Pudge72 wrote:...how best to sample the cigar and enjoy the pairing...
1. Make sure the cigar isn't too moist (many a cigar 'fresh' from a commercial humidor or from a domestic humidor where the relative humidity has escalated beyond 70% can seem harsher - i.e. more acidic, tannic and/or astringent - when lit up). What you should be looking for is a cigar that's moist enough not to 'crackle' when squeezed, but not so moist as to feel soft and 'mushy' when held in the fingers.
2. Gently toast the tip of the cigar in order to ignite it. This involves letting the flame heat up the end of the cigar without the flame actually touching the tobacco. Rotating the cigar as you light it also helps to ensure an even 'char' at the tip.
3. Don't draw too hard on the cigar once it's lit, as this will merely accentuate the combustion aspect and diminish enjoyment of the aroma and taste. Just a strong enough draw to keep things moving along is what's called for.
4. Don't rush things. Take your time. Slow, gentle, lengthy puffs will enable you to maximize the enjoyment factor.
5. Don't inhale. All the fragrance and flavour is appreciated through the olfactory glands (primarily) and the palate. No need to infuse your lungs with smoke.
6. If the cigar, as it burns down toward the 'nub', begins to show any signs of harshness, put it down and let it go out by itself. You've gotten the best part already, so why ruin the experience by subjecting your senses to nasty tarry flavours?
7. Alternate regularly between cigar and spirit. A draw followed by a sip, and so on...
8. Always have a large glass of water at hand, and routinely refresh your palate. Dehydration (especially of the palate) will invariably lessen enjoyment of both spirit and cigar, while general dehydration will increase the likeliness of feeling light-headed afterward.
9. If you are with someone else, share your thoughts of spirit and cigar. This can only increase the overall pleasure of the experience for both of you.