Why does my cigar taste bitter?
We get asked this question quite often. Most of the time people ask why their cigar gets bitter towards the end, however, sometimes it happens earlier in the smoking experience. Let’s take a look at what could be causing this, and how to best prevent it.
Use the right tools to light your cigar.
Matches: If you choose to light your cigar with matches, make sure they are specifically designed for cigars. Cigar matches are sulfur-free and sometimes even made of cedar. The sulphur in household matches will affect the taste of the cigar.
Lighters: If you are like most people, you choose to light your cigar with a lighter. If so, toss the Bic style lighters away. You need a lighter that uses a much cleaner butane, that allows for a clean and odorless burn. If you buy a lighter designed for cigars, it should accommodate high quality butane. Just stay away from cheap butane often found at your local corner store or head shop. Quality butane for cigars should be listed as premium butane, tripple-refined or better.
Use the right number of flames: Three, four and even five flame lighters have become popular in recent years. These lighters work well in some applications (ie. the golf course, a boat or outside on a windy day). If you chose to only have one lighter, there isn’t anything wrong with opting for one of these. It will just require you to take your time to ensure you don’t over light your cigar and burn the foot. If having multiple lighters is an option, you may consider having and indoor lighter that has fewer jets or is even soft flame.
Use the right cutter:
It is important to cut enough of your cigar to open it up, without over-cutting. This is especially important when smoking fuller flavor cigars. These cigars use higher priming tobaccos that have more oil. If you are using a punch, or don’t make a large enough cut, these oils can begin to build up at the head of the cigar. More on that here.
Smoke at the right speed:
This is the most common issue. If you smoke too fast, your cigar gets too hot and will begin to taste bad. The trick I like to use is, occasionally touch your pinky finger about 1/4” from the flame on your cigar, if it is hot, slow down your smoking. Note: milder cigars use thinner tobaccos and can get hotter quickly if you’re smoking too fast.
Keep your cigars at the right humidity:
Keeping your cigars at the correct humidity levels will ensure they taste better. Cigars that are too dry will tend to burn more quickly, while cigars that are too wet will require you to puff too hard to keep it lit. Both of these increase the risk of an unpleasant taste in your cigar experience.
Buy premium cigars:
This one is the more obvious. Smoking better cigars usually means you are smoking tobaccos that have been aged longer. Young tobacco and under fermented tobacco can ofter taste bad or even bitter. While $20 cigars are sometimes worth it, you can usually find a cigar with quality tobacco in the $8-$12 range.