A SIMPLE GUIDE TO CIGARS AND SMOKING
CIGAR [ səˈɡär/ ] A rolled cylindrical tube of loose and fermented tobacco, of highest grade primarily produced in Central America and The Carribbeans, is a man's undeniably cool factor. However, the simple pleasure of smoking cigar tops all other reasons to indulge in, one should thoroughly understand the subtle nuances of the cigar smoking and know the basics of it. For a long time, cigars were thought to be had best in a clubhouse, or a gentlemen's soiree; it is but only a myth. However, it is true that it is best enjoyed in the company of the true connoisseurs, often with a tumbler of single malt [ neat or a splash of water and nothing else ] or a glass of first growth Bordeaux or a sinewy Napa Valley Cabernet over a dinner of a porterhouse or filet mignon; it has always been a prerogative of the smoker's choice. But more than anything else, one should know the basics of cigar smoking and try to find a go to tobacconist who is always in the know of the do's and don'ts of the plethora of brands available in the market. It is like having a favorite tailor where you would go to have your bespoke suit made. It is all about cigar and you, and to learn which type suits you the best. Cigar smoking always needs to be taken as a hobby, and not a need. But you need to know.
The most basic physical terms for the cigars are shown in the picture above.
The cylindrical body of the cigar is divided into three very basic and important parts.
The Wrapper: The outermost leaf of the body which holds the binder and filler together.
The Binder: The second layer of the body that houses the filler.
The Filler: The most integral part of the cigar, the loose tobacco leaves packed together.
The Cap: The covered part of the head which is cut or pierced and put in the mouth.
The Foot: The other end of the head, which is lighted in order to enjoy the cigar.
The Shoulder: The area slightly under the head, which essentially houses the band.
THE CIGAR ESSENTIALS
HOW TO LIGHT A CIGAR
A very simple way of lighting a cigar is using an odorless match, preferably a long one, so it stays lit to finish the burning. First, cut or pierce the head using your preferable or available tool. In the absence of any cutting or piercing tool, just bite off a small of the head [ Not always the best way but effective, in my personal opinion}. Then, light the match and burn the foot all around the circumference, and then toast the filler slowly.
If you are using a lighter, always use a butane lighter, as it is odorless and will not spoil the taste of cigar. Same rules apply for the lighter, as you would light a cigar using a match.
As you see the foot evenly toasted, put the head to your lips and suck in the smoke in swift and short successions. And the cardinal rule of smoking a cigar : DO NOT INHALE as you would inhale while smoking a cigarette. Cigar tobaccos are the au natural composition which can prove to be very hurtful for your throat, should you inhale it. If it is your first time, always remember to remember this point.
The first time I smoked a cigar, unbeknownst to me, I had inhaled and almost died. So did some of my friends while at it. It was the late 90s and we did not know how to smoke a cigar, as it still was an item of luxury, better suited for men of class and discerning taste. We just were lucky to get one and tried, quite painfully at that. Now I enjoy a nice cigar with a few friends, with a nice Japanese single malt, once in a while. As I mentioned earlier, cigars are the best with finely aged single malt scotch.
My go to scotches are Lagavulin 16 Years, Suntory Hakushu 12 Years or Nikka Yoichi 12 years. And please, do not use ice in those beautiful scotches, for the love of god. Just splash some water should you need to.
If I had to pour a glass of Cabernet, I would always pour Smith and Hook Cabernet Sauvignon ( a casual affair) or Inglenook Rubicon Cask ( for better occasions).
I had had the pleasure of tasting some nicely wrapped cigars in the course of two decades, and my all time favorite would be any Davidoff. My other personal favorites are Rocky Patel, Gurkha and Macanudo. But the following brands are considered the best in the world. Cubans are the way to go, if possible to purchase or bring in to your respective countries. Dominicans and Nicaraguans are favored in the parts where Cubans are either forbidden or not readily available.