1) Find a local expert
Cigar smokers have a brotherhood of sorts, so first find a local retailer to guide you on your quest, Belicoso Cigars is a great place in Birmingham. Don’t be afraid to walk in and immediately began asking questions, and don’t let the many different varieties and brands available intimidate you.
2) Buy fresh
When buying a cigar make sure it’s fresh. If the cigars are not stored in the proper humidity they will dry up. The best way to tell if a cigar is fresh is to simply touch it. Take the cigar and lightly roll it between your fingers or pinch it. If the cigar cracks then it is dry and has not been kept well. Once you have identified a cigar you like and can recognize by taste, then you can really start to explore.
3) The cut
Once you have chosen your cigar, you’ll need to cut it. Cutting is a delicate process. You do not want to cut too much and run the risk of unraveling the wrapper of the cigar, but if you do not cut enough of the cigar you will not have a good even draw when smoking. The cut should take only about 1/8 of an inch off of the cigar leaving the cap intact. For the best experience, simply cut the cap of the cigar quickly and firmly until the cut is complete. This motion will ensure a clean cut.
Lighting the cigar is just as important as cutting. As the first process of lighting any cigar you should “Toast the Foot”. This is done by holding the lighter or match in one hand while holding the cigar in the other and lightly rotating the cigar between your fingers and taking light puffs. As you take puffs of your cigar the flame should be close but not touching the foot of the cigar. The puffs should draw the flame to the cigar as you continue to roll it. This will allow you to evenly light the entire surface of the cigar so that it burns evenly. This should take about a minute and should not be rushed. It is best to use a butane lighter or long wooden match.
5) The draw
Smoking the cigar should be a very relaxing experience and most cigars will average about 30-45 minutes to smoke. It is very important not to inhale a cigar. You taste a cigar with your entire mouth just as you would a beverage such as a fine bourbon or cognac. A note to novice cigar smokers, do not smoke on an empty stomach.
Finally, take your time and enjoy your cigar. And for the best result when enjoying multiple cigars, try to wait fifteen minutes between cigars. When you finish don’t grind the cigar to put it out. This will cause the cigar to smell. You should simply place the cigar in an ash tray and allow the remainder to die in a couple minutes.