Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Smoking Opus

Finding The Right Cigar

You've decided that you want to try smoking a cigar. You're intrigued by them, and by the people that smoke them. To some, cigars are a status symbol, a symbol of wealth and class. People describe them like they would a fine wine. A cigar can have full to medium body or a smooth and creamy medium bodied taste or they talk about the exceptional construction and cool smoke. What does all this mean and how do you go about choosing a cigar?

Before we go any further, know the health risks. Cigars are bad for you. They contain nicotine which we know is addictive, which is bad for you. People can get cancer from smoking cigars. According to the National Institutes of Health "people smoking as few as one to two cigars per day have much higher risk of oral, lung, and esophageal cancer, and cancer of the larynx, as compared to non-smokers." But, you're an adult and you've made your decision. Also here we'll mention that cigar smoke is much heavier and smellier than cigarette smoke, which some find offensive.

So, back to choosing. There are man-made cigars and machine made cigars. Needless to say, most things hand made are superior to machine made, and that goes for cigars. A handmade cigar is made from leaves picked, sorted and bundled by an individual cigar maker. A premium hand rolled cigar will have leaves of the same length carefully rolled. It's the skill of the hand roller that insures a smooth and even burn.

Machine made cigars often use ends and smaller pieces of tobacco leaves, called short filler. Cigar aficionados say that this short filler draws and burns inferiorly. A well made cigar should have a full and smooth draw.

A cigar is rated on it's length and ring gauge. The length of cigars runs between 4 inches to 8 inches, with the most common cigar length being 5 to 6 inches. The ring gauge refers to the diameter of the cigar. This ring gauge is measured in 64th of an inch. The largest ring gauge of a cigar is 52, therefore it would be 52/64ths of an inch in diameter. Generally the larger the ring gauge the more fuller flavored the cigar will be.

Cigar colors are referred to as claro and oscuro. Claro being light brown and oscuro being almost black. The darker the cigar the more full bodied and sweeter it will be. The darker the tobacco the more mature it is. Some tobacco is aged up to three years before it is rolled. A lighter colored cigar will be lighter in flavor.

Is is suggested that for a beginning cigar smoker that they choose a smaller and milder gauge cigar, such as a petit corona or panatela, then move up to a bigger size, and more robust flavor as they are comfortable.

Don't be afraid to try different brands. You'll notice your tastes will mature and change. The final choice of the right cigar depends on your own taste preference.

Author, Catherine Olivia. Article courtesy of http://www.cigars-shopper.com.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good article. However, it is inconsistent. The color of the cigar does not denote how strong it will be, nor how flavorful. A lighter cigar is not lighter in flavor or strength than a darker cigar. That is purely myth. This depends solely on the tobaccos used. A lighter, sun-grown wrapper filled with Nicaraguan ligero will be significantly stronger than a dark, Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper filled with aged Dominican long-fillers. It is all relative. Also, cigars can be much thicker than 52-ring, as I am smoking a 66-ring as I type this right now.

6:07 AM  

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