So you’ve picked up a box of Diplomaticos Nortenos, prime regional edition Cuban cigars, in a popular robusto format. These are medium to full body, to be paired perfectly with a rum and coke, maybe some Macadamia nuts and some dried fruits if you feel a little peckish. This is what the experts suggest you pair one with, anyway.
You’ve opted to make the investment in the Diplomaticos – a box of 10 would retail for north of $430 – because you want to get serious about cigars. The popularity of cigar smoking is trending upwards again, maybe even up to those heady levels in the 1990s.
During the Era of Pandemic we are all looking for leisure activities within the comforts of our own four walls. And there’s no better comfort than the relaxing, smooth draw, and nutty, creamy flavours, of a fine Diplomatico.
But perhaps you are still relatively new to the game. Maybe you are reaching for that premium Cohiba Maduro, in a room full of people. Here are five things Cuban cigar aficionados would never do, according to Cuban cigar aficionados.
Cuban cigar: Lighting a cigar before roasting the foot
Now what does that mean? Roasting the foot? If you really want to enjoy a cigar, though, you want to light it correctly, so it burns properly. The objective of toasting a cigar is get a slow, gradual burn going. You want the filler, wrapper and binder lit evenly.
If you light it too fast, and only get the filler, you’ll be looking at an uneven burn. We have seen situations where the lit part tunnelled into the middle of the cigar, while the wrapper was intact.
Flavour is another reason to roast a cigar. By roasting the foot first, you burn the initial ammonia and harshness from the cigar. That eliminates that bitter first draw.
With a torch lighter, hold the cigar at an angle, and keep the foot a few inches above the flame. Don’t let the flame touch the tobacco. Let it ignite slowly. Rotate the cigar. Check the foot of the cigar to see that it’s burning evenly. Blow on the foot of the cigar gently if it isn’t. You want it glowing red, maybe 1/8th an inch of ash, that’s it, before you take a first puff. Remember Cuban cigars are premium. You want to make sure you fully enjoy all it has to offer.
Don’t store it in the fridge
Storage is a huge issue, of course. Get a humidor, so the cigars are kept in similar conditions where the tobacco grew. You want to preserve those essential oils so the cigar keeps it flavour.
A humidor needs to be properly seasoned, humidity between 65-70 per cent. Temperature should be between 68-70 degrees Fahrenheit. Cigars are sensitive to the environment they are stored in. And tossing it into the fridge, with the cool, dry air, will just dry it out quickly.
Don’t inhale while smoking the Cuban cigar
Smoking a fine Cuban cigar is not the same as smoking a cigarette. You don’t inhale the smoke. Instead, you draw the smoke into your mouth, to better savour the flavours and taste.
That’s especially true with a Cuban cigar, like one of those Diplomaticos. You are talking about a premium experience, above all other varieties. There are roughly 200 different stages that go into the production of a single Cuban cigar. And nowhere in the world do they grow tobacco better than in Cuba. That’s where the rubber really hits the road. So each Cuban cigar has its own flavours, tastes, strengths. The idea is to take your time and enjoy all of that.
Cutting too much of the cigar (past the shoulder of the cap)
If you cut too much, so that the cap is entirely removed, the wrapper leaf will likely fall right off the binder. What you don’t want to be doing is unwinding wrapper. The cigar will also burn too hot and too fast if you cut it too high.
Putting a cigar out and re-lighting it another day
If you want to smoke half a cigar and store it for another day buy a White Owl. Those wonderful oils in that splendid Cuban cigar will only crystallize when it cools down. So it won’t taste the same when you re-light it. And as said a premium cigar is all about preserving those essential oils.