Wearing all black? Attempting to drink, socialize, walk about, cheer for your team and keep it on? Oh, you’re flirting with disaster.

There’s nothing like the anticipation of watching someone smoke a premium cigar with their head straight up in the air in an attempt to keep the ash from falling off. A mix between balance and patience, keeping a long ash has been a favorite pastime of cigar enthusiasts both young and old, experienced and new to the lifestyle.

While some might argue that holding an ash on your cigar too long is amateurish, there are actually some benefits to keeping longer-than-normal evidence on the foot of your cigar. 

Pros 

Ash Keeps Your Cigar Cool
As some tend to partake too quickly, keeping a long ash on the cigar helps it to burn slower, hence helping it to last longer while not overheating. By ashing less frequently, one’s fingertips stay in tack a bit longer and your cigar will have less of a charred taste because the ash acts as a filter.

Protect It From Going Out
The ash on a cigar keeps too much air from making contact with the cherry (burning portion) of the cigar. When too much air hits the flame, one may find themselves constantly relighting.

Looks Cool…Temporarily
A long ash is just plain fun to look at, right? It’s almost like a party trick…the juggling, the concentration, the skill in short and steady puffs. It can be quite impressive, and its a definite conversation starter!

Cons

Too Cool/Can Go Out
While on one hand keeping the ash can help keep it lit, neglecting the flame while being too focused on the ash can cause it to cool off too much and go out. The balance is about maintaining the right amount of air on the flame.

It Can Get Messy
If the smoker is not paying close attention, that lovely gray tower of skill is going to land in the lap. Even worse it can still be hot and leave a mark. There’s nothing worse than looking like the life of the party one minute, and the next having to dust yourself off.

Taste Like Ash?
When trying to identify the different aromas in the cigar, a little ash may help in filtering out a burnt taste, but keep it on too long also can cause the cigar to taste like, well ash.

Conclusion

Traditionalists say that the ash of the cigar should be gently knocked off after about an inch. While this practice is a little less dramatic than holding it on, it will keep burning ash off of the your hands, legs and the floor of the establishment. The determination for how long to keep it will vary by cigar, so it’s important to pay close attention and “listen” to what that particular cigar is telling you regarding the evenness of the burn, the functionality, the flakiness and strength of the ash (the ashes of flakier cigars will fall quicker; so trying to long-ash it will lead to disappointment). Additionally, if your cigar is already burning really slowly and going out a lot, it’s probably a good idea to knock that thing off more frequently. But whether you’re tapping out every inch or trying to win a contest, make the experience you own make it the best cigar you’ve ever had.

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