Ashing a cigar is a necessity, but for specific reasons that are often overlooked. Believe it or not, knowing how to properly ash a cigar isn’t as trivial as it sounds. In fact, chances are you or someone within your smoking circle doesn’t ash in the best possible way, and that’s no insult. Because the truth is, many cigar smokers don’t see the symbolism behind the ash. They don’t see it as a mark of distinction, viewing cigar ash as disposable waste. And yes, it is disposable, but ash, and the technique used to ash a cigar, are reflective of both you and the quality of your cigar. Improper ashing can make your area messy, or label you a novice among more seasoned smokers. More importantly, failing to properly ash your cigar can hinder the overall flavor of your smoke. So, there’s not only an etiquette to adequately do so, there’s a means that will also enhance your smoking session, and give you the longest, best burning smoke possible!
Tapping A Cigar
Take a look around any smoking lounge, and you’ll notice an influx of smokers frantically tapping their cigar over an ashtray every 2 or 3 pulls. Sure, it works, but this technique isn’t correct. A common misconception is that excess ash will cause your cigar to burn out. But the oxygen from your draw is what keeps your cherry burning. If the air supply routinely reaches the burn, the cigar won’t cool off and fizzle out. It’ll still burn just fine under the ash, so regularly disposing of ash isn’t something that affects the longevity of the burn itself. And truth is, ash-less cigars burn extremely hot. Just like an overcooked steak, will affect the flavor and quality of your cigar, if subjected to too much heat.
Correct Ashing Technique
Another incorrect ashing technique you might observe is a smoker leaving the cigar to burn until the ash falls off on its own. While this method does preserve the integrity of the ash, there’s no little control over the ash itself, which will inevitably crumble somewhere that isn’t an ashtray. There’s also the chance of creating an uneven burn, or what’s known as tunneling, which will also cause your ash to fall off the foot of the cigar far too easily.
That being said, one of the most efficient means of ashing your cigar is to gently roll it within an ashtray, maintaining an ash of about an inch or more (or less, depending on the cigar size). This length helps to provide some stability in your smoke, and regulate airflow, for a slower, stronger burn throughout the course of the smoke. The rolling technique not only regulates ash size, it’ll help optimize the quality of the cigar itself, displaying the perfect balance between no ash, and too much ash on the end of your cigar.
Judging The Ash
My final takeaway on ash is just how much a cigar’s ash reflects the quality of the stick itself, and how it can be used to measure the standards to which is was produced. Ash is greatly determined by the merit of the tobaccos used in the blend, and the quality of its construction. To observe this, note that tobaccos grown in soils with a high-calcium content, display white hues, while darker ash reveals fewer minerals in the soil. So, cigars with white ash will give off a much more enjoyable profile, while darker ash cigars can display stale, acidic, or even burnt nuances. There are exceptions to this rule, but overall, it’s a pretty good indication of quality.
So, in the end, ash is a pretty complex thing, for a part of the cigar cycle that is often cast aside!