Cigar 101: The Essentials

ST Dupont Ligne 2 Lighter - He Spoke Style

ST Dupont Slim 7 Lighter - He Spoke Style

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Much more affordable than the Ligne 2, the new ST Dupont Slim 7 is just as elegant.

ST Dupont Slim 7 Lighter - He Spoke Style

Davidoff Matches Cigar Smoking Essentials - He Spoke Style

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Or do it the old fashioned way. I prefer this method at the cigar lounge.

Ghurka Leather Cigar Carrying Case - He Spoke Style

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When traveling, keep your prized cargo safe in a cigar case. My favorite: The Ghurka leather cigar case.

Ghurka Leather Cigar Carrying Case - He Spoke Style

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Montecristo No. 2 or Cohiba Behike 52?

Davidoff Cigar Cutter - He Spoke Style

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Not all cigar cutters are created equal. You get what you pay for. Pictured: Davidoff double blade cutter.

Cigar Smoking Essentials - He Spoke Style

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Pictured: Hoyo de Monterey Epicure Especial

Cigar Aficionado Magazine - He Spoke Style

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Every cigar connoisseur should have a subscription to Cigar Aficionado.

Cigar Ashtray - He Spoke Style

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Your ashtray should be hefty and stylish.

Savoy Executive Humidor - He Spoke Style

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Make sure your cigars are stored properly for the best smoking experience. My pick: the Savoy Executive Series humidor.

H. Clay Cigar Mints - He Spoke Style

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Mints. Because not everyone wants to enjoy your cigar.

Appreciating a premium cigar – like appreciating good whiskey – is a true gentleman’s pastime. For me, smoking a cigar is a chance to enjoy a quality product as well as being a commitment to relaxation. If you’re just getting into cigar smoking, it can be a bit overwhelming. Let’s start with the basics. Here are seven cigar smoking essentials.

1. Fire

How you light your cigar – and how much you’re willing to spend on a lighter – is a matter of personal preference. Whenever I can, I prefer to use a long, untreated match. Lighting a cigar is a ritual and isn’t about how fast you can get it done.

If you’re thinking about a first lighter, I would recommend a torch. This gets the job done indoors and outdoors – a match can be a royal pain in the arse with even the slightest bit of wind. The ST Dupont Slim 7 is my torch of choice, though if you graduate to a bona fide cigar connoisseur, you may want to consider something more investment-level, like the ST Dupont Ligne 2.

2. Cigar Cutter

You can definitely get by with the $3 cigar cutter on the counter of your local convenience store, but listen up: not all cigar cutters are created equal. If you truly come to love the ritual of smoking a cigar, invest in a high-quality stainless steel cutter. There’s nothing worse than ruining a premium cigar with a bad cut.

3. Carrying Case

Cigars are delicate and you need a safe way to transport them, whether that’s in your pocket, a briefcase or weekend bag. Choose one that has a two or three cigar capacity. My pick: the Ghurka leather cigar case.

4. Humidor

Make no mistake, building your cigar collection is addictive and it’s imperative that they’re stored properly (like fine wine). The most important aspect of any humidor is the seal – cigars need to be kept in optimum conditions. Avoid the $10 desktop humidor that companies will throw in as an add-on to a 40-cigar sampler as well as glass top humidors as they are more likely to release moisture. My pick: The Savoy Executive Series.

A quick word on humidification methods. Never, ever, use those little sponge things that come with cheap humidors. Throw that shit out. Immediately. You need something that’s going to regulate the humidity. I’ve heard that crystals can be good – though they create quite a mess if spilled.

My pick: Boveda packs 72%. They are a two-way system – if your cigars need humidity, they add it. If they’re too saturated, the Boveda packs will suck up the excess moisture.

5. Ashtray

The most important thing to consider when choosing a cigar ashtray is where are you going to be using it most often? If that’s outside, choose one that’s simple, hefty and easily cleaned, like a plain, thick glass ashtray. I made the mistake of buying a nice ceramic one with the logo of one of my favorite Cuban smokes, but in just a few months it’s taken quite a beating thanks to being unintentionally left out in the rain one too many times.

6. Cigar Aficionado

Any cigar connoisseur needs to be reading Cigar Aficionado. It’s the cigar equivalent of The Rake. Great articles, great reviews, great profiles and great advice from true masters of the game.

7. Mints

Curb cigar breath with a strong mint. Because though you may love a cigar, not everyone does.

Thanks for reading.

Stylishly Yours,

Brian Sacawa
He Spoke Style

Photography by Rob McIver Photo.


Chime In

  • Tom B

    Great article, about my favorite subject next to bourbon, and I like to see that Rob is keeping his product photography skills sharp. The Ligne 2 photos especially could be in Cigar Aficionado, call ST Dupont! A good lighter is a thing of beauty and very, very hard to find.

    On the other hand, you forgot to mention cedar insert sticks. Break up the cedar sheets from a cigar box – you can get them by the dozen from any cigar shop – and then light them with an ordinary kitchen match (or ultraheavy-duty strike-anywhere storm-proof matches, which I use) and then use the little burning cedar “torch” to light your cigar. No nasty chemicals get into your cigar.

    As long as I’m writing cigar tips, here’s a radical one for getting rid of cigar breath instantly. Shampoo! Gargle with it, make sure not to swallow it, spit it out then brush your teeth. It’s nasty, it’s horrid, but if you just realized that leftover La Gloria Cubana breath is probably not going to lead to a glorious night out with your beloved… desperate times call for desperate measures. It works!



    • Brian Sacawa

      A cedar stick is a very classic way to light the cigar, for sure! But like matches, hard to use when you’re in an outdoor setting. I remember watching one of the Cigar Aficionado videos where Mott and Savona were talking about a cigar lounge in Havana where they have attendants come and meticulously light your cigar for your with one of those strips.

      The Davidoff matches, I believe, are completely untreated.

      That is one crazy tip…! I’ll have to take your word for it!

      And thanks for the photo compliments. Shooting these small editorial vignettes is fun for both of us.


      • Tom B

        Glad that these photos are fun for you both. I know they are deceptively hard to do.. how do you say something creative and eye-catching about a box of matches? How do you hold your hands just right? And then the technical difficulties of photographing flame. How many takes for that Davidoff match photo? Anyway, great work , keep it up!

        • Brian Sacawa

          Actually, the match photo was one shot, one kill!

    • Luis Martinez

      Tom, I will give it a shot using cedar insert sticks to light up! But I am most certainly keep getting those travel size mouth rinse bottles that you can get at any pharmacy store to get rid of cigar breath if I have to. I respect your shampoo tip, but it seems a little extreme to me to be honest.