You know the drill: Cut or punch your cigar, grab the butane torch or wood-stick match, light up, enjoy. Simple.
But before butane torches became mass-market items, the traditional method of lighting a cigar required the use of a cedar spill. These slivers of pure cedar, shaped to provide roughly a full minute of burn, let smokers light their cigars with aromatic cedar instead of the stale smell of burned wood or sulfur. The chief benefit is that the first flavor from your new cigar is punctuated with cedar instead of something less … pleasant. Plus, lighting with a spill takes more time and effort, helping to set the right mood for your smoking session and reinforcing the traditional cigar culture that’s becoming harder and harder to find.
Here’s how you use a spill properly:
Cut, punch or otherwise open up the head of your cigar.
Light the small end of the spill with a torch or match.
Holding the spill at a slight downward angle, use the flame to gently toast the foot of your cigar.
When the foot’s toasted, puff on the cigar — still using the spill — to fully light up your stick.
Safely dispose of the spill.
The good folks at Cigar Aficianado reviewed the spills on offer from Commonwealth Cedar Spills — the vendor from which I purchased our VLO spills — and included a brief video to demonstrate their use.
Want to try lighting with cedar before shelling out the cash for a handful of spills? In a pinch, collect the thin cedar strips that wrap some kinds of premium cigars (usually tubos) — these can be torn along the grain to make impromptu spills.