The Art of the Retro-Hale

If you read reviews or follow the cigar community in any fashion you have probably ran across the term retro-hale. The simple definition of a retro-hale is as follows:

“Retro-haling is the act of moving smoke from the back of the mouth, up through the sinuses, and exhaling through the nasal passages.”

That is all good and said but why would anyone want to retro-hale cigar smoke? The first answer that comes to mind is that it does look cool when you see someone do it for the first time. The second answer is actually quite simple. The tongue has a limited amount of tastes that it can pick up. Five tastes to be exact. These five tastes are sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and savory. So without the retro-hale you are missing out on some key notes that you can find in a cigar.  The nasal passage has thousands of aromas that it can pick up on during a retro-hale. This allows the cigar smoker to experience more complexities of the cigar during the retro-hale. So a retro-hale has the potential to enhance your cigar smoking experience. So now it is time to learn the Art of the Retro-Hale.

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Before you go and try this at home there is an Art to the Retro-hale.

First, DO NOT try to retro-hale all the smoke from a draw. More than likely you will feel a burning sensation from your nasal passage, your eyes will water, and you will start coughing. Like many I thought this was how one did a retro-hale and gave up on the fact that I was meant to retro-hale a cigar. That was until one Saturday afternoon while I was having a cigar with Todd Wright from Falto Cigars.

Todd took the time and explained the art of the retro-hale. In short this is how he explained it:

  1. Take a normal draw from your cigar.
  2. Let out the majority of the smoke. You want to keep anywhere from 10 – 20% in your mouth.
  3. Put your tongue to the top of your mouth and blow the smoke that is in your mouth from your nose.
  4. Smoke should come out of your nose and you have successfully done a retro-hale.

Pretty simple but it may take some practice before you master the art of the retro-hale. Once you have it down you should be able to pick up new flavors while you smoke your favorite cigars.

One other thing to remember is not to retro-hale excessively. At most you want to retro-hale a small handful of times during a cigar. My recommendation is once per third of the cigar. That is my standard and I find that it does not kill my nasal passage that way.

Thanks for reading!!

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