Cigars – the manliest of things. Any of life’s celebrations can be capped with a nice cigar. Had a baby? Finally got married? You’ve managed to survive another week in the workplace?! Enjoy a cigar!
Cigars are an iconic piece of not-so-American Americana. You see them in the movies, usually being smoked by the Boss. You used to see it with athletes like the Great Bambino – Babe Ruth. (‘Athlete’ used lightly) And thanks to The Sandlot, I assume he always had a stogie in his mouth when he spoke… But cigars aren’t just for the movies, and they don’t need to be reserved just for special occasions.
We consulted Kendrick Woolstenhulme (not a fake name), owner of Beehive Cigars of Salt Lake City, Utah, and asked him all of our cigar woes. I’ll be honest with you, there’s more to know about cigars than you or I will probably ever know. Fortunately for us, Kendrick knows enough to clear up all of our quandaries. Here are his do’s, don’ts, and do-whatever-you-want’s.
First off, you don’t need to familiarize yourself with the entire world of cigars to enjoy them like the pro’s. And with enough creativity you can justify one at any time. We’re told that you can pair your cigar with different times of the day. There’s no rules on which type to smoke and when, but a good rule of thumb is that the earlier in the day, the lighter the cigar. Basically, you don’t want to overwhelm your taste buds by smoking an intense cigar early in the day. And we want you to enjoy eating.
Time constraints also might be a factor in you cigar-type decision making. This is where the length and girth come into play. (I finally have an appropriate reason to use the word ‘girth’!) The more common types can take anywhere from 1-2 hours. But there are ones that can take up to four hours to smoke… For those that don’t really plan on tasting anything else… Ever.
Speaking of taste, as a courtesy to Kendrick, please don’t lick your cigar… Kendrick gets insulted just thinking about it. Apparently it’s a common mistake in the cigar world, one of those movie-myths. But we should know by now that movies usually show us the wrong way to do everything… Licking a cigar doesn’t add anything to it. Ultimately, it can make it burn differently than it was supposed to.
Now, the basics are fairly simple… ish… maybe… kinda… just go with it.
As it turns out, I’ve probably never “correctly” gone through the whole process, UNTIL NOW!
Typically, you cut wrapped end of the cigar to allow smoke to get through. There are three basic types of cutters. The first is the guillotine.
That’s the one you’ve probably seen the most. It’s pretty straight forward. It just chops the end of the cigar, or finger, or whatever. (Please don’t use them for anything other than cigars). These are usually cheap and easy to find.
Second is a V-Cutter. It’s pretty much what it sounds like. The blades make a ‘V’ shaped cut. Some people prefer these to keep their cigar smoking more uniform. By having a consistent cut, you draw a consistent amount of smoke, thus, less risk of changing the intended flavor profile.
The third main type is the Punch Cutter. Like it says, it just punches a hole in the end of the cigar. This is technically the most consistent type of cutter. They’re small, easily portable, and usually fairly cheap as well.
All in all, try to cut the cigar below the cap. You don’t need to cut a specific amount off or anything like that. It comes down to personal preference. All you’re really controlling how much air is going through.
I had no idea that I’d been doing this part wrong… I’ve always gotten my cigar lit, but now I know why sometimes my cigar wouldn’t burn evenly (canoeing or tunneling). The first step in lighting a cigar is to “toast” it. Basically you char the end of it so that it’s… toasted. Once you’ve done that, you can proceed to light the cigar by turning it as you ignite it.
Some serious enthusiasts say that you should only use wood matches. And the super serious favor ‘cedar spills’ (I warned you that cigars can be complicated). But Kendrick is a firm believer in using whatever you want. EXCEPT for a Zippo! That’s a big no-no. You want to avoid fluid lighters. But other than that, anything that’s not a liquid when burning will do just fine. Even a simple BIC lighter won’t do you any harm.
You’re not supposed to inhale the cigar smoke. I mean, if you’re reading this, then you probably have at least a mild interest in cigars, so you probably already knew that. But since that’s something else I did wrong the first time I tried a cigar I figured I’d mention it.
If you’re wondering when to stop smoking your cigar, all Kendrick had to say was, “Be done when you’re done”. You don’t have to smoke the whole thing either. Just be done when you’ve had enough.
Also, don’t try to save a cigar that you’ve already lit. You can maybe save it for a few hours, but much longer than that and it’ll get stale. And no one likes a stale cigar.
When it comes to storing a cigar, you can go all-in and get a nice cigar case, with a nice humidiphier. But for the most part, if you’ve just got a few on hand for a short while, a travel case will do fine. I’m not talking about a little leather pouch, those are only good for a day trip. But a decent air-tight hard shelled travelling case will keep them in good shape for a while.
Now, I could get into all the different types of cigars, of which there are countless, or the different lengths, almost as countless, or lengths, countable for the most part… but the color should give you a decent amount of info about the particular cigar. Lighter ones will have a lighter “creamier” flavor. Darker ones will have a “heavier” flavor. Think about it like you would coffee. The darker the cigar (coffee) the darker or more intense the flavor will be.
The burning question on your mind – pun intended – is probably about Cuban cigars. They’re famous, you want to be famous, and so you probably want to get your hands on one. Sorry to burst your bubble, but they’re still not available in the U.S. And as far as Kendrick knows, they probably won’t be any time soon.
But the good news is that the evolution of cigars still progressed! In fact, Kendrick tells us that you can find far better cigars elsewhere. Beehive Cigars actually makes their own brand of delicious cigars. Which I’m also told is a way you can describe cigars… you can actually order them online and have them shipped to you.
I could go on and on about the anatomy of a cigar, or where they come from, or how the different names and colors correspond with the different types of tobaccos and even the different parts of the plant they come from, but I won’t. I’ll let your local cigar guy tell you all about them. And that’s what cigars are really about.
[Cigars] are intensely personal.Kendrick Woolstenhulme
And that’s what we got out of it. From your flavor preference, to which style you like, how you light it, or even how you want to cut it – you get to smoke your cigar your way. Try different flavors. Try different lighters. And try cutting it different ways. Because let’s face it, when you’re smoking a cigar, you feel a little bit like a king. And kings make their own decisions. At least as far as cigars go…
About the author:
Brice Natter enjoys spending his spare time in the beautiful Utah Mountains. When he’s not expressing himself through interpretive dance, miming, or abstract cross stitch, he’s hiking, shopping, and most definitely eating. Find on Instagram at @biznattch.