This Article was written in 1984, and first published in ‘Cigar World’ the trade magazine of Hunters & Frankau Ltd.
It is reproduced by kind permission

How to smoke your Havana

Smoking a cigar is something to which you should devote considerable attention. A fine cigar is not a cigarette. It should be treated with respect and reverance. Naturally a good deal of ritual and etiquette attends this supremely pleasurable experience. Some is founded on good sense and good manners, some is misconceived.

Tradition has it that the cigar band came into its use when fashionable men wore white gloves and needed a band to avoid staining. Be that as it may, the band is now merely an embellishment bearing the maker's name. It is difficult to understand why the question as to whether it should be removed or not is such a vexed one.

The best answer is perhaps to leave the band in place until the cigar has reached its temperature de croisiere, literally,'cruising temperature', when about one-fifth has been smoked. By that time, the cigar will have shrunk slightly and the band should come off without any damage to the wrapper.

Before lighting you must, of course, make an opening in the closed end of the cigar to provide a passage for the smoke. scissors shaped blades for this purpose.

Alternatively, you may equip yourself with a pocket cutter which makes a circular or V-shaped vent in the cigar. Some smokers use a piercer which removes a thin core of tobacco from the head. Others use a small sharp knife. If you lack a cutting implement, it is perfectly acceptable to make a small opening with your fingernail or even - if you can do it gracefully - with your teeth.

Thrusting a match stick into your cigar, however, compresses the filler into a hard lump which interferes with the passage of the smoke and cannot be recommended

The moment has now come to light-up and enjoy the world's most pleasurable smoke. Ignite a match, a spill or a gas fuelled lighter, but never a petrol lighter. Hold the cigar in direct contact with the flame, slowly revolving it until the end is charred evenly over its entire surface.

Only then do you place the cigar between your lips. Now hold the flame a half-inch or so away from the end and ignite to a beautiful rosy red and the first: magical waft of smoke will drown your palate.

Now gently blow on the glowing end to ensure that it is burning evenly. The golden rule, of course, is to smoke at a leisurely pace. During the hour or so that a cigar takes to smoke, it will spend most of its time at rest between your thumb and forefinger.

An aged and fully mature cigar requires particularly gentle treatment. It burns more easily than its younger brethren and will release its delicate flavour at the merest puff.

If your cigar goes out, you need not abandon it. Re-light it by applying a flame to the perimeter to burn away the wrapper which will resemble the rim of a tiny volcanic crater. Then re-light as with a new cigar, first blowing through it to clear out any stale, residual smoke that may linger within the filler.

Smoked properly, with consideration, a good Havana may be smoked with enjoyment for at least three quarters of its length.

Do not concern yourself over the length or fate of the ash. It is not done to tap your Havana nervously like a cigarette. Let the ash fall of its own accord, preferably into an ash tray. Speaking of ash trays, when the sad moment comes to end your cigar, do not crush it to a pulp. Let it rest and die with dignity all by itself.