Cigar smoking etiquette 423

Cigar Smoking Etiquette Smoking cigars may be a great source of pleasure in your life, but the courteous smoker knows that not everyone enjoys the taste (or smell!) of a good Cuban. With the fervor of anti-smoking campaigns still in full swing, the importance of enjoying a good stogie while not offending others cannot be stressed enough. Simply remember that while you are smoking a cigar, it can be difficult to gauge the smell that others are experiencing. And don't forget that cigar smokes can leave a mighty strong residue on clothing, furniture, and even the walls! In order to enjoy your stogie without a heavy conscience, learn to become a considerate and courteous cigar smoker. If you live with non-smokers, try to find a well-ventilated area of your residence where you can smoke comfortably. Although it may be tempting to lock yourself away in an office or bedroom, it's probably not a good idea to smoke in an enclosed area unless it has a window. Make sure you have easy access to the window. Never smoke in a closed area! You are more likely to inhale the toxic air from your own cigar. If possible, go outside to smoke. Pull up a lawn chair; relax on the porch, or any other open area where you can smoke comfortably. Get as far away as possible to non-smokers, especially children and the elderly. Remember that cigar smoke contains many carcinogens that can be easily inhaled by non-smokers. If you must smoke a cigar outside your home, remember that the courteous and respectful smoker will only light up where legally permitted. Do no light up in a bar, hotel, or restaurant where smoking is clearly prohibited. The courteous cigar smoker will also make sure to smoke in the company of other smokers. If you are with someone who does not smoke, ask his or her permission. If they agree, be considerate about it. Make sure the smoke isn't wafting in their direction. Sit near an open window or space. Make sure the air conditioner or current is moving the smoke in their direction! Also, make sure no one around you is eating. The secondhand smoke from a discourteous smoker is a surefire way to ruin a meal. A courteous cigar smoker will also be aware of their ashes. If you must smoke outside your home, make certain to dispose of your ashes in a safe and appropriate container. Don't forget that ashes can easily blow away, especially in lower quality cigars. Don't litter with ashes, and be careful they don't blow near anyone around you. 433

Why use a humidor 183

Why Use a Humidor? If you are not an experienced cigar smoker, you may be wondering why cigar aficionados use humidors. Humidors are used to store and protect cigars so that they are kept at their peak flavor. A humidor works by keeping a cigar at a constant temperature, somewhere between 68 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit, and about 70-72% humidity. Many cigar aficionados claim that the ideal temperature for storing cigars is 70 degree F. Any lower will tend to age the cigar, rather than keep it at a constant level. Humidors are not meant to age, but rather to preserve the integrity, flavor, and color of the cigar. What should you look for when purchasing a humidor? The good humidor should close completely, with a tight fitting lid that will keep the cigars well kept from the elements and prevent any exchange of moisture. Seams should be smooth and well fitted for cigars.

Cedar, especially Spanish cedar is ideal for the interior of the humidor. Of course, make certain your brand of cigars fits well into any humidor you are considering purchasing. 183

Cigars 101 407

Cigars 101: An Overview of Cigars Cigars have long been associated with the rich and powerful, with relaxation and rich flavor. Cigar aficionados have created a culture around the art of smoking, assembling various theories and accessories to debate and facilitate smoking. Much like wine tasting, cigar smoking has been seen as a diversion of the upper echelons of society. It is believed that cigars were probably first produced in Spain, and then quickly caught on in other European countries. Although many different countries manufacture cigars, Cuban cigars have long been highly regarded as one of the most flavorful and rich of all cigars. This is due to regional microclimates that are said to produce the highest quality tobacco, as well as the skill of the country's cigar makers. Other countries that produce significant amounts of tobacco and cigars include Brazil, Mexico, Honduras, Ecuador, Cameroon, Dominican Republic, Indonesia, and the United States. Why have cigars long caught the attention of so many? Many speculate that the cigar's main attraction is in the way it is manufactured. High quality cigars are always wrapped by hand. Unlike cigarettes, cigars undergo a lengthy process of fermentation and aging (much like wine), resulting in subtle flavors and textures. They are highly individual and the best cigars will provide no smoky aftertaste at all. The taste of cigars is much more complex than cigarettes. The majority of all cigars are created by wrapping three different layers of tobacco leaves together. High quality cigars usually contain long leaves of nicotine as the filler, although they may also contain a combination of scraps. This results in subtle variations, different textures, and complex flavors. Cigarettes, on the other hand, are mass-produced and generally only contain one type of tobacco. Cigars also come in an incredible variety of flavors. The dedicated cigar aficionado can find chocolate, vanilla, apple, and even coffee-flavored cigars! Although cigars have long been lauded for their smooth and complex flavors, they can also pose a great health risk. All tobacco contains nicotine. We've all heard about the negative health risks of nicotine, but what does it do exactly? Nicotine is a stimulant that produces a sense of euphoria. Even the casual smoker cannot escape the fact that nicotine is highly addictive and contains various toxins, carcinogens, and irritants. Although most connoisseurs of cigars will avoid inhaling the smoke, they are still at risk of developing various types of oral and larynx cancers. 407

A short history of cigars and tobacco 413

A Short History of Cigars and Tobacco Have you ever wondered where cigars were first produced? It is widely believed that cigars were first produced in Spain. But before cigars became all the rage in Europe, tobacco was needed to make them. Tobacco is indigenous to the Americas, where native peoples have produced it for hundreds of years. It is believed that the Maya of Yucatan peninsula in Mexico and parts of Central America cultivated tobacco, and even smoked it! Tobacco use spread to other tribes, both north and south. It is believed that its first use in the United States was probably among the tribe along the Mississippi. It wasn't until Christopher Columbus sailed his famous voyage to the Americas in 1492 that the rest of the world came to know tobacco. It is said that Columbus was not impressed by tobacco or its use among native peoples, but many sailors grew found of the strange plant. Soon it quickly caught on in Spain and Portugal. From there, it spread to France, where the French ambassador Jean Nicot lent his name to the scientific name for tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum). The origins of the word tobacco itself are still suspect, although many believe it is simply a corruption of the word Tobago, which is the name of a Caribbean island. Still others believe it comes from the word Tabasco, a region (and now state) in Mexico. The first tobacco plantation in the United States was established in Virginia in 1612. More tobacco plantations followed in Maryland soon after. Although tobacco became a popular crop, it was only smoked in pipes. The cigar was not introduced to the United States until the late 18th century. Israel Putnam, an army general who had served in the Revolutionary War, is credited with introducing the cigar to the United States. He had traveled to Cuba after the Revolutionary War and returned with a box of Cuban cigars. Their popularity quickly spread, and soon enough cigar factories were established in the area of Harford, Connecticut, where General Putnam resided. In Europe, cigar production and consumption did not achieve widespread popularity until after the Peninsula War in the early 19th century. British and French veterans returned to their homelands after years of serving in Spain with their tobacco pipes in tow. Among the rich and fashionable, the favored method of taking tobacco was the cigar. Cigar smoking remains a habit associated with the rich and discriminating of upper society. 413

4 tips for lighting a cigar 190

4 Tips for Lighting a Cigar For new smokers, lighting a cigar can seem as daunting as learning to choose a good single. Here are four tips to guide you in lighting a cigar for the first time. 1. Use cedar matches, if possible. If you prefer to use a lighter, make sure it's butane lighter to avoid strong odors. 2. Warm the open end of the cigar (aka 'the foot' of the cigar) slowly over the flame, without touching it to the fire. Let a black ring form around the end. 3. Place the cigar in your mouth and draw in slowly. Hold the cigar over the flame, about half an inch above it, again without touching. Continue to draw in until the cigar draws the flame. Turn the cigar slowly, spinning it to establish an even burn. 4. Once your cigar is lit, take it out of your mouth and observe the burn you have established. If the burn appears to be uneven, simply blow on the unlit sections to draw the burn, and then take one or two draws from the cigar to reestablish an even burn. 190 PPPP

Check the ashtray 210

Check the Ashtray: Using Ashes to Determine the Quality of Your Cigar How to tell if your cigar is of the highest quality? Check the ashtray—the ashes left behind can speak volumes about the quality of your cigar. Here a few simple tips to determining the quality of your cigar. First, note how fast your cigar burns. A cigar that seems to burn too quickly or disposes ashes that break apart easily is probably a lower quality cigar. If the ashes seem too messy, and don't break apart together, this may also indicate a lower quality cigar. Also, check the color of the ashes. If the ash color seems to change, the tobacco leaf mix may be of poorer quality. The highest quality cigars, those that are well packed, will burn very slowly and burn stiff ash. The 'stiff ash' can remain intact up to two to three inches long, and remain on the cigar without breaking apart. A high quality cigar can be burned down to the nub. Even high quality cigars may vary in taste, especially when they are smoked down to the nub. Many times, you can usually get 'burn past' these bitter spots by letting the cigar burn on its own for a few minutes. 210

How to buy cigars as a gift 411

How to Buy Cigars as a Gift Is there a cigar aficionado on your gift list? Wondering how to choose a decent cigar for a friend or loved one? Even if you know nothing about cigars or choosing a good cigar, just learning a few basics can help you sniff out (sometimes literally) a good cigar to give to a friend. Fortunately, cigars have now entered the mainstream. Once the symbol of the rich and powerful, it's easier than ever for just about anyone to purchase a good cigar. Of course, you probably won't be able to buy your friend a box of top-tier Cuban cigars, but you can definitely buy them a good quality cigar that will put a smile on their face. First, visit your local tobacconist or specialty smoke shop for the best quality and widest selection. Avoid 'drugstore' cigars. Although they may be inexpensive and convenient to purchase, drugstore cigars are usually filled with preservatives and generally of poorer quality. They may contain, at minimum, saltpeter, paper, glycerin, and other preservatives and irritants. You should make sure that the cigars you purchase are made of 100% tobacco. If you have any questions regarding the cigars ingredients, ask the salesperson. An experienced and knowledgeable sales clerk will be able to tell you extensive information about the ingredients. Your local tobacco shop is a good place to shop because you will generally be allowed to smell and touch the cigars. Squeeze the cigar gently. A good quality cigar will give a little when squeezed. The cigar should be firm, with no excessively soft or hard spots. Never buy a lumpy cigar. Look at the wrapper. If you notice any drying or discoloration, best not to buy it. Ideally, the wrapper should be tight and smooth. Inspect the color of the tobacco to make sure it is even. Do this by inspecting the end of the cigar. Some color variation is normal, but if the color changes abruptly, chances are the cigar was not rolled properly. A cigar that is not rolled properly may result in an uneven burning and unpleasant odors. If you're not sure how much your friend smokes, choose a longer cigar. Longer cigars tend to have a 'cooler' taste—an excellent choice for beginners. If you know your friend is an experienced and regular smoker, choose a cigar that is greater in diameter. These cigars tend to have a richer flavor that experienced smokers will appreciate. 411

How to pair cigars and alcohol 418

How to Pair Cigars and Alcohol The cigar has long been viewed as a luxury of the rich and powerful. Images of well-to-do men puffing on a stogie and swirling a glass of good brandy have been well documented and memorialized in films and TV. If you are just becoming interested in cigars and would like to relax with a stogie and drink after a long day's work, here are a few tips to get you started. Traditionally, the cigar has been paired with a strong drink. Popular spirits include rum, brandy, or whiskey. Some argue that a good cigar should always be paired with a strong drink that has a hint of sweetness. Indeed, cigar smokers have long enjoyed these popular pairings. For years, the idea of pairing cigars with beer has gone overlooked. But why overlook good old beer? Recently, the trend has been to pair cigars with various varieties of beer. It seems that as cigars have entered the mainstream, it has been democratized and popularized. What better way to enjoy a puff of this newly popularized treat than to pair it with beer? Pairing a good cigar with a good beer is not an easy feat, but when accomplished, it is well worth the effort. Much of the pairing has to do with your experience level. If you are a novice, you will probably need help in pairing your specific cigar with an appropriate beer. If you have a more experienced palate, and you know what you like, you can probably make connections between certain types of cigars and beers. Because cigars are so strong and flavorful, one of the challenges in pairing is to find a beer that complements the intensity of most cigars. Most cigars will pair nicely with a good barely wine or a single malt scotch. If your cigar can be described as woody, spicy, with hints of cedar, try pairing it with a barley wine. The fruity hint of barely wine should complement nicely with the spicy flavor of your cigar. The combination of a spicy cigar with a slightly fruity beer can create an overall creaminess that enhances the flavors of each significantly. If you have no clue as to what flavor combinations might work, experiment. First, find a cigar that you enjoy. Try to identify the characteristics that you enjoy about it. Then, find a beer whose flavors you think might 'match' or complement the cigar. Many incredible discoveries have been made in much this same way. 418

Cigars vs 417

Cigars vs. Cigarettes: Which is worse for Your Health? Most everyone has heard about the health risks of smoking both cigars and cigarettes, and the dangers of secondhand smoke. But which is worse? Do cigar smokers really have the advantage over cigarettes smokers? The answer is much more complicated than anyone ever thought. A Matter of Degree Research from the National Cancer Institute indicates that the health risks posed by both cigarettes and cigars are strongly linked to frequency of use. That is, it's not whether you smoke cigarettes or cigars, but how much and how often you consume them. Individuals who smoke cigarettes on a daily basis are at a greater risk of developing cancer than people who smoke the occasional cigar. That said, evidence indicates that cigars contain many more carcinogens than cigarettes. It also appears that cigar smoke is more toxic than cigarette secondhand smoke. Much of this is due to the fact that cigars are bigger than cigarettes, and thus produce more smoke. To Inhale or Not? Debate has also concentrated on the issue of inhaling nicotine from cigars and cigarettes. Dedicated cigar enthusiasts argue that cigars are less dangerous than cigarettes because they don't require you to inhale as much toxins. The National Cancer Institute's research indicates that both cigar and cigarette smokers are exposed to carcinogens, regardless of whether they inhale or not. Even without inhaling, smokers are still exposing their mouths, tongues, larynxes, and throats to carcinogens. In fact, simply holding an unlit cigar or cigarette between your lips can expose you to carcinogens. Furthermore, when saliva comes in contact with a cigar or cigarette, even momentarily, carcinogens are swallowed. When carcinogens are swallowed, the throat, larynx, and esophagus further become exposed to these toxins and irritants. Cigarette and cigar smokers appear to swallow similar amounts of carcinogens, resulting in approximately the same percentage of risk in developing oral and esophageal cancers. Research indicates that the health risks associated with both cigars and cigarettes may be reduced if the degree inhalation is adjusted. Because most cigarette smokers tend to inhale deeply and smoke on a regular basis, they are at higher risk of developing cancer of the larynx. To get an idea of how inhalation of smoke relates to health risks, the National Cancer Institute tells us that the lung cancer risk of someone who smokes five cigars a day and inhales moderately has about the same risk as someone who someone who smokes one pack of cigarettes a day. 417

Cigar smoking 101 404

Cigar Smoking 101 What are the basics of cigar smoking? How do you light a cigar? How do you draw on the cigar properly? Do you inhale? What are the dos and don'ts of cigar smoking? If you have ever pondered any of these questions, read on. Here is a simple and accessible primer designed to help you gain familiarity with the sometimes confusing, always enigmatic world of cigar smoking. First Step: Lighting Up First, all new cigar smokers should learn how to properly light a cigar. Use a clipper designed for cigars to clip off the edge of the head (the section you put to your mouth). If possible light the foot of your cigar with a cedar match. Avoid regular cigarette lighters. They produce a nasty odor that can linger and ruin a good cigar. If you must use a lighter, use butane lighter. These will keep the odor to a minimum. However, you should always strive to use a wooden match because lighters can easily taint the foot of your cigar. How do you light up? Simply strike a match and hold the edge of your cigar over the flame. Avoid touching the cigar to the fire, simply hold the cigar over the flame and draw deeply until the cigar is lit. Second Step: Burn it down to a nub? Should you burn your cigar down to a nub? Experts recommend you leave at least two inches to your cigar. Even the finest cigars will tend to get bitter if you let it burn all the way down. What about ashes? Should you knock the ashes off of your cigar? Rather than knocking the ashes off the edge, let the cigar rest in the ashtray when you're not smoking it. The ashes will fall off naturally. Third Step: Relax and Enjoy A cigar should never be rushed. By design, cigars should be savored, preferably after dinner and with a glass of good brandy. Hold the cigar between your thumb and fingers—anything else might be considered bad taste. Also, don't inhale deeply. The smoke should not reach your lung. This is very bad for your health, and it will not help you taste the cigar any better. Of course, you should always be considerate of those around you. If possible, smoke in the company of other cigar smokers. A good cigar can be enjoyed alone and even more so with friends. 404

The health risks of cigar smoking 423

The Health Risks of Cigar Smoking We have all heard of the risks associated with smoking cigarettes, but what are the risks of cigar smoking? Are the risks of smoking cigars just as dangerous, or more so? According to the National Cancer Instituted, regular cigar smoking can result in a major health threat. Scientific research has linked cigar smoking with cancers of the larynx, lungs, esophagus, and oral cavity. Newer research also indicates that cigar smoking may be strongly linked to the development of cancer in the pancreas. Doctors also caution that individuals who regularly inhale while enjoying a cigar are also at greater risk of developing lung disease and heart problems. The health threats of cigar smoking appear to increase dramatically in those individuals who smoke regularly and inhale while smoking. Someone who smokes three to four cigars each day will him or herself at eight times the risk of developing some kind of oral cancer than a nonsmoker. Unfortunately, we do not yet know the health risks of smoking the occasional cigar. It seems clear however that smoking cigars on a daily basis can pose serious health risks. Many individuals wonder if cigars are as addictive as cigarettes. Many wonder why, for instance, so many people become addicted to cigarettes, and not cigars? The truth is that any tobacco product can become addictive because it contains nicotine. Witness the effects of smokeless tobacco products on individuals. These products, such as chewing tobacco, can become very addictive, simply because they contain tobacco, which in turn contains nicotine. Many cigar smokers do not inhale deeply, thus causing the nicotine to be inhaled superficially. Cigarette smokers tend to inhale, causing the nicotine to be absorbed faster and more readily by the lungs. Even though most cigar smokers inhale the nicotine more superficially, it is still possible to become addicted if the user smokes cigars on a regular basis. If nicotine is so addictive, why don't more cigar smokers smoke more often? It appears that more people avoid becoming 'hooked' on cigars for several reasons. The most obvious reason is that the nicotine is inhaled much more superficially than in regular cigarette smoking, causing less nicotine to be absorbed by the body. Also, cigars are not as readily accessible as cigarettes. They are viewed by most as a luxury item, saved for special occasions and used infrequently. However, when cigars are smoked on a regular basis, they can become addictive. The health risks of any kind of smoking increase dramatically as frequency of use increases. 423

How to purchase cigars from cuba 412

How to Purchase Cigars from Cuba Every cigar aficionado knows that the very best cigars come from Cuba. Unfortunately, buying the best can often be a risky proposition. But many cigar enthusiasts are willing to take the risk to get a taste of the very best. If you're wondering just how one would get their hands on a box of Cubans, read on. Because of the relationship between the United States and Cuba, know that there are a lot of people looking to take advantage of cigar aficionados. Purchasing Cuban cigars should be done with great caution in order to avoid getting duped. First, know that importing cigars from Cuba is considered illegal. The United States placed economic sanctions on the Cuban government in 1963. Ever since then, Cuban cigars have become the holy grail of cigar enthusiasts. There is, however, one loophole: visitors to Cuba who return from a sanctioned and licensed visit are allowed to bring back cigars. However, visitors are not able to bring back more than $100 worth of cigars, and they must be intended for personal use, and not for resale. Any other ways of obtaining Cuban cigars is considered illegal. It is in fact illegal to buy, sell or trade Cuban cigars in the United States. Fines for illegal trading, buying or selling of Cuban cigars may face up to $55,000 in civil fines. This type of fine, however, is quite rare. The more likely scenario is that you'll have your cigars confiscated. When purchasing a box of Cuban cigars, be prepared to fork over quite a bit of your cash. Prices can range from about $150 to $500 or more. If you're offered a box below these prices, chances are it may not be the real thing. Most Internet businesses that sell purportedly genuine Cuban cigars tend to be imitations. Always avoid shops or retailers that offer "discounted" Cuban cigars. How to get your hands on the real thing? The easiest way to get a box of authentic Cuban cigars is to head north to Canada. Buy them in Canada and repackage them so that they are not in their original Cuba packaging. Remove the rings and place the cigars in a different box. Customs agents tend to not inspect cigars carefully, and it is generally not considered a serious offense to bring Cuban cigars into the United States. In fact, many clerks at tobacco shops will even offer to repackage Cuban cigars for you. 412

All styles and sizes 205

All Styles and Sizes: The Basic Types of Cigars For the new smoker, the different styles and sizes of cigars can seem mind-boggling. It helps to know that all cigars can be divided into two broad categories: parejos and figurados. Parejos refers to cigars that are basically straight. They are subdivided into three categories: coronas, panatelas, and lonsdales. Coronas come in a variety of styles and famous brands. They are known as cigars with an 'open foot' (or tip) and a rounded head. Panatelas are generally longer than coronas, are thinner. Lonsdales are also longer than coronas, but are thinner than panatelas. The second basic category consists of the figurados. Figurados refers to cigars with that are irregular or somehow hand-shaped so that they are not strictly straight. The smallest type of figurados is the belicoso cigars, which are known for a larger foot and a smaller, rounded head. Another basic figurado cigar is the pyramid, which have pointed heads that taper to a large foot. The perfecto is a figurado cigar that is tapered on both the head and foot, with a thinner middle. The largest figurado is the diademas, known as the 'giant' of cigars because it is always eight inches or longer. 205

How to choose the perfect single 187

How to Choose the Perfect Single Wondering how to choose the perfect cigar? If you're a newcomer to the world of cigar smoking, here are a few tips to choosing the best cigar. First, note the texture of the cigar. Squeeze it gently. Is very soft, or rigid? Ideally, the cigar should give slightly, but not too much. Very gently, squeeze the length of the cigar to check for lumps. A good cigar will have a consistent texture. Next, inspect the cigar for flaws. Any cracks or discolorations are the signs of a lower quality cigar. The cigar's wrapper should be wrapped smoothly. Finally, look at the ends of the cigar. Pay particular attention to the exposed end where cigar is lit. If you're new to cigars, it can be difficult to gauge the quality of the tobacco. The simplest way to judge the tobacco quality of a cigar is to inspect the color of the tobacco. If you note any abrupt color changes, this may indicate that the tobacco leaves were not laid out properly. Look for a cigar with a smooth blend of tobacco. 187 PPPP

Old vs new 207

Old vs. New: Choosing the Right Cigar Are you confused about old cigars versus fresh cigars? What does this mean, exactly? If you're new to the world of cigar smoking, these terms can be a little perplexing. Basically, know that cigars are never really fresh. That is, you generally can't purchase a cigar just after it has been produced. Most tobacconists store their cigars at the proper temperature and humidity before they are stored. Also, the tobacco in most premium cigars is usually aged for about one to two years before it is rolled into a cigar. Many smokers prefer old or vintage cigars. Why? Older cigars are not inherently better than newer cigars. This is simply a matter of personal taste and preference. How long can vintage cigars last before they lose flavor and integrity? Cigars that are properly stored at a constant temperature of approximately 70 degrees, and about 70% humidity, can be stored indefinitely. What happens if an old cigar is not stored properly, and begins to dry out? Although the integrity of the cigar will probably be damaged, it can be restored significantly by re-humidifying it. This process must be done slowly and with great care to restore the cigar's flavor and consistency 207

How to spot fake cuban cigars 510

How to Spot Fake Cuban Cigars Everyone knows that Cuban cigars are the most coveted cigars, renown worldwide for their smoothness and rich flavors. Indeed, Cuban cigars are so prized that many illegitimate dealers have been known to sell fake Cubans to unsuspecting cigar smokers. How do you tell if what you have is a fake or the real thing? First, make certain that you purchase your cigars from a legitimate dealer. Buying from your local tobacconist or a reputable mail order business can protect you from forking your money over for a box of fake cigars. If you have an opportunity to purchase a box of purported Cuban cigars, but have your doubts, take the time to examine the box before purchasing it. Here are a few tips to help you spot the fakes from the real thing. The most important thing to examine is the box. Authentic Cuban cigars will contain a green and white warranty seal on the left front side of the box. The seal will contain an insignia that has a picture of a shield and a hat. On the upper right hand corner of the box, you should find a white sticker that is placed diagonally with the word 'Habanos' printed on it. The overall appearance of the box should be neat and clean. If the box appears damaged, smudged, frayed, or marked, avoid it. If the color of the box is dull, don't buy it. Even if the cigars are the real things, their quality may have suffered in transport. If you are in the market for Cohiba, Trinidad, or Q'dorsay brand cigars, know that all authentic Cohiba's will contain the green and white warranty seal on the right hand side of the box. On the bottom of the box of cigars, you should find a heat stamp with the words 'Habanos.' The heat stamp should be impressed onto the bottom of the box. Fake Cuban cigar boxes often find other ways to imprint this label, such as using rubber stamps or paper labels. You should also find a factory code stamp at the bottom that is stamped in green, blue or black ink. This stamp will tell you when and where the cigars were rolled. If you can open the box, take the time to smell the tobacco. Cuban cigars will have a deep, rich aroma, unmistakable to dedicated cigar aficionados. If the smell is off, or very weak, chances are you do not have a box of authentic Cuban cigars in your hands. The cigars should be facing the same way, and the top row may appear slightly flattened. The caps on all the cigars should appear identical, and the foot of each cigar should be cut clean. The bands on all the cigars should also be identical, and should be arranged so that they face the same direction. If allowed, test the cigars out by pressing down on them. Feel along the entire length of each cigar, checking for soft or hard spots. The cigars should feel firm yet pliable. 510

The parts of a cigar 182

The Parts of a Cigar What are the different parts of a cigar? Many long-time smokers enjoy their stogies without learning the basic parts of their cigar. While it's true that you can enjoy a cigar without knowing how it was put together, learning the basic parts of a cigar can be instrumental in helping you choose the best quality cigars. The first thing many smokers notice about a cigar is the wrapper, the layer of tobacco on the outside of a cigar. A cigar's wrapper is very important because it provides much of the flavor of the cigar. The best quality tobacco leaves are usually used to construct the wrapper. They range in color from very clear (claro) to very dark (oscuro). Binders are known as the 'intermediate leaves.' They are used to hold the tobacco filler together. Binders can vary considerably. Last but certainly not least is the filler used to make a cigar. The filler is the tobacco. Generally, filler can be either long or short. Long filler consists of whole tobacco leaves, while short filler consists of scraps. 182

Fighting the beetles 414

Fighting the Beetles: Protecting Your Cigars from Infestation Your cigar box may be at risk of a secret predator. Many cigar aficionados have been shocked and repulsed at finding their treasured cigars infested with Lasioderma Serricorne, also known as tobacco beetles. This dreaded beetle feeds on your precious cigars. They don't care if your cigars are drugstore mass-market brands, or imported beauties. What is the tobacco beetle, and where does it come from? The tobacco beetle exits in all countries where tobacco is produced. It thrives on tobacco plants, infesting their leaves before it is processed. Tobacco beetles thrive in hot climates, and especially in the warm countries Caribbean countries where much of the world's tobacco is produced. Tobacco beetles lay larvae that are white and up to 4 mm long. When the larvae hatch, they produce moths that proceed to hungrily eat their way through the tobacco leaves. Unfortunately, the tobacco beetle has been known to survive the process of fermentation and production that is used to make most cigars. Although many countries have made the effort to rid their tobacco crops of this dreaded pest, mostly by spraying crops with gases, the tobacco beetle has proven highly resistant. If the tobacco beetle survives into the finished product, many cigar enthusiasts may open their cigar boxes to find that their cigars have been eaten through. Sometimes the presence of the tobacco beetle can be detected through the presence of small puncture-like holes on the wrapper. The holes can make an average cigar resemble a flute. What can you do if you find your cigars infested with the tobacco beetle? Research has shown that your microwave may be your best defense in destroying the tobacco beetle larvae. Before using your microwave, remove and dispose of any infested cigar from your collection. The rest of your cigars can be treated. In order to rid the remaining of your collection of this pest, you should make sure to microwave your cigars together, never individually. Microwave them for about three minutes. After being warmed, immediately place the cigars into the freezer. After freezing them for 24 hours, remove them and allow them to thaw at room temperature. After they have thawed completely, place them in a humidor. This treatment has proven effective in removing the presence of the tobacco beetle. Before removing a cigar from the humidor to be smoked, examine each cigar individually. If the cigar shows no evidence of infestation, it is safe to smoke. 414

How to blow smoke rings with your cigar 199

How to Blow Smoke Rings with Your Cigar Do you yearn to blow smoke rings with your cigar like a pro? Stogie aficionados often speak of the ceremony-like deliberateness of smoking a good cigar. Blowing smoke rings is the mark of a smoker who enjoys the smooth and relaxing effects of smoking. But how do you blow a good smoke ring? Some argue that it cannot be taught—that it will simply come to you with time and practice. Regardless, here are a few tips to get you going. Veteran smokers note that in order to blow a good smoke ring, you will need to create dense smoke. Draw a deep, dense smoke puff into your mouth. Hold the smoke there and then open your mouth slowly and deliberately. Open your mouth, shaping your lips into a rounded 'O.' and pull your tongue back as you expel the smoke. Keep in mind that you are not exhaling the smoke, but simply pushing it out of your mouth. Also keep in mind that this maneuver will not work if there is even a slight breeze in the air. Make sure you try it in a location with still calm air. 199

Making the perfect cut on your cigar 203

Making the Perfect Cut on Your Cigar How to clip a cigar properly? Although every cigar aficionado has their own proven method, here are some basic guidelines to get you started. First, examine the head, or closed end, of the cigar. This is the part of the cigar that will need to be clipped. Determine where the 'cap' is. The cap refers to the part of the cigar where the tobacco leaf was used to close the cigar. Once you've found the cap, determine its length. As a general rule, you should not cut any further than the end of the cap. If you cut further than the cap, there's a good chance your cigar will unravel! Use a good quality clipper to cut the head at the cap. You don't want a cheap cutter that will result in frayed or split cuts. You can purchase a special cigar cutter at your local tobacco shop that is designed to make clean cuts. Once you have your cutter, hold your cigar at eye level and make a fast and decisive cut just above the cap. Less is more when cutting—if you find your cut is too superficial, simply cut down a bit more. 203

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