1. Cigars are classified by their length and girth. Certain combinations of length and girth are standard, and many of these have special names. Three examples are the robusto (short and thick); the mid-sized corona (moderately slim and in the middle of the cigar-length spectrum); and the double corona—sometimes called a Churchill (which is long and relatively thick).
  2. A humidor is an enclosed device that keeps cigars in a tropical climate. A humidor can be a walk-in room, a box made of wood or Plexiglas, or a sealed plastic bag—anything that maintains the relatively high level of airborne moisture, or humidity, cigars require to keep from drying out.
  3. Don't let your cigar go out for more than a half hour. If you do, the accumulated tar and nicotine at the tip will make it bitter tasting when you relight. Allow enough time when you first light up (about 45 minutes) to ensure that you can enjoy your cigar from start to finish.
  4. Let the ash fall off your cigar naturally as you smoke. A good cigar can accumulate at least a half inch of ash at the tip before it falls off easily when you tap the cigar against the edge of your ashtray. If it doesn't drop off when you tap, keep smoking, wait a while, and try again.
  5. A cutter is a device used to remove the sealed tip of a cigar, which allows you to draw air through the cigar. Numerous types and several styles of cutters are available.
  6. Never chew or chomp a premium cigar; instead, you should hold it in your hand or place it in an ashtray. Smoking stimulates saliva, so it you hold the cigar in your mouth, it will start to get soggy, clogging the air hole and ruining the draw.
  7. A high-quality, properly aged cigar will smell nicer to others than a cheap stogie, and it usually leaves less residual smell in curtains and fabrics. You may improve your chances of smoking in the house if you buy premium smokes.
  8. Several things distinguish a tobacconist from a mere cigar retailer. The tobacconist has a wide selection of brands and sizes; proper humidification for the stock; a strong working knowledge of cigars, tobacco, and brands; and a selection of smoking-related accessories such as cutters, lighters, and humidors.
  9. A cigar bar is a place with comfortable seating and/or tables where you can make individual selections of cigars, and then accompany them with drinks.
  10. One of my strongest pieces of advice for someone just learning about smokes is: "Buy only what you can touch, see, and smell." Until you understand enough to know the exact brand of characteristics you want, you'll benefit from being able to buy cigars in person.
  11. The pinch test is an easy way to check the construction of your cigar. Lightly "pinch" the cigar between your thumb and index finger. It should feel firm, but not hard. If it feels like a piece of wood, of it you feel a spongy spot, choose a different cigar.
  12. Never buy cigars from a retailer who keeps them in refrigerated conditions! This used to be a fairly common practice, although fewer retailers are now using this method. Some people believe that refrigeration keeps cigars fresh, but refrigerators actually dry out a cigar. You won't find a savvy retailer using this technique.
  13. Most wooden cigar boxes made today are Spanish cedar. An old government report noted that a century ago, cigar box materials included poplar, red gum, elm, cypress, oak, mahogany, and maple, plus the more esoteric tupelo and balm of Gilead.
  14. Premium cigars come packed in two ways; square pack and round pack. All handmade cigars are round when they're made, and a round pack preserves this shape. Certain cigars are pressed so tightly into a box that they assume a slightly square shape from the box pressure. If done properly, a square-shaped cigar will taste fine and draw properly.

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