Tips for the Novice Smoker

Cigar Keep is as much for the newcomer as it is for the seasoned collector, Max Foulkes gives his dos and don'ts as you begin your journey.

I don’t believe there to be rules when it comes to smoking a cigar, however there are certain things that can be done in order to make the experience more enjoyable. I’d like there to be more people whose chief diversion in life is the appreciation of flavours experienced upon the expulsion of smoke from the mouth and, in turn, fewer dissuaded from developing this passion after an unpleasant experience with a cigar. I consider what is to follow the dos and don’ts of smoking.

DO eat before smoking. On occasion, even experienced enthusiasts are overwhelmed by nicotine and the rush that accompanies it. Despite smoke venturing no further than the mouth, the body will still absorb nicotine, albeit at a slower rate than if direct inhalation were to occur. This absorption can be sped up and the ‘rush’ intensified upon the presence of ammonia, common in excessively youthful cigars. Eating will lessen the effect of the nicotine, thus ensuring a pleasurable experience and the comfortable sensation of normality upon returning to your feet.

DON’T smoke too quickly. As well as the possibility of feeling unwell, over enthusiastically puffing on a cigar will result in only partial combustion of the Ligero, the darkest, strongest and richest leaf located in the middle of the roll. It’s important to allow time for the surrounding Volado and Seco, and indeed wrapper and binder, to aid in the Ligero’s complete ignition. Patience will result in a full flavoured experience. The use of Ligero is uncommon in a 33-ring gauge and under as the slower burning leaf would be detrimental to the evenness of the cigar’s progression. The small aperture from which you draw replaces the intensity of the Ligero, allowing for fuller flavours to remain prominent.

DO smoke with friends, unless a cigar requires thought and contemplation, in which case I find the smoke best appreciated in one’s own company. If it is, however, a cigar I’ve encountered before but am not entirely well acquainted with, I endeavour to make myself more familiar with it amongst friends. It intrigues me observing the way in which others smoke and hearing their opinion on the subjective topic of flavour. Sharing a smoke with others sharing the passion is the correct environment in which to further your knowledge.

Having said all this, DON’T let other people’s opinions entirely change your own. I’m often asked what ‘the best’ cigar is and my answer has always been ‘the one you enjoy the most’. Don’t be dissuaded from admitting that your favourite cigar is indeed your favourite cigar. Thankfully, most have been sympathetic towards me and the willowy ring gauges I smoke, and even if they weren’t, it wouldn’t change a thing. It may take a little while to find, and in this current climate continue to acquire, the smoke that best suits you, but once you do you’ll consider it an extension of your body, one you’re so comfortable with it may as well have been with you since birth.