How to Tell Cigar Freshness

How to Know if a Cigar is Fresh

Are you wondering if the cigar you are about to light up is fresh or properly constructed? Our cigar experts recently discussed cigar quality and freshness in this recent video. The gist? If the cigar made it to a quality retailer, the chances of that cigar having any imperfections are extremely low. Chris Gwaltney,’s chief certified tobacconist, explains that cigar manufacturing today has better quality-control practices than ever before.

“The cigar factories go to great lengths to make sure their cigars are constructed properly,” said Gwaltney. “Rest assured, the chances of you encountering a bad cigar are slim.”

A cigar inspection at a cigar factory in Nicaragua

The Wrong Way to Inspect Cigars

Let’s get straight to the point: DON’T squeeze cigars.

“I see it all of the time. People start squeezing cigars because they think they will be able to determine if a cigar is fresh or if it has soft spots,” said Gwaltney. “I’ve been to factories in Nicaragua, Honduras, Dominican Republic and even here in the United States; every factory has their nuances and different ways of doing things, but their process for quality control and how they inspect cigars is pretty much the same across the board. Not once in all my travels, have I seen an inspector squeeze a cigar.” Why? You cannot identify imperfections by pinching and squeezing a cigar. Trust the hundreds of professional cigar makers hands that have touched that stick before you. If there was an imperfection, chances are they would catch it before it found its way to a retailer. If you squeeze a cigar, you are applying too much pressure and you will damage the cigar.

Your cigar goes through various inspections at the factory to ensure it meets the brand’s high expectations for quality. Inspectors gently slide the cigar through their hands and slightly spin it to check the feel of the cigar, checking for any soft spots and making sure the cigar is properly filled. They do all of this in about a second.

You now confidently know a cigar is fresh when it arrives at the retailer. But what is the golden rule for getting your hands on high-quality, fresh cigars? Find the right retailer. certified tobacconists visually inspect cigars in Nicaragua

The Visual Inspection

Can you look at a cigar and visually determine if it is fresh? In short, yes. Look at the cigar and if you identify any spots, blotches or discoloration, then avoid that cigar. It is OK to pick the cigar up and spin it around your fingers, but ONLY if the cigar is in cellophane. If you do this with a cigar out of the cellophane, you can damage the wrapper. You can tell if the cigar has soft spots by a very gentle, light roll in your fingers without squeezing.

What Happens if You Smoke a Stale Cigar?

If you light up a dry cigar, it isn’t going to hurt you. It will probably be extremely bitter and burn hot and quickly. It will not be as pleasurable as smoking a fresh cigar, but it will not physically harm you. If you take a few puffs of a cigar and it is not your flavor, just put it down and move on to another.


Want to take out the guess work? Our experts at make sure every cigar shipped to you is in good condition and ready to smoke. Browse our selection of sticks that we ship nationwide.

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