You Don’t Need Cuban Cigars for a Memorable Smoking Experience

July 19, 2018

Cuba is widely regarded as the cigar capital of the world. The island nation’s climate, topography and skilled workforce combine to create truly magnificent products. Unfortunately, however, a trade embargo originally signed into law by President John F. Kennedy is still in place.

While President Barack Obama eased many of the trade restrictions on Cuba back in 2015, Americans can still only bring $100 of tobacco products from the Communist country back home.

But what’s so special about Cuban cigars, anyway? Well, the great cigar brands in the country have quite simply mastered the art of cigar-making. But that’s not to say manufacturers outside the States haven’t done the same. They have, and the cigars they make deliver a smoking experience every bit as enjoyable as the one created by the Cubans.

As long as you’re aware of these tell-tale signs of a great product, you’ll never need to travel to Cuba for a memorable smoking experience.

Inspect Your Cigars Before Smoking Them

The best cigars are wrapped evenly from tip to tip. The wrapper should be smooth, and have a slight shine to it. Look for blemishes and stems, as they can indicated a poorly crafted product. And your cigar should feel good in your hand. Give it a slight squeeze; it should possess a little give, but it shouldn’t be too dry or overly firm. Finally, breathe in the aroma from your cigar before you light it. If you can’t smell fragrant tobacco leaves, the chances are the cigar won’t meet your expectations.

The Draw Should Be Effortless and Consistent

If tobacco inside a cigar is packed too tightly, drawing the smoke out can become a chore. Not only that, there’ll probably be less smoke and flavor too. Similarly, a cigar packed too loosely results in a hotter burn, which can lead to an overly harsh — sometimes bitter — taste. If you’re an experienced cigar smoker, you’ll know what the perfect draw feels and tastes like. If the draw just isn’t right, try a different manufacturer.

The Burn Should Be Consistent

A cigar should burn at the same rate throughout the smoking experience. Cigars that burn at different rates can deliver different flavors — not all of them pleasant. In most cases, an uneven burn points to inconsistent rolling during the manufacturing process. Great cigars are usually hand-rolled by people with years of experience.

The Ash Should Be Long and Stable

The best cigars don’t drop ash after every inhalation — they hold it in place until at least an inch has been formed. Of course, ash is always going to fall from your cigar, but the way it falls is also important. Once the ash has gone, check that the end of the cigar is cone-shaped. The best cigars have high-quality, slow-burning leaves inside. The outside of a good cigar usually burns a little faster, creating the telltale cone shape you’re looking for.

A Great End-to-End Experience

Even the inferior cigar manufacturers of the world get it right sometimes. Don’t be won over by one or two quality smoking experiences. Each cigar should deliver a consistent taste and burn. Your favorite brand should always deliver that wonderful smoking experience you cherish; if it’s hit and miss, you might need to consider switching.

Don’t think you have to buy genuine Cuban cigars to get a premium smoking experience. Know what to look for, and you’ll soon discover that there are fantastic — and completely legal — products being made all over the world.

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