Chosen to be tasted and properly humidified, a cigar has yet to be prepared before tasting. Indeed, cutting its head, or perilla, is an essential operation. To fully enjoy the cigar, a well-cut section helps the air to circulate adequately with each puff.
Following the tasting by the aficionado, the cut is made somewhere between the cylindrical body of the cigar and the very top of its half spherical head.
The place for the incision should not reach the cigar body itself as this sort of wide cut will probably cause the wrapper to unroll. For ‘headed’ cigars, the incision is usually done in the very curve of the head, before the full diameter of the cigar. For ‘pointed’ cigars, the aficionado can really control the place of the incision to have an effect on the smoke outflow of the cigar. This gives this ‘pointed’ cigar and figurado nice additional depth to their tasting.

According to personal preference, the section can be done using a guillotine, a punch, a small knife or a pair of scissors, or anything else that fulfills the taster’s desires

Raw tasting

After the cigar has been ‘opened’, raw tasting or fumar crudo in Spanish is the first tasting of the internal aromas of the cigar. The aficionado actually smokes the unlit cigar. During a puff, air becomes enriched with the most volatile aromatic molecules of the blend leaves. As those aromas are very soft and light it is better to taste them by retro olfaction only.

The lighting

How one lights a cigar greatly influences its initial combustion. It should always be done slowly and carefully. Any rush or inappropriate lighting could only ruin the first moments of a cigar, or sometimes even more.

The cigar lighting is wrong if done by a heat source that spoils the perfumes of the leaves. The flame must be neutral. A good recommendation is matches or a gas lighter. Petrol lighters or candles should be avoided absolutely.

Getting a uniform burn on the whole surface of the cigar foot is a fundamental element for the ignition to be effective. Some roll their cigar slowly while approaching the flame to the foot of the cigar until the tobacco glows throughout the whole area. Some aficionados help the ignition along by taking a puff at the same time as applying the flame to the cigar boquilla. Other more purists probably do not take a puff at all and let only the flame contact igniting slowly the cigar. In both cases, a gentle blow helps the final homogenization of the lighting. Only after this stage, the cigar is ready for the real tasting.

Besides these two methods many variations exist to light a cigar. With practice, every taster will find the way that pleases them the most.


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