Accessories: What you need to start the journey

Protagonists take most of the praise, but they know much of the credit goes to the supporting acts. In cigar smoking, the accessories are the Greek Chorus, in that it's not really cigar smoking without them. Max Foulkes tells us what you need.

What initially drew me towards cigars was the often-beautiful paraphernalia that accompanied them. Despite this, it was a long time before I acquired my first lighter and cutter, let alone humidor. I found my money better spent on cigars themselves, embarking on the journey of honing my palate. I do wish, however, that I’d secured these accessories sooner as I find the act of smoking far more pleasurable now that I habitually carry a soft flame and sharp blade.

With regards to lighters many prefer a jet flame, speeding up the process of ignition and setting fire to precious minutes of enjoyment.  Cigars should not be rushed, and this includes the lighting of them. I use a Dunhill Rollagas from the 1960’s and I remain rather proud of its delicate flame. It’s a brilliantly practical lighter with a flint spark instead of a ‘Piezo Ignition’ (‘the electric ones’) allowing for quick replacement of the flint and, once in a blue moon, the flint wheel when there is no longer a spark. It uses a clean butane so as not to taint the flavour of the tobacco and is robust enough not to be severely affected when gravity takes control and my lighter finds itself on the floor.

I also use a 1960s (bit of a theme here) Dunhill single-bladed cutter which will slice the cap off a 42-ring gauge at most, ideal for cigars I tend to enjoy. As long as a single blade is sharp, I see no need to add another. A larger gauge than mine may very much be in order and so I’d recommend XiKar and Colibri for robust, utilitarian cutters and Davidoff or DuPont for something more refined. A straight blade I enjoy the most, Vs and punches don’t quite ‘cut it’ for me but as ever, it's a choice you must discover for yourself.

A case for cigars is considered by many a necessity. Ideal for transportation, not so much storage for extended periods of time. Fallon, however, work to encase your cigars in rarer leathers (buffalo, ostrich, alligator) as well as endeavouring to keep your cigars as fresh for as long possible in the absence of a humidor. I’ve kept cigars humid for 10 days in a five finger ostrich skin Fallon, far beyond the expected ‘lifespan’ of a Cuban Puro in a traditional leather case. A lavish accession but no doubt a beguiling accessory bound to make your involvement in this world of cigars that much more enjoyable.

As you find your collection growing, a humidor would be a sensible acquisition. Elie Bleu make beautiful boxes although humidifiers and hygrometers, no matter how attractive, are outdated. Replacing the oasis foam system with Boveda packs allows for consistent relative humidity, sadly rendering the ornate analogue hygrometer redundant. Although they’re forever in need of recalibration I’d keep it in anyway because it looks nice. For other price ranges, I recommend Zino Perspex humidors. I have three, they are affordable, they work well for me and, being transparent, they look good filled with cigars.  I run a 65% Boveda which, on occasion, I swap out for a 69%. My cigars smoke well.

I would talk about ashtrays but I always seem to ash on the floor. I’m forever trying to keep my ash on to conserve heat and aid the cigar in its even progression. I do however own a beautiful ashtray made of petrified wood, more for me to admire than use, with an unintentional groove in which can rest a Petit Corona. It works perfectly for me on the rare occasion I attempt using it.  I might recommend getting an ashtray, if not to utilize then to look at with favour.