Puff Daddy

By Ron Kaspriske Photos by Sam Kaplan
November 09, 2014

If you're interested in cigars and want to buy and smoke them like you know what you're doing, here are 14 things to remember:

__1. Does the cigar feel firm?__Don't buy it. It's either packed too tightly or hasn't been stored properly and has dried out. A cigar with a firm draw will make you feel like you're trying to suck a milkshake through a drink stirrer. If it's dry, the wrapper will peel and unravel as it burns.

2. Good cigars are handmade and have three parts: long filler, a binder to hold the filler, and a different type of tobacco for the wrapper. Avoid cheap, machine-made, short-filler cigars.

3. Not all cigars are created equal. Mild, medium and full are the classifications. The full-bodied ones are the most flavorful, but they can make you feel woozy if you're not used to them.

4. Size isn't an indicator of strength, nor is the color of the tobacco leaves used as the wrapper. The lightest wrappers are double claro (light green) and claro (tan). The darkest wrappers are maduro (dark brown) and oscuro (black).

5. The bigger the ring size (circumference) of the cigar, the longer it takes to smoke. The size is measured in 64ths of an inch. So 50-ring cigars like a "Churchill" or "robusto" are 50/64ths of an inch in diameter. Extra-large cigars (larger than 50) are frowned upon as cartoonish.

6. Don't take a cigar and dip it into whatever you're drinking. All this does is taint the flavors of your cigar and your drink.

7. Cubans aren't the industry standard anymore. There are exceptional Cuban cigars—especially if they contain tobacco from the Vuelta Abajo region—but other tropical countries like the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Honduras make great cigars, too. And, unlike Cubans, they're legal to buy in the United States.

8. Cubans aren't always Cubans. There's a good chance you're buying a cheap knockoff if you buy a "Cuban" cigar from vendors in foreign countries or from websites.

9. Ideal storing conditions for cigars are 70 degrees at 70-percent humidity. Humidors, storage boxes for cigars, are designed to maintain these conditions. /p>

10. For the best draw, cut a cigar at about 1/16th of an inch from the tip. There are many types of suitable cutters. Whatever you use, the goal is to make a quick, clean cut so you don't fray the wrapper or filler.


__, but don't let it touch the tobacco. Rotate the cigar as you heat it up. This will help it burn evenly.

12. Avoid using candles, grill lighters or fluid cigarette lighters on a cigar. They can ruin its flavor. If you're going to use matches, opt for long wooden ones, not the standard sulfur-tipped ones. If you must use a standard match, let the sulfur burn for a second before putting it next to the cigar.

13. A cigar should burn evenly, and the wrapper should remain intact. If the cigar burns faster on one side or hollows in the middle (known as a canoe), let the cigar cool, and clip the burnt end until it's evened out. Then light it again.

14. Do not inhale. Remember, you're meant to taste and savor the delicate flavors of the smoke, not choke on it.