How to Retrohale

July 6, 2018

The Ultimate Guide on How to Retrohale

The one thing almost everyone knows about cigar smoking is this: do not inhale.  Cigars are much different from other tobacco products.  The tobacco is much stronger and is fermented in various ways.  The way to enjoy a cigar is to bring the smoke into your mouth and then release it.

However, if you are looking to optimize your premium cigar experience, there is a practice that true aficionados have learned to get the most flavor from their favorite smokes.

This popular practice is known as retrohaling. While this is not a smoking method I would recommend for everyone, particularly a beginner, it is a practice that could enhance your enjoyment of the cigar and fill you in on all the top-notch nuanced flavor.

So, I’ve decided to break down what retrohaling is, how to do it, and why it is done at all.

What is Retrohailing?

To keep it simple, retrohaling is the act of bringing the smoke into your mouth before releasing some of it through your nose. Your nose, while obviously being responsible for your sense of smell, plays a great deal in your sense of taste. The olfactory sensors play a role in how you taste things, bringing aroma into the equation.

Don’t believe me? Close your nose and bite into an apple, then bite into an onion. They will taste almost identical. By adding a touch of the smoke and aroma through your nasal passages, you’ll be able to taste those small, nuanced flavors that you always see cigar reviewers talking about.

The Ultimate Guide On Retrohaling

Why Should I Try Retrohaling?

Just like how your sense of smell helps you to differentiate an apple and an onion by picking up their aromas, passing the smoke of your favorite top-quality cigar through your nose will help you capture the nuances and subtle characteristics of the smoke.

When you retrohale, intricate flavor notes can become far more pronounced than they would have been had you just tasted the smoke on your palate.

The differences can be particularly pronounced with cigars that are on the mellower side.  Cigars with a more mellow profile have less pronounced flavors on the palate, so retrohaling offers a new dimension to fully capture all of the flavors and notes that these cigars provide.

How To Retrohale a Cigar

It might seem tricky at first, but once you get the hang of it, retrohaling will come second nature to you.  Just make sure not to inhale the smoke into your lungs.

What you want to do is puff your cigar like normal.  When the smoke is in your mouth, use the air in your lungs to push some of the smoke up and into your nasal passage, exhaling smoke through your nose.

It is going to be touch and go at first but trust me once you master it your tastes are going to change.  Cigars you didn’t like before might become your new favorite.  It is the best way to experience the full cigar at its finest.

The Ultimate Guide On Retrohaling

Is it Worth Retrohaling With Every Cigar?

While retrohaling provides a good way to fully appreciate all of the flavors from your favorite top-shelf cigar, it may not be wise to retrohale with every cigar you come across.

If your sinuses and nasal passages are sensitive to irritation, you may find the sensation of retrohaling unpleasant and uncomfortable, much like that of horseradish or wasabi.

Full-bodied cigars may also cause this sensation, so I recommend that only more seasoned smokers retrohale with full-bodied smokes.

Depending on your individual tastes, you just may not experience that much of a difference of flavor between performing a retrohale or refraining, and if that is the case for you retrohaling will possibly be a detriment to your smoking experience.

Yet, if you are looking to get the best flavors out of your top-quality cigar, I suggest you retrohale at least one puff from your cigar so you can experience every flavor note possible.

Do You Inhale Cigar Smoke?

It is important to emphasize that no smoke is inhaled to the lungs with retrohaling, nor should it be.  In contrast to cigarettes which are typically inhaled, cigars contain far more tobacco and smoke.  You wouldn’t inhale 20 cigarettes at once, would you?

While the practice of retrohaling draws smoke past the mouth, none of it should reach the lungs, simply pass the smoke through your nose after your draw without taking in additional air.

With a bit of practice, you’ll be retrohaling your cigars like a pro and have a new appreciation for the favorites in your humidor as well as cigars you may have overlooked on your first try.

The Ultimate Guide On Retrohaling


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