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Warning Signs of a Bad Cigar
  • January 06, 2013 : 07:01
  • comments
Avid cigar guys spend a lot of time and money on their favorite indulgence. As a result, we tend to be very keen on making sure we are not wasting either, or both, when we pick up our premium cigars.

It is supremely disappointing to light up a smoke and find that it is a “bad” cigar. So in the interest of helping to save our cigar-smoking brethren from experiencing these aggravating incidents, I am going to provide a few tips regarding warning signs of a bad cigar.

First, I’d like to say right up front that lower price/quality cigars cannot inherently be considered bad cigars any more than high priced/quality cigars can be considered inherently good cigars.  When I talk about a bad cigar, I am talking about a cigar that is flawed, damaged or otherwise had its “smokability” significantly damaged. 

A cigar may be bad because of poor construction, poor ingredients or poor care. Regardless of the reason, there are a few simple warning signs to look for when judging whether a cigar may be bad:
  1. Cracked or peeling cigar wrapper: a cracked or peeling cigar wrapper is a sign that the cigar may be dried out. This condition will certainly affect the draw of the cigar (normally makes it draw fast, burn quickly) and will often affect the robustness of the taste.
  2. Mold growth on the cigar wrapper: mold on the wrapper indicates the cigar was maintained in improper conditions (excessive humidity). But beware; what may look like mold often isn’t. The rule of thumb is if it is green in color and does not easily dust off, it is mold. If it is whitish in color and dusts off easily, then it is harmless cigar plume caused by an interaction between oxygen and the oils on the wrapper leaf.
  3. Sponginess or stiffness: if a cigar is too spongy when you gently squeeze it in the middle, it is likely over-humidified or poorly constructed and may draw and burn poorly. If a cigar is too stiff or hard, it is likely dried out or poorly constructed and will deliver similar problems. A good cigar will depress slightly when squeezed gently in the middle and will immediately spring back to form when released.
So when you buy cigars or accept one from a friend, take a quick look at the cigar to judge its fitness for smoking and enjoying. Inspecting the look of the cigar and gently squeezing it will not identify every possible problem with it, but it will help you avoid an aggravating and disappointing smoke more often than not.

Here are a few consistently good quality smokes I have enjoyed over the years and found very few faults with:

About the Author

The Cigar Don is the lead copywriter for, America's fasted growing cigar retailer. He is also the founder and editor of, a leading cigar blog that delivers "real cigar talk to cigar guys." The Don knows his cigars and loves to talk about them with anyone that will listen. He's anything but a cigar snob. He will drop cigar knowledge on your, but he'll do it with plain talk every time.
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  • Anonymous
    Where is the 4th bad sign ??
  • Anonymous
    Make sure that your humidor has the correct temperature and moisture level. Do not leave them in the car... I like Ashtons, Romeo and Juliets, A Fuentes, and some others; Protect your stogies!