A common perception regarding cigar smoking is that one should keep the ash on the cigar for as long as possible. Is this true? And, if so, why? Does it serve any real purpose?
The ability of your cigar to hold its ash for a long period does suggest high construction quality. A nicely rolled stogie with quality long filler will often hold onto its ash for two inches or more. Of course, just because the ash falls off early, doesn’t mean it’s a bad cigar…it’s just one indicator.
Keeping the ash on longer can serve another purpose, other than bragging rights. Many cigar smokers believe that a bit of ash at the end of the cigar helps keep it at optimal smoking temperature. Overheating a cigar is bad news in terms of enjoyment, as it can ruin flavor, cause burn issues, and even burn your mouth if it gets too hot as the cigar shortens during consumption. Ash can provide a buffer between the air being sucked into the stick and the cherry itself, thereby avoiding these problems.
That doesn’t mean you have to keep the ash on at all times, however, or tempt fate by letting the ash grow until it falls into your lap. At that point it becomes a matter of preference. Some people enjoy a warmer smoke, which sometimes provides stronger flavor and more copious smoke output. The line between a warm smoke and overheating a cigar is a thin one.
So enjoy your cigar in any way you wish. If you prefer to keep your ash on as long as possible, then do it. But don’t worry too much about what people will think if you tap it off early.