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FAQ: Are Cigars Supposed to Taste Bad in the First Third?

FAQ: Are Cigars Supposed to Taste Bad in the First Third?

To some, it’s a cost of doing business. An entry fee to the party; a tithe to the cigar gods, if you will.

To others, the answer to this question is a resounding no. The first few puffs are often the best, untainted by previous and subsequent draws. 

Once upon a time, I belonged to the first crowd. Not every cigar, mind you, but a good portion would take a while to open up, as I’d describe it, and become enjoyable.  The second third was usually my favorite, with the first and last third equally duking it out for last place.

7 Pitfalls to avoid for New Cigar Smokers

That bitter, burnt, or unsavory taste could be from a number of factors. But assuming that your cigars are well cared for, it’s quite possible that it could stem from the way you light your cigars.  Keep in mind, there’s no right or wrong way to enjoy your smoke – but if you want to enhance the experience, there’s always something new to try.

For starters, we want to make sure that torch flames aren’t making direct contact with our cigar. This scorches the tobacco and will rain on your parade during those first impressions.  I like to think of it as cold brew coffee versus burnt coffee, with conflagrating your cigar being the burnt coffee.  If you’re using a soft flame, however, there’s a good chance that this FAQ doesn’t apply to you.  You’re cool like that.

Secondly, there are a few methods of lighting your cigars as meticulously outlined in this How to Smoke a Cigar article. There’s the quick and dirty Draw & Light method, the Toast then Draw & Light method, and finally what I call the Toast & Roast.  Only because it rhymes with toast, though, not because we’re exposing it to unnecessary, prolonged heat. 

Cellophane and Cigars

If you’re experiencing less than ideal starts to your cigars, give the ole Toast & Roast a try. It involves the following steps:

  • Toast your cigar like you normally would, working from the outside in while taking care to use the heat from your torch and not direct flames.

  • Blow on your cigar occasionally to make sure that the cherry is uniform.

  • Keep going until the cigar appears uniformly lit. Slow and steady wins, this isn’t a steak where searing it locks in flavor!

  • Take a moment to appreciate the aroma

  • Enjoy your cigar like usual

There’s nothing ground breaking here, but it’s something I started doing years ago that has made a huge difference for me. I especially notice how much more I enjoy this method when trying to light cigars in the wind and have to revert to my old ways, pulling scorched tobacco through the cigar because I’m torching and puffing at the same time. 

Tell us! Did you have this problem?  If so, what was your fix?

Leave your comment
4/2/2018 8:59 AM
Really good advice ... Toasting does help. Truthfully, I've gone back to my soft flames. I'm not in a hurry. I never scorch the leaf. And it's just more satisfying, in an odd way.
8/27/2021 7:11 PM
In a word, NO.  You should try another cigar!