MY FIRST CIGAR
Copyright (C), 1893, by The S. Brainard's Sons Co.
Words and Music by M. Le Roy.
'Twas on a quiet afternoon one lovely autumn day,
I sat upon an old ash box and drew and puffed away;
And as the silv'ry smoke arose and flitted through the air,
I suddenly grew awful sick, it was my first cigar.
But puff, puff, puff, puff, don't stop, for 'tis no sin,
But puff, puff, puff, puff, the second time you'll win;
No matter if it makes you sad, and fills you full of pain,
Just puff, puff, puff, puff, puff, puff, puff, and try it on again.
I fell across that old ash box, grew sickly, ghastly green,
I gasped and threw up many things that you and I have seen;
Ah! what did I, at such a time, for smoking seem to care,
Alas! the scalding tears proclaimed it was my first cigar.
I've swallowed quarts of castor oil and took pills by the score,
Been jerked and twisted inside out a hundred times or more;
But sickness I have never felt which could with that compare,
When on that quiet afternoon I drew my first cigar.
Cuba this, Dominican that, Nicaragua over there...it's like a Chinese menu- so many choices, you don't know where to start or what to order.
Honestly, if it's your first cigar, get out your wallet and get yourself a good cigar and try one - just don't try one from the local service station or dairy!
If you don't like it, try a different one. If you still don't like it try a better one. If you still don't like it, you've gotta be doing something wrong - get help.
First bit of critical info- cigars are not meant to be inhaled.
If you talk to any veteran cigar smoker and ask what cigar they would recommend you start with you'll get a different answer every time. Because it all boils down to what THEY like.
But we all started somewhere!
My advice comes from over 25 years experience and appreciation for fine cigars. So here's my recommendation...
YOUR FIRST CIGAR
If at all possible, find a friend or Uncle or someone with some cigar smoking experience, trust me it'll help a LOT!
Just getting the basics of cutting and lighting your cigar right has a huge impact on how much you'll enjoy the cigar - look, worse case, check out this YouTube clip from Doc Diaz!
Ultimately though, having someone to share that first cigar experience with, even if you are both novices, is a whole lot better than just going it alone (it'll make a great story you can laugh about for yours if nothing else).
But, what you're dying to find out is what cigar to smoke.
Do you have a vision of what you think a cigar is? Is it a cigarillo, a petite corona, or a premium size you might see Stallone or Arnie herfing on in a movie?
We understand the desire to try the aficionado life but not wanting to over-commit, a Connecticut Shade cigar in either a Corona or Robusto size is a good place to start.
WHAT DOES THIS ALL MEAN?
Brand: eg. Kafie 1901; indicates the quality to expect. Trusted brands are a great place to start. Google these names to explore the story behind the name.
Line: eg. Naked Cigars Connecticut; alludes to the type of tobacco that makes up the cigar. Yes, many different types of tobacco leaf can be used in one premium cigar (some up to 10 different tobacco varieties).
Vitola/Size: - eg. Robusto (5" by 50); the shape and size of a cigar is often referred to as a vitola. They are measured by two dimensions: its length (in inches) and its ring gauge (diameter in sixty-fourths of an inch) . To give you an example- a cigarette is about 3.5" x 20.
Taste: That's right- taste the smoke don't inhale; fill your mouth with smoke, hold it there for a few seconds, blow out. What does it taste like? Check our previous blog on tasting notes.
Money: in NZ you can expect to pay from $50 per cigar (for a good cigar of decent size). Around half of that is made up of government tobacco duties (tax). You will find Premium Cigars (or non-Cuban's) are well priced, they are in the most part made by smaller, boutique businesses and not a government controlled dictatorship that sets an inflated price.
Time: Give yourself 60-90 minutes to enjoy your cigar; never rush a cigar. In fact I'll go so far as to say if you are in a rush, don't bother. A rushed cigar will burn hot, taste bad and won't improve your temperament.
If you think you can smoke a cigar in 20 minutes, you're going to be a poor candidate for the pleasures in life. Yes, you can get through a small cigar but what are you looking to do? Just to say you've smoked a cigar?
TOBACCO CONTAINS NICOTINE:
And even by not inhaling you will get the transfer into your system via your mouth and tongue. It's not uncommon to feel a bit woozie the first couple of times.
This is normal. Just stop. Let the cigar go out by itself.
There are no chemicals added to keep it burning like cigarettes. Simply wait awhile, brush off the ash and relight.
TIP: Always have a good meal before a cigar and it pays to have a sweet drink nearby - over the many years of smoking cigars, I have discovered a glass of Cola will cure that "woozie" feeling. Now I'm no scientist, but I figure there is a relationship between nicotine and your blood sugar levels.
TOOLS- You'll want a basic cigar cutter at the very least. A cheap double blade guillotine cutter will do the trick if you're just experimenting. But the double-bladed, medical grade stainless steel Xikar cutter is what you will want to have if you want to get serious. It will last a lifetime. Or for $9.95 buy the Double-blade guillotine cutter with your first order. You'll look like a pro. Check out our previous blogs for more on this.
CUTTING- You will find a closed-end (head/cap) and an open-end (foot); you want to cut about 2mm off the head/cap (so you can draw though the cigar); if you are smoking a Torpedo, you will want to open up about 3-4mm of the head of the cigar (remember, you can always make another cut, but you can't glue it back on).
LIGHTING- Ultimately, the proper way to light a cigar is by using Cedar Spills as this provides a cool flame, which won't roast/char your premium cigar. Luckily my best friend makes these at Commonwealth Cedar Spills and we always have 1,000's on hand. In NZ, you will mainly want the Short Spill, as there is always a breeze blowing. Pro Tip - got a special occasion coming up? We can custom-brand spills and spill boxes to mark your wedding, retirement, graduation, baby birth or any other special day you'd like to celebrate.
Remember, we all start somewhere. Are you ready for a new experience?
Enjoy your first cigar. Relax, Celebrate & Enjoy!
Common Cigar Sizes (see also our Glossary of Cigar & Pipe Terms)
Churchill: Traditionally, the churchill is held to be a larger cigar made popular by Winston Churchill. Normally it is 7 1/2 inches long with a 50 ring gauge.
Cigarillo: A small cigar around the size of a cigarette.
Corona: Traditionally this cigar is 6 inches with a 44 ring gauge.
Culebra: Three cigars of any size braided together form this shape. Yes you pull them apart before smoking!
Double Corona: A larger, but not quite double, corona cigar that is 7 inches long with a 50 or more ring gauge.
Esplendido: Made popular by the Cohiba, this size is about 7 1/2 inches with a 50 ring gauge.
Figurado: Any shaped cigar such as a torpedo or perfecto.
Giant or Gigante: A huge cigar 8 or more inches long with a 52 (or more) ring gauge.
Longsdale: A longer thinner cigar that is 6 inches by 42 ring gauge.
Panatela: A long thin cigar that is 6 1/2 inches by 28 ring gauge.
Perfecto: A classic shape that has a 48 ring in the middle and tapers on both ends.
Presidente: A larger cigar that is 8 1/2 inches long and a 52 ring gauge.
Pyramid: A cigar with a larger ring gauge end that uniformly tapers to a small ring gauge end.
Robusto: A short fat cigar about 5 inches long and with a 50 ring gauge.
Rothschilde: A short version of a robusto, usually 4-4 1/2 inches with a 50 ring gauge.
Torbusto: A new shape that combines the torpedo, toro, and robusto shapes. Made to date only by Altadis.
Toro: A new shape that is 6 inches long with a 50 ring gauge.
Torpedo: The bulk of the barrel is a larger ring (often 50+) that after 3/4 of the cigar tapers to a point.
It would be fair to say, the single worst thing about cigars are the readily accessible machine made, European dry-cigars available at service stations and convenience stores alike.
These are often the first cigar anyone tries and then, honestly; why would you want to try another cigar after one of them.
The majority of the sad cigar stories I get told are always around these; lads had a great day (insert golfing, stag party, graduating, fishing, racing etc), grabbed cigars from the service station; deeply disappointed.
If you have friends that have had that experience, it may be time to re-educate them on decent cigars.
Liken it to your first experiences around whisky or rum or bourbon; we generally all start out on the cheaper versions of these libations; but it is only when we mature a little and have some more play money that we discover the likes of single malts and aged libations and then discover that the world is a whole new playing field to enjoy.