Tuesday, December 29, 2015

3 Tips for Properly Packing Pipe Tobacco



Packing tobacco into your pipe can be tricky, especially for newcomers. It’s more than simply shoving tobacco into the bowl; there’s a science to properly doing so. It needs to have enough airflow to smoke smoothly, yet it needs to be packed tight enough to burn properly. It’s a fine line to walk, and it takes some practice to perfect the technique. Here are three tips on packing your pipe tobacco to ensure your next smoke is as great as possible.

1.     Make Sure Your Pipe Is Clean
As always, regular pipe maintenance is crucial to enjoying each and every smoking experience. An unclean pipe negatively affects flavors and aromas, but it also changes the quality of your smoking experience by making it difficult to properly pack your tobacco. Residue and leftover tobacco alters airflow and makes it difficult to get an even burn, and when packing your pipe, it creates uneven restrictions. As such, always keep your pipe clean. It’s a great practice that all smokers should make habitual, and it makes the entire process of packing pipe tobacco much smoother.

2.     Make Sure the Tobacco Is Ready
Another tip is to ensure that your tobacco is actually ready to be packed. When you decide to smoke, lay out the tobacco on a clean surface and make sure there are no issues with humidity, or that there is no unwanted residue hiding away. Not only does it ensure a better smoking experience, it means that your pipe will be packed with nothing but quality tobacco that’s ready to be enjoyed. Best of all, this process isn’t lengthy - you can leave it out for just a few minutes. Grab a drink or check your email; by the time you’re back, the tobacco will be ready to be packed.

3.     Strike the Balance Between Airflow and Tightness

Finally, the perfect pipe is packed by striking a nice balance between looseness near the bottom and snug tightness at the top. When packed like this, air will easily travel through the pipe, but the tobacco will be packed tight enough to ensure a slow, consistent burn. First, place some tobacco in the bowl, filling it just about halfway. Lightly press it down, but be careful not to use too much pressure - it’s supposed to be looser near the bottom. Fill the pipe with more tobacco and press it in with a bit more pressure. Again, don’t use too much pressure, but you can have a heavier hand at this point. Test it by inhaling air through the pipe before lighting it. If the tobacco is snug and you get a strong pull, you’re ready to smoke!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Hand Rolled Vs Machine Made Cigars – What You Need To Know


Cigars are made in numerous different manners. Different tobaccos, papers, and techniques go into each and every cigar, making each smoking experience unique and interesting. They’re also rolled in one of two ways: by hand or by machine. Everyone has their own preferences, and the differences between the two are certainly noticeable. With that said, there’s always speculation and hesitation when choosing between the two, so here are a few differences worth noting before you decide to purchase your next cigar.

Flavor Profiles

When it comes to hand-rolled cigars, everything about the cigar is much more deliberate. Every single step is done by hand, which ensures a very specific flavor profile, amongst other factors. Hand-rolled cigars are typically of higher quality ingredients (though not exclusively so). Of course, this doesn’t mean that machine-made cigars aren’t brilliantly made products - they still require extensive effort and quality control. When it comes to nailing down specific taste profiles, hand-rolled cigars tend to take the edge, though machine-made cigars are nothing to scoff at - they provide a perfect sense of consistency and quality that attracts smokers with a vast array of preferences.

Handmade Doesn’t Mean Hand-rolled

A common misconception with cigars is that “handmade” equates to “hand-rolled.” This isn’t necessarily true; on the contrary, machine-made cigars can easily be referred to as handmade. It makes sense; even though they’re machine-made, quite a bit of effort still goes into making each cigar, so it’s not a false claim. However, the two phrases are not synonymous, so when shopping for your next cigar, bear in mind that a claim to be handmade doesn’t guarantee that it’s hand-rolled. The only way to guarantee that you’re smoking a hand-rolled cigar is that it specifically notes that it’s hand-rolled.

One Isn’t Inherently Better Than The Other

Finally, one thing to remember is that a hand-rolled cigar isn’t necessarily going to be better or worse than a machine-made cigar. Every cigar has its own unique profile, and no matter how it’s made, it will resonate with some cigar enthusiasts more than others. As always, finding a cigar you love is a process of exploration and learning. There are certainly premium cigars that have earned their reputation as truly phenomenal, and there are machine-made cigars that make some hand-rolled cigars look rather pedestrian. At the end of the day, it’s all about smoking the cigar you truly enjoy, and adopting the mindset that one is always better than the other is simply detrimental to any smoking experience.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Why Your Choice of Lighter Makes a Difference


Lighters, torches, and matches are far and away the most common ways to light cigars and pipe tobacco, but what some don’t realize is that your choice of lighter makes a genuine difference in the quality of your tobacco. It’s not a commonly thought about aspect of tobacco enjoyment, but the wrong lighter can have a tangible impact on your smoking experience. Thankfully, they’re problems that are quite easily fixed. Here are a few things to keep in mind before you light your next cigar or pipe.

Functionality Over Appearance 

There’s nothing quite like a lighter whose aesthetic personally appeals to you. While it’s just a design or a style, it genuinely enhances your smoking experience, and that’s ultimately the goal with each choice you make. However, it’s common for cigar and pipe smokers to choose their lighter based on appearance rather than functionality. This choice, while not the most impactful part of smoking, can get in the way of your tobaccos potential. Focus on choosing a heat source that interacts properly with the tobacco before focusing on its design. After all, it’s all about the tobacco, so there’s no reason not to fully enjoy it.

Fuel Source 

The fuel source in your lighter has perhaps the biggest impact on the quality of your cigar or pipe. While there are lighters specifically designed for cigars and for pipes, understanding why their differences are important goes a long way in choosing which lighter is right for you. The traditional heat source is the match with sulfur less head, which countless cigar and pipe enthusiasts swear by. It’s a classic and it works well, but plenty prefer the simplicity of lighting it with an easier source. In general, it’s wise to opt for a odorless butane lighter, which are common and affordable. Just remember that lighting cigars and pipe tobacco is much different than lighting cigarettes, something newcomers occasionally don’t understand

Altitude 

Finally, your geographical location affects your smoking experience more than you might think. While most people don’t have to worry about high altitude smoking, cigar enthusiasts in high altitude places will notice that their heat source is affected. Altitude can affect how the tobacco is lit and the speed at which it burns, so choosing a lighter that is specifically designed for high altitude areas is a wise investment. There are a variety of options, and they allow for a cleaner and more consistent burn that other heat sources might not offer, even if they work perfectly fine in other environments.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Common Cigar Mistakes That Are Easily Fixed



As with any hobby, smoking cigars takes practice. There are countless factors that play into your overall enjoyment, and learning the ins and outs is half the fun of smoking. With that said, there are some common mistakes that a fair amount of smokers make, and not just novice ones. Thankfully, many of these mistakes are easily fixed, and doing so takes your enjoyment of a cigar to a new level. Here are a few that are worth noting the next time you enjoy a cigar.

Smoking Too Fast 

Whether you get your hands on a new cigar or an old favorite, smoking it is exciting. It’s easy to smoke it fairly quickly, but this can negatively impact the overall quality of the cigar itself. As you smoke, heat is being pulled through the cigar. When too much heat is pulled through, it begins to alter the flavor profile of the unlit tobacco, which can bring forth unwanted tastes. Instead, be patient and take your time - cigars are meant to be enjoyed, after all. Enjoy a puff every 45 seconds to a minute. It’s a perfect medium - the unlit tobacco stays healthy and it’s still frequent enough to consistently enjoy.

Removing the Band Too Early 

There are taking off the band when smoking a cigar seems perfectly natural. It’s a simple thing that seems to have no consequences, but it can gradually impact the quality of your cigar as you continue to smoke it. It’s held on by a bit of glue, and when that glue is removed, it creates tiny tears in the cigar, which get bigger as you smoke. Instead of taking it off early on, instead wait until you’ve smoked enough for the ignited tobacco to lightly heat the glue. It’ll naturally detach itself from the cigar, and removing it is completely harmless at this point, creating a better overall smoking experience.

Moisten Before Cutting

One last mistake a lot of cigar smokers make is not moistening the end of the cigar before cutting the tip. This can have a huge impact on the integrity of the cigar itself, making it easy for it to crack and unravel after cutting. Avoiding it is exceptionally simple, though. Simply hold it in your mouth for a few moments so it’s not quite too dry. Don’t go overboard; it shouldn’t appear as if it has been sitting in water for a while, but hold it just enough to moisten the wrapper and the tobacco within. Cutting it become much smoother and easier and the risk of damaging the cigar will substantially drop.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

3 Ways to Get the Most Out Of Your Pipe



Pipe tobacco is one of the most top ways to enjoy tobacco. It has a perfect balance of flavor and aromatics; it’s hardly a wonder that it’s one of the top means of smoking throughout the world. However, a pipe is an investment and deserves to be treated well. Here are a few tips for getting the most out of your pipe and enjoying pipe tobacco even more.

Keep It Clean

It should go without saying, but it’s absolutely crucial to keep your pipe clean. From your first smoke, regular maintenance is important; begin each smoke by running a pipe cleaner through the pipe to break up any residual tobacco. When it’s cleaned out, pack the tobacco and light it. However, when lighting it, avoid burning the rim, as damage can accumulate over time. Remember while you’re smoking to take note of the taste. If you note any off tastes, it’s probably time to clean. After smoking, remove all buildup in the pipe after allowing it to cool. Maintaining a certain level of cleanliness makes every smoking experience more enjoyable.

Know What You’re Smoking

Tobacco comes in a stunning array of varieties. There is no one-size-fits-all for pipe smokers, and for good reason. Each tobacco you smoke will bring with it different aromas and flavors, making each smoke unique. As such, take the time to figure out exactly what you enjoy from various options (and possibly enlist the help of an expert at your favorite tobacco store). As for your pipe, the quality of the tobacco you smoke will determine how smoothly it will break in, so to speak. However, don’t let this frighten you too much - at the end of the day, it’s all about smoking what you enjoy, and if your pipe sees tobacco you love, you’ve got a happy pipe in your hand.

Pack It Properly


Packing tobacco properly is a skill that takes a fair bit of practice. The tobacco near the bottom needs some air, but near the top, it needs to be packed tightly enough to maintain a proper light. Learning to strike this perfect balance is a bit tricky, but with practice, it’ll come naturally. If you breathe in and it’s like sucking from a straw, it’s too loose. On the other hand, you shouldn’t feel like you’re trying to pull liquid concrete through the pipe - if it does, it’s too tight. With a perfectly packed bowl, maintaining a clean, strong light is no trouble at all, and your smoking experience will continue to improve. Plus, as always, remember to light your tobacco with a match. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

3 Tips for Aging Your Cigars


Aging cigars isn’t for everyone. It’s a process that requires a fair bit of attention; much like aging wine or beer, it requires a certain set of factors to properly develop. While it’s a passive process for the most part, these factors play a massive role in determining how well a cigar will age. Here are a few tips to ensure that your cigars will age beautifully and develop complexities that are guaranteed to impress.
  • Season Your Humidor

    Seasoning your humidor is imperative when aging cigars. It ensures an ideal environment in which the tobacco can properly develop into something truly great. To season your humidor, dampen an unscented sponge with distilled water (NOT tap water) and wipe the interior down. Leave the sponge in the humidor on plastic wrap or in a bag so it doesn’t come in contact with the wood, and close it for 24 hours (or overnight). Remove the sponge the following day and allow it to rest closed for another day. Following this period of time, you’ll be ready to age your cigars in the perfect environment.
  • Remove the Cellophane

    Whether or not to keep cellophane on a cigar while its aging is a debate that will continue for quite some time. Strong arguments exist on both sides of the spectrum, but at the end of the day, cellophane slows the aging process quite a bit. Of course, this isn’t a problem for many cigar smokers, but for the sake of developing new complexities, removing the cellophane is the way to go. Again, it comes down to personal preference. For the sake of consistency, leave it on, but for aging, take it off and let it evolve. 
  • Follow the 70/70 Rule

    The 70/70 rule is one of the simplest ways to keep your cigars healthy and happy while the age. Temperature and humidity are the two most important factors, and maintaining the right numbers seems much more confusing than it really is. Keeping a steady 70 degrees Fahrenheit and 70% humidity creates an ideal environment for your cigars. As these factors sway and change, they can warp the wrappers and alter the aging process for the worse. Following the 70/70 rule, though, is the easiest way to avoid these common issues.