There are few things more disappointing to an aficionado than lighting up a plugged cigar. With every draw requiring a herculean effort, the desire to enjoy the smoke dwindles, and the cigar is often tossed aside so another, hopefully better, may be lit.
Poor construction is often blamed for a tight draw, and in these cases there are few options for correction. Sometimes a knot in the bunch may be felt along the cigar, and gently massaging may loosen the knot and by extension the cigar’s draw. Products which allow you to physically puncture the cigar are also an option to salvage the smoke. However, faulty construction is less of a factor than often assumed, as premium cigar producers utilize machine draw-testing at factories before caps are applied. Cigars which fail these tests are re-rolled and tested again until they are acceptable. So what gives? If not construction, what’s to blame?
Humidity can actually play a significant role in a cigar’s draw and most draw-issues may be remedied by lowering a cigar’s RH. As cigars take on excess humidity, the filler tobaccos expand, compressing themselves within the binder, making the cigar difficult to smoke. This excess moisture may also affect the burn, leading to issues such as tunneling, and canoeing.
Ultimately, cigars are hand-made products and subject to variation in reliability and quality, and although construction issues due exist, there are many steps which may be taken to ensure the best draw and smoking experience.
To avoid draw issues, we recommend:
- Letting new cigar purchases rest after transit. This allows the cigars to settle to your chosen humidity level and recover from any fluctuations in transit. If purchases are shipped with Boveda packs (as done at Cigars of Habanos), this resting period is less crucial, but allowing the cigars time is generally a good idea!
- Setting your humidor to 63-65 RH. It’s a matter of personal preference, but the lower RH opens the draw and allows for more consistent flavour. Cigars held for long-term aging do store better at 68-70RH, so consider a small humidor for immediate smoking, and a larger one, set at a higher RH for ageing.
- Consider dry-boxing. If you’re eager to dip into a new haul or are experiencing draw issues regularly, place a cigar into a low humidity environment for a few days before smoking. This should help open up the draw.