Cigar 101: When Is It Okay To Give Up On A Cigar? by Mike Holmes

Recently I took a poll of people that follow me as a cigar lifestyle advocate. In one of the questions I asked respondents “What topics do you want to see covered in a cigar 101 article?” There were a lot of responses so I figured I would use one of the suggestions and answer the question:

“When is it okay to give up on a cigar?”

That is a great question! Thank you for asking. To answer this we have to look at a number of factors in order to answer honestly.


To start

As a consumer we all expect to sit down and enjoy a cigar that performs well and not have many issues while smoking. A fair expectation, right?. In light of our expectations we have to remember we are enjoying a handmade product first and foremost. Even with excellent quality control in a cigar factory, out of a box of 20 cigars it is possible to get a dud now and then, which is unfortunate and often times frustrating. A cigar not performing well could be the result of a number of factors, some of the most common I have listed here:

  • The cigar was rolled too tight
  • The torcedor wasn’t focused while rolling and rushed to finish
  • The factory (or cigar shop you purchased from) over humidified their cigars
  • Cigars were too dry
  • The environment you are smoking in was not conducive to smoking a fine cigar (really humid, too cold, windy etc..)

Now that you are aware of different reasons a cigar may not perform well you can now gauge what needs to be done. If it happens to be something you are able to control; great! If not, at least you know what to avoid. Here are a few scenarios and ways that you can correct the situation if at all possible.


Scenario 1

You pick out a cigar at your local lounge and decide to smoke it immediately. After a few minutes you notice that the cigar is starting to have burn issues and not burning properly. Chances are the brick and mortar will keep their cigars a little more humid, due to constant opening and closing of the humidor to keep cigars from losing moisture. Also, once cigars are shipped from a warehouse, they tend to arrive at a cigar shop having encountered many different temperature changes. Once a shop receives the boxes they add it to their inventory in the humidor with a slightly higher relative humidity in order to combat any cigars that have arrived on the drier side.

The best solution would be to purchase a few cigars and when you get home dry box them for a few days to reduce the moisture content then add them to your home conditions and let them rest a little before smoking. You don’t want to drop or raise the humidity levels too fast in order to avoid issues with the wrapper cracking. But once a cigar is at ideal levels, which are generally between 62-68% humidity, you shouldn’t have any issues with the burn on your cigar, at least due to moisture content.


Scenario 2

Many cigar enthusiasts smoke their cigars in different environments, whether it be inside a temperature controlled cigar lounge (retail store or home) or sitting outside. Eventually the environment that you are smoking a cigar in could possibly affect your smoking experience for better or for worse. For example; if you are sitting outside on a windy day you may find that you will start to experience burn issues and the cigar begins to burn unevenly. The reason this happens is because the environment isn’t controlled. You cannot control the wind which leads to an uneven burn while smoking.

Have you ever had your cigar wrapper unravel on you while you were smoking? This is the result of the moisture build up in the cigar reacting to the conditions. If there is a lot of humidity in the air it causes the cigar to expand, putting pressure on the wrapper which can cause it to unravel. This is a very big problem and an unwanted frustration while smoking.

MBombay M.Esteli Toro
MBombay M.Esteli Toro

Ultimately you want to smoke cigars in a controlled environment, like a cigar lounge or a room that isn’t too humid. It will enhance your smoking experience because you have taken away the negative situation and replaced them with the right environment where you will your cigars burn better as the manufacturer intended. Ultimately you will find yourself having a better experience.

I realize that there are people that aren’t able to get to a cigar lounge or have a temperature controlled space at home, which is fine. It’s not like every time you smoke outside you will have a bad experience, however now you are aware of why things happen from time to time. At least you know!


Scenario 3

Sometimes when smoking a cigar you notice that the smoke starts burning hot or the the cigar is hot to the touch. You also might notice that a cigar becomes overly bitter or sour. This is definitely not a pleasant experience. This is something that can often be controlled by not smoking a cigar too fast. Generally you only want to take a few puffs every 20 – 30 seconds. This allows the cigar to burn at a proper pace so you don’t get those bitter or sour notes and the cigar should not burn hot.

Something else to cause a cigar to burn hot is too tight of a draw. You have to work harder to get the desired smoke output, this isn’t always within your control unless you have a tool to open up the draw, then you might get somewhere with a cigar burning properly.


Let me get to my point

Now that I have given you explanations as to why things go wrong when smoking cigars, let me answer the initial question, which is:

“When Is It Okay To Give Up On A Cigar?”

The answer is, when the cigar stops being enjoyable! Sure there are some things that you can probably fix like unplugging a plugged cigar when you can’t get a decent draw, or changing the environment you are smoking your cigar in. These are things you can control. Unfortunately if any of the suggestions do not work, once the cigar becomes a project and not a relaxing time of tranquility then that is when it is okay to give up on a cigar!

When you decide it is time to lay it to rest, just lay it down in your ash tray and let it die on its own. Then go to your humidor and pick out another cigar and let it relax you because you deserve it! If the last one left sour, bitter, or off tasting note on your palate, try swishing some lemon water in your mouth or eat a piece of dark chocolate to cleanse the palate. Cigars aren’t rocket science after all, they’re a break from the stresses of life and the start of a peace of mind moment. I hope you learned something today, until next time thank you for reading Stogie Press!

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