Ahead of the Puff: What to Do Before Smoking a Cigar

By  //  July 18, 2023

Before a cigar even hits an aficionado’s lips, they have performed a carefully choreographed sequence of steps. They have cared for the cigar, tended to its moisture level, cut the cigar, held it and lit it – each step requiring know-how and technique. 

And for their efforts, they are rewarded with a superior smoke – a cigar that tastes and draws exactly how the craftspeople intended. 

If you’re dipping your toes into the wide world of luxury cigars, consider this choreography a lesson in respect and admiration. Here are the essential steps you should take before smoking your next cigar. 

Proper Storage 101

From the moment you bring your next stogie home from the cigar shop, to the moment it hits your lips, you have an important job to do. You need to preserve the freshness, taste and aroma of your investment. 

Consider two pivotal pieces of equipment: a humidor and two-way humidity control packs. A humidor can be any tightly sealed container; serious cigar smokers invest in a Spanish cedar humidor, but you can get away with a cigar bag or cigar travel case to start.

Two-way humidity control packs ensure that the relative humidity (RH) inside the humidor hovers at precisely the ideal percentage. You can find different packets for various RH targets here at Bovedainc.com. Although, it’s recommended that you start with the “Humidor Starter Kit,” which contains a range of RH packets. 

Cutting a Cigar

Here’s the moment of truth, the make-or-break split second when you shear the cap of a cigar. (Okay, maybe “make-or-break” is a little strong; you can salvage an improperly cut cigar).

The key to this step is using a sharp edge. If you’re getting serious about your hobby, consider buying a quality guillotine cutter from your local cigar shop, which costs as little as $10. These sharp double-bladed instruments allow you to quickly and cleanly de-cap a cigar. Locate the guillotine roughly two millimetres (a sixteenth of an inch) from the cap end, then quickly and confidently make the cut. Don’t waffle during this part. The cigar senses fear!

How to Hold a Cigar (Like You Know What You’re Doing)

This might sound nitpicky, but some experts maintain that how you hold a cigar impacts your overall experience. 

Many seasoned cigar smokers prefer “the pinch,” which is exactly how it sounds: You hold the cigar between your thumb and two forefingers to maintain a sure balance. Some even consider it bad etiquette to hold a cigar in the “scissor” position (like you might hold a cigarette). 

Our opinion? Hold it however you like – just hold it. Don’t rest the cigar in your mouth for the duration of the smoke, which can overly dampen the end of the cigar and get in the way of good conversation. It might look cool in the movies, but it’s impractical in real life. 

Let There Be Light

Lastly, you need to light your cigar. Here, you have a few options. Experts caution that you should avoid any fire source that burns off odours, like petroleum distillate (in Zippos) or composite cardboard (in standard paper matches). Instead, choose something like a butane jet lighter. 

Begin by priming the cigar, rolling it in your hand while the flame sits comfortably underneath. Once you see a uniform ember forming, take small puffs (never inhaling) for an even burn. 

Now, you’re off to the races. You’ve done everything in your power to ensure that the cigar is fresh, prepped and primed for an even smoke. The only thing left to do is relax and enjoy.