The advent of women smoking cigars started many years ago but its practice is still one that is usurped by men. While cigar smoking for both the sexes saw a huge decline between 1965 and 1991, their popularity has been slowly re-climbing and the same can be said for the women demographic. However, breaking into the hobby can be a little bit daunting if you have had no prior experience. On the outset, picking up a cigar, lighting it up and taking those first couple of puffs seems pretty simple right? Well not necessarily. Cigars come in a variety of shapes and sizes and simply picking one based on either price or appearance could potentially set you up for a bad first experience. Instead, consider some of the pointers below when making that choice and ensure that your first time is the best time.
Hand Rolled versus Machine Made?
As far as construction goes there are two major ways cigars can be made or manufactured. The first way and process which usually results in a bit of a cheaper priced cigar is the machine-rolled method. Cigars made this way are often comprised of short pieces of tobacco referred to as, “filler tobacco”. These pieces are usually sold to manufacturers at a cheaper rate due to their nature of being scraps or leftover pieces from larger, whole-leafed tobacco. Cigars that are machine-rolled also tend to be made with binders and wrappers (the outside portion of the cigar) that are homogenized from many different leaves. Due to this, companies that specialize in machine rolled wrappers often have more control over the taste, texture and strength of the cigar.
The other variety that you will come across will be hand-rolled. As the name implies, these cigars keep in custom with the Cuban tradition of having a person oversee the creation of each cigar rather than a machine. When cigars are rolled by hand they often use long leaves that fill the inside of the cigar from top to bottom, in one piece. The binder and wrapper of these cigars are also made by hand, a technique that cigar purist swear by as it is the most natural way to smoke a cigar.
Picking up a machine-rolled cigar for your first smoke shouldn’t be frowned upon. These cigars can be the perfect starting point for nascent cigar smokers. If you’re looking for something really accessible try a flavored variety that has been reviewed well such as CAO Flavours Cherrybomb (if you’re looking for something lightly fruit flavored) or if you want to try something really unique, go for the Acid Juggernaut, this cigar is infused with some pretty impressive essential oils and botanicals that imparts a really unique smoke.
Should I Get Hung Up on the “Taste”?
Speaking of tastes, I am often asked what sort of flavors or aromas a first time cigar smoker should seek out. This is entirely up to preference, but I normally suggest not getting anything too strong or potent for the first couple of cigars. Going to rich can send the beginner smoker into some pretty terrible coughing fits. Start mild and work your way up, much like you would with wine.
Don’t let overly descriptive reviews of cigars persuade you too much either.. For the first time smoker, you probably won’t be picking up on any woody or floral notes for at least a little bit. Because of this, don’t splurge on an expensive cigar just out of the gate. Save that money for a time when your palate has been given the chance to grow more accustomed to what you will be throwing at it.
How Much is too Much?
To some extent, you don’t want to go too cheap on selecting a cigar. As with most things, the cheaper you go the propensity for a lack of quality becomes more and more of a reality. A good rule of thumb for expenses should see you spending no more than $5 for your first couple of cigars.
How is it Cut?
Cutting the cap portion of the cigar is another important step in enjoying that first cigar. To accomplish this, there are a variety of cutting devices that can assist you. From cigar cutters that resemble a small pair of sheers to double bladed cutters that operate on the squeeze of an index finger. Most cigar cutters are fairly inexpensive. Rather than using scissors or a knife at home (instruments that can often damage the cigar and impair the smoking experience) opt to purchase an inexpensive cigar cutter. Most will only be about one to two dollars so it won’t break the bank.
How do I light it?
Lighting up a cigar is pretty straight forward but there are a few pointers that should be mentioned. You never want to use a sulfur-based match as the chemicals on the stick can alter the taste of the cigar. In the same sense, you also want to avoid all lighters that use lighting agents other than gas as these can also impair tastes and aromas. Also, try not to put the flame of the cigar directly near the cigar, instead, hold the flame slightly below it as to avoid making the tobacco too hot.