The Art of the Good Cigar

A Matter of Taste

Cigar smoking tips and etiquette for women

Posted by herfergrrl on June 17, 2009

Choosing your cigars

Like food and wine, different cigars have distinctly different tastes and aftertastes. Some are mild and smooth, or even sweet. Others are moderate in strength, and some are very strong indeed. Do not confuse strength with fullness or complexity of flavor, however. A mild cigar may be full flavored, and conversely, a strong and harsh cigar with a powerful, lingering aftertaste (sometimes known as “ashtray mouth”) may be one-dimensional and lacking in flavor.

For your initial forays into cigar smoking, you will probably want to start with the milder cigars – though this isn’t the rule for everyone. If you know that your preferences lean towards espresso, black, and spicy-hot chilis and stir fries, you might be comfortable starting out with something stronger.

If your palate isn’t quite that jaded, ask your tobacconist which cigars in stock are the mildest in strength while still offering enough body and flavor to be enjoyable. Some good standby brands for the beginner are Davidoff, Don Diego, Macanudo and Royal Butera Vintage.

Contrary to what you might think, larger, fatter cigars are usually milder in strength than their thinner cousins, though they are often fuller and more complex in flavor. Smaller cigars burn hotter, releasing their volatile oils much more quickly, and can have harsher flavors. A robusto is a good size to begin with – small enough not to be daunting to the novice, but with a large enough ring gauge to burn at a slow and gentle pace that won’t overwhelm you. 

“The Rules”

There seems to be quite a bit of mystique and ritual surrounding cigars and how to smoke them. For some, this can be part of the enjoyment – once you’re an initiated member of the club, anyhow. Other new smokers, especially women, can feel put off by the often confusing and rarely completely explained rules of Always Do This and Never Do That.

In plain speaking, these are some of the “Rules” – along with the reasoning behind them. Instead of just following Rules, you can follow the reasoning, and decide for yourself how you will best enjoy the cigars you want to smoke.

There is a lot you may want to learn about choosing the “right” cigar for you, storing your cigars, cutting and lighting. The most important thing to remember is that no set of arbitrary directions can substitite for your personal taste and experience.

Basic courtesy rules about cigar smoking apply to everyone, men and women alike, and are reasonably commonsensical. Try not to smoke in inappropriate places (like a nonsmoking friend’s car or apartment), and don’t leave a trail of messy ashes or bad aromas in your wake. Getting rid of old butts and ashes promptly is a good policy to reduce lingering odors, and you might want to invest in a portable air filter or a chemical scent neutralizing product if you plan to smoke in enclosed spaces. Clothes, hair, drapes and furniture can absorb old, stale smoke smells, which aren’t pleasant even to the smoker.

As a woman, you should have enough self-confidence in yourself and your personal cigar choices not to be intimidated if someone (usually a guy) tells you that you’re “doing it wrong”. Only you know best how you prefer to hold, cut, light or smoke a cigar, and what you like to smoke – so if you didn’t ask for help, you are not obliged to accept it.

Experiment with different recommended techniques, and cigars, until you have found your personal preferences. There are reasons why it is generally recommended that you don’t use gasoline based lighters, and why you store your stogies in a certain temperature and humidity range, but it’s better to learn the reasons than it is to accept someone else’s advice in lieu of your own experience.

Above all, take the time to appreciate and enjoy your smoke.  Happy herfing, and keep checking in with the Herfergrrl for tips, reviews and advice.

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