How to Tell if You've Got a Quality Cigar

Pay attention to these finer points, and you'll know the good stuff from the bad.

This article is part of the Bespoke Guide to Cigars.

Good news for the casual smokers out there: you don’t have to be an aficionado to recognize the signs of a good cigar. Sure, a rich and enjoyable flavor is the most immediate indicator of quality on a personal level. Once you’ve got something you enjoy, though, there are plenty of other tells to a high-quality cigar.

The Perfect Draw

If the tobacco is packed too tightly, it’ll be tough to draw, with less flavor and smoke as a result. If it’s packed too loosely, you’ll get an easy draw but a harsher taste from a much hotter burn.

An Even Burn

As you’re smoking, the cigar should burn evenly all the way down to the finish. Anything less means that it was inconsistently rolled.

A Long Ash

A quality cigar will accumulate at least an inch of ash before falling off, assuming you’re not wildly moving your hands as you smoke.

When the ash does fall off, it should leave behind a cone shape. That’s because the higher-quality center leaves that give the cigar their taste are slower burning, and a high quality cigar will have enough to make a noticeable cone when you tap off the ash.

Consistent Taste and Burn

If you go through a box of cigars, each should taste and burn exactly as well as the last. A harsh bitterness, heartburn-like feeling, or tendency to go out in any of them means that they don’t all contain consistently aged tobacco.

Look for the signs the next time you light up to make sure you’ve got the good stuff.

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