"I am the smoker of the fine Perdomo 10th Anniversary Champagne Torpedo cigar, they are a medium to mild smoke. I buy them at Doc James Cigar & Golf in Shrub Oaks NY...." Ira

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Tips for Cigars

Enjoying a cigar requires some understanding of the basics. Without knowing the basics about cigars and the different options, it is easy to feel uncomfortable around those with more advanced knowledge. Fortunately, the basics of cigars are easy to understand.

What are Plugged Cigars?

A plugged cigar is a hand-rolled cigar that will have a tougher-than-average draw. In most cases, it is a bad cigar because of the plugs.

"Plugs" is the term used to describe the imperfections that occur during packing. The hand-rolled cigar allows the roller to add extra leaves in certain areas. In many cases, a plugged cigar will have the most leaves near the grip.

The problem with the additional leaves is that they make the cigar difficult to draw compared with cigars that are not plugged. Although it is a common problem with plugged cigars, a cigar that is too moist or that is labeled as well-filled might also have the same problem.

Should the Cellophane be Removed?

When cigars come individually covered with cellophane, a concern about whether it is important to remove the cellophane or not often arises. In most cases, the removal of cellophane during storage is a personal decision.

Leaving the cellophane on is generally appropriate when more than one type of cigar or flavor is stored in the same humidor. Since the humidor will have more than one cigar flavor and type, the tastes can mingle and ruin the unique flavors. When the flavors mingle, the cigars end up tasting similar and any unique elements are lost over time.

Although it is ideal to leave the cellophane on cigars when they are stored in the same humidor as other flavors, it is better to remove the cellophane when it is stored without other cigars. The reason is the aging process. When cigars are wrapped in cellophane, the aging process is not as good as when it is left without the wrapping.

Ultimately, the decision to leave the cellophane or remove it is a personal choice. It depends on personal preferences for flavors, the current storage and the preferences for aging.

Proper Storage

Storing cigars is an important part of getting the best flavor and preventing an uncomfortable draw. When the cigars dry out, it leads to excessive burning. That burning can mean that the experience of smoking the cigar is unpleasant. On the other hand, a cigar becomes hard to draw when it is too moist.

The proper place to store cigars is in a humidor. The humidor keeps the proper temperature and humidity levels to prevent excessive drying or too much moisture.

Places of Origin

Cigars always have places of origin. The cigars have different flavors based on the origin and the soil conditions where tobacco in the cigar is grown. The best cigar flavor for personal preferences will depend on the country and the type of flavor that is preferred.

Jamaica produces mild cigar flavors. For new cigar smokers, the mild flavor might be the preferred option.

Generally, cigars from the Dominican Republic have mild to medium flavors. The range is ideal for those who want something a little stronger but are not interested in full flavors.

Honduras produces cigars that are medium- to full-flavored. The full-flavored cigars may or may not appeal to newer smokers.

Nicaraguan cigars are both rich and full-flavored. The rich flavor may appeal to those who prefer something a little different.

Cuban cigars are the ones with a full and creamy flavor. Instead of the richness found elsewhere, the cigars provide a smoother flavor.

Making Cigars

The elements that make a cigar are the key to creating different flavors, textures and blends. The blending process uses three main elements: the binder, the filler and the wrapper.

The term binder refers to the part of the cigar that holds the leaf together. In most cases, the binder is a low-quality tobacco that is on the outside layer of the cigar.

The filler is the tobacco that makes up the inner part of the cigar. Depending on the cigar, the filler may include full tobacco leaves or it might use the scraps of tobacco leaves. When a cigar states that it is a long-leaf cigar, the inner part of the cigar is made of full leaves. The term "short-leaf cigars" refers to the cigars that have filler that is made up of the odds, ends and scraps of tobacco leaves. In most cases, short-leaf cigars are the low-quality options.

The wrapper is the paper on the outside of the cigar. The wrapper adds flavor to the tobacco and can range in color from light to dark.

Aging Process

The aging process is the element that adds depth and subtlety to the cigar. For those who enjoy an aged cigar, learning the process can make a good cigar change to something better.

Deciding how long to age a cigar varies based on personal preferences. Although personal preference plays a role in determining the complexity and taste, a general rule to follow is allowing the cigar to age for at least one year.

Beyond the general timing, it is also important to properly store the cigar during that time period. Too much humidity during storage will result in mold growth or mildew. A cigar is ruined when mold begins to grow. On the other hand, the process of aging will stop if the temperature is wrong. The general rule for aging without problems is setting the temperature at 70 degrees and the moisture level at 70 percent, which prevents the environment from becoming too moist and allows the cigar to age.

Although the rules of timing and setting are important, it is vital to maintain constant temperatures and humidity. Fluctuations in the temperature or humidity can ruin cigars. The cigars will end up changing sizes if the temperature and humidity fluctuate, so a humidor should have the right setting and should not be touched during the aging process.

The best aging occurs in a cedar-lined humidor that is set to 70 degrees and 70 percent humidity. It should allow double the space of the cigar to provide enough air and should be left alone to allow enough time for the flavors to develop.

Enjoying a great cigar requires careful selection, proper storage and the right aging technique. Although it takes a few cigars to establish personal preferences, knowing the basics of storage and aging will make it possible to enjoy cigars that are at their best.