IMG_9084 - Joy Villa, firestarter

There are several techniques a person needs to master in order to ensure they obtain maximum enjoyment from their cigar. They are:

  1. The Cut
  2. The Light
  3. The Draw
  4. The Finger Roll
  5. The Denouement

One of the chief gripes i get from friends and through readers of My Cigar Blog concerns the consistency of their cigar. Why does the cigar taste good in the beginning, then taste bad towards the end? Why does the cigar “canoe” (burn unevenly)? Why does the cigar get hot in my hands? Why does the cigar taste like ashes? Why does the smoke burn my lips/palate?

The answers to these questions lie in the 5 techniques above. The one most often overlooked and misunderstood is #4 — The Finger Roll.

Every 60 seconds or so, or every 2 draws (whichever comes first), The Finger Roll involves rolling the cigar in your fingers. Not twirling the cigar, but rolling the cigar in-between your thumb and index & middle finger. A leisurely roll, slowly letting the edges of the burn spread out evenly.

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There is a simple science to this: heat rises. If the same side of the cigar stays at the top of the cigar, then it goes to reason that this will be the part of the cigar that burns the hottest, thus leaving the lower part of the cigar burning cooler. The inconsistent distribution of heat will do a few things:

  1. Make the burn uneven — ugly canoe-ing. A large part of the enjoyment of a cigar is its aesthetics
  2. Half the tobacco (the upper half) will burn hotter than the other half — this has the impact of giving you some truly funky and unintended flavours.

Here is the secret sauce: the closer you get to the end of the cigar, the Finger Roll needs to be done more frequently. Once you got past the half-way mark, optimum results are obtained when you roll the cigars as you draw on it. The reason for this is because as the cigar gets shorter (less tobacco between you and the actual burn point), it will burn hotter with each draw, thus requiring more even distribution of heat. The Finger Roll allows for this even distribution of heat to occur.

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Try this technique out the next time you light up your favourite cigar and let me know what you think. Did it improve your smoking experience?