How to choose a cigar?
Color: The darker a cigar is the stronger the smoke. Color ranges are Claro, Claro (green), Claro, (light tan to medium brown), Colorado (reddish to dark brown), Maduro (darkest brown), and Oscuro (black).

Length: The longer a cigar is the cooler the smoke. Most common cigars range between 5 - 6 inches.

Diameter: The diameter of the cigar is measured in rings of 1/64 of an inch. The fatter a cigar the more blends of tobacco it may contain.

If you're just getting started, then choose a cigar that is longer, thinner and lighter in color for a cooler smoke.

Other good things to look out for are shine (shows good aging), veins running the length of the cigarand consistency in texture and feel - no lumps or bumps. A fine dust (bloom) forms on naturally aged cigars which is different from mold. Things to look out for are blotches or discoloration on the wrapper, mold or tobacco beetle holes.


Uncommon Cigar Shapes a.k.a. Figurado

Belicoso and Petite Belicoso have a pointed, cone-shaped head; the belicoso is roughly 6 inches long with a ring gauge of 48 while the petite is 5 inches long with a 40 ring gauge. Culebras: Three Panatelas (or 5 - 6 inch cigars with a ring gauge of 34 or 1/2 inch) braided together.

Perfecto: Is a rounder cigar which is similar to the torpedo, but with two closed ends.

Pyramid: roughly 6 - 7" long with 52 ring gauge at the foot to a 42 gauge at the head (cap); it has a pointed, coned and closed head.

Torpedo: has a pointed head, closed foot and a bulge in the middle; it varies in length and ring gauge.


How to cut a cigar?

Start with a sharp blade. Cut quickly and apply consistent pressure to avoid crushing or tearing the cigar. Cut the cap or head of the cigar (tapered part) not the foot. Cut between the cap and the wrapper leaving about an 1/8 of inch of the cap; do not cut on or past the cap line or you'll cut into the wrapper.

There are three type of cutters: the guillotine, the v-cut and the punch. The guillotine makes a straight cut. The V-cut notches a "V" across the cap. The punch pokes a hole in the cap. The guillotine is the most widely used and recommended of the three.


How to light a cigar?
It is best to use a butane cigar lighter. A regular lighter will not deliver enough of a flame and the ammonia from matches may affect the smell and taste of a cigar. If you do use a match, let the sulfur burn off first. Never use a candle as this will affect the taste of your cigar.

Hold the cigar just above the flame (do not let the flame touch the cigar) and rotate it while drawing and watch for the cigar to ignite. Some cigar smokers prefer to hold the cigar in their hand and rotate it near the flame until embers appear.


How to smoke a cigar?

Do not inhale. Draw lightly and slowly, with occasional puffs enough to keep the cigar lit. A good cigar will have a white ash that will stay intact on the cigar for a while. When you are ready to take a break from smoking simply set the cigar in an ashtray and it will go out on its own.


The cigar band controversy

Some leave the band on others remove it. The British consider it tacky to leave the band on. It is wise to keep it on until the glue softens a bit. If you remove it too soon, the wrapper may tear or come apart.


How to store your cigar?
It is recommended that you store your cigars at 70(F with 70% humidity. Colder temperatures will dry the cigars out, warmer may breed tobacco beetles and too much moisture may cause mold to grow. A humidor is the best way to store your cigars. Other ways to store your cigars are in an airtight box with a damp sponge (make sure the sponge is not touching the cigars) or plastic bag lightly sprayed with water.