Technically speaking, the ash of a cigar is merely a pile of burnt leaf remnants. However, there is a wide variety of flavor in cigars and some cigar connoisseurs believe you can actually tell something about the quality of a cigar from the appearance of the ash. For starters, ash should traditionally measure about one inch for the entire duration of the cigar. If you inhale evenly and hold the cigar carefully, then the ash will not fall for a while.
Why do people believe that ash matters? Because quality leaves tend to create denser ash than normal; that means it takes a longer period of time to fall. And since the name of the game in cigar smoking is subtle flavors, rest assured the flavor does change when you smoke it for a longer period of time. For that matter, a longer column of ash can also soften the smoke adding further variances. In fact, some cigar lovers claim that short ash produces smoke that is hotter and of a stronger flavor. If you are looking for higher quality cigars and longer burning ash then often hand-rolled sticks will give you the best results. Cigars that are mechanically created are usually not as stable, and hence the ash may not last as long.
Last but not least, consider how you smoke the cigar and how this is influencing the ash. You are supposed to avoid inhaling, or at least inhale lightly. If you inhale constantly and unevenly, the ash won’t last long, nor will it last if you move the cigar body around too often. The shape of the burning end is also an important factor (look for a cone shape instead of just a blunt end) as is the color. In general, look for gray and white ash (or something in between).
The longer you smoke the cigar the more you enjoy it. That’s just common sense so learn to appreciate the ash!
CH would like to thank Stephen Bivens for the photo.Why a Long Ash on a Cigar is Beneficial by Stephen Bivens