So How Exactly do you light a Cigar?
- Tuesday, 25 June 2013
Don’t spoil a fine smoke, take a few minutes to read the best way to light your Cigar.
There are many different ways to approach this, and unlike my recent micro-blog on how to cut a cigar, there is more of a “right way” and “wrong way” of doing this. The wrong way involves the cigar not being evenly lit, a struggle to smoke and creating a large overhang of unlit tobacco ruining the equilibrium of the smoke.
(Matches or Butane? Which is the best method to light up?).
In my mind this is a combination of utility (the tool you use) and method (how you apply the tool to the cigar). Looking at utility first, there are a few options available;
Matches – normal matches are terrible – avoid. Cigar matches, from a good retailer, should be longer than cooks matches and be purpose built. These are OK, but you may find yourself getting through a whole box for a single cigar. If smoking outside, forget it – they’ll keep going out.
Disposable lighter – not really recommended. You will have to hold it down for so long, both the lighter and your hand will get very hot in the process, and it will probably take several attempts (meaning you concentrate less on the method). Avoid.
Zippo – generally regarded as a solid flame, but the toxication of the fuel impares the taste of the cigar and implants a petrol-like smell. Avoid.
Butane lighter – if you are going to light with a traditional flame, this is the most acceptable way of doing it, with a lighter that you refill from gas. It’s less likely to affect the smoke itself. Expensive options are the incredibly fashionable S.T Dupont range, of which produce lighters with extra large flames for cigar smokers (be sure to enquire when buying to make sure the model has been adjusted and is not just being sold as such by the retailer).While a normal butane lighter will be about £30, Dupont lighters are commonly around the £500 mark.
Blowtourch Butane – these are less attractive than S.T Duponts, but are by far the most accurate and effective way to get an even burn going. These are filled from butane, and fire a targeted, laser beam like jet cone of heat at the target. They work in a fraction of the time of a traditional flame, and as you can probably tell, are my favourite. Sadly the premium options haven’t quite got the same charm as a Dupont, but if you are in the £500 price range, Dunhill make some fantastic lighters of which are very timeless and attractive. These are the ‘real’ cigar smokers accessory and will last decades if serviced correctly. For use at home, consider using a cooks blowtorch lighter – I know I do – as these have the same jet power impact but retail at about £17 or so. Beware though, they drink butane fuel like crazy!
Rustic – this involves a little more work, but you’ll feel great doing it. When you buy a box of cigars, they will always come with a layer of Spanish cedar separating the cigars. This is to protect the sticks but also help retain a little moisture as the box makes its journey around the world. Pick up this thin layer of cedar, and snap it down in to little strips – like you do with toast for egg and soldiers. Strips can be any size that works, relative to the cigar, but I generally go for a width of about 2cm and a length of about 10cm ideally. Light this, however you wish (even matches will do) – let the flame creep up a bit, then apply this flame to the foot of the cigar. The only flavours that will be imparted are, of course, of the burning cedar, of which really does work.
Next time I’ll cover off the method and explore some of the secrets of the trade!