What Ash Can Tell You About Your Cigar

Nate Simonds

What Ash Can Tell You About Your Cigar Title Image 1

We’ve all been browsing the internet and come across pictures of cigars with long ash. It certainly looks great, but what can we tell from looking at that picture? Here are 3 things you can learn about a cigar, just by looking at the ash:

Construction Quality:

Generally speaking, the higher quality construction in a cigar, the longer it will hold an ash. Cigars that aren’t filled properly will have soft spots that result in ash that falls off easily. Cigars that “run” or “canoe” (burn faster on one side than another) typically are a result of improper bunching where thicker tobaccos are misplaced*. A well made cigar should have a sharp burn light that’s even and straight across the cigar.

*Smoking even well made cigars in very windy conditions can also cause your cigars to run, which is not an indication of roll quality.* In this instance, try and rotate your cigar as you hold it so the wind isn’t constantly hitting one portion of your cigar.

Tobacco Priming:

As we have covered in the past - Higher priming tobaccos are thicker and stronger as a result of being higher up on the plant and exposed to more sunlight. A well made cigar should have the thickest tobaccos towards the center of the cigar, which results in a cone like “cherry” that allows the cigar to burn evenly. You will notice that stronger cigars will tend to hold ash longer while more mild cigars will need to be ashed more often. 

Mineral Content:

A solid white ash is what you want to see. This white ash means that there is a high concentration of minerals in the tobacco leaves. Higher mineral content means more flavor and aroma. Black ash indicates low mineral content and generally results in a more acidic, less pleasant smoke.  Flakey ash can mean a couple things: 

    1. You might be smoking a short filler cigar. These cigars are constructed using leftover pieces of tobacco from the production of premium long-filler cigars. You can read more about short versus long filler tobacco here.

    2. The magnesium content for that tobacco is very high. If you know that your cigar is produced with long filler, then the tobacco was grown in soil with a high magnesium content. 

The biggest factor in purchasing a cigar should be if you enjoy the cigar or not.However, when comparing cigars head to head, paying attention to details (such as the ash) can give you insights into the cigar’s quality. Next time you are enjoying a cigar take a brief look at your ash and see if the ash lines up with the quality of your experience!

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