How Far Down Should You Smoke a Cigar?

Davidoff Grand Cru No. 1

I just received the following question from a reader:

“How far should one smoke a cigar? Down to the band? Or, until you need to be hospitalized for 3rd degree burns on your fingertips?”

Good question, and one with varying answers.

If you turn to “cigar etiquette” sources, you might have heard you should never smoke more than half a cigar (downright ridiculous, if you ask me). Another common “rule” is that you should set your cigar down and let it burn itself out (not snuff it out) when three finger-widths are left, measured from the end.

Of course, that really only matters if you are smoking in the company of people who care more about arbitrary and rather questionable rules on etiquette than they do about reaping all the enjoyment they can out of a good stogie. You pay a lot for your cigars, so you should be able to enjoy them to their fullest.

There really are no hard-and-fast rules on how far down you can smoke your cigar. A lot of it depends on the cigar in question, as well as your personal tastes. Some cigars get hot and harsh well before you reach the nub. Some of those cigars you might very well want to abandon before you get even halfway. Others taste great right to the very end, and with those, you may very well decide it’s worth the risk of burning your fingers to take it down to the nub. With time and experience, you’ll know which cigars you’re likely to be able to burn down all the way.

If pain isn’t your thing and you’d rather not burn your fingers, there’s a handy device you can purchase for less than $15 called the Havana Saver Cigar Tool. When you’re getting down toward the nub, you can insert the Havana Saver into your cigar and use it to hold your stogie. It doubles as a cigar holder at the golf course and a draw poke, and it’s highly rated by customers.

Havana Saver

So how far down should you smoke a cigar? As far down as you want!

Beyond Vanilla: Cigar Suggestions for the Lady Smoker

Nikki Glenn

Today we've got another guest post from Nikki Glenn, a cigar aficionada from St. Louis and a violinist entertainer for private, corporate and special events worldwide. She loves learning about and smoking cigars as much as possible.

Many female smokers are introduced to cigar smoking by way of the flavored cigar. I've enjoyed smoking cigars for quite a few years, and I still remember my first cigar smoking experience. I was on a gig, and one of the other musicians was smoking what I thought was a cigarette, but it smelled great. When I asked what it was, he explained it was a cigarillo. I tried one and was immediately hooked. I loved the flavor and the aroma, and to my twenty-something self, I thought I was so cool doing it. Now, this was not the most expensive cigarillo ever made – it was an Indiana Slim, special because they were rum-flavored (again, awesome-sounding to my younger self). From cigarillos, I graduated straight to flavored full-sized cigars – vanilla, chocolate, rum, you get the picture. These were the designated “women's” cigars at the time, and I'm pretty sure that these are still considered “ladies” cigars.

However, while flavored cigars are definitely a more gentle introduction to the world of cigars, there are some delightful smokes that go beyond the basic flavors, that I encourage lady smokers to try. I've utilized a gradual approach in incorporating these cigars into my smoking regimen, and I wanted to share with you five of the cigars that have become my “go-to” cigars, both flavored and unflavored.

Drew Estate's ACID cigars are my top flavored pick. They are infused with flavors through some closely guarded, super-secret recipe I imagine is something like KFC's 11 herbs and spices. My two favorite smokes are the ACID Toast and the ACID Cold Infusion, both of which I find mild and sweet, with enjoyable aromas while smoking, and a pleasant taste in the mouth. The ACID line really can't be defined in terms of specific flavors like “vanilla” or “rum” flavor – they are more like flavor “experiences”, but I think that the complexity is very appealing. I encourage the ladies out there to give these a try.

I would like to take this time to point out that I'm still learning my palate when it comes to unflavored cigars, so I cannot speak to the hints of cinnamon, elderberry flower, or whatnot that many more experienced smokers can detect in the following cigars. I can tell you that I enjoy them, and I think you will too. That being said, if you're not in the mood to smoke a flavored cigar, or you are ready for something different, I recommend the Alec Bradley Family Blend, the Nat Sherman Timeless No. 2, or the Oliva Serie V.

The Alec Bradley Family Blend was one of my first unflavored cigar smokes, and I instantly loved its smooth, toasty taste. The Alec Bradley is my choice for end-of-the day smoke to enjoy, just enough body without being too strong. The Nat Sherman Timeless No. 2 is also medium-bodied but has a little more complexity of flavor to me, tasting more of warm spices. This is a cigar that I would definitely suggest to accompany an evening of drinking fine spirits and enjoying the company of friends. My current favorite is the Oliva Serie V, which is a smoke with great body, and somehow reminds me of a rich cup of coffee without really being coffee-flavored. I found myself smelling this cigar for quite a while before I actually smoked it, and really wanting to linger over the smoke. This is definitely my most recommended cigar of the moment.

Oliva Serie V Torpedo

I encourage lady smokers to be unafraid to explore cigars past the usual “ladies” cigars. Talk to your fellow cigar smokers, to your tobacconist, and don't be shy about discovering what you really like, and don't be ashamed of what you like either. The wonderful thing about cigar-smoking is that everyone's experience is unique and personal. Happy smoking to you!

AVO Limited Edition 2010


Avo CigarsOrigin : Dominican Republic
Format : Super Robusto
Size : 5 ½ x 55
Wrapper : Ecuador
Filler : Dominican Republic
Binder : Mexico
Price : $15 each MSRP
More info about purchasing Avo cigars...

Having been formally introduced to the cigar market in March 2010 (to celebrate AVO Uvezian’s 84th birthday), with only 10,000 cigars being produced, the AVO Limited Edition 2010 is now far from fresh on many cigar smoker’s minds. The AVO LE 10’s were available in boxes of 10 that used to retail for $150.00 a box. Today, these can only be found on the aftermarket.

Read the full review of AVO Limited Edition 2010...

The Best Tabletop Cigar Lighter

The Best Tabletop Cigar Lighter

Finding the right cigar lighter is a personal matter. We all have our preferences, and there are lots of lighter styles from which to choose. But ultimately, what we cigar smokers require from a lighter is universal: a solid flame that lights each and every time we pull the trigger. That’s not a lot to ask, but over the years I’ve been amazed at how many pocket lighters fail within the first few months of use. The only such lighter I’ve been satisfied with is the S.T. Dupont MaxiJet. Although relatively expensive ($150 street price), it’s an investment worth making.

But everyday cigar smoking lends itself more to a tabletop lighter. One popular model is the Vector Megapump. I’ve used this lighter and it seems to works well. Not having owned one, I can’t attest to its reliability. And at prices above $100, it too is an investment. But there are two lighters I’ve been using, literally for years, and both are my workhorses for everyday cigar smoking: the Blazer Piezo Micro Torch and the Blazer ES-1000. These run in the $50 range.

The Blazer Piero Micro Torch

The secret to the reliability of these lighters is the fact that neither is actually a cigar lighter. They are jeweler’s torches, designed for prolonged use and ruggedness. Yet they make the perfect cigar lighter. The torch flame is strong and pointed, directing the heat exactly where you want it. And with huge fuel tanks, they require infrequent refueling. I’ve become so dependent on the Blazer that I carry one in my cigar bag. The poor little MaxiJet doesn’t get much use anymore.

The Blazer ES-1000 has one-touch operation.

If you want a solid, dependable, and economical cigar lighter, I recommend getting a Blazer. Either unit is terrific, although lighting the Piezo Micro Torch requires first turning on the gas, then pushing the ignition. The ES-1000 is a one-touch operation. One caveat is that some newer ES-1000 units have a locking mechanism that is a pain to operate. My friend got one of those and we immediately broke off the annoying plastic lock. I can’t say enough about these invaluable cigar accessories. I hope this bit of information leads you all to a better cigar smoking experience.

Best Non-Cuban Cigars of 2014

During any given year I try a lot of cigars. Some of them are awful, many are mediocre, and quite a few are downright forgettable. Many are outstanding, however, and at the end of the year a few emerge in my mind as the best of the best. So now that the year is at its end, I want to share with you my very favorite cigars of 2014. This list is completely subjective, and please keep in mind it is in no particular order.

1. The Crowned Heads – Jericho Hill

Jericho Hill

Jericho Hill is a release that The Crowned Heads made in conjunction with My Father. The binder and filler are both Nicaraguan, but the wrapper is Mexican San Andreas tobacco. Strength is medium to full. At first I remember worrying about this one because of how densely packed it was, but the draw was just fine. Flavors are awesome, especially if you like wood and natural tobacco. This cigar produces a ton of thick white smoke. It’s very flavorful, and not too expensive either.

2. Padron Family Reserve 50 Years Maduro

Padron Family Reserve

This is a cigar often seen on best-of lists for this year. It’s a Nicaraguan puro with a Maduro wrapper and strength I’d rate as either medium or full. The blend was created to honor Jose Padron and commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Padron family’s brand. It doesn’t come cheap; you literally will pay around $25 for one of these. That said, if you get the chance to try it, do it. The flavors are exceptional and the construction is perfect. Check out this review for an idea of what you can expect in this cigar. I love the perfect draw and the sweet, spicy flavors, which are mostly in the cedar-and-chocolate area. While the flavors are nothing unusual, they are incredibly well balanced. This is an excellent commemorative cigar. I only wish I could afford another one!

3. Illusione Fume d'Amour

Illusione Fume d'Amour Viejos

Last year I became a huge fan of the Illusione Rothchildes. This year, an Illusione cigar was also one of the first I thought of for this list. The name translates to “smoke of love.” And I definitely love this cigar! It’s very complex, featuring Nicaraguan viso and seco filler leaves. It’s a puro: the binder and wrapper are also from Nicaragua. Notes include wood, chocolate, nuts, and a minty coolness balancing out the rest. Construction on this stogie is excellent. You can read my review of the Illusione Fume d'Amour Viejos for more details. If you are an Illusione fan, you definitely have to try this one!

4. Joya Red

Joya Red

This puro has made a lot of best-of lists this year, and is yet another great offering from Nicaragua. You can purchase it for around $6, so it is a great deal, and perfect for everyday. It’s a medium-bodied smoke with flawless construction and delicious flavors of earth, nuts, and leather. There’s a hint of citrus and plum rounding it all out and balancing the other notes. A superb cigar at a superb price!

5. Camacho Ecuador

Camacho Ecuador

This cigar includes an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, a Brazilian binder, and Dominican and Honduran filler leaves. The draw and burn are perfect, and it hits you with a ton of intense, bold flavor right off the bat. I got mostly leather and spice with dark fruit and something sweet in the backdrop. There are wood flavors later on and some espresso; I expect the sweetness is from either the wood or the fruit. Either way, it’s a great smoke. You can go right down to the nub with zero harshness. Around $6 / stick.

Thanks for reading my list of the top cigars of 2014! What were your favorite stogies this year? Let us know in the comments below!

Villiger Colorado

Villiger Colorado

Origin : Dominican RepublicVilliger Cigars
Format : Double Robusto
Size : 5.5 x 54
Wrapper : Jalapa Colorado
Filler : Nicaraguan
Binder : Esteli Habano and Ometepe Habano
Price : $9.50 each
More info about purchasing Villiger Colorado cigars...

This review was written by El Cigar Newbie, who recently launched his blog at Enjoy!

My vast knowledge of smoking a wide variety of cigars for about a whopping three years, certainly qualifies my AKA as el-cigar-newbie, and I do blog for the el-newbie nation. In this time line I have bought packs, samplers, bundles, mazos etc. As if that was not enough, three Humidors later, I joined the Cigar of the Month Club online at My love for cigars is growing, and getting more cigars at a bargain price is always appealing. Yesterday my monthly club sampler was delivered and the first cigar was randomly picked, cut and lit before looking at the cigar band. I just love surprises!

Read the full review of Villiger Colorado...

CAO Amazon Basin

CAO Amazon Basin

Origin : Nicaragua
CAO CigarsFormat : Toro
Size : 6 x 52
Wrapper : Ecuadorian Sumatra
Filler : Dominican Republic, Columbian, Brazilian Braganca
Binder : Nicaraguan
Blender : Rick Rodriquez
Price : ~$7 each
More info about purchasing CAO Amazon Basin cigars...

We’ve heard it all before… limited edition cigars made from scarce materials. Then, a year later, they are still readily available, everywhere. But in the case of the new CAO Amazon Basin, its rarity is only part of the intrigue. It’s truly a cigar with a story to tell. I was lucky enough to get one of the last available boxes, and now, four cigars in, consider myself lucky indeed.

According to the official CAO statement, the Amazon Basin cigar “utilizes rare organic tobacco cultivated at small farms in remote regions of the Amazonian Rainforest. The tobacco called ‘Braganca’ is grown in virgin lands and is harvested just once every three years…the leaves are rolled by hand into tubes called ‘carottes’, and left to rest under high pressure. After six months of natural fermentation inside the carrotes, they are transported by canoe from the rainforest and delivered to our factory.” Wow, that’s quite a story! One interesting aspect of cigar smoking is how we experience exotic locales through the tobaccos we smoke. And the Amazonian Rainforest is about as exotic as it gets. If nothing else, smoking an Amazon Basin cigar is a curiosity. But what I’ve discovered is a cigar so unique; it actually lives up to the hype.

Read the full review of CAO Amazon Basin...

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 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”.

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.


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!