Lighting a Cigar: The Method of Jacques Puisais

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 Bumentritt 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”.

Jacques PuisaisMr. 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).

Lighting a Cigar with Jacques Puisais method

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.

First Third

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.

The first third brings taste difference

Second Third

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.

Third Third

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.

Conclusion

The Method of Jacques Puisias

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!

Top 19 Cigars Under $5

This post, originally published in November 2012, has been updated in 2014.

Following the blog post about the best options when selecting cigars as a gift, it's now time to cover the budget cigars area. Indeed, there are so many cheap cigars out there (think about all those bundles from large distributors) that it's rather hard to find a sub-$5 stick that fits the bill. Of course, when you buy a sampler or even a box of such cigars, the stakes are not high, but still, we're always better off with some guidance.

Below is a list of our favorite cigars that cost under $5 if bought by box. Keep in mind that this selection is subjective, so your mileage may vary, as usual. And if you don't find your favorite budget cigar below, let us know in the comments area!

Arturo Fuente Chateau Fuente

Arturo Fuente Chateau Fuente Natural

Natural or Maduro (or even Sun-Grown), these cigars from one of the major manufacturers rarely disappoint. Well-built, with a medium body, they can be lit daily.
[review of the natural] [review of the maduro] [compare prices]

CAO La Traviata

CAO La Traviata Favorito

The La Traviata is quite a complex cigar, and is definitely worth trying. One of the best price/quality ratios out there.
[review / another review / compare prices]

CAO Osa Sol

CAO Osa Sol

Another budget smoke from CAO, the Osa Sol was the first blend released after the acquisition of the brand by General Cigar. Admittedly they did a good job.
[review / compare prices]

EP Carrillo New Wave

EP Carrillo New Wave Connecticut Brillantes

Find these on sale and you can easily get them under $5, maybe under $4. EP Carrillo New Wave cigars feature a blend of Nicaraguan and Dominican longfillers housed in an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper. Great choice for a mild, creamy smoke at a low price.
[review / compare prices]

Alec Bradley American Classic

Alec Bradley American Classic

Connecticut wrappers are rare guests in most lists, but this one definitely should not be missed. Alec Bradley American Classic is the brand's entry in the budget cigars market, and it's a success.
[review / compare prices]

Alec Bradley American Sun Grown

For more punch, consider another Alec Bradley's line, American Sun Grown. With the same filler as American Classic, it uses a Nicaraguan sun-grown habano wrapper which gives it a rich, spicy flavor profile. If you’re a fan of spicy cigars, this is one you won’t want to miss.
[compare prices]

La Aurora 107

La Aurora 107 Robusto

Whether you can get these for under $5 will depend on how good a deal you snag, but you should find them close to that price. A suggestion from one of our readers, these cigars feature Nicaraguan and Dominican longfillers in an Ecuadorian wrapper. Flavors are earthy, creamy, woody, and nutty, with a hint of spice and sweetness.
[review / compare prices]

El Rey del Mundo (non-Cuban)

El Rey del Mundo Robusto

It’s medium to full-bodied and has a nice mix of sweet and woody flavors. This is one of those cigars that range in price a bit, but if you do some hunting, you can get it for under $5 and even under $4.
[review / compare prices]

Gurkha Royal Challenge

Gurkha Royal Challenge

What? A Gurkha? It may sound strange, but this Royal Challenge is actually rather good. And at $5, unlike most other offerings that sell for $10+, a sampler of these is affordable.
[review / compare prices]

Brickhouse

Brickhouse Churchill

Does this cigar really have to be on all lists? Seems like the answer is yes, unless they decide to double the MSRP. Until then, let's enjoy these fine smokes.
[review / compare prices]

Perdomo Lot 23

Perdomo Lot 23 Churchill

These cigars sell for close to $5 or just a few cents more. Expect a medium-bodied smoke with a balance of earthy and creamy flavors. You can purchase these with several different types of wrappers.
[review / compare prices]

Diesel Unlimited Maduro

You can pick up a box of these cheap cigars for around $3.50 per stick. This is another full-bodied smoke, this time with a Broadleaf maduro wrapper. A San Andres binder and a filler blended from Honduran and Nicaraguan tobaccos complete the mix. If you enjoy sweeter flavors, you will love the notes of coffee and cocoa with a hint of spice and leather. The Habano-wrapped version is equally very good!
[compare prices]

Toraño Master Series

Torano Master Series Churchill

Another major manufacturer with a budget smoke. And, again, the results are pretty good. Torano Master Series is a frequent guest in my humidor, thanks to its bold flavor and reliable construction.
[review / compare prices]

Room 101 Big Payback

You can get this Nicaraguan puro easily for $5 or less. Enjoy flavors that are sweet and spicy with a medium to full-bodied profile.
[compare prices]

Padron 2000

Padron 2000 Maduro

Of course, we couldn't leave this one out. Padron 2000 was one of the best cheap stogies when I started smoking cigars. It stood its ground.
[review / compare prices]

Curivari Buenaventura

Curivari Buenaventura

The flavors and aromas are delightful, and while it does not throw any major twists or turns, the subtle variations keep things interesting, and the blend is very nice from start to finish. All of this at around $5.
[review / compare prices]

Bucanero Z

Bucanero Z

Bucanero only distributes its cigars directly through its website, so you have to buy from them directly (no, they did not go out of business; this seems to be a common and incorrect rumor). Bucanero Z cigars are available for under $5 and are very popular. Flavors are toasty and spicy with a sweet finish.

Flor de Oliva

Flor de Oliva Presidente

Not a flavor bomb by any means, the Flor de Oliva is a good quality stick at a super price. Can be enjoyed by any smoker, beginner or veteran.
[review / compare prices]

Ambos Mundos Habano

Ambos Mundos Short

A "value" line from Pete Johnson, the Ambos Mundos Habano is a very solid blend with all the ingredients for a great smoke. A no-brainer at this price point.
[review / compare prices]

Thanks for checking out our updated list of the best cigars under $5! Hopefully you found something new to try. As always, we love your feedback and appreciate your suggestions. Please share your favorite stogies under $5 in the comments below, and we may feature your suggestions in our next updated list!

How to Remove an Unwanted Smell from Your Humidor

How to get rid of unwanted smells in a humidor?

Recently we received the following question from one of our readers:

"I've been storing some cinnamon-flavored cigars in my humidor and, even one month after I removed them, the humidor still smells of cinnamon, which is affecting my other cigars. How can I get this smell out?"

There are a lot of cases where something like that may happen. Maybe you have a situation similar to our reader’s, and some stogies you stored with a particularly strong aroma are starting to affect the other cigars. Or maybe you just bought a brand new humidor and the cedar smell of the wood is particularly strong, and that is impacting the flavor and aroma of your cigars. Or perhaps you were using your humidor for some other storage application, and whatever you had in there previously left an odor behind it.

Whatever the situation, there is a solution! Or several solutions, as it turns out.

  • Let it air out. Sometimes, this is all it takes! Just leave the humidor open for a few days and let the smell die down. This works very well with new humidors that have an overly strong wood smell and can work great in other situations too. Placing the humidor outdoors during this process can work very well so long as you do not need to worry about precipitation.
  • Wipe down the inside of the humidor with isopropyl alcohol or denatured alcohol. You do not need to use a lot. Wait for the box to dry (leave it open so that it can air out thoroughly). After about a day, the aroma will hopefully be gone.
  • Baking soda may also do the trick. You may already use this to keep odors out of your fridge. Keep it in a container so that it doesn’t spill, and take out your cigars before you place the baking soda inside. Remove the baking soda as soon as the odor is gone and put your cigars back. This process could take up to a week, but it works great for a lot of odors.
  • Try a glass of whisky or brandy. If airing out the humidor doesn’t get rid of the smell, this non-conventional tactic may work to clear out the old smell. The “drawback” is that the new smell will linger for a long time even after you take the glass out again. The reason I say “drawback” is because some people actually like the impact this has on their cigars, and deliberately put a few drops of whisky in their humidors whether they need to get rid of an odor or not. Close the humidor when you try this technique.
  • I've also heard people say that placing thinly sliced potatoes inside a closed humidor for a few days can also help you get rid of unwanted smells. Disclaimer: I haven't tried this technique.

As you can see, there are a number of different options you can try, so there is no need to give up on your old humidor. Just be sure to take care of your cigars during the process. In the future, it would be wise to store flavored cigars elsewhere (this part you have probably figured out on your own!).

What tricks have you used to successfully clear out unwanted odors from your humidor? Please share in the comments below!

What Are Tobacco Beetles and How Do You Fight Them?

What are cigar beetles?

It’s a day like any other day—or so you think. You head to your humidor to grab a stogie; you haven’t had one in a couple weeks, and it’s time for a nice long, languorous smoke. You open up your humidor and you stumble backwards in horror.

They’re so tiny you may not see them; in fact, you probably don’t. They’re only about the size of a pinhead. But you do see the damage they’ve created. There are holes in your cigars where the tobacco beetles have burrowed. You might see them crawling on your stogies or the insides of your cigar box. Whether you see them or not, your reaction is revulsion, panic, and outrage. Are your precious cigars ruined?

Click here to read the full article...

How to Deal with Mold on Cigars and in the Humidor

How to deal with mold

Question from a reader:

I got some white small spots on my cigars and also in the humidor, most likely it's mold. Can you please help me with a few tips?
Dan

One day you go to get a cigar out of your humidor and you notice something: there is a change in the appearance of your cigars. Maybe you see some fuzzy patches on your cigar wrappers, or perhaps some white spots on the cigars or the sides of the humidor. You immediately have a sinking feeling — could your cigars be ruined by mold? What can you do to identify, prevent, and remove mold from your cigars?

Is it Mold or Bloom?

First things first. You need to figure out whether the “mold” on your cigars is really mold or not. It could just as well be something else called bloom, or plume. As the oils in your cigar rise slowly to the surface, they crystallize at the top, giving a “dusted” appearance to the wrapper of your cigar. As bloom progresses, you will see whiteness coating your cigar—usually fairly evenly, though there may still be some spottiness to it.

Note that sometimes bloom does not form evenly. Sometimes it will take the form of white spots. If your cigar has white spots, it may be bloom and it may be mold. Look at the texture of the spots. If they look hairy or fibrous, they are mold. If they look crystalline/dusty, they are probably bloom. You can find a comparative picture in this article about cigar wrappers.

Bloom on cigars is not a problem. In fact, some cigar smokers prefer their cigars to have bloom.

Mold on the other hand is a fungus which appears on cigars when your humidor’s environment isn’t being properly maintained. Once the humidity level exceeds 80%, mold may start to form on the wrappers and the sides of the humidor. Look for telltale patches of blue or grey, green or white fuzz.

What to Do About Mold

If all you have is bloom, you don’t need to do anything about it. But if you have mold, take the moldy cigars and set them aside so the mold doesn’t spread to your other stogies, and wipe down the humidor’s interior walls using an isopropyl alcohol solution. The mold will be killed by the alcohol. Unfortunately, the mold may leave permanent stains on the humidor’s walls.

When you wipe down your humidor, if you do not see any stains, you may have only had bloom, but it’s not a guarantee. If you do see stains, that’s an additional sign you do have mold. You can actually still smoke the moldy cigars (if the mold is white; if it's green or blue it's most likely that the cigar is lost), as long as the mold hasn’t spread to the interior. First you will want to kill that mold, though. You may be able to accomplish this by keeping the cigars outside your humidor for 36 hours and then putting them back inside. If you are feeling more aggressive, you can put them in the freezer.

Prevention Measures

You don’t want this to happen again, so reduce the humidity level in your humidor to around 72%, and make sure the temperature is around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Some fluctuation is fine, as long as things stay within a reasonable range (about 66-79%). Outside that range, you’ll encounter problems with freshness. If your humidor is malfunctioning, you may have to replace it. Check on your cigars regularly to ensure your problem is solved.

The Cure for “Cigar Breath” Found!

Smoking breath

A malady that has long plagued the cigar smoking man (and woman)… Cigar Breath!

No matter how much you brush your teeth or your tongue or your face, it's still there!

Try as you might, no mint or spray can hide the Funk that is Cigar Breath.

Until now!

That’s right, for only a couple of bucks at your neighborhood grocer, you too can eliminate that noxious odor that emanates from the depths of your mouth after you’ve enjoyed your favorite cigar of choice.

What is it you ask? It’s…

Fennel seeds

Fennel seeds!

That’s right, pop 10 or 15 in your mouth and suck on them for a couple of minutes, you will taste licorice from the seeds, but more importantly when you spit the seeds out, your cigar breath is ‘Poof!’ gone!

I stumbled on this due to my love of Indian cuisine. Instead of a little tin of mints, they will often have a little plate of anise seeds, fennel seeds and licorice candies. I love the taste of licorice so I got some of the ingredients to make a batch of mine at home.

I just so happened to have smoked a cigar prior and upon spitting out the seeds I noticed my cigar breath was gone, the wife didn’t even comment on my breath (and she ALWAYS does).

If you can handle the taste of licorice, give fennel seeds a try and see if it works for you.

The Definitive Cigar Wrapper Guide from A to Z

The Definitive Cigar Wrapper Guide from A to Z

There is a lot of information online about cigar wrappers, mostly listing different shades and providing short characteristics of each type. We've decided to go a bit further and attempted to create a sort of library about cigar wrappers. This page will list all articles about cigar wrappers ever published on CigarInspector.com.

We hope that this information will help you select and understand cigars. Our research has found that cigar makers tend to generalize their wrapper descriptions or have different names for the same type of wrapper. So hopefully we'll help you explain some of the inconsistencies. We also included examples of existing cigars with a particular wrapper whenever possible.

Do not forget though that the wrapper is not responsible for the flavor of the cigar alone, and how much does the wrapper contribute to a cigar's flavor is another discussion in its own. Oh, and before you start, have a look at our Cigar Wrappers F.A.Q. and learn about common tobacco strains.

Wrappers by Origin

Wrappers by Type

Wrappers by Color

  • Candela - green eggs and ham, please.
  • Colorado - the red-headed stepchild of cigars.
  • Maduro - includes Brazilian, Costa Rican, Nicaraguan and Mexican maduros as well as Connecticut Broadleaf, Aripiraca and Mata Fina wrapper types.

"Extinct" Wrapper Types

These are wrappers rarely seen anymore or are from plants no longer grown or used for wrapper leaaves.

  • El Corojo : the forefather to the modern day Corojo plant.

 

Storing cigars in their boxes

Storing cigars in their boxes

Reader's question: "I have 10 boxes of Cuban cigars that I want to age for at least 2 years. Should I leave them sealed in their boxes as they came or should I take them out of their boxes before storing them in my humidor? Which is the better option?"

What people do differs a good deal, but it depends in part on how long you plan to leave your cigars in the humidor. If you won’t be keeping them in there for all that long (a few weeks or a month), you can probably just pop the box right in and leave them there. It’s highly recommended you take off the outer layer of cello first since this allows more of the humidity to seep into the box. In fact, you don’t need to keep your cigars in the box at all. Some people take them right out and just put them in the humidor individually. The main reason to keep the box in the humidor is simply for organization.

Another option is to keep the cigars in the box (with the cello layer removed), store them in the humidor, and then prop them open, either all the time or once a week or so. You don’t need to prop them open wide, just wide enough for the humidity to seep in. You can use a match or anything else to wedge the boxes open just slightly, and then the humidity from the humidor can easily get inside. You can store your cigars indefinitely this way.

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