Cigar 101: Smoking Slow and Steady Wins the Race

I won’t back down from a challenge, especially a challenge which involves cigars and some science. Recently, Bill called me out and said that I smoke cigars too fast. Personally, I have always known that this is true, but it came to light during the most recent CigarChat with Ezra Zion. I told everyone on the show that I smoked the Tantrum, which is a 4.4 x 44, in about 20 minutes. People were shocked that I smoke that fast.

Bill threw down this challenge.

Here are the parameters. I am going to smoke two Serie D Natural #6’s, one slow and one regular. Since I like MythBusters, and science in general, I am going to make this as scientific as possible. I found an online timer which will make a very annoying sound when the time has passed. At each interval I will take two puffs of the cigar.

The regular cigar will be smoked at one minute intervals and the slow smoked cigar at two minute intervals. I will record my experience with flavor, construction, burn, and anything else that is different between the two experiences.

Ready for some science b******?

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Ortega Cigars Serie D Natural

Vitola: #6

Size: 4 ½ x 48

Wrapper: Ecuador Habano Rosado

Binder/Filler: Nicaraguan Jalapa and Esteli

Beverage: Sweet Tea

Cigars Smoked for this Review: Two

Smoking Time: 95 Minutes (Slow Smoke) & 55 (Fast Smoke)

Price Point: $5.85

Cigar Purchased: At Spec’s in Round Rock

Overall Conclusion: I was wrong and Bill was right. Although, it is going to be a major pain to get myself to slow down while smoking, it is worth it on all fronts.

Slow Smoke Experience

Honestly, this is a lot tougher than I thought it was going to be. I find myself reaching for the cigar before the timer goes off. One thing that really surprises is that the cigar never went out with two minutes between puffs. It is really amazing how much cooler the cigar burned when I smoked slower. I was able put my fingers on the wrapper, right next to the ash, without it burning me. Also, I have noticed the ash on smaller cigars never seem to hold well. When I smoked slow the ash held on for a lot longer than it did when I smoked at my normal speed.

The richness of the tobacco really comes through when I smoked at the slow pace. I was able to pick up notes of cedar, nuts, some earthiness, and a creaminess that ran through the entire smoke.

Even with the two minutes between puffs it was easy to get a ton of smoke from the cigar. It was noticeably more difficult to get the same amount of smoke at the end though.

The burn got a little off at the end and I touched it up with some saliva. This caused to cigar to go out and I had to re-light it. I was able to smoke this little bugger all the way to the nub. It never got hot or acidic at all.

Normal Smoke Experience:

Honestly, it doesn’t compare to the above. The flavors in the cigar weren’t as pronounced, it was more acidic, burn was hotter, I wasn’t able to smoke as much of the cigar, and I was only able to enjoy it half as long.

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Comment by Cigar Surgeon on July 10, 2013 at 9:21am

The acidic and bitter flavors are usually key indicators for me that I'm smoking too fast or the cigar is over humidified.  Glad to hear the experiment went well!

Comment by Kyle Hoover on July 10, 2013 at 9:28am

good article! 

Comment by Bill Williams on July 10, 2013 at 9:51am

So my challenge to Logan was based on something my dad encouraged me to do. Enjoy the little pleasures we pick for ourselves.

OK, the cigars I chose wera La Aroma de Cuba El Jefe that had been in my humidor just a month, but I had stored them in a B&Ms back humidor for a couple of additional months.

I smoked my normal rate, 90 to 120 secs between draws.

For the cigar, I did the whole 9 yards of the relaxed experience including the 3 match light, but used a cedar spill instead of matches.

After it was lit I noticed a very light and sweet cedar and even some of the sweaty horse, or as some call it, barnyard aroma. I then clipped the cigar and took the first draw.. very cool and full smoke that on the retrohale was smooth and gave some good taste and aromas. As I smoked more it was a light to medium bodied smoke with subtile flavors and scents. There was a good amount of smoke and was not a coating type of smoke. Enjoyable.

I'm not reviewing the cigar, more the experience of the way I smoke. I noticed quite a few tastes and it was an enjoyable cigar. The burn was not razor sharp, but just a little wave and self corrected quickly.

I rate this a 2 on my 1 to 5 scale. (I'll explain my scale later, it's not as bad as it sounds)

Time 2 hrs 18 min.

The next morning I smoked the same cigar in the Logan, "suck the chrome off a trailer hitch" (to quote Willie Nelson) style.

I was doing a 45 to 60 second draw rate.

I cut the cap and toasted the foot with my Xikar. I took the first draw immediately and the smoke was full and hot. Not as much flavor, harder to pinpoint and it had more of a bitter taste. Retro-hale was almost stinging.. more about that later. The smoke seemed to be coating my mouth and I drank a lot of my iced coffee to try and cleanse the mouth. I think a lot of the problem I had with taste and smells was due to the much hotter smoke and burning retro-hale. My nose actually started running about half the way through this cigar.

I did feel something while smoking this way.. It was the stressed feeling I used to get when I worked for AMEX and was worried someone was going interrupt my cigar with some trivial mindless BS.

The burn required 2 corrections with a torch.

To me this smoking method moved the cigar from a 2 to a 1

Time 1 Hr 21 min.

A PS.. I usually nub most of my cigars, could not with the second as it was hot against the lips.

Now for my ratings

5 - I'd buy a box

4 - I'd buy 5 or 10 Pk

3 - I'd buy a single on occasion

2 - Would smoke if someone gave one to me

1 - If given one would re-gift it

Comment by Catfishbluezz on July 10, 2013 at 10:05am

LOL...and you like strong cigars, my lord man...  I can't even get through some of the stuff you like, if I smoked them fast, I'd be puking.  Smoking slow is the way to go, and I actually buy cigars based on time really.  As in, a corona last me an hour or so, robusto 1:15, pyramide 1:30-45, DC's 2+.  

  For me a Tantrum would last an hour, so 20 min...I'd imagine would be a tarred up mess.  I had to force myself to smoke slow for a while, as I had the same problem, and that's what got me away from stronger stuff actually.  Slowing down caused me to pay more attention to the cigar, which led me to determine what I liked more.  

Comment by RobbyRas on July 11, 2013 at 6:52pm



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