How should you smoke a cigar?

A cigar should be smoked gently, and you should take small, short draws on it. This ensures that the cigar's smoke channels remain cool, which is beneficial to the mildness of the flavour. Cigar smokers do not inhale; above all, they wish to enjoy the delicious aroma, and the flavour. The taste - and the aroma - is perceived with the nose and palate, not the lungs. So take small draws, allow the smoke to linger briefly in your mouth, and then gently exhale it. This will provide your taste buds with all the time they need to savour the cigar.

Does a cigar first have to be cut?

Not usually. Almost all Dutch cigars are ready to smoke. All you have to do is light them at the right end. However some Dutch cigars, as well as many cigars from other countries, first need to be prepared. They have a sealed head, and it will be necessary to make an incision in the head - or cut it off - before the cigar can be smoked. The cut should preferably be made once the head has been slightly moistened in the mouth; it will then be easier to make the cut. Biting off the end is 'not done'. It might well look very 'manly', but in most cases you simply ruin the cigar and end up with a mouth full of shredded tobacco.

What is correct etiquette: take the cigar band off, or leave it on?

This has been a subject of a great deal of discussion. It's up to you whether you leave the band on or take it off. You might want to remember that if you leave it on others can see what brand of cigar you smoke, which could lead to an interesting discussion, for example, the pleasures offered by a good cigar.

What's the purpose of a cigar band?

Penetrating odors do a cigar more harm than good. It's definitely a bad idea to light up a cigar immediately after applying after-shave or - even more extreme - after slicing an onion. This was probably the reason for the introduction of the cigar band. The band -originally blank paper- served to ensure that odors from the smoker's fingers would not be transferred to the cigar. Later on, cigar makers came up with the brilliant idea of using this paper for advertising. And so the cigar band was born.

What is the function of the cone of ash?

The cone of ash has a cooling effect, and ensures that the cigar burns at a lower temperature - which can only be beneficial to the flavour. So retain the cone of ash on the cigar for as long as possible.

Should I smoke the whole cigar, or should I stop earlier?

There are no rules for how much of a cigar you should smoke; some people smoke half, while others continue until they burn their fingers. Our advice is to continue to smoke the cigar for as long as it has a pleasant flavour. Every cigar has what is called a "turning point". That's the point where the cigar loses its mild quality and becomes just a bit obstinate. And then it's time to say good-bye. This is usually when you have smoked two-thirds of the cigar.

What should you do if a cigar goes out too soon?

No problem. Carefully brush off the ash, and then light the cigar in exactly the same way you did at the beginning. Then you will lose none of the taste or the aroma. However if you put the cigar aside it will cool off, and smoking it further will be no pleasure at all: the cigar is 'dead', and has lost its pleasent flavour for good.

How do you extinguish a cigar?

Put the cigar in the ashtray and let it extinguish by itself. Stubbing it out is an ungrateful response to the pleasure you enjoyed from it. Besides, it is only when you stub a cigar out that it will smell.

What does the thickness of a cigar have to do with its flavour?

People who prefer a silky, mild flavour opt for a thicker cigar. Why? Because a thicker cigar burns at a lower temperature, which provides for more complete combustion - and which, in turn, is beneficial to the flavour. Conversely a thinner cigar burns at a slightly higher temperature, which can result in a slightly more pungent flavour. However there is also another reason for the milder, fuller and richer flavour of a thicker cigar: the filler, binder and wrapper are in better balance with each other, which results in a broadly developed and mature aroma.

What does the colour of a cigar say about its flavour?

Not a great deal. People are inclined to think that dark cigars are cigars with a strong flavour. This is not necessarily so. Brazilian cigars, for instance, are very dark; but they have a pleasantly sweet flavour which is greatly appreciated by some smokers. A cigar with a Sumatra wrapper is light in colour, but has a spicy flavour. The final taste of a cigar is determined by the interplay of wrapper leaf, binder leaf and inner leaves. So the colour alone doesn't say everything.

Which models of Dutch cigars are available?

We have a wide variety of models. The most important are: Cigarillo A slim elegant model, ideal for a shorter smoking moment. As a result of its modest diameter it develops an aroma that strikes a balance between mild and pungent. A light cigar. Tuitknak Great smoking pleasure, packaged in a traditional model. It requires about as much time as a cigarillo, but has a slightly milder flavour. You place the broad end in your mouth, and light the tapered end. Senoritas The most popular model - and one can see why. It combines the richer aroma of larger models with the shorter smoking time of the smaller ones. It is the ideal cigar for smokers with a little less time to spare, and for those searching for an introduction to the world of the cigar. Wild Havana The wild havana is a senorita with an uncut end. It is a delicious, balanced cigar that owes its name to its somewhat undisciplined 'foot'. Panatella The distinguishing feature of panatellas is the length, which is long in proportion to their diameter. This elegant model is particularly favoured by women, and by younger smokers. Corona The corona is the ultimate after-dinner cigar. For the blender this model is a demonstration of his skill. It offers him the opportunity to achieve an optimally balanced combination of inner leaves, binder and wrapper. Dutch coronas - provided, of course, that they are well made - have an ideal burning temperature and are consequently exceptionally mild. Set aside an hour or so for a corona.

When should you smoke which cigar?

There are no strict rules. Your personal choice is what counts. The available smoking time is another factor. If you wish to smoke a corona then you should reserve at least an hour. A cigarillo conversely requires much less time. There are many smokers who prefer to begin the day 'small' and end it 'large'. But there are just as many who smoke one model all day long: your favourite model will be fine - just as long as you enjoy it.

Which is the best cigar for a beginner?

We have no simple answer to this question: the cigar you like best is the one to begin with. But there are certain factors you should take into consideration. A small cigar looks quite different from a sizeable corona. With which cigar do you feel most comfortable? And flavour, of course, also plays an important role. In general thinner cigars are more pungent than thicker cigars. For this reason the Senorita is a good model to begin with as it combines the mildness of thicker cigars with the shorter smoking time of smaller models, a perfect introduction to the world of cigars.

What are 'wild cigars'?

'Wild' has nothing to do with the character of the cigar, but refers to its outer appearance. A wild cigar has an undisciplined, shaggy end. The cigar has not been cut straight, and the ends of the inner leaves protrude in a shaggy end. Does a 'wild' cigar have a 'wild' or strong flavour? Not necessarily. The nature of the tobaccos in the blend determines the flavour, not its slightly rough look.

What is an after-dinner cigar?

The name is misleading: these are not cigars you can only enjoy after dinner. These are the somewhat larger models, coronas and churchills, for instance, which enable the maker to demonstrate his skill. An after-dinner cigar gives the maker every chance to create an ideal balance between inner leaves, binder and wrapper. This makes an after-dinner cigar - with or without a glass of cognac - an ideal conclusion to an excellent meal. But even if you have not had dinner this fine cigar is nothingless than a gratification of the senses. Why not try one!

What is the difference between short- and longfillers?

The difference between a shortfiller and a longfiller is the length of the inner leaves (the filler). The filler of a shortfiller is comprised of small shreds of tobacco from various origins, from which the coarse leaf-veins have been removed. The filler of a longfiller is comprised of whole tobacco leaves generally from just one type of tobacco, which are rolled into shape. All Dutch cigars are shortfillers. The quality of these cigars is largely determined by the talent and the nose of the blender. He (and it is generally a he) combines different types of tobacco - sometimes more than 20 - to obtain a blend with precisely the right flavour. Consequently the blend is not a recipe, but has a composition which depends on the annual crop. And, whilst we're on the subject, let's get rid of a misunderstanding: it is occasionally contended that the difference between shortfillers and longfillers also relates to a difference in quality. But nothing could be further from the truth. The quality of the filler - and not the nature of the filler - partly determines the ultimate quality of the cigar. Other factors which also determine the ultimate quality are the quality of the binder and the wrapper, and last but not least, the skill of the maker.

Does Hajenius include longfillers in its range?

Yes we certainly do. Hajenius, in the spirit of its founder, spent many years searching for the ingredients of the an impeccable longfiller - for tobacco of the required refinement, and for the 'campesinos' who devote themselves to the harvesting, drying and fermentation of this tabacco; and for the artists' hands that sensitively create the perfect cigar without resorting to the customary wooden forms. This traditional method of making cigars had been lost since 1957. However we were still able to locate the technique in Nicaragua. So now, once again, we are able to offer lovers of longfillers a perfect cigar worthy of bearing the Hajenius name. Take a look at the Hajenius HBPR range if you would like to find out more about the Hajenius HBPR longfillers.

What's the difference in flavour between cigars from different countries?

Cigars are made in many countries around the world. And these countries use different types of tobacco and melanges, and a variety of production methods. In combination, this results in a great variety of flavours and characters. Above all, the important question is what you prefer. An "exploratory voyage" through Cigarland is recommended to help you establish yourpersonal preference.

Where do the best tobaccos come from?

The leading tobacco-growing countries are Indonesia, Cuba and Brazil. The Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, the Philippines and Africa (Cameroon) are also important suppliers.

Why are Dutch cigars so popular?

Dutch cigars are in great demand, both in the Netherlands and abroad - a remarkable situation in view of the fact that, in contrast to countries such as Cuba and Brazil, the Netherlands is not a tobacco-growing country. The success of the Dutch cigar is due to two intrinsic Dutch characteristics: a nose for quality, and business acumen. The importance the Dutch attach to quality is demonstrated by their insistence on the best tobaccos - and their ability to acquire supplies right from the time the tobacco industry was born. And, moreover, the Dutch have always been unsurpassed in their understanding of the art of blending. The blend of a first class Dutch cigar is comprised of as many as fifteen to twenty different types of tobacco; the composition is the best-kept secret of every cigar maker. Business acumen is the second factor which has led to the success of the Dutch cigar; the Dutch blended cigar long ago acquired the status of a desirable luxury article, and Dutch cigars are greatly appreciated throughout the world. Consequently the Netherlands has long been one of the world's major cigar-exporting countries.

Do hand-made cigars taste better?

The designation 'hand-made' says very little about the quality and taste of a cigar. A cigarmaker who uses inferior tobacco will, irrespective of his efforts, only be able to make an inferior cigar. The resonance of the term 'hand-made' is largely emotional. It summons up times gone by, when everything seemed better than it does now. Or at least, that's what our emotions say. Reason tells us a quite different story. Mechanization has made the production of cigars by hand unnecessary - without sacrifycing quality. In fact, quality has remained a constant factor. Moreover, mechanization has made cigars affordable. One factor remains essential: the quality of the tobaccos used to make the cigar. The procurement and the blending into a fully-flavoured mixture remains the work of skilled individuals. And in this sense, every high-quality cigar is still hand-made.

What is fermentation?

Fermentation is very similar to the heating that takes place in hay. Once the leaves have been dried and bundled together they are stacked in large heaps. As a result of the combined effect of the pressure of the leaves on the top of the heap and the moisture content of the tobacco, the temperature at the middle of the heap increases to about 50 °C. In order to ensure that this fermentation process is uniform throughout the batch the heap is continually dismantled and rearranged until such time as all leaves have been located at the top, middle and bottom of the heap. This fermentation process imparts the tobacco with its exquisite aroma, colour, and suppleness. The process also results in a reduction of the concentration of sugars, proteins, and nicotine of the fermented tobacco.

How can cigars be transported?

Cigars are vulnerable. They are easily broken, and a small hole in the wrapper will readily allow so much air to leak through that smoking the cigar becomes both arduous and unpleasant. The best way to protect your cigars is to carry them in a cigar-case. Make sure you buy the right size: a case that it is too large will allow the cigars to slide about and become damaged, whilst a case that is too small will compress and break them.

What is the best way to store cigars?

In the past - and then we're talking of some forty years ago - houses were a lot more damp than they are now. In those days we had to do our best to keep cigars dry if we were to enjoy smoking them. However things have changed completely since the introduction of central heating. Homes are dry - much too dry to the liking of a cigar. A cigar can only exhibit the full maturity of its flavour when it is slightly moist. And, in fact, this can be achieved only by the use of a humidor. A humidor is a handsome box, often made from expensive kinds of wood, which contains a humidifier. It will enable you to store your cigars in perfect conditions. Shortfillers thrive when stored at a relative humidity of 50 to 60 %. Longfillers and cigars from Hajenius' Grand Finale range are stored at a somewhat higher humidity: 70 â€" 75%.

How long can you keep cigars?

Provided cigars are stored in the right conditions they will retain their quality for an extremely long time. We recently had the opportunity to smoke a cigar that had been purchased in the Hajenius store 100 years ago. As a result of the excellent care that had been take of the cigar it was still of a very good quality. Consequently the right humidity is essential. For shortfillers we recommend a humidity of 50 - 60%, and for longfillers a relative humidity of 70 - 75 %.

What is a humidor?

A humidor is a handsome box, often made from expensive sorts of wood, which contains a humidifier. It will enable you to store your cigars in ideal conditions. Shortfillers thrive best at a relative humidity of 50 to 60 %. Longfillers and cigars from Hajenius' Grand Finale range are stored at a somewhat higher degree of humidity, 70 to 75 %

Are those glass and metal tubes suitable for keeping a cigar in good condition?

Provided that the cigar was properly conditioned before the tube was sealed it will retain its quality for a long period of time. However as soon as the tube is opened the cigar will gradually lose moisture, and it will adopt the humidity of the "outside" air. When cigars are stored in a tube with a cork stopper the porosity of the cork will result in the cigars gradually assuming the humidity of the surroundings.

Is it possible to regain the original taste of a cigar which has dried out?

Smoking a cigar that's lost its moisture is no great pleasure. It has an unpleasant sharp flavour and the aroma seems to have disappeared completely. But the smoking qualities can be recovered to a great extent by allowing the cigar slowly regain moisture in a good humidor, or in a small box or case. The cigar will no longer regain its original quality, but it will be a pleasant smoke.

Is there any point in dipping a cigar in cognac?

None at all. A cigar is a carefully- considered and delicate product, to which nothing further needs to be added.

Are there also fresh cigars?

The tobacco used to make good cigars is approximately one to two years old before it is used to make cigars. Cigars are never "fresh" in the literal sense of the word. But as long as cigars are stored in the correct manner, then it is not possible to talk in terms of fresh or old cigars. All good tobacconists ensure that cigars are stored in the correct conditions. So that's one less worry for you.

Are there vintage years and lesser years for tobacco, just as with wines?

Yes indeed. Plantations may have to cope with unusually bad weather conditions, which naturally take their toll. The consequences are often minimal for the filler, which is a blend of tobaccos from various plantations and various countries, the consequences are often slight, but this is not the case with the very expensive wrapper leaf. When the climate has revealed its most unpleasant side, serious cigar-makers are confronted with a huge task in finding enough wrapper-leaf of outstanding quality. In these years the demand is many times greater than the supply. The fact that a year with a poor crop has hardly any effect on the cigar you enjoy is thanks to the inventiveness and expertise of the cigar-maker who has moved heaven and earth to procure the best raw materials for his product.

What cigars should you give someone when you don't know what he or she smokes?

There are of course no hard and fast rules. The idea that men smoke thick cigars whilst women smoke only slim ones is totally out of date. However we can help you in the right direction. You might, for instance, consider buying an assortment box or case containing a variety of cigars to enable the recipient to discover his or her favourite. You can, of course, choose exceptionally festive cigars such as Hajenius' Grand Finale range - a fine, exceptionally mild after-dinner cigar for a special occasion.

What is a cigar 'society' and how can I join one?

A cigar society is a club of cigar-enthusiasts who meet regularly to smoke cigars together, to discuss them - and above all to enjoy them. Most cigar societies are of a more or less private nature, and membership is not always easy to obtain. Inquire at your local specialized tobacconist or the Hajenius franchise holder in your neighbourhood; they will certainly be able to give you more information about cigar societies.

Where can I buy Hajenius cigars?

Hajenius cigars have been available at the House of Hajenius in Amsterdam since 1826. They are also obtainable from a select number of specialised tobacconists, the Hajenius franchise holders. ‘Hajenius concessionnaires’. And if you soon plan to eat out then know that the better restaurants also offer a good selection of Hajenius cigars.