How to Retrohale a Cigar: Mastering the Technique for Enhanced Flavor

The art of smoking a cigar is a deeply satisfying and sensory experience, and one technique that true connoisseurs have mastered is retrohaling. Retrohaling is the process of expelling a portion of the cigar smoke through the nasal passages, allowing the smoker to better appreciate the full range of flavors and aromas that a fine cigar has to offer.  Learning how to retrohale a cigar greatly enhances the smoking experience.

For beginners or those who have never attempted to retrohale, the concept may seem daunting or even uncomfortable. However, with practice and patience, even novice cigar enthusiasts can learn to retrohale and enhance their smoking experience. In this article, we will guide you through the necessary steps and precautions to help you master this time-honored technique.

Understanding Retrohaling

Retrohaling is the process of exhaling cigar smoke through your nose, allowing you to taste the flavors more intensely. To retrohale, take a puff of the cigar, let the smoke rest in your mouth, and then gently exhale through your nostrils without swallowing. It’s important to practice moderation when retrohaling, as it can be quite intense for beginners. Now let’s explore the science behind retrohaling and its benefits.

The Science Behind Retrohaling

Our sense of taste and smell are interconnected. Many flavors we perceive are actually a combination of taste and aroma. When you retrohale, you’re engaging your olfactory system, allowing you to detect complex flavors in the smoke that you may not otherwise notice.

As cigar smoke passes through the nasal cavity, the olfactory receptors detect the different chemical compounds present in the smoke. This provides a richer and more nuanced flavor experience, as the olfactory system is capable of detecting a much wider range of flavors than taste buds alone. Retrohaling effectively introduces an additional dimension to the cigar-smoking experience.

Benefits of Retrohaling a Cigar

  • Enhanced Flavors: Retrohaling allows you to pick up on subtle flavors that may be missed when only drawing smoke through your mouth. This can help you better appreciate the craftsmanship and nuances of a fine cigar.
  • Improved Cigar-Smoking Skills: Learning to retrohale adds a new level of skill to your cigar-smoking repertoire, setting you apart as an aficionado. As you become more comfortable retrohaling, you’ll be able to better identify and describe cigars’ flavors and characteristics.
  • Increased Enjoyment: By unlocking new flavors and depths in your cigars, retrohaling can increase your overall enjoyment and appreciation of the cigar-smoking experience.

As you practice and develop your retrohaling technique, remember that it is a personal preference and not a requirement for enjoying cigars. The primary goal is to savor and enjoy the experience.

The Retrohaling Process

Retrohaling is an important technique for cigar enthusiasts to fully appreciate the flavors and aromas of a fine cigar. The following steps will guide you through this process.

Step 1: Draw Cigar Smoke

Take a slow, steady draw from the cigar, pulling the smoke into your mouth without fully inhaling it. Keep the smoke in your mouth for a moment, allowing it to coat your taste buds and sense the flavors.

Step 2: Move Smoke to the Back of Your Throat

With the smoke in your mouth, close off your throat by engaging your epiglottis (the flap that helps prevent food from entering your airway). Begin to push the smoke towards the back of your throat by slightly closing your mouth and using your tongue to guide the smoke.

Step 3: Expel Smoke Through Your Nose

While keeping your throat closed, slowly exhale through your nose, releasing the smoke. This will carry the flavors and aromas from the cigar smoke across your olfactory receptors, providing a more comprehensive sensory experience.

Step 4: Release the Remaining Smoke

Once you have expelled the some smoke through your nose, open your mouth and release the remaining smoke. It is not necessary to exhale all of the smoke through your nose, as doing so can be overwhelming for beginners and may cause nasal irritation.

Remember to practice and refine your technique, as retrohaling can take some time to master. Enjoy your cigar experience with this newfound skill, amplifying the flavors and aromas for a more satisfying smoking sensation.

Tips for Successful Retrohaling

Don’t Inhale Cigar Smoke

First and foremost, it’s important to remember not to inhale cigar smoke. Cigars are meant to be enjoyed by tasting the smoke in your mouth, not by inhaling it into your lungs. Inhaling can lead to unpleasant experiences such as coughing, nausea, and dizziness.  If you inhale cigar smoke, you are going to have a bad time.  Its bad, don’t do it.

Retrohale with Mild Cigars First

For beginners, it’s recommended to start with mild cigars when learning to retrohale. Mild cigars produce smoother and milder smoke, making it easier to retrohale for the first time.

Some mild cigars that are suitable for beginners include:

Once you become comfortable with retrohaling mild cigars, you can gradually move on to medium and full-bodied cigars to experience a wider range of flavors and complexities.

How Many Times Should I Retrohale a Cigar

The tasting/reviewing of a cigars flavor and smoking experience is generally broken down into thirds of a cigar.  This is how often you should retrohale.  After smoking the first 1/4 inch or so of a cigar you are the point that you should retrohale for the 1st third of the cigar.  After that, using your best judgement retrohale one time for each of the remaining 2/3rds of the cigar.

Retrohaling too many times can cause any irritation or discomfort you feel to be worse.  This will cause the cigar smoking experience to be less enjoyable.

Practice Makes Perfect When How to Retrohale a Cigar

Like any skill, mastering the art of retrohaling takes time and practice. It may take a few attempts to successfully retrohale without coughing or feeling overwhelmed by the smoke.

To practice the technique, follow these steps:

  1. Take a puff of the cigar and hold the smoke in your mouth.
  2. Gently push the smoke to the back of your throat by using your tongue.
  3. Begin to exhale through your nose, while simultaneously closing off the back of your throat to prevent the smoke from entering your lungs.
  4. Once the smoke has passed through your nasal passage, fully exhale the remaining smoke from your mouth.

By following these tips and practicing regularly, you’ll be able to enjoy the full range of flavors and nuances that cigars have to offer through the art of retrohaling.

Common Misconceptions

Many cigar enthusiasts might have a few misconceptions about retrohaling. In this section, we will address some of these misunderstandings to help clarify the process and improve your overall experience.

Firstly, some people mistakenly believe that retrohaling is the same as inhaling cigar smoke directly into your lungs. This is not true. Retrohaling involves directing the smoke through your nasal passage and out your nostrils, bypassing your lungs entirely.

Another common misconception is that retrohaling will make you more susceptible to side effects such as nicotine overload or lightheadedness. While it’s true that retrohaling exposes you to more of the cigar’s flavors and nuances, it does not significantly increase your intake of nicotine.

Some may also believe that retrohaling is a complex skill that only experienced cigar smokers can master. Although it does require practice, retrohaling is not an elite technique exclusive to seasoned aficionados. In fact, many beginners can learn how to retrohale effectively with a bit of patience and dedication.

Lastly, many assume that all cigar smokers should retrohale to fully appreciate their cigars. While retrohaling can enhance your overall experience, it’s not a requirement for enjoyment. If you find the process uncomfortable, there is no need to force yourself to do it.

Risks and Considerations

Irritation to Nasal Passages

Retrohaling a cigar can lead to irritation in the nasal passages due to the exposure to smoke and its chemical components. Common symptoms include:

  • Nasal congestion
  • Runny nose
  • Eye irritation

It is important to practice moderation and be attentive to your body’s reactions when retrohaling, in order to minimize discomfort.

Potential Health Risks Associated with Cigar Smoking

While retrohaling can enhance the cigar-smoking experience, it is essential to be aware that there may be health risks associated with cigar smoking.  I am not a Doctor and this is not medical advice.  Please consult your Doctor to discuss any concerns or possible health risks from cigar smoking.


In summary, retrohaling is a skill that enhances the cigar smoking experience by allowing the smoker to fully appreciate the flavors and nuances of a cigar. By following these simple steps, even beginners can learn this technique and quickly improve their enjoyment of cigars.

First, remember to take only a small amount of smoke into your mouth while smoking, as too much smoke may make retrohaling more difficult. Then, close the mouth slightly, channel the smoke to the back of your throat, and gently exhale through your nose. It may take a few tries to get comfortable with this process, but with practice, it will become second nature.

For a visual guide, there are numerous online resources and videos to help you master this technique. Remember to always smoke cigars responsibly and in moderation. By incorporating retrohaling into your smoking rituals, you will unlock a new world of flavors and aromas that will make your smoking sessions more enjoyable.