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      21 Cuban Cigars for Beginners

      Cuban Cigars

      If you are adventuring into the great wide world of cigars and looking to light up your first Cuban, you probably have a few questions. Of course, when you are new to cigar smoking, you might not yet have a network of fellow collectors that can answer your questions. Maybe you are even hesitant to talk shop with your local cigar merchant.

      That’s why we’ve compiled a list of our favorite 21 Cuban cigars for beginners. Read on, then light up.

      Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure No 2

      This may just be the best beginner cigar out there. A well-balanced, light bodied stick filled to the brim with elegant notes of cocoa, cinnamon, and vanilla, it’s without a doubt one of the more succulent selections on our list.

      Romeo y Julieta Mille Fleurs Cigar

      This was among Winston Churchill’s favorite brands, so you can anticipate a top-shelf cigar. More affordable than some of the other names in their catalogue, the Mille Fleurs brings you all the typical flavors Romeo y Julieta fans have come to know and love, including cedar and floral notes. 

        Cohiba Siglo I Cigar

        Smoking your first Cohiba is a right of passage for every cigar smoker. The most famous and successful Cuban cigar makers, Cohiba rarely miss with their endlessly impressive array of smokes. For a novice smoker, we recommend a slightly milder Cohiba like the Siglo I. 

        Le Flor de Cano Petit Corona

        Perhaps the perfect starter cigar, this is a small corona with an excellent draw. With a mild flavor and aroma, this Havana House exclusive is also competitively priced. This is a perfectly solid, unfussy cigar.

        Paragas Petit Corona Especiales Cigar

        One of the punchier cigars to have made our list, we recommend the Paragas Petit Corona Especiales for when you’ve conquered a few of the previously mentioned milder Cubans and are looking for something bolder. Both well-blended and complex, it should ideally be smoked in the early evening with a delicious cup of coffee.

        Ramon Allones Superiores LCDH

        Though lesser known than some of the heavier hitters on this list, Ramon Allones crafts a heck of a smoke. We recommend the Superiores LCDH, which is beautifully crafted, medium-bodied, and gives you a basic survey course, so to speak, on what to expect from a Cuban.

        Por Larranaga Panetelas

        A shorter filler cigar with a stout body and earthy taste, this may seem like a surprising choice. But the only thing that’s surprising about this cigar is how delicious and affordable it is. It offers notes of cedar, salted caramel, and topsoil, to name a few of the treats packed into this small-but-mighty-wonder. 
        Fonseca No. 1

        An often overlooked brand, Fonseca’s Fonseca No. 1 will quickly climb the ranks on your list of favorite cigars. Milder than most of its counterparts, it’s a great Cuban cigar for beginners, and comes in a beautifully creamy brown wrapper. Its dominant flavor is coffee but it finishes with delightfully floral undertones—truly a hidden gem.

        Romeo y Julieta Reserva Real

        The second Romeo y Julieta to make our list, this Cuban-legacy cigar (brands that originated in Cuba but are now manufactured elsewhere) offers a collection of distinctively toasty and nutty flavors. The secret to this smoke is its Connecticut wrapper varietal––it’s oily, sweet, and unforgettable. 

        Quai d’Orsay No. 54

        Created in the 70’s for an exclusively French market, this mild to medium-bodied cigar was relaunched in 2017 to critical acclaim. Both savory and sweet, the Quai d’Orsay No. 54 offers subtlety, refinement, and hints of salted caramel.

        Guantanamera Cristales - 1’s

        This is a nice, mild Cuban that offers notes of citrus fruit and a minty, menthol-like middle. Maybe this cigar won’t win many prizes with the aficionados, but it’s dependable and enjoyable nevertheless—an underrated, smooth smoke. 
        Rafael Gonzalez Perlas With its dark Maduro wrapper, this Cuban offers good value for a solid smoking experience, and should not be overlooked. Its hints of dark chocolate and roasted nuts bring a much welcome sweetness to a rather earthy cigar.

        H. Upmann Magnum 50

        Extremely popular ever since its release in 2008, the Magnum 50 gives a great introduction to the world of H. Upmann. Equal parts grassy and nutty flavors commingle for a truly one of a kind taste.

        Saint Luis Rey Regios

        Subtle flavors of coffee, chocolate, and dark honey are perfectly balanced in this deceptively elegant cigar. An affordable Habano, it’s extremely smokeable—even when young.

        Ramon Allones Club Allones Edicion 2015

        With its dark, oily, and beautiful wrapper, you know right when you pick up the Club Allones that it’s going to be one hell of a cigar. As a medium to full-bodied smoke, it’s not for the faint of heart, and is probably one to try after you’ve dabbled in a few of the previously mentioned, more easy to approach smokes. Still, once you’ve dipped your toes into the Cuban pool, be sure to check out the Club Allones Edicion 2015.

        Punch 48 LCDH & Habanos Specialist

        Though a young, recently produced cigar, this smoke has a taste, subtleness, and complexity well beyond its years. This medium-bodied cigar is exquisitely designed, and even better, won’t break the bank.

        Bolivar Royal Coronas

        With both peppery spice and more soothing herbal notes, the Bolivar Royal Corona strikes an exciting balancing act of seemingly contradictory flavors.

        A hefty Robusto with a 50 ring gauge, you’ll taste nutmeg, chocolate, coffee, and leather.

        Montecristo No. 2

        With its iconic torpedo shape, the Montecristo No. 2 is a larger sized, super bold cigar. Notes of spice and pepper dance alongside almonds and cedar for a truly unmistakable taste. First introduced in 1935, the recipe was so solid that Montecristo hasn’t tampered with it at all. A wise decision, we think. 

        Juan Lopez Seleccion No. 2 SLB

            Mild to full-bodied with a slightly grassy taste, here’s a cigar that has become very popular of late. Flavors of cedar and cocoa bean swirl smoothly, and, thanks to its superb construction, it’s an affordable cigar that also ages incredibly well.

            Rey Del Mundo Choix Supreme

              The lightest Cuban Robusto on the market, this is a cigar for both novices and 

              seasoned smokers alike. With flavors ranging from honey, flowers, fruit tang, to even beans, there’s something in here for everyone. Paired with an afternoon cocktail or some snacks enjoyed al fresco, it’s simply divine.

              Cuaba Tradicionales

                A fruity start, followed by a moist finish, this medium sized Double Figurado burns rapidly and excellently. Thin in diameter, the overwhelming flavors are earth and dark chocolate. But what is perhaps most memorable about the cigar is the powerful finish that will linger on the palate long after ashing.


                La Aroma de Cuba

                Though technically made in Nicaragua, and thus not a Cuban puro, this ‘Cubanesque’ cigar is simply too good to keep off our list. Crafted by legendary cigar-maker Jose ‘Pepin’ Garcia, the La Aroma de Cuba was judged the ‘#1 Cigar Industry Best Buy in the World’ by Cigar Aficionado. Medium-bodied with flavors of brown sugar, cedar, nuts, and wrapped in a chocolate-tinged Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper, it’s truly an exquisite cigar. Even better, it’s affordable.

                Montecristo No. 3

                Though it tastes like a Cuban, this cigar is actually produced in the Dominican Republic. With a medium to full-flavored profile, this corona cigar is 142 mm and rolled under the supervision of a master cigar maker. An excellent choice if you’d like to become familiar with one of the cigar world’s top brands, and ease into the enjoyment of more intense cigars.

                San Cristobal Quintessence

                Medium to full-bodied with tasting notes of coffee bean, molasses, leather, and black pepper, this Cubanesque cigar is another of Pepin Garcia’s masterworks. With a Cigar Aficionado rating of 92, this is one mighty stick.

                There you have it: our list of 21 Cuban cigars for beginners. With such a diverse range of Cubans, you’re bound to find your perfect gateway into the world of cigar smoking. Try them all, and tell us what you think!

                10 Rare Cigars in the US

                Rare Cigars

                True aficionados search far and wide for the rarest, and best, cigars. Some collectors crawl the globe, frequent estate sales, and visit auction houses in the U.S. and abroad to find treasured and fabled cigars released years ago in limited edition batches.

                That’s why we’ve compiled a list of 10 of the rarest cigars we’ve discovered. Thanks to the magic of the internet, you just might be able to find some of these remarkable cigars and even have them mailed to your door....assuming you have the budget and the requisite connections and luck to help you find these elusive trophy smokes in the first place.

                Read on and get intel on some of the hardest-to-find cigars on the market, and learn more about why they are so highly coveted in the first place. 

                King of Denmark

                While technically not the rarest cigar around, the whopping $4,500 per unit price tag makes the King of Denmark so exclusive. Manufactured by the Royal Danish Cigar Co. and made especially to order, only around 30 cigars are produced per day, each wrapped in gold foil and emblazoned with the name of the client ordering it. With a recipe dating from the 19th century, this cigar has quite the history––and an unforgettable taste. If you’re feeling extra fancy, you can splurge on a Royal Danish specialty $8,500 humidor that comes with a crown of sterling silver and plated in 24-karat gold.

                Cohiba Behike

                  One of the most famous brands in the world also has a line of exceptionally elite cigars: the Behike. Priced at $450 per cigar, this 2006 limited edition release celebrates Cohiba’s 40th anniversary. At that time, the company only produced 100 boxes, each containing only 40 cigars. Grown, blended, and hand-crafted at their El Laguito Cohiba factory, these choice cigars are sized at an elegant 7.5 inches and are a very rare find, indeed.

                  Arturo Fuente ‘Fuente Opus X’ 

                    The cigar blend that changed everything for the Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic was widely considered unsuitable for growing premium tobacco leaf––that is, until Carlito Fuente Jr. had the inspired idea to plant 37 acres of Cuban seeds there, forever altering that perception. With a leathery taste that marries with a hint of red pepper, this positively delicious Dominican puro is one of the highest rated cigars in the world. And, as you might assume, they’re extremely difficult to find. That said, once in a blue moon, Fuente releases a new batch of this most beloved cigar, so keep your eyes peeled.

                    Davidoff 80 Aniversario

                      In 1986, one of the most widely respected cigar makers made one of the most sought after cigars. The 80 Aniversario was created in honor of the eponymous founder Zeno Davidoff’s 80th birthday. However, it’s not just its great taste that has cigar enthusiasts searching far and wide for this collectors item; the 80 Aniversario is also a piece of cigar history. It was one of the last cigars Davidoff manufactured at the famous El Laguito factory in Havana, marking the end of a thirty year relationship between the Swiss cigar makers and the Cuban government. This delicious, historical near 9-inch Cuban received a perfect score in Cigar Aficionado.

                      Trinidad 50 Aniversario

                        A famously mystery-shrouded cigar, Trinidads have a curious history. Legend has it that they weren’t originally manufactured for general consumption, but instead were intended to be diplomatic gifts for Fidel Castro’s use. Thankfully, the line entered commercial production in the late 90s, and you can now buy its less enigmatic offspring fairly easily. However, if you want the closest thing to the original diplomatic cigars, you’re going to need quite a bit of disposable income; in 2019, a humidor containing 50 of Trinidad’s 50 Aniversario cigars went at auction for an astounding $340,000. There are only 99 more of these humidors in existence, so you better start saving up now. 

                        “21 Club” Cigars

                          Here’s a bit of New York City legend: there was once a storied club and restaurant in midtown Manhattan with its own stock of private-label Cubans called the “21”. A favorite haunt of Ernest Hemingway, Truman Capote, and Humphrey Bogart, among many other megastars of the mid-twentieth century, the “21” brought in nearly a million cigars just before the Cuban embargo was enacted. While its famed supply of private label smokes have dwindled to near nonexistence, some of the club’s legendary cigars still live on in the humidors of elite aficionados. 

                          Fuente Don Carlos Box-Pressed Belicosos

                            This is a true collector’s item. The late Carlos Fuente Sr. would make a box-pressed belicoso for himself, and though he would occasionally give some away, this was about as private of a brand as was ever manufactured. Never released commercially, it’s rumored that the Box-Pressed Belicosos are of extraordinary quality and that the cigar’s ash stays intact well beyond the three quarter smoked mark. This cigar was hard to find when Fuente was still alive, but now it’s nearly impossible.

                            Dunhill Flor Del Punto

                              Few names carry greater weight in the world of Cuban cigars than Dunhill. The 

                              London retailer produced many an elite cigar, perhaps none more so than the Flor Del Punto. With its standard “white rose” band, it was one of the finest cigar retailer’s finest cigars. But good luck finding one––the brand was discontinued in 1982. 

                              Padrón 1964 Anniversary Series Millennium

                                Released in 2000, the Padrón 1964 Anniversary Series Millennium was produced in batches of 1,000 boxes, each containing 100 cigars. This coveted cigar scored a whopping 98 points in Cigar Aficionado, which may account for why so few of the 100,000 smokes remain for sale. There’s still the occasional box circulating, but they tend to come with a massive price tag.

                                Cohiba Piramides “A.”: AKADinner of the Century Cohibas

                                  In 1995, Marvin R. Shanken, the legendary publisher of Cigar Aficionado, held a dinner in Paris dubbed “The Dinner of the Century.” A special black-tie fundraiser for the magazine, plenty of event-exclusive cigars were smoked that night, but none was more exclusive than the enormous Cohiba Piramides “A.” At over 9 inches long, these were a special one-off cigar made for this once-in-a-lifetime event. Six boxes were auctioned off that evening, but it’s possible that a few more of these magical cigars are still out there somewhere.

                                  If you’re ever lucky enough to find one of these ten incredibly rare cigars, you better have all the necessary cigar smoking accoutrements at the ready. On your list should be a cigar holder, like Stage V. Crafted with industrial-strength neodymium magnets, Stage V Cigar holders easily attach to golf carts, boats, or cars. You’ll never again mark up a wood surface or glass table. Put simply, Stage V makes a well-designed holder that keeps your hard-to-find cigar, and smoking surroundings of choice, protected and safe. 

                                  Top Rated Full-Bodied Cigars

                                  Looking for a gift that will knock the socks off the cigar aficionado in your life? Look to our handy list of eight of the top rated full-bodied cigars. Amateur hour is over—these smokes aren’t for the faint of heart.

                                  Full-bodied cigars are heavy, thick, and expertly-crafted, offering the rich and deeply nuanced flavor profiles. These aren’t bargain bin picks, but some of the finest handcrafted cigars on the market. Here are our top recommendations for best full-bodied cigars. 

                                  1. Camacho Triple Maduro Robusto
                                  2. Cohiba Esplendido
                                  3. El Rey Del Mundo Flor De Llaneza Maduro (Pyramid)
                                  4. Arturo Fuente OPUS X Perfecxion No. 2
                                  5. Juan Lopez Seleccion No. 1
                                  6. Joya De Nicaragua Antano Gran Perfecto
                                  7. La Gloria Cubana Serie R No. 4 Maduro
                                  8. Liga Privada No. 9 Toro

                                  #1: Camacho Triple Maduro Robusto

                                  Made by renowned cigar maker Christian Eiroa, this is one punch-packing smoke. Light it up and the first thing you’ll notice is the explosion of peppery notes. But don’t let that first puff intimidate you; this cigar is a gift that keeps on giving.

                                  Flavors slowly mellow and you’ll be greeted with a tantalizing mixture of sweetness and spice. About halfway through, notes of chocolate, raisins, dark-roast coffee, and licorice come to the front––and here, that blast of pure flavor, is why the Triple Maduro Robusto made our list. 

                                  #2: Cohiba Esplendido

                                  No surprise: the best known and most sought after Cuban cigar manufacturers made our list. Hey, it may not be the most original pick, but it is a coveted smoke for very good reason.

                                  A beyond elegant and aromatic cigar, the Esplendido offers up strong notes of Spanish cedar and leather, and its flavor profile is dominated by cocoa and cracked pepper. It’s one of the more complex cigars around and definitely not a choice for the casual smoker.

                                  This is a pick perfect for celebration—a more appropriate choice for a wedding than a weekly poker game. It’s the kind of smoke that’ll make a great night even more memorable. 

                                  #3: El Rey Del Mundo Flor De Llaneza Maduro (Pyramid)

                                  While it’s name may be long, the experience of smoking one of these beauties is agonizingly short. Wrapped in a smooth, oily Connecticut broadleaf wrapper, you’ll savor every last puff of this buttery smoke.

                                  With notes of leather, coffee, sweet spice, and chocolate, there’s something in here for everyone, and it’s finished off with a surprising burst of creamy delight––the dessert portion, if you will. That long name translates to “the King of the World,” and that’s only fitting; you may find yourself bowing down to this regal smoke the second it’s out.

                                  #4: Arturo Fuente OPUS X Perfecxion No. 2

                                  With its 100% Dominican tobacco, cured in rum barrels for a year prior to shipping, the OPUS X Perfecxion No. 2 is one of the legendary cigarmaker’s most aromatic selections.

                                  The smoking experience starts off rather mellow, but unexpectedly, you’re blasted with notes of cocoa, leather, caramel, cedar, raisins, nuts, and pepper. Frankly the smoking experience of this cigar defies description. Needless to say, trying is believing.

                                  #5: Juan Lopez Seleccion No. 1

                                  Put simply, this is one pretty cigar. A Nicaraguan puro held snugly in a reddish-brown wrapper, this cigar looks almost as good as it smokes. Light her up and find yourself greeted by strong black pepper and spice, followed by delightful notes of nuttiness.

                                  Keep smoking, and you’ll notice cocoa, coffee, cedar, and sweet spice, to name just a few of the stops on this cigar’s incredible flavor journey. It’s the kind of well-balanced cigar that burns slowly and evenly down to the nub, and it’d be enough to just look at it...if it didn’t taste so darn good.

                                  #6: Joya De Nicaragua Antano Gran Perfecto

                                  Dressed in an exquisite rosado colored Nicaraguan Habano Criollo wrapper, this is the kind of smoke you’ll be bragging to your buddies about for years to come. The initial puffs are robust yet sweet, a unique marriage of raisin and exotic spice.

                                  But its full power isn’t revealed until about a quarter of the way through, when you’re suddenly stunned by an incredible flavor burst of coffee, cedar, cream, and cocoa. It finishes with just a pinch of spice, the perfect finale to what will be one of the great smokes of your life.

                                  #7: La Gloria Cubana Serie R No. 4 Maduro

                                  A rather squatty roll, don’t let this choice’s ordinary look fool you. This cigar is one of the finest achievements in cigar legend Ernesto Carillo’s catalogue. With a licorice black wrapper that’s oily to the touch, you’ll be enveloped by a rich aroma of dark earth tobacco the second you lift it from the box.

                                  It draws well, produces huge plumes of savory smoke, and tastes most notably of raisins, leather, and espresso. As La Gloria comes to a close, things get sweeter and a bit milder, with licorice, cocoa, and caramel coming to the forefront. All we can say is, “You did it again, Ernesto.”

                                  #8: Liga Privada No. 9 Toro

                                  Raise a glass and a smoke to another home run from Drew Estate. Rolled in a gorgeous dark chocolate Connecticut broadleaf wrapper, this smooth rests comfortable between your fingers, as if it was always meant to be there.

                                  But what’s underneath the delicious wrapper is even better: a thick and spicy Brazilian Mata Fina binder covering up choice Honduran and Nicaraguan filler. Light it and bask in the glorious notes of pepper, leather, coffee bean, roasted nuts, and sweet spice.

                                  There’s a reason why the Liga Privada is one of the best-selling full bodies out there––put simply, it’s a remarkable smoke.

                                  We hope you’ve enjoyed our list of 8 of the top rated full-bodied cigars on the market. Whichever cigar you choose, make sure you’ve got all the necessary tools to enjoy it to the max.

                                  One of the most necessary tools for enjoying a high-end smoke is the Stage V Cigar holder. A simple, versatile solution for cigar lovers looking to rest their cigar or avoid dirtying it up on an unhygienic surface, Stage V holders are crafted with industrial-strength neodymium magnets that attach easily to golf carts, boats, or cars.

                                  After all, if you’re going to go big with a full-bodied cigar, why not treat it with the respect it deserves? Enjoy!

                                  How to Cut a Cigar Like a Pro

                                  New to the cigar-smoking game? It is probably no surprise that before you can light your cigar, you have to cut it. Cutting a cigar for the first time can be a nerve-wracking experience.

                                  A poor cut can lead to a diminished smoking experience or a wrapper that unravels entirely.  Of course, you don’t want to ruin the cigar before you’ve even gotten a chance to smoke it.

                                  Fear not! Mastery of cigar cutting just takes a little know how and a bit of practice. Below you’ll find a handy list on how to cut a cigar like a pro.

                                  Choose the Right Cutter

                                  The first step is perhaps the most crucial: picking the right cigar-cutting tool. This can be a bit hard for the novice since there are a lot of options, so let’s break a few down.

                                  Straight cutter

                                  These bad boys are probably the most popular cutters on the market. Also known as a guillotine cutter, these basic cutters work by slotting your cigar through a hole and squeeze-cutting the cap cleanly. Straight cutters also come in a dual or double-blade variety, which ensures a cleaner, more precise cut.

                                  Punch cutter

                                  A punch cutter adds a hole in the end of the cigar—called, no surprise, a punch. This kind of cut helps reduce loose tobacco and filler that can otherwise fall into your mouth while smoking. Punches are not deep or full cuts, which give cigar wrappers a stay power, making it harder for them to unravel. There is a drawback, however: some cigars are simply too thin for a punch cutter to work effectively.


                                  Like a punch cutter, a V-cutter doesn’t remove the entire end of a cigar. It instead creates a small “V”-shaped slice in the tip that is even smaller, more focused than a typical punch.

                                  The V-cutter provides many of the same benefits as a punch, but it limits a smoker’s ability to draw on the cigar. It’s quite a technical cut and can be difficult to get just right.

                                  There are a few other options like cigar scissors, or even something more DIY like your thumbnail or even your teeth. But you don’t live in a Clint Eastwood Western, so why bite off your cigar like you do?

                                  If you’re just starting out, we recommend a double-bladed straight cutter; they’re the simplest to operate, are designed to make a cut across both sides of the cigar simultaneously, and can be used on just about any cigar under the sun. Some of the other cutters out there can be a bit tricky to operate, so start simple, elegant, and easy. 

                                  Locate the Cap

                                  The cap is the end piece of the cigar, and it’s typically lightly glued on to 

                                  hold the wrapper together while the cigar is in storage. Often visible as a slightly rounded section of leaf, the cap is the ONLY part of the cigar that you want to cut off; cutting too far past the cap will cut into the wrapper, potentially leading to the cigar tearing or unraveling.

                                  It’s always best to be a bit cautious with your cuts, so aim a bit shallow. After all, you can always cut down more of the cigar, but you can never add more back on. And leaving a bit of the cap on can help avoid that much-annoying unraveling.

                                  Moisten the Cigar Head

                                  Here’s a bit of cigar-aficionado knowledge: gently moisten the cap in your mouth 

                                  before cutting. While it’s not the most crucial step in your cigar-smoking journey, it can help ensure that your cut goes smoothly. If the leaf is too dry, it can sometimes crack during the cutting process––moistening the cap up a bit can help prevent that. And it’s especially helpful for cheaper cigars that may not have a well-placed cap.

                                  Cut the Cigar

                                  Here it is, the moment you’ve been waiting for: making the cut. For an end result that seems pretty straightforward, there’s actually quite a bit of skill involved in cutting a cigar just right. Obviously your finesse develops with practice, but those first few cuts can be a bit anxiety-inducing. That’s where a straight cutter comes in—it leaves the least room for error. 

                                  Place the head of the cigar inside the opening of the cutter, and then slightly close the blades so that they’re just touching the cigar. This will keep the cigar properly positioned prior to the cut. Once the cigar is in position, cut confidently, applying swift and even pressure. And voila! Your cigar is ready to smoke!

                                  A Final Suggestion

                                  Whatever cigar cutter you choose, make sure you’ve got all the necessary accoutrement to make your experience that much more pleasurable. One of the most necessary tools is a cigar holder, and you can’t do better than a Stage V Cigar holder.

                                  It’s a simple, versatile solution for cigar lovers looking to keep better track of a cigar or avoid dirtying it up on an unhygienic surface. Crafted with industrial-strength neodymium magnets, Stage V Cigar holders easily attach to golf carts, boats, or cars.

                                  You’ll never again mark up a wood surface or glass table. Put simply, Stage V Cigar is a  well designed holder that keeps your cigar, and smoking surroundings of choice, protected and safe.

                                  As true cigar aficionados tend to use different cutters for different cigars, you may not find a one-size-fits-all solution to your cigar cutting needs. Remember: cigar smoking is a journey, and there are bound to be hiccups along the way. Practice makes perfect. Before you know it, you’ll be enjoying a tasty cigar with the best of ‘em. 

                                  What is the Proper Way to Light a Cigar?

                                  Cigar culture has many unique, often unspoken, rules that can seem a bit perplexing to newcomers. One distinctive norm is around the etiquette for lighting a cigar. For something that seems so simple, the process is surprisingly nuanced. Read on to learn more about the formalities and tradition that surround lighting a cigar.

                                  The Difference Between Lighting Cigars and Cigarettes

                                  The avid cigar smoker’s biggest pet peeved is getting lumped together with cigarette smokers. The first thing to know about lighting a cigar is that you don’t light it like a cigarette. The practical and structural differences between cigarettes and cigars call for different lighting approaches. 

                                  Cigars, of course, are larger than cigarettes, and have much more ignitable surface area. Cigars are also made of a less flammable material than cigarettes, which are composed primarily of shredded tobacco and paper. A cigar is actually made up of three components, the wrapper, or the leaf the tobacco is wrapped around; the binder, the inner leaf that holds the filler tobacco together; and the filler, the richly flavored tobacco, one of the components that makes each cigar type unique. All three elements need to be evenly lit so that all of their flavors meld together and are experienced in union. 

                                  The Pre-lighting Process

                                  Before you light a cigar, you have to cut it. The cut can make or break a cigar’s smokeability, but luckily, the cutting technique is not too difficult to master. All you need is a solid cigar cutter. The most common cigar cutter is a guillotine-style straight cutter, which provides more airflow and an easy draw. You should cut just above the shoulder of the cigar where the head begins to taper. You don’t want to cut too deep as you risk getting loose tobacco in your mouth, or the wrapper leaf may unravel while you’re smoking. 

                                  The other crucial step to take prior to lighting up is selecting a proper heat source. It is best to avoid igniting your cigar with a heat source that will intermix unwanted smells and flavors to your cigar. Avoid oil-fueled lighters which could change your cigar’s smell to that of gasoline, wax candles that can disrupt the cigar’s burn, or standard matches which can add the unwanted smell of sulphur to your smoking experience. Instead, try using a lighter designed specifically for cigars. One that burns butane fuel and has a flame wide enough to cover the entire surface of the cigar’s foot is ideal. If available, the best option of all is to light your cigar using a strip of cedar wood, often called a spill, because of its neutral flavor profile. 

                                  With those tips in mind, here’s our step-by-step breakdown of how to properly light a cigar.

                                  Step-by-Step Breakdown

                                  1. Bring the cigar near the flame––hovering about an inch or two above is fine. It’s best not to let the end of the cigar touch the flame directly. If you burn a cigar directly, it becomes too hot and makes some areas burn more quickly and unevenly than others. Melding the cigars flavors as a whole is key. If you do end up touching the cigar directly to the flame, it’s not like it’s the end of the world; just calmly and quickly move your cigar back out of the flame. Essentially, you want to light your cigar like it’s a marshmallow toasting over a campfire, keeping it just outside the flame and spinning it regularly with your fingers so that the heat is equally distributed. You should keep rotating until there’s a glowing ring around the entirety of the tip of the cigar. Patience is the name of the game.

                                  2. To see whether your cigar has been lit properly, you can turn it around and gently blow on the heated foot. If there are black spots amidst the otherwise glowing red, the heat has not yet been evenly distributed. A properly lit cigar will have a firm, even ash that should stay intact for a few inches. 

                                  3. Once your cigar is burning evenly, you can bring it to your mouth and take the first puff. The ember should burn evenly while you're drawing. If it does not, relight it with your lighter, match, or spill again. 

                                  4. Once your cigar is properly lit, there’s one final step: enjoy. Take pleasure in a slow, relaxing smoking experience and be sure to savor every incredible draw.

                                  If you’re new to cigar smoking, or are smoking with friends for the first time, you might experience a bit of performance anxiety at first—you don’t want to ruin what can sometimes be a pretty significant monetary investment, after all. Worry not, learning to light your cigar the right way is a part of the cigar smoking experience. Lighting your cigar properly is sure to become a pleasurable part of this relaxing hobby over time.