Cigars, like most things in life are subject to idle gossip and rumours. They have had hundreds of years to gather proverbial dust, history and myths. Issues can arise when new or inexperienced cigar smokers hear the untruths and take them at face value – this has a knock on effect on how they pick up signs to determine the quality of the cigar or even how they should be smoking it.
Cigars are only for the Wealthy
This myth can be attributed to Hollywood’s portrayal of cigar smokers, where normally only the wealthy, corrupt or criminal elements are seen to be enjoying a smoke on the movie screen. Of course, there are expensive cigars, but this is the case for any product available to buy. There are a number of high-quality cigars that can retail for £5-£10, meaning that even the thriftiest amongst us can start to build up a collection of high-quality cigars that won’t raid the piggy bank.
The Darker the Wrapper, the Stronger the Smoke
Unfortunately, there have been many victims falling prey to this myth; believing that the cigars with a darker outer leaf are stronger than those with a lighter wrapper. In no way, does the strength of the cigar depend on the colour of its wrapper leaf. The strength of the cigar ultimately comes down to the composition of the filler tobacco. However, a dark wrapper leaf contains far more oils and tar than a lighter wrapper, and so greater quantities of various substances remain on the smokers lips when it’s being smoked; so people have been led to believe that it’s stronger.
Warming your Cigar Prior to Smoking
Warming a cigar neither improves the flavour nor its aroma; it doesn’t even make the smoke smoother. The only thing that is actually achieved by carefully warming the cigar is spoiling it. If the flame reaches a millimetre closer than the permissible distance from the surface, the outer leaf will start to smoulder. The smouldering can be easily stopped, but the taste and aroma of the cigar will be ruined.
White Ash is a Sign of Quality
This is a judgement taken from fields such as wine and textiles, where we have the association that the quality of the product links to the purity; in this case, if the ash looks ‘clean’ then it must have been processed in a better way with higher quality tobaccos. However, cigars that tend to have very white ash normally have higher amounts of calcium and magnesium; there are plenty of high-end cigars that have a more salt and pepper ash.
Don’t be fooled by labels! The reality is, when you pick up a cigar with ‘handmade’ stamped on it, you’ll probably be buying a factory made cigar, made using industrial processes and equipment. When you purchase a box or bundle of cigars, you are making a conscious choice to support a long list of production practices, which include industrial manufacturing. As much as 75%-80% of the price of a cigar can directly represent cosmetic decisions that have been made to increase the visual elements of the product that have absolutely nothing to do with the actually quality or the smoke-ability of the cigar.