First, you should familiarize yourself with the different types of cigars before setting foot in a cigar store. This will help you know what you are looking for and what questions, if any, to ask the sales staff.
Beginner Cigar Tutorial Lesson 1: Cigar Sizes and Shapes
Coronas measure 6 inches by 42-ring gauge. The end you light is open, while the end you smoke is closed and usually a bit rounded.
Churchills, named for Winston Churchill, measure 7 inches by 47-ring gauge.
Robusto cigars are 5 inches in length with a 50-ring gauge.
Panatela cigars are generally longer and thinner than coronas and measure 7 inches by 38-ring gauge.
Torpedos are characterized with by a pointed head and a bulge toward the center. The foot of these cigars is closed.
Pyramid cigars have a closed, pointed head.
Culebras are three panetalas that are braided together to form a single cigar.
Diademas are normally 8 inches or longer and feature an open foot.
Perfecto cigars are similar to torpedos, but they feature two closed ends and a central bulge.
Beginner Cigar Tutorial Lesson 2: Cigar Length and Ring Gauge
When choosing your first cigar, pay close attention to its length and ring gauge. You can verify the quality of a cigar by gently squeezing it and then checking for any lumps. The wrapper and the tobacco visible at the end of the cigar should not be discolored. It is also of utmost importance to verify that the cigar consists of 100 percent tobacco with no fillers. A salesperson should be available to assist you with this.
Beginner Cigar Tutorial Lesson 3: Cigar Cutting
Once you have picked a cigar and are ready to smoke it, the first step is to properly cut the cigar. Cigar cutting creates an opening to smoke the cigar comfortably but should not alter the cigar’s shape.
Do not bite the cigar, it is imperative that you use a proper single- or double-blade cigar cutter to remove the cap on the head of the cigar in one swift motion. Avoid sawing or chopping which can cause the wrapper to tear. Aim to cut right where the head of the cigar meets the wrapper. This will ensure that a small portion of the cap remains and prevents the wrapper from falling off. Proper cigar cutting is very important!
Beginner Cigar Tutorial Lesson 4: Cigar Lighting
After the cigar is cut, it’s time to light it. This step may seem simple, but it is ill advised to use matches or cigarette lighters to light a cigar. The ammonia and sulfur found in matches can taint the smell and taste of the cigar, while a cigarette lighter will work but is difficult due to the small flame. It is best to use a cigar torch lighter which you can find in any smokeshop. If you must use matches, buy longer matches that do not contain any sulfur.
Beginner Cigar Tutorial Lesson 5: Cigar Smoking
Of course, once the cigar is cut and lit, it’s ready to smoke and enjoy. Begin by holding the cigar comfortably in your hand. As you puff on the cigar, make sure you do not inhale. Proper etiquette calls for leaving the band intact before the cigar is lit and removing it at some point during smoking. You may notice that the band has begun to fall off after about a dozen puffs, so feel free to remove it at this point.
Now that you know how to properly select, cut, light and smoke a cigar, you can enjoy the variety of cigars available and focus on finding one that you really love.