How To Smoke A Cigar – For new smokers, or those who can still be taught

I have been meaning to write a post on the subject of How to smoke a cigar for some time now and think that now would be a good time to do that post. I hope this helps those who are new to cigar smoking or thinking about giving it a try.

cigar pic

What Cigar Should I Purchase

There are thousands of different cigars to choose from and it can seem very daunting, so I will try to make it easy for you, or at least easier.

Some of the basic things that need to be considered are:

How fat, how long, how strong!

I’m going to give you the simple answer and then I will explain why.

As a new cigar smoker, I recomend: not fat, not skinny, something middle of the road 48-52 ring gage (thats what you ask for) next you want a 4 1/2″ to 6″ length (Robusto or Toro is what you ask for) Then you want a mild to medium strength (With a Connecticut wrapper)

So there ya go. You just walk in to your nearest cigar store and ask for a Robusto or Toro, 48-52 ring gage with a Connectucut wrapper and they will know exactly what your talking about. See how easy that was…. well not quite, cause then they might ask…. Dominican or Nicuraguan or Hundoran, sun grown or shade grown, what price range?

Dang this is complicated, your probably saying to yourself, but dont give up the ship just yet, cause if you’ve been reading my blog posts, hopefully you will realize that the world of cigar smoking is unique unto itself and no one knows everything, because there is so much to learn.

I have met real experts in the field and they will tell you, there is always something new to discover.

The idea is that you are setting off on a new adventure and every adventure starts with the first step.

So just explain to whoever is there, that you are just begining to learn about cigars and would be happy for them to recomend something for you to try and they will probably suggest something that fits into the catagory I suggested.

I don’t recomend that you go cheap, but also don’t spend your kids inheritance. I suggest something in the $8 to $12 range.

There are inexpensive cigars out there that are quite nice, but without knowing more about cigars, you probably won’t get one, also if you spend a lot on a cigar and don’t know how to discern what makes it so great, you will just have wasted some dollars that you didn’t need to spend

I don’t recomend letting them talk you into an infused cigar. These are usually dipped in something sweet and will not give you a true understanding of premium hand rolled cigars. You might want to try them later, but I think it is better to start with a regular premium cigar

cigar cutter

cigar cutter

I do recomend picking up an inexpensive cutter. You can usually get a cheap guillatine cutter that will do the trick. You can bite the end off like they do in the old movies, but you will end up with a bunch of tobacco in your mouth, when you bite in to it, and during most of your smoke.

I have a friend who does this and it doesn’t look very sophisticated!

Many cigar enthousiests use torch lighters to light their cigars. In truth, just about any form of fire will get the job done, some just better than others

There are purests who say you must light it with a piece of cedar or a wooden match (after the sulphur burns off). I have used many different methods and usually use a torch lighter, just because it gets the job done quickly. You can usually get a cheap one at the cigar shop

You may think that starting with a skinny cigar (small ring gage) would be a good idea, but thats not neccesaily the case. Neither would a fat long one (large ring gage)

Cigar are basically identified by ring guage, which is how big arround they are and their length. When a premium cigar is rolled, if it is a low ring guage it can be more difficult to roll and they have to use fewer leaves, causing a tighter cigar.

By the same token, if you get a big fat cigar, there are a lot of leaves in it and they can burn for a very long time (like two hours) and you would turn green about halfway through, even with a mild stick (thats what us veteran cigar smokers call an individual cigar)

To try to make this easy, I will type key words in bold so they stand out for you.

The draw is how hard it is to suck the smoke through the cigar.

If the draw is too tight, it will cave your head in (not literally, but sometimes it feels like it) and will be hard to keep lit.

If the draw is too loose, it will burn hot and fast and won’t likely be an enjoyable smoke.

When picking out a cigar, you roll it between your fingers to ensure that it is not hard as a rock (tight draw) or mushy (loose draw). I don’t recommend squeezing real tight on a cigar, the store owner will not appreciate it if you smash his cigars and if the cigar is a little dry, it will crack.

You don’t have to put much pressure on it to tell if it’s too hard or soft.

The other thing I mentioned is the burn. The cigar should burn down evenly with all parts of the cigar burning at the same rate.

Let me tell you about those parts, so you don’t think I’m telling you that the whole cigar should be burning evenly, like a torch.

These are the parts of a cigar: first they make the filler, which makes up about 96% of the cigar. This will typically be two to five different types of leaf, which makes up the blend (thats the combination of different tobacco leaves that give the cigar it’s unique flavor).


The Filler is folded together in a kind of accordian shape (except cuban cigars) and then placed in a mold and then put in a press for thirty to fourty five minutes to give it its shape.

Next is the Binder which is a thin leaf used to bind the filler together and cause the cigar to hold  it’s shape.

Then comes the Wrapper which give the cigar it looks and is a very thin leaf and will usually have a smooth oily look to it.

At the very end is the Cap this us useally on the end that the Band is on, not the end you light.

Just so you know, i am using generalities here, cigars vary considerably in taste and appearance.

Let’s Give It A Try

So now that you know what makes up a cigar and how to sound like you know a little about them and you have gone into a cigar store and stumbled all over your tongue trying to speak a language you have not learned yet ( probably not as bad as  me when I go to Latin American countries and try to speak espaniol)

Hopefully your experience was a pleasant one and you have come away with something nice to smoke, so now what do you do with it now?

First find a nice place to smoke, not in the house, your old lady will run you out with a broom or wack you with a pan!

A back porch or pateo is great for this.

You next cut a very small end off of the cap. Then you suck (draw) through it to make sure that you have cut enough and to taste some of the flavors in the cigar. This is called the Cold Draw.

I’m going to include a video with this to show you how to do all this, but there are some highlights i want to share , in case I forget in the video


1. Never inhale a cigar! If you are or were a cigarette smoker, this will be the hardest thing for you to learn. Cigars are much stonger than cigarettes and will make you choke and hack and gag! That is not the desired effect!

2. Don’t hold your breath either, you bring the smoke into your mouth and let it envelope all of your taste buds, letting a small amount come out through your nose, this is called the retrohale and brings all your taste senses into play

The Experience

Make sure you have some time to enjoy your cigar. The size and length that I suggested for you will probably take 45 minutes to an hour.

You will want to have something to drink and that can be just about anything and as you grow in your tobacco smoking, you will want to try different beverages.

Some suggest you should drink water, so you can taste all the flavors in the cigar with out dilluting them, others say that a black coffee is best and that it cleanses the pallet.

Then there are those who say that one must enjoy an alcoholic beverage with their stick.

Really won’t matter right now, since this is your first experience. I like a cup of coffee myself, particularly the way they do it in the Dominican, black with raw sugar in a little tiny cup called Demitasse.

You might want to have a bottle of water on standbye, incase you take some smoke in the wrong way.

Once you have the cigar burning, just relax and enjoy. Don’t puff like a chimney. Take a draw and then leave the cigar rest for about 30 seconds before you draw again. This will ensure the cigar doesn’t get too hot, but should stay lit.

If you smoke too fast, the cigar will get hot and will become unpleasant.

Something you need to bear in mind: Cigars should be maintained! There are many reasons that a cigar might not burn right, but most of the time it is opperator error.

If your cigar starts burning faster on one side, hold it so that the side that is burning slower is on the top and it will probably catch up, if not, use your lighter to burn the part that is slow.

If it starts burning up the middle, cut it off with your cutter and relight it. Hold the lighter so that the hottest part (the blue points) don’t touch the cigar and hold it under the cigar, not pointing into the end.

What Should I Be Tasting

This is one of the mysteries of cigars. I recomend you watch some cigar review videos, not just mine.

There are those who will tell you they are tasting a wide range of things and maybe they are? Most of us don’t have that sophysticated of palets and will only pick up a couple things besides smoke!

Here is what is happening usually. some of the things that they say like cocoa, leather, nuts etc… are not something that has been put into the tobacco but rather something that a certain taste in the leaf reminds or make them think of.

Two people can be smoking the same cigar and will taste different things, because it is just about what the blend is saying to your taste buds.

Some things that are kind of universal are: an earthy taste (this has to do with the soil that it was grown in) sometime you might pick up something sweet and some will think, raisins or apricots. When they say cocao, they are not talking about Nestles Quick, but more like dry baking chocolate.

The bottom line is that, there is no right or wrong taste, but hopefully you will pick up some of the different nuances that are found in the blend.

How Did You Do

Have you enjoyed your cigar? were you able to keep it burning? Could you distinguish some unique flavors?

If your experience was less than stellar, don’t worry or give up, it takes time to learn something new.

I recomend finding a cigar bar where you will find many who have been smoking for years and will be more than happy to help you develop in knowledge and ability.

I hope this has been helpful and I welcome any comments or questions in the space below. Really, I encourage you to do this and I will get right back to you.


  1. Bre

    Hi Chuck!!
    I just got off the phone with you over at Home Advisor. I checked out your page and it looks really fun! You posted this entry on my 30th birthday!

    Tell your friends if they ever want connected to any type of home improvement jobs to let me know! My direct line for work 260.286.2486.


    • Thanks for checking us out Bre, We do have a lot of fun at Cigar Pals. I will be doing a Warfighter Tobacco Cigar Review at Stogies in Valdosta Ga. later today and will be doing a post about Stogies in the next day or so. I will let my friends know about you guys at Home Advisor and hope you will tell everyone about Cigar Pals.

  2. renee westervelt

    Just watched the awesome video,I smiled and puffed and blew smoke right along with you.What a great teacher you are.You are so patient and explain everything so well,so a newbe doesn’t feel like a dumb dumb.

    • Hi Renee: Thanks for checking out the post. I glad you found the video helpful, since at Cigar Pals we strive to educate and entertain. No-one is dumb just because they don’t know how to do something, they just haven’t been taught yet. Thanks for being a supporter!

  3. Deb VerSteeg

    Ah, such good information. You answered questions I didn’t even know I had. I never would have thought there was that much to it. Thank you so much for the clear instructions.

    • Thanks for the comment Deb: This is just a little taste of whats involve in the world of cigars. I find myself learning new things all the time and try to pass that on to you, my readers. Keep checking us out and see what new and exciting things there are to learn about cigars.

    • Thanks for checking out the blog Cash: I am glad you found my post on How to smoke a cigar helpful and hopefully entertaining! Any time I can be of assistance please feel free to reach out on this blog and I will get right back to you.

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