Re: More \"goofy\" questions. . .
There are certain things that you want to do properly, to maximize your enjoyment while smoking a cigar. Most cigar enthusiasts have a fairly routine ritual that they go through when preparing to smoke a cigar.
2) Althought I seemed to do alright in my limited experience, is there a "proper" way to smoke a cigar, to get the most of the experience?
1. Pick out the cigar(s).
This is key. If you are going for a morning smoke, select a milder cigar. Medium for afternoon, and strong for evening/after-dinner. If you plan on smoking more than one cigar, smoke the milder one first and the stronger one next. Otherwise, your strong cigar will overpower your ability to appreciate successive cigars. Make sense?
2. Pour yourself a nice drink.
Geeee, I wonder what I could drink with a cigar??? LOL.
Coffee, whiskey, rum, tequila, martinis, water and cranberry juice all make wonderful cigar complements. You want something that will cleanse your palate between puffs, and that won't hinder your sensitivity to the subtle flavors and delicate aromas of your fine cigar. Time of day, and cigar selection will affect your choice of beverage. Personally, I go for coffee in the morning, cranberry juice or water in the afternoon and whiskey in the evening.
3. Find a good location.
Sound silly? Wind can ruin the experience. That's why I only take dog-rockets out on the golf course. With all the wind, I have to draw harder and more often just to keep the cigar lit, and it tends to scorch the tobacco which makes for a bad taste. Also, the wind immediately eliminates your ability to smell the aroma of your fine cigar smoke. So why smoke it at all?
I prefer to smoke in areas protected from wind, and where I can relax in style. My front porch forms a natural haven from the wind and I have a comfy padded chair next to a table for my drink and a book or magazine. The garage is another nice place, especially in the winter. On a calm day, I might head out with a chair and a beer on the driveway. I have met most of my neighbors this way!
4. Remove the cellophane.
Here is where the road forks. After taking off the plastic, what do you do with the band? Some people leave it on, some folks take it off. Leaving it on gives you a nice place to hold the cigar, and marks the approximate point at which to stop smoking the cigar. Removing it allows you to keep the ornate band to remember your cigar. If you remove the band, there is a chance that you will tear the expensive wrapper tobacco. But with time, you can get very good at removing your bands safely. (There is actually a technique I use, since I remove the bands on every cigar I smoke. But I will not go into it here.)
5. Moisten the top half inch of the cigar in your mouth.
This will help make the cap more pliant just before cutting. I am not talking about sopping wet here, folks. Just enough to moisten the head of the cigar. This will minimize the chance that the wrapper will split or start to unravel while you clip off the cap. After rolling the end of the cigar in your mouth, take it out and wait a couple seconds.
6. Clip the cap.
A number of different cigar cutter types are available; including scissors, bullet punch, and guillotine blades, among others. I have found that a sharp, stainless steel, double-bladed guillotine cutter works the best. I have a beautiful $15.00 guillotine cutter which works as well today as the day I bought it. The cut is quick, clean and easy.
Generally, you want to cut as little of the cap as possible, while opening up most of the end of the cigar. About 1/8th of an inch of the cap should be remaining after you clip the cigar. This remaining portion of the cap is what holds the wrapper in place so that it doesn't start to unravel. Torpedo or Chisel shaped cigars require a little bit different approach, but this method will work for most of the cigars that you'll come in contact with.
After clipping the cap, wipe off any loose pieces of tobacco from the head and test the draw of the cigar. Air should move fairly easily through the barrel. If not, you may need to clip off more of the end or let it dry out a little bit.
7. Toast the foot.
Some people swear by expensive cedar matches. Personally, my torch lighter does a beautiful job and does not affect the taste of the cigar in any way. Colibri makes the best torch lighters. My $35.00 Colibri is near the bottom of their line, but it works great! And for those that don't know, a "torch" lighter is one where the butane is shot quickly from the lighter. The flame is very faint or invisible, but extremely hot and windproof.
To toast the foot, ignite your torch and apply the flame to the end of your cigar. Get the entire foot to glow before putting it in your mouth. This gives the cigar a nice start, and helps to ensure an even burn during your entire smoke.
Next, put the cigar in your mouth and take a few puffs while still applying the torch flame to the foot. You should get a bountiful supply of smoke with just a puff or two.
Now that your cigar is properly lit, you are off to the races. Take a shorter puff or two, and then take a good pull of smoke into your mouth. Hold it there for about 5 seconds, and then open your mouth. Let the smoke drift gently out of your mouth. As it passes around your nose, you can pull in just a little bit to savor the aroma's many nuances.
Just be careful. This is pure, unfiltered tobacco smoke. Ideally, you don't want to inhale the smoke into your lungs at all. Smoke a cigar like a cigarette, and you'll understand why. When pulling a little bit of the smoke into your nostrils, do it just enough to smell the aroma and then expel it. Inevitably, some of it will drift down to your upper respiratory system. Just try not to inhale too much of it.
9. Build your ash.
I try to let my ash get to about an inch before attempting to knock it into the ashtray. The ash will contribute to an even burn, and will even affect the flavor of your cigar. You can often spot a cigar novice continually forcing the ash from the end of his cigar.
Each ring on the ash represents a puff on the cigar. Someone with a heavier draw, will have wider rings on the ash. Try to take another puff or two after knocking off the ash, to get a new ash going. Again, this will help maintain an even burn.
10. Let it die.
At the end of your cigar, or when you've had enough, simply place the butt into the ashtray and let it die on its own. Unlike a cigarette, which has tons of tar added to the mix, a cigar is 100% premium tobacco. Without puffing on it every couple of minutes, it will go out on its own. Crushing a cigar out will often result in a bad smell, like stale smoke. This is another telltale sign of a novice cigar smoker.
Sorry for the length, but I thought it was important to give the Members of this forum enough information to properly enjoy an expensive cigar. Anything less is kinda like mixing your Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit with your 7Up.
Re: More \"goofy\" questions. . .
Well Put. I bet you that if I woulda moistened a little before cuttin that CAO, it would have been fine.
Re: Remedial Cigars 101 (aka no question to goofy)
1) Where did the term "herf" come from?
I sure don't know where the term came from, but I have never seen it used (except on this forum) as another term for "cigar."
I always hear and read it used as: a gathering of people for the purpose of enjoying cigars.
Re: Last trimming question for now. . .
On torpedo's (pyramids, perfectos, etc.) I usually sacrifice about 1/4" - 1/2" for my cut. Be aware that, if your final opening is to small, tar will quickly collect there and alter the flavor. I know some guys who will recut their cigar about half-way through just to remove the build up.
Jal is right on. The tapered end of the torpedo is designed to magnify the strength of the smoke as it exits the cigar. This happens as the essential resins collect on the tobacco further up the barrel. Very often, the tar will indeed collect on the cut, blocking the flow of air out of the cigar.
I will usually trim a tiny bit off the end for starters. Then as the draw tightens, I cut another 1/16th". And so on. When smoking torpedos, I just go into it expecting to make two-to-four cuts along the way.