SIZES – Cigars are sized by an ancient system where length is shown in inches and thickness or “ring gauge” is shown in 64ths of an inch.
RING GAUGE – The diameter of the cigar, which affects the overall flavor. The fatter the cigar, the more developed and full a cigar will taste. A wide cigar will also burn slower.
FILLER – Filler is the inner bulk of the cigar and can be either cut-filler (short pieces) or long filler running the full length of the cigar.
Lighting the cigar is an art that will enhance the enjoyment – by using a slow, two-step process you can ensure that one side of the cigar will not burn faster than the other side. Step one: Hold the cigar horizontally and rotate it in the flame to evenly warm the end. Step two: Put the cigar in your mouth. Keeping it still in a horizontal position, hold the flame only to the tip of the cigar, and draw slowly as you continue to rotate.
The cap or the head of a handmade cigar must be cut before lighting it. You can do this with a cigar scissor, guillotine cutter or a punch cutter. The guillotine is recommended for the most effective cut. Make sure not to cut the entire cap off, because this could damage the wrapper.
The tobacco leaf on the outside of a handmade cigar – the wrapper – is to start with, an essential structural element.
The wrapper must be supple so it doesn't split as the cigar is rolled. It is also an important contributor to the cigar's flavor and appearance. Ideally, a wrapper leaf should be of consistent color and have no prominent veins or blemishes. Because wrapper leaves must meet so many requirements, they are carefully grown, aged and selected. Wrappers come in many varieties and some of the most important recent advances in cigars have been innovative wrappers. Here are a few of the types of wrappers you'll want to experience:
The first modern observation of the cigar occurred with the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the New World. On October 28, 1492 Columbus noted in his log reports that the natives of San Salvador burned and inhaled the leaves of a local plant. Rodrigo de Xeres, a lieutenant on Columbus's expedition became the first European to smoke the Indian's form of a cigar. Rodrigo smoked on every subsequent day of the expedition.