Knowing your cigars is an important element in any gentleman’s toolkit. Here, Mark’s Club director Darius Namdar answers the infamous question – “how do you smoke a cigar?”.
Smoking a cigar – what’s it all about?
Cigar smoking should be a pleasurable, shared experience. “A cigar is very non-threatening,” Darius Namdar says. “And it’s a sensory barrage. It conjures up images of Churchill and The Godfather. There’s the richness of the smell, and then there’s taste. For me, smoking has become a multi-sensory form of nostalgia – it reminds me of my father.”
How should you choose a cigar?
Before you learn how to smoke properly, you need to be able to choose the right cigar for you. This can be intimidating if you’re a beginner, but there are a few simple rules. “Initially, shy away from full-flavoured cigars, such as a Bolivar”, says Namdar. “If you go straight for a big heavy, full-bodied cigar, you’ll smoke it, feel sick and never smoke again. Go for a robusto, which has a ring gauge of 50, and is a nice, light introduction to cigars. Try a Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure No 2. As you become more experienced, you may want to move on to a more peppery cigar, like a Cohiba or a Romeo y Julieta, and cigars with bigger ring gauges that offer a longer smoke.”
How should you cut and light a cigar?
There are specific rules on how to cut a cigar properly. “If you’re not sure where to cut or how fast to cut, ask someone to demonstrate it for you”, says Namdar, “but a rule of thumb is to cut on or just above the cap at the sealed end”. Traditionally, cigars were lit from a cedar wood splint. “You can also use butane or an odourless gas. Just be careful not to scorch it, and don’t, whatever you do, use a Zippo because the solvents in the lighter fluid will flavour your cigar. Make sure you light the ligero leaf in the centre – if you don’t light it, you lose part of the flavour.”
James J Fox cigar cutter, £110, selfridges.com
How should you smoke a cigar?
Make sure your cigar is evenly lit and then draw smoothly. “Don’t inhale, and don’t smoke it too fast”, says Namdar. “Too quick and it will be too hot or too harsh”. If the ash doesn’t fall off naturally when you put it down, his advice is to roll it, rather than knock it off. “And don’t stub out a cigar. Let it die with dignity.”
What goes well with a cigar?
A cigar is best smoked with a digestif, and something that pairs with it especially well is a good whisky. “Try a lighter whisky or a blend”, says Namdar. “I recommend Dalmore Cigar Malt Reserve. With stronger cigars, opt for a more peaty, smoky Scotch. The wild card is rum. Rum is sweet, sticky, unctuous and coats the mouth for a long time. And it’s what they do in Cuba.”
Never smoked a cigar but want to try? Here’s our quick guide to losing your cigar virginity.