THE FRINGE

All you need to know about cigars.

Golf Digest (South Africa) - - Contents 2/ 15 -

If you’re in­ter­ested in cigars and want to buy and smoke them like you know what you’re do­ing, here are 14 things to re­mem­ber:

1 Does the cigar feel firm?

Don’t buy it. It’s ei­ther packed too tightly or hasn’t been stored prop­erly and has dried out. A cigar with a firm draw will make you feel like you’re try­ing to suck a milk­shake through a drink stir­rer. If it’s dry, the wrap­per will peel and un­ravel as it burns.

2 Good cigars are hand­made

and have three parts: long filler, a bin­der to hold the filler, and a dif­fer­ent type of to­bacco for the wrap­per. Avoid cheap, ma­chine-made, short-filler cigars.

3 Not all cigars are cre­ated

equal. Mild, medium and full are the clas­si­fi­ca­tions. The full­bod­ied ones are the most flavour­ful, but they can make you feel woozy if you’re not used to them.

4 Size isn’t an in­di­ca­tor of

strength, nor is the colour of the to­bacco leaves used as the wrap­per. The light­est wrap­pers are dou­ble claro (light green) and claro (tan). The dark­est wrap­pers are maduro (dark brown) and os­curo (black). 5 The big­ger the ring size (cir­cum­fer­ence) of the cigar, the longer it takes to smoke. The size is mea­sured in 64ths of an inch. So 50-ring cigars like a “Churchill” or “ro­busto” are 50/64ths of an inch in di­am­e­ter. Ex­tra-large cigars (larger than 50) are frowned upon as car­toon­ish.

6 Don’t take a cigar and dip it into what­ever you’re

drink­ing. All this does is taint the flavours of your cigar and your drink.

7 Cubans aren’t the in­dus­try

stan­dard any­more. There are ex­cep­tional Cuban cigars – es­pe­cially if they con­tain to­bacco from the Vuelta Abajo re­gion – but other trop­i­cal coun­tries like the Do­mini­can Repub­lic, Nicaragua and Hon­duras make great cigars, too. And, un­like Cubans, they’re le­gal to buy in the United States.

8 Cubans aren’t al­ways Cubans.

There’s a good chance you’re buy­ing a cheap knock­off if you buy a “Cuban” cigar from ven­dors in for­eign coun­tries or from web­sites. 9 Ideal stor­ing con­di­tions for cigars are 21 de­grees at 70-per­cent hu­mid­ity. Hu­mi­dors, stor­age boxes for cigars, are de­signed to main­tain th­ese con­di­tions. 10 For the best draw, cut a cigar at about 1.6mm from the tip. There are many types of suit­able cut­ters. What­ever you use, the goal is to make a quick, clean cut so you don’t fray the wrap­per or filler.

11 When light­ing, keep the

flame close, but don’t let it touch the to­bacco. Ro­tate the cigar as you heat it up. This will help it burn evenly.

12 Avoid us­ing can­dles, grill lighters or fluid cig­a­rette

lighters on a cigar. They can ruin its flavour. If you’re go­ing to use matches, opt for long wooden ones, not the stan­dard sul­phur-tipped ones. If you must use a stan­dard match, let the sul­phur burn for a sec­ond be­fore putting it next to the cigar.

13 A cigar should burn evenly, and the wrap­per should

re­main in­tact. If the cigar burns faster on one side or hol­lows in the mid­dle (known as a ca­noe), let the cigar cool, and clip the burnt end un­til it’s evened out. Then light it again.

14 Do not in­hale. Re­mem­ber, you’re meant to taste and savour the del­i­cate flavours of the smoke, not choke on it.

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