No doubt you’ve enjoyed a cigar socially or with a group of your friends. One thing that’s always a part of the conversation is how nice ones ash might be. But what is the fascination with keeping a long ash and with trying to make it hold as long as possible?
It’s almost like a challenge or game to see just how long one can push the limits of their cigar. You can hear the collective sighs or an “Ooohhh!!!” when that long lasting ash falls from your friend’s stogie. Anyone who has smoked for any length of time also realizes that the longer the ash, the likelihood of having a dusty lap increases. For those that like to study and analyze their cigars while smoking, that white, gray and black leaning tower of tobacco tells the story about the stick that they are smoking. A nice long ash:
Signals great construction
A critical piece to the cigar experience is aesthetics. Uneven burns and having to always relight can take that stogie from hero to zero in your mind. When cigars have just the right amount of filler and a great quality binder/wrapper combo, the tobaccos should marry and perform well with one another offering a strong thick ash and a seamless smoke. Examining your ash as you smoke, you get an idea of what how much tobacco was used in bunching, whether long or short fillers were used, and how much oil your cigar has in it by how much tooth (small white bumps on ash) it produces.
Let’s you know that you’re smoking correctly
A sign of an aficionado’s skill and smoking technique is seeing how even and slowly their cigar burns. A good, cylindrical ash shows that you lit the cigar properly and that you are patient and deliberate with your puffs. The slower the burn, the more likely you are to have a longer ash. If one tends to smoke too quickly and draw too often, the ash can become too flaky, fall off too quickly and overheat the stick. Smoking a cigar is a marathon, not a sprint, and taking it slow with your smoking technique not only helps you look cool but adds to the buildup of flavors as well.
Keeps cigar from overheating
So as the cigar gets closer to end, it can tend to warm up in your fingers. If unbearable, this overheating can force one to dispose of their cigar before they’d like. By letting the ash stay on a little longer, less oxygen enters the shaft of the cigar, as the fire needs oxygen to burn. When coming to the bottom third, you can help it to maintain a certain, bearable temperature and you can continue to enjoy that stogie a little longer. Cigars burning too quickly will overheat, and this overheating causes bad after tastes and singed fingers.
So how much should you leave on before you decide to shake your ash off? After about an inch or so of a good strong ash, your point should have been made; that you have yourself a well-made stogie, that you have your lighting and smoking technique figured out and that you’ll be enjoying that cigar for the next couple of hours. Remember that you’d rather get to the ash before the ash decides to get to you and your nice black pants. So unless you’re in a “long ash” contest, go ahead and make it a habit to size up your cigar, make note of what you see, taste and feel, and gently tap that ash off when it starts to get too long.