The Art of Smoking
Cutting allows the smoke to pass through and is vitally important since it determines the draw of the cigar.
When a cigar has an ideal humidity level, some smokers use their fingernail or their teeth to open it. This way was very common in Cuba. However, if the cigar is not very well humidified, you will damage the cigar's tip.
Actually, most Havanas smokers use cigar cutters or punchers. These cutters are designed to make the incision as neat and effective as possible : knives, scissors, guillotines, etc. The round bladed scissors do less damage to the wrapper, as the cutting action works on the whole circumference of the cigar. In the case of big diameter the puncher is recommend so you can make a smaller whole so you can better control the draw, you must always try to cut the minimum of the cigar tip.
Should you keep it on or take it off ? This debate is as old as the history of the ring itself. Forget all the fantastic ideas, and hear what Master Zino Davidoff has to say. If you want to take off the ring before lighting up, you are taking the risk of damaging the wrapper. The vegetal natural glue used to put the ring may sometimes stick to the wrapper. Smoke at least a third of your cigar before you remove the ring, since you would have less risk of tearing the wrapper. You may also leave the ring on, it is not wrong to do so, and it is not a characteristic that you are novice: many connoisseurs leave the ring until the end of the second third.
Lighting is very important. The flame must embrace the whole surface of the cigar end, from the first puffs taken. The flame must be odorless to avoid ruining the taste, so petrol lighters are forbidden. Only odorless matches and " gas " lighters are authorized. It's not true that all the lighters are forbidden, so you may use some of them, but be sure that they are specifically designed to light up cigars, or that they deliver odorless flame. However, it's particularly nice to use long matches made of cedar, since their elegance brings a certain solemnity to the occasion.
Lighting is not a show. So take small regular puffs and don't be hasty. Sometimes, you have to make a small " half rotation " with your cigar, this will help expose equally the whole circumference to the flame.
This should be a moment of enjoyment, try to take slow and regular puffs, one every 30 to 60 seconds. Your cigar must be controled, If you are nervous, the cigar will be also, if you are very slow it will go out and you have to light it again. To appreciate your cigar, the key word is "harmony ".
Remember you will not be able to discover a "Vitola" if you taste only one cigar. You must smoke at least one box. The taste of a cigar varies with many elements: mood, food and drinks. Cigars from the same box are similar but not identical, and like "Grands Crus", cigars may vary from year to year.
At the end, when all is done, never crush your cigar in an ashtray just let it die on its own.