Like sucking a banana shake through a straw, it’s a shame to have a premium cigar that you can’t enjoy because of functionality issues. We’ve all had that uncomfortable, vein-in-the-forehead-bulging experience that makes or breaks our cigar experience, but they can be avoided if you at least know what’s causing it.
Rolled Too Tight
Pretty basic, right? Somewhere there is a cigar roller that has a tight grip. Somewhere there is a torcedor that has included more filler leafs than prescribed. Somewhere, the person in charge of the factory’s draw tester said, “Ehhh, that’ll be ok.” Whatever may have caused it; you now are faced with the challenge of forcing a decent enough draw from that cigar to get some smoke and flavor out of it.
Sometimes it’s a fluke (stuff happens), but sometimes; however, it’s a regular thing depending on the manufacturer. All factories are not created equally and some companies have greater resources with stricter quality control standards. The blend concept could be amazing, but if it can’t be tasted due to a lack of airflow then all of that research, money and development is for naught.
When the draw is tight and the problem area is near the foot of the cigar (the lit end) you can typically smoke through it, but if not, the cigar may need to be massaged to loosen the bunched leaves. Feel for a hard spot, focus your attention there, and gently squeeze and roll the cigar until the airflow improves.
Stems In Your Filler
Removing the stems from a tobacco leaf is in my opinion the most difficult process in the cigar factory. The workers in these rooms possess a unique balance of care, firmness, and precision that I just don’t have. That being said, I see how having stems in the filler is unavoidable. Some companies prefer to leave some stems in the cigar because the stem impacts the flavor and strength. After all, the nutrients travelled through the stem to get to the leafs.
But there are times when they are too big and in the wrong place, impeding airflow. Easy to spot and harder to remove, having what feels like a big log in the head of your cigar can be a pain in the ash. If pulled out too soon the cigar can crack and be rendered unsmokable. To [literally] get around the stem, you can gently massage the cigar to loosen the tobacco around it, use a PerfecDraw or draw tool to remove excess tobacco, or wait until the cigar has burned long enough that the filler has become soft enough to pull it out. Once removed, you’ll immediately see, feel and taste the difference in the cigar.
The Cut Ain’t Cuttin’ It
Your cut can be the difference between having a great cigar experience and never trying a cigar again. Take too much off the head and that puppy is unraveling and you have a mouth full of tobacco. Take too little off and veins are poppin’ out of your forehead. Because so many are afraid of cutting too deep, they’re often left with an undercut stogie and a tight draw. Keeping in mind that so much tobacco is compressed together at the head of the cigar underneath the cap (especially with a belicoso or a torpedo), it’s imperative to cut below the most compressed point when cutting. There are several cigar cuts that will get you where you need to be and help ensure that you get just the right about of air through your cigar. Which cigar cut is right for you?
All hope is not lost when the cigar you’ve been wanting all day comes up plugged or rolled too tight. Instead of just tossing it when the draw isn’t to your liking, try a few of the methods above and keep the party going. Just remember that if your cigar has been stored correctly (temp and humidity affect draw also), you have the right tools, and you have a little patience, whatever the roadblock is in your cigar can be overcome and you’ll get the optimum amount of smoke, flavor and joy from your premium cigar.