claro - Also referred to as Candela, the pale greenish tint of this wrapper is achieved by a heat-curing process that fixes the chlorophyll content of the wrapper while it's still in the barn. It's a light cigar that has had limited aging.

Claro - Light tan or biscuit colored, it is the typical color of shade-grown tobacco. Generally mild, this cigar has a smooth and sometimes, rather neutral flavor. Connecticut shade-grown wrappers are regarded as the best for this style.

Colorado Claro - Darker brown in color and similar to a Cameroon wrapper from West Africa, this cigar is slightly stronger than the Claro but still considered mild.

Colorado - This reddish brown wrapper is most often seen in well aged and mature cigars which provide a medium to strong flavor.

Natural - Also known as English Market Selection (or E.M.S.), these dark tan or brown leaves are sometimes sun-grown (without canopy protection) for a smooth, rich and full flavor.

Colorado Maduro - This dark brown wrapper, usually seen on cigars produced in Honduras, Nicaragua and sometimes in Cuba, is generally considered medium to strong in flavor.

Double Claro - A greenish-brown wrapper that produces a somewhat light and bland taste.

Maduro - A dark, almost coffee-like color associated with full flavored and slightly sweet tasting cigars. These wrappers give off an excellent aroma.

Oscuro - This black wrapper is produced in Mexico, Brazil and Nicaragua and is strong in flavor.

Country of Origin

This term refers to not only the country where the cigar is made, but also the country where the tobacco is grown. Sometimes they are the same but not always. Cigar manufacturers can buy leaves for filler, binder and wrapper from anywhere in the world, so some cigars are manufactured in one country using tobacco from another.

Knowing the country of origin can give you a general guide to the particular style of cigar:

  • Jamaica - Usually light-bodied and mild.
  • The Dominican Republic - Generally mild to medium-bodied.
  • Hondorus or Nicaragua - Mostly stronger and fuller-bodied.
  • Cuba - (Illegal in the U.S.) The best are very rich, smooth and somewhat creamy.

All of our cigars are premium, handmade at our factory in the Dominican Republic.

How to Properly Care for your Cigars

Storage Do's and Don'ts:

Cigars may be stored in many different ways for as many different reasons. It is important that they are stored with some type of humidification and at a controlled temperature.

A cigar is a natural product and should be treated accordingly. As with any organic item, a cigar will succumb to the elements if not handled properly. It can't be said enough: Cigars require both humidity and temperature control.

Do's:

It is best to keep your cigars in a humidor (until you are ready to smoke them) under conditions of 70% humidity and 70o F. This provides the cigars with an environment similar to the region where the tobacco was grown. To do so, there needs to be a humidification device ("humidifier"), a humidity gauge ("hygrometer") and a place to keep your humidor that is away from either warm or cool temperatures. The "humidifier" should only be filled using distilled water, not tap water. It should also be noted that the humidity may fluctuate between 70 and 80 without negatively impacting the taste and quality of the cigars.

If you do not have a humidor, an airtight plastic container will work just as well. A common favorite for cigar storage is Tupperware. In addition, you may simply pour a little distilled water into a glass until you choose to buy a humidifier. Unlike a humidor, however, the Tupperware will have to be opened from time to time to prevent overhumidification. If you like cigars, this shouldn't be a concern as you'll be enjoying them often.

Another storage idea, for small quantities and travel, is the Ziploc storage bag. If your cigars have been stored properly, a Ziploc bag will keep them fresh for about a week if not exposed to extreme temperatures. It is recommended that if you use this short-term method of storage, you place the bag in a solid container like a tin or wooden cigar box. This will protect the cigars from being accidentally bent or crushed.

There are numerous other ways to store cigars such as coolers, glass or plastic jars and myriad other products. Nothing, however, compares to a humidor. So if you're serious about your cigars, make an investment in a humidor... you won't regret it.

Don'ts:

Do not put your cigars in your refrigerator or freezer! Because most units also dehumidify the air, storing cigars in the fridge will dry them out. Also, if there are aromatic foods near your cigars, such as onions or garlic, the cigars could take on their flavors. Finally, if a cigar has been stored in a refrigerator and hasn't returned to room temperature before lighting, the wrapper may explode off the cigar. This happens because the heat from the smoke will cause the leaf to expand too quickly.

General Care Issues

White Spots (Bloom)
At times, a fine white powder will form on the wrapper of the cigar during the aging process. This naturally occurring phenomenon, known a bloom, is caused by the oils that exude from the tobacco and simply indicates that the cigar is alive and maturing as it should inside a well maintained humidor. It is harmless and can be gently brushed off with a small camel hair brush, although there is no need to do this.

Mold
Bloom should not be confused with mold which is bluish-green and stains the wrapper. The presence of mold usually indicates a humidor is too warm or has excessive levels of humidity.

Dried Out Cigars
A dried out cigar can be restored, but it does take time. For expensive cigars, it is usually recommended that you see your tobacconist. To restore cigars yourself, remove them from their tubes or wrappers, place them into a ziplock bag and seal it. Pierce the bag with the many little holes, then place the first bag (containing the cigars) into a second, larger ziplock bag along with a sponge moistened with distilled water. Seal the second bag. Rotate the cigars 25% every few days, so that all of the wrapper is exposed to the humidity. Repeat this process for a month. Once the cigars have regained their normal sponginess, they can be returned to the humidor, but should remain there for another 9-12 months to allow enough time for the tobaccos to reach their proper equilibrium.

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