What is retro-haling?

I received three contact form messages during the last week from users who wanted to know how to retro-hale and I decided to answer the question in a blog post.

First of all, what is retro-haling? According to the tobacconist university:

Retro-haling is the act of moving smoke from the back of the mouth, up through the sinuses, and exhaling through the nasal passages.

Now, why would one want to smoke a cigar through the nose? Well, it is simply because we have so many flavor detectors in our noses - much more than on the tongue that can only distinguish basic flavors. Smoking through the nose will maximize the flavors you will get out of your cigar.

Final question - how do you do it? That's the tricky part, quite difficult to explain. Former cigarette smokers will certainly know how to retro-hale and I'll try to describe it as concisely as I can. First of all, take a good puff on your cigar and release approximately half of the smoke through the mouth as you normally do. Do not inhale or swallow the remaining smoke. With your mouth closed, gently push the smoke to the back of the cavity with your tongue and at the same time start exhaling through the nose. That's it!

Make sure you try this with the mildest cigar you can get and go slowly or you might end up coughing quite a bit. I usually do it a couple of times in each third but there are aficionados who retro-hale every single puff.

What is your experience with retro-haling? Have you noticed that it helps to detect more flavors?

Charging a humidifier in a humidor

I recently received a newsletter from BuyLighters.com with a nice video called How to troubleshoot a lighter. I started browsing through all their videos on YouTube and found a really good one on how to charge a humidifier in a humidor. Dave Sabot from CheapHumidors.com explains it really well - I decided to post it here. Enjoy.

Cigar Tip: wet the cap before cutting

When I light a cigar with friends who are not regular cigar smokers, I often see them damaging the wrapper near the cap when using a guillotine cutter. While it may seem obvious to some of you, a very simple tip is to wet the cap a little with your lips, then carefully apply the cutter. The cap (especially true if it's a Cuban triple cap) will come off without effort, leaving even edges without damage to the wrapper.

How to light a cigar with Aria Giovanni

Thought you might like this one too... For your Sunday viewing pleasure, how to light a cigar video with Aria Giovanni. And watch the previous one if you missed it!

How to cut a cigar with Aria Giovanni

For your Sunday viewing pleasure a short and entertaining video on how to cut a cigar... done by Aria Giovanni, a well-known playmate. It's not very new so you might have already seen it. Enjoy.

Should we remove the band while smoking?

Should we remove the band while smoking?

A few days ago I received an e-mail from a reader. Here's what Lucas said in his e-mail:

"Thanks for your quality reviews, but please... take the labels off your cigars after you have started to smoke them. Keeping the label on for the duration is bad form and your credibility suffers. A little etiquette goes a long way."

I was very curious because I have never encountered this rule before. I asked Lucas whether I could make this a topic of conversation here at CigarInspector.com and he gladly accepted. He also added the following information:

"The thinking is this: After you have smoked the cigar for a few minutes, you should remove the label. The heat should loosen the band to make it easier to remove. The reason it is good etiquette is because a gentleman should not flaunt his wealth, or his cigars. If you are smoking a particularly good stogie there is no need to flash that Opus X label around. It's akin to wearing a lot of bling or praising yourself for some generous deed that you have done. No one likes a braggart. Getting to kick back and enjoy a fine smoke is what it's all about."

Do you remove the band when you are smoking? What do you think about this etiquette rule?

Cigar Tips: The Winning Selection Part 2

Here is the second part of Mountchuck's (one of the founders of Nice Tight Ash) valuable cigar tips. Enjoy - and read the first part here if you missed it.

Tip #6: Use your senses. Use all of your senses when smoking a cigar, not just smell and taste. Before you light it, use your eyes to inspect the wrapper. Is the color uniform? Are there large seams or veins in it? Is the cap evenly applied? Next, use your hands to feel up and down the cigar. Is it smooth and oily or dry and leathery? Gently squeeze up and down the cigar. Are there any hard spots or soft spots?
Hold the cigar next to your ear, and gently squeeze. Does it crackle a little bit? It might be a little dry.
Doing these extra little things let you know if there might be construction problems with the cigar, or if you need to let it get some more humidity in it. Don’t just leave it up to your taste buds and nose.

Tip #7: Humidor Tip 1. Many sites recommend wiping down your humidor with distilled water as part of the seasoning process. It is best to avoid doing this. It is very easy to put too much water into the wood, and warping it, thus weakening the seal and thus the integrity and performance of the humidor over the long term. Your humidor may get seasoned faster this way, but at the expense of more upkeep required in the future.

Tip #8: Humidor Tip 2. Only use distilled water in your humidification device (no matter what it is). Using tap water or spring water can lead to mold and other unwanted things in your humidifier.

Tip #9: Selecting a cutter. When selecting a cutter weight is important. If you carry a cutter in your pocket all of the time like I do, too much weight can be burdensome. But on the same note, a little bit of extra weight is nice to ensure a smooth, clean cut. Try to get a balance between weight and portability.

Tip #10: Let them rest. When ordering cigars via mail order or the internet, you’ll be very tempted to smoke one as soon as it’s off the truck. Try and avoid that temptation! They have been in less than ideal (to put it lightly) conditions during their travel, and won’t smoke as well as they could. Put them in your humidor, and let them return to optimal conditions before enjoying. How long depends on low long they were in transit, and their condition when they arrive.

Cigar Tips: The Winning Selection Part 1

Here are the tips from Mountchuck - the winner of our tips contest. You will most probably agree that he deserved the prize as the quality of the following tips is very high. As there are too many tips to put them in a single post, we've broken them down in 2 parts. Here is the first part and the second will be published next Thursday.

Tip #1: Aging the cigars. Some cigars smoke better with age, even the much adored Fuente Opus X. Since you can only acquire them in small batches, but want to mark them with the time you put them in the humidor, do what I do. Take the ribbon that comes in a lot of cigar boxes, write the date on it, and wrap the ribbon around your small batch of cigars and put them to rest for a while. No problem remembering when you bought them!

Tip #2: B&M vs Web. If you are a new smoker, avoid the temptation of mega-deals on the web, and visit your local cigar store, and put yourself in the hands of the tobacconist there. They are an invaluable resource, and can put you well on your way to enjoying cigars to the fullest.

Tip #3: Keeping track of your cigars. If you find yourself having a hard time remembering the cigars you really like, save the cigar bands of the ones you really like, and keep them in your wallet. If they are large enough, you can write on the back of them, which comes in handy if you like, say, the maduro version of the cigar more than the natural and the band doesn’t distinguish between the two. Next time you visit your tobacconist, pull it out and you’ll have an instant reminder. And if they don’t have it, they will be able to pick out something similar or maybe even something you’ll like more.

Tip #4: Ring gauge / Power. Most inexperienced smokers confuse thickness of the cigar with power and strength and harshness. However, the thicker ring gauge can help you get a smoother, easier smoke. Smaller ring gauge cigars concentrate the heat, and produce more carbon which leads to harshness and the feeling that your tongue is coated in fiberglass the next morning. The larger ring gauge smoke spread out the heat, and don’t burn so hot. Don’t be afraid to reach for that robusto instead of your usual corona.

Tip #5: Ash. The ash of the cigar can tell you as much about it as the appearance before it is lit. Is the ash a nice white? Better nutrients in the soil. Does the ash stay tight, with small thin lines rather than large, flaky pieces? Then the roller did a good job, and rolled the cigar nice and tight. Does your ash “cone” at the end? You might be smoking too fast. Is it concave at the end? The cigar might have been underfilled.

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