Many rituals work their way into the enjoyment of cigars. Some of these rituals can lead to very heated arguments. Like those arguments about where the best cigars come from (Cuba vs. Nicaragua or the Dominican Republic etc.) As long as passions and cigars flare up, you will find defenders of all arguments. One of the most controversial arguments concerns how to light a cigar correctly and whether to use matches or a butane torch lighter.
Why Choose Matches to Light a Cigar
Your goal is to light the wrapper and the filler evenly. The filler is that tightly rolled tobacco just inside your wrapper. An evenly lit cigar is how you achieve an even burn and smooth smoke. Of course, if you cut your cigar poorly, that’s forgivable. Still, a poorly lit cigar only detracts from your overall smoking experience.
Proper wooden matches pair with cigars for as long as both have been around. These are not the flimsy felt matches with sulfur heads. Sulfur could lead to off-flavors in the cigar. Instead, sturdy four-inch long matches made for cigars provide a certain refinement and tradition that accompanies adequately toasting your prized trophy cigar.
Torch Lighters and the Perfect Flame
There is no arguing that unless weather conditions are perfect (i.e., no wind), you can’t beat a multi-torch butane lighter. Butane burns off immediately when lit, eliminating the possibility of any off-flavors. They are also easy to share and pass along with fellow smokers.
Like prized humidors by S.T. Dupont, lighters can run into thousands of dollars. Often, they are status symbols in their own right. However, you only need to refill butane lighters infrequently. They also typically give off a more intense heat that gets your cigar lit quicker and cleaner.
How to Light a Cigar: The Professionals Weigh In
In the movie “Hellboy,” there is a scene where the main character struggles to light his cigar with a Zippo lighter. Jeffrey Tambor chastises him asking incredulously, “What are you doing?” He then explains you only use wooden matches because it perfects the flavor.
If that’s not definitive enough, Hollywood icon Jack Nicholson has weighed in on the matter. He vouches for the technique that the famous director Roman Polanski taught him. First, run a flame around the entire cigar edge. Then, when lighting the whole tip, blow it out and inhale. It’s the only way to lock in the flavor and make a difference. Of course, we can’t argue with an icon like Jack Nicholson, but he hasn’t committed to the match versus lighter debate.
The Verdict Is In
Despite the evidence supporting both sides, there is no conclusive winner. The only common ground is the importance of technique. Properly toasting the cigar “foot” and rotating it in your mouth to ensure an even burn all the way around.
While matches may exude an “old school cool,” the butane torch lighter is incredibly reliable, especially on a windy golf course. Unfortunately, it’s also quite clear that this won’t get resolved soon, much like the “chicken and the egg” debate. What matters is the importance of sharing a great cigar among friends and knowing how to properly light it to ensure that clean burn for maximum enjoyment!
Photo Credit: Pixabay | Earnest Roy