On today's blog post we will be guided through the world of Cigars by Joe "CigarNovice" Berg, a perfect cigar smoking guide for beginners.
Joe Berg is a 28-year-old Cigar enthusiast and Entrepreneur based in London, UK. A modern gentleman that prefers to hit the gym, work on his motorcycles or enjoy a whisky and a good cigar on his spare time. Joe is called "CigarNovice" on Instagram, this is also where he shares his cigar moments with the rest of the world. He is also a member of Soho Whisky Club in London. So if Cigars and Whisky interest you, make sure to follow the "CigarNovice" on Instagram.
It's time to dive into the world of cigars with our new cigar expert, Joe Berg!
Getting started with cigars
The cigar world can be a bit daunting, with so many different types, prices, etiquette and accessories so here is a quick and simple guide to getting started:
Find your smoke
There are all sorts of cigars available from a range of countries, and each brand has their own flavor profiles. The best thing to do is start by trying a few and see which suits you in terms of flavor and price. Cuban cigars have a prestige to them as the most established cigar industry so tend to command a higher price, but there are plenty of new age cigars worth trying too. Don't be afraid to try all sorts of different types and see what you like. I'd suggest starting with milder blends and sample various brands and blends to see what you like. Cigar merchants often sell starter or taster packs with a mix of cigars in. These are a really good way of starting out.
Cutting your cigar
I would always recommend using a cigar cutter to cut the cap of the cigar off. If you look closely at the top of your cigar, you'll see a small line around the circumference of the cigar. This shows where the wrapper has been pressed into place to secure it. You want to cut the tip off the cigar above this line with a sharp cutter. Cutting below this line (or biting the end off like they do in the movies) means that the wrapper around the cigar is likely to unravel, and your cigar can fall apart.
Lighting your cigar
This is where your Sisuman lighter comes into play, soft flame model in this case. It uses a butane gas and soft flame so it doesn't affect the flavor of your cigar. In other words, perfect for the job. Let the flame just meet the foot of the cigar and rotate the cigar around so that it lights it evenly. Give your cigars a couple of puffs to check it is lit properly. Try not to scorch your cigar (the soft flame really helps here), and treat it gently. It takes time to hand roll a cigar so take your time to light it up and enjoy it too. You can use fancy jet flame lighters too, but you have to be careful not to barbecue your stick. Never use a normal petrol lighter you'd use on cigarettes. The petrol flavor taints the cigar and all you'll taste is gasoline.
Smoking your cigar
Don't inhale like you would a cigarette. Cigars are about the flavours, so simply hold the smoke in your mouth to get the taste. Try not to rush your cigar. If you smoke it too quickly it is likely to get hot, making it unpleasant to smoke and damage the delicate flavours. In terms of pace, I'd recommend a puff every minute or so as a general guide. If the cigar goes out, simply relight it in the same method, and smoke it a bit faster. You'll find your rhythm. You can tap the ash of the cigar, but it will usually fall off when it's ready. The ash helps stop the cigar getting too hot when smoking, try to avoid knocking it off too often.
Storing your cigars
To keep your cigars in good condition you want to keep them at the correct humidity. There are lots of fancy humidors out there, but to be honest a simple air-tight tupperware lunch box works well, with something to maintain the correct humidity level. My recommendation is a Boveda pack. Simply place these sachets in your humidor/box and these regulate the humidity. I'd use one pack per 25 cigars. For cuban cigars you're best off using 65% humidity and new age cigars about 72% humidity (Boveda sell a range of sachets at different humidity levels). These packs are great, as they provide great accuracy, with zero maintenance. The only other thing is to try to keep your cigars at a constant temperature (between 15-20 degrees). As well as out of direct sunlight.
Picture of a Boveda Pack:
Some Cigar terms to help you along your way:
Ring Gauge - The thickness of the cigar
Vitola - A combination of the length, ring gauge and shape of the cigar. The most common are Robusto, Corona and Torpedo
Foot - The bottom of the cigar, this is the end you light
Cap - The top of the cigar, this is the end you cut and put in your mouth
Band - The paper wrapped around the cigar towards the Cap, which usually has the brand of the cigar on it. Take this off once your cigar is burning close to it (the heat will help melt the glue making it easier to remove) so it doesn't catch on fire.