Is there an etiquette for lighting a cigar?
This is as delicate as that wrapper color question! Everyone seems to have their own opinion on this, so what I am going to do is pass on is IMHO only! I light my cigars this way is that it provides me an even burn from the start, prevents any bitter taste during the lighting process, and also because I do enjoy the quiet ceremony of being so deliberate.
1. If you use a match, wait till the sulphur burns off before using it to light you cigar. Also if you can find those fancy long cedar matches all the better.
2. If you use a lighter, use a butane one. The gasoline based ones impart a foul flavor to your smoke. Of course this statement irritates the hell out of the Zippo manufacturer, so in rebuttal they actually published a rather nice little book that explains that if you allow the flame to burn for a few seconds all of the disturbing odor will dissapate. Try and see for yourself is my advice. Personally I use a butane lighter. I have no experience with the new fancy flameless lighters, so to put it simply: ask someone else.
3. Some people claim that the only proper implement for lighting up is a cedar spill. A cedar spill is a long thin strip of spanish cedar which is lit first and then used in turn to light your cigar. You will typically see these in use at fancy cigar dinners, rather elegant way to light your stogie, but not all that practical in the car…
4. Here is where it gets messy, “how to actually light it” has been the key stumbling block to peace in many a nation. I have heard so many different methods, with such subtle differences it is perplexing. So what I am going to share, is how -I- light my cigars. Here we go:
I preheat the foot (the open end) by slowly rolling the cigar above the flame at an angle allowing a tiny black ring forms all the way around the wrapper. I don’t allow the flame to touch the cigar.
Then I place the cigar in my mouth, and draw in as I repeat the process, slowly rolling the cigar at an angle above the flame, but never letting the lighter flame actually touch the cigar. I guess about a 1/2 inch or so away. What appears to happen is the flame seems to leap from lighter up onto the foot of the cigar, even though my stogie never comes in direct contact with the lighter’s flame. Remember to slowly spin the cigar to establish an even burn.
Once I think I have it lit, I pull it from my mouth and actually look at the glowing foot to see if I did my job properly. Now if the burn is really uneven, I will reapeat the previous step on the appropriate side to even the burn. If it is just a bit uneven (which in my case it typically is) I gently blow on the end in the appropriate place to intensify the heat there, and will then take a couple steady draws, but will then just wait a minute before continuing to puff. This short delay seems to allow the cigar a chance to stabilize and self correct the burn.
Then I sit back and relax and smoke to my heart’s content!
5. If I am outside, and it is windy, and shelter is not accessible, I then throw decorum out the window, and I flame-torch the end, and put up with the initial bitterness to ensure a fast even light. Hey you, yeah you, the cigar snob, stop that groaning! 🙂
6. If my smoke happens to go out, I just knock off the ash, gently blow through the cigar to clear out the old smoke, then I jump right to the drawing while rolling part of my light up sequence.
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