A few months ago we posted an article called "The Bands: the Whole Colour of Tobacco", which was part of a relatively new cigar magazine called CigarsLover. Based in Italy, the team behind this publication is doing a great job and each issue is better than the previous one. Today we're posting an article written by Heiko Blumentritt from the most recent issue, which you can download here.
Smoking could be only a mere pleasure, but sometimes it could also be a scientific experience, pursuant to “La Méthode de Jacques Puisais”, or “The Method of Jacques Puisais”.
Mr. Puisais, the director of the French Institute of Taste, developed his personal theory about the lighting of the cigar. The flame emits a relevant heat, which creates a temperature gap between the head and the foot of the cigar; for this reason if you light up a cigar after having cut – or punched – its head, part of the smoke ends up in the middle of the cigar. This phenomenon leads to some negative aspects and it influences the taste in a significant way. His recommendation is to light up the cigar without cutting it before, and to blow on its foot before starting to smoke it, so that the impurities arisen with the heat can be expelled.
Jacques Puisais is a renowned character who made a big effort in the Taste field research. Many experienced smokers, in the field of food & wine, with well educated taste buds, are committed supporters of this theory, so this pushed me to give it a try.
I have been using this method for 4-5 years, and I tried it with various cigars. The test for this article has been led with a Montecristo No. 4.
For this test, two cigars of the same type have been lit up at the same time (using a non jetflame lighter). One of the cigars have been cut after the lighting, blowing through it before to make the first puff. The other cigar has been cut and lighted up after heating its foot until the burn was even (the first puff has been taken without blowing through the cigar).
The question now is: is there any difference between the two cigars?
As far as I’m concerned the answer is yes, especially for the first third.
One possible explanation is the “Chimneystack effect” inside the cigar, as claims Puisais. The lighting of a cigar gives off a strong heat and the smoke emitted looks for a way out. With the head cut, part of the smoke goes through the body of the cigar, releasing several impurities on the tobacco leaves. The part near the foot is the most affected one by this phenomenon, and this could be a possible reason why the first third is the most negatively influenced part.
The smoke regularly passes through the cigar during the smoking process. So why does the problem only come up during the lighting? Probably it is because the temperature of the lighter’s flame is much higher than the one kept by the cigar when it is lit. This theory finds its validation in the fact that smoking very fast involves an overheating and, what is important, usually makes the cigar bitter and unpleasant.
This is obviously only theory, but it is convenient to test it with the practice. In order to figure it out, the only thing we can do is smoking two cigars in parallel, simultaneously. That is exactly what we did, and the following is our report, where cigar 1 is the one lit with the Puisais Method and cigar 2 has been cut before lighting it up.
Cigar 1: the opening is really creamy, with rich notes of cocoa and delicate aromas of coffee, with hints of chocolate and milk. The aromas are well combined.
Cigar 2: the opening is sour, notes of coffee and spices (black pepper) are highlighted.
Both the cigars develop the same aromatic palette, and no differences have been noticed. The woody aroma (cedar) plays the main role, followed by coffee and leather.
The cedar and leather notes increase in intensity. Every puff develops toasted aromas. The two cigars show some slight differences. While cigar1 is still really creamy and pleasant, cigar2 is the first one to rest in the ashtray. Since we smoked both of them with the same rythim, we exclude that this happened beacuse of an overheating.
The cigar 1 lasted 65 minutes, without any combustion issue. I had to put it down to not burn my fingers.
The cigar 2 lasted around 50 minutes and some burn corrections were necessary. It got bitter in the last third.
With this article we don’t want to say that Puisais Method is the correct one and the “traditional lightning” is not. We just want to make you curious about it and perhaps make you try it out!