Milan Tobacconists Frequently Asked Questions
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Frequently Asked Questions

Welcome to Milan Tobacconists' FAQ page. If you aren't able to find the answer to your question here, please give us a call at 877.70MILAN or send your question to us by email - We'll do our best to answer it!




How do I set up a new account?
After adding a product to your shopping bag, you will be provided with the option to register if you are a new customer or sign in if you are an existing customer. Upon completing the registration process, click on the 'Back to Bag' button to return to your shopping bag or continue shopping using the navigation links on the left side of the page.

How do I obtain my password to order over the Internet?
Milan Tobacconists' customers create their own password when setting up an on-line account. If you have forgotten or misplaced your password you may request it by signing in to your account using the 'Click here to sign-in' link on the Shopping Bag page. The link will take to you to the 'Sign In' page where you can click on the 'I forgot my password' link. After providing the email address you used to set up your account, the automated system will send an email to you with a link to your challenge question. Answer the challenge question correctly, and you will be given to the opportunity to change your password. If you encounter difficulty, please give us a call at 877.70MILAN or send an email to We'll respond to your request during regular business hours: 10:00 am to 6:00 pm ET Monday through Friday and from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm on Saturday.

What are your shipping charges?

Orders are shipped via UPS or United States Postal Service (USPS), and the rates are automatically calculated based on the weight of your order and the chosen method of shipping at the point of check-out. We also offer free shipping, but some restrictions do apply -> click here to learn more about our free shipping offer.

The following shipping methods are available to our customers:

Via UPS Inside the United States

  • Ground
  • 3 Day Select
  • 2nd Day Air
  • Next Day Air
  • Next Day Air Saver
Via USPS Inside the United States
  • Priority Mail Express
  • Retail Ground
  • Priority Mail

How long will it take for me to get my order?
Total delivery time for orders arriving via UPS or USPS is based on order processing time plus shipping time. In stock orders placed Monday through Friday (excluding holidays) before 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time will be shipped the same day. In stock orders placed after 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time will be shipped on the next business day. Shipping time is based on the shipping service level option you select, and it is not guaranteed except when guaranteed by the carrier.

When your order has been shipped, you will receive an email shipping confirmation containing a tracking number or delivery confirmation number. Depending on your location within the United States and the day and time the order is placed:
Via UPS:

  • Ground may take as few as 2 business days or as many as 10 depending upon your location.
  • 3 Day Select typically takes 3 business days.
  • 2nd Day Air typically takes 2 business days.
  • Next Day Air and Next Day Air Saver typically take 1 business day.
  • Retail Ground may take 6 or more business days.
  • Priority Mail typically takes 2 to 3 business days.
  • Priority Mail Express typically takes 1 business day.

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Do you ship to destinations outside the United States and its Territories?
Milan Tobacconists ships orders to customers with APO/FPO addresses via the United States Postal Service (USPS). We do not otherwise ship outside the United States and its Territories.

Does Milan Tobacconists have a return policy?
Yes. All merchandise shipped from Milan Tobacconists is inspected prior to shipping and leaves in optimum condition. However, in the event that you have an issue with the quality of an item or it does not meet your expectations, we must be notified of your dissatisfaction within 3 days of merchandise receipt, at which time we will issue a return authorization number. Notable exceptions are tinned pipe tobacco, which we will accept for return under very limited conditions, and bulk/loose pipe tobacco, which is not packaged in tamper-proof containers thereby making it non-returnable.

We also will accept returns on merchandise damaged during shipping. Save both the original shipping carton and packing material and contact us for a return authorization number. We will either issue a refund or send a replacement for the damaged item. In all cases, the return authorization number should be clearly marked on the package next to the address label. We are not responsible for merchandise returned without a return authorization number, and the package may be refused.

If you wish to exchange an item, please note that customers are responsible for all return shipping charges and new shipping charges, including tax if applicable. Please allow 5 business days after our receipt for your exchange to be processed and shipped to you.

Special Orders: Special order items (items that we do not sell in our store or online) will be charged a 15% restocking fee.

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What does "ring gauge" indicate?
Ring gauge is used to indicate the diameter of a cigar. It's actually not that complicated, as the whole measuring scale is based on 64th of an inch. Therefore, a cigar with a ring gauge of "50" is actually 50/64th of an inch in diameter, and a cigar with a ring gauge of "64" is 64/64th of an inch, or 1 inch, in diameter.

What is the white substance I occasionally find on my cigars?
If it looks like powdered sugar and wipes off easily it's probably "bloom." Bloom is crystallized oils that form in properly aging wrapper leaf. Simply wipe it off. If, on the other hand, what you're looking at is fuzzy or blue/green and is on the foot of the cigar in the filler tobaccos (also can be on the wrapper) it is most likely mold. If your cigars are moldy they're basically ruined.

What difference does the origin of tobacco leaf and wrapper make?
The Dominican Republic has for a number of years been considered the source of the world's most consistently high quality tobaccos: Piloto Cubano, a Cuban-seed tobacco used as a long-filler for its rich pungent flavors, and Olor, a native Dominican tobacco used as long filler and as a binder because of its zesty and spicy character.

Brazilian tobaccos have a dark, pungent and peppery, yet slightly sweet flavor profile. The leaf is black in color, once the fermentation is done.

The San Andres Valley of Mexico is world-renowned for its sun-grown variety of Sumatra-seed tobacco used for wrappers, especially Maduro wrappers. Dark, peppery and slightly sweet tobaccos are also grown and utilized as long fillers and binders because of the excellent burning qualities.

The Central African Republic and the West African Republic of Cameroon grow a distinctly unique tobacco used primarily for wrappers because of the dark, oily texture of the leaf and its neutral flavor tones. The leaf originated from Sumatra seeds imported from Indonesia.

Nicaragua also produces high-quality Connecticut-seed and Cuban-seed tobaccos with rich and peppery, full-bodied flavors and heady aromas, reminiscent of the finest Cuban tobaccos.

The tobacco strain grown in the Philippines is very aromatic, but light and mild in terms of strength.

The U.S. Connecticut Valley produces the world's finest wrapper tobacco, "Connecticut Shade," noted for its smooth, light texture and elasticity. Connecticut broadleaf tobacco is also grown here. Its darker, heavy-veined leaf is used primarily on Maduro cigars. Both tobaccos create a mild to medium-bodied smoke with a mellow, nutty flavor.

Cuban filler tobaccos have long been renowned for their robust, spicy, and pungently aromatic flavors. In addition, extremely tasty and supple wrapper leaves are grown here. There has been some debate in recent years over the consistency and quality of Cuban cigars, but overall they are still acknowledged by many to be the world's finest.

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What goes into making a cigar?
Tobacco leaves are harvested beginning at the bottom of the plant. Volado, the bottom leaves, have an extremely mild, almost bland taste. Seco, the middle section leaves, have a medium flavor; and the ligero, the top leaves, are oilier and richer in flavor.

After harvesting, the leaves are separated into bundles according to size and texture and hung to dry in curing barns for six to eight weeks.

The curing process and the subsequent fermentation of the tobacco is necessary to release ammonia from the tobacco and reduces the overall nicotine content. The fermented tobacco is then allowed to age anywhere from 18 months to two years to enhance the taste and burning qualities of the tobacco. Poorly fermented cigars are harsh and bitter and burn unevenly.

Master blenders combine tobaccos from different countries or different regions of the same country to achieve a distinctive and balanced smoke. Depending upon its ring gauge, a cigar will contain a blend of between two and five different tobaccos.

At this point the torcedor, or cigar roller, is given the tobaccos to be used and the formula for their combination. The torcedor takes the filler leaves, compresses them, then places them on a binder leaf used to hold the filler together. Then they are rolled into a "bunch" and cut to the appropriate length before being placed into a wooden mold for further compression.

After this step, the torcedor removes the bunch and wraps it with a supple, elastic wrapper leaf that has been cut in half. With much acquired skill, the torcedor rolls the wrapper around the bunch using constant pressure and applies a vegetable glue to bond the wrapper at the head of the cigar to prevent it from unraveling.

At this point, cigars are allowed to age again so that the different tobaccos' flavor profiles can "marry" before being graded and boxed for sale. This process can last as little as 21 days and up to 180 days, perhaps even longer.

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How are cigars sized?
At the turn of the century there were hundreds of different cigar sizes made, each unique in terms of length and ring gauge (diameter). The length is measured in inches and the ring gauge of a cigar is measured in 64ths of an inch. A cigar with a 50 ring gauge, for example, measures 50/64th of an inch in diameter.

The size and diameter of a cigar greatly influences the strength and burning qualities of the cigar. To put it very simply, cigars made with the same filler, binders, and wrapper, but of different sizes (in length and diameter) will each exhibit totally different flavor and strength profiles.

Typically, larger cigars will be richer in flavor because of the increased amount of tobacco they contain, but they will have a cooler smoke and smoother taste than a smaller version of the same blend. They will burn slower and the smoke will cool down somewhat as it travels the length of the cigar as it is puffed.

What shapes and sizes do cigars come in?
There are two categories of cigar shapes. Parejos are the familiar shape with the straight sides, a closed head, (the end you cut and smoke), and an open foot (the end you light). Figurados are uniquely shaped cigars.


  • Churchill 7"x 48
  • Corona 5 1/2" x 42
  • Corona Gorda 5 5/8" x 46
  • Double Corona 7 1/2"- 8" x 49
  • Lonsdale 6 1/4" x 42 to 44
  • Panatela 5" x 34
  • Petit Corona 4 1/2" x 40 to 42
  • Robusto 5" - 5 1/2" x 50


  • Belicoso - A short pyramid, or even a corona gorda, with a more rounded, tapered head. 5" - 5 1/2" x 46-50
  • Culebra - An unusual shape consisting of three panatelas braided together, but smoked separately. 5" - 6" x 38
  • Perfecto - A cigar closed at both ends, with a rounded head and the foot closed like a torpedo. 4 1/2" - 9" x 38 to 48
  • Torpedo- Both the head and foot on this cigar are closed. Varies, typically 7"-8" x 40 (at the head) and 50- 54 (at the foot).
  • Pyramid - A cigar with a tapered head and an open foot. 6" - 7" x 40 to 42 (at the head) widening to between 50 to 54 (at the foot).

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Why is the wrapper of a cigar so important?
Pound for pound, the wrapper of a cigar is the most expensive component of a cigar. Great care is exercised by the truly dedicated cigar blenders to use not only the finest quality of unblemished leaves as wrappers, but also to match the proper wrapper flavor with the other components.

It has been mistakenly perceived that the wrapper color indicates the cigar's strength. This in itself is incorrect, but due to either the strain of tobacco grown and/ or the curing process used, the wrapper can deliver a distinctive and unique taste to the taste buds as the cigar is smoked.

At one time, the Cuban cigar companies used over two hundred names to describe the brown shades of color found in cured tobacco leaves. For brevity, we have used the following color scale to describe our cigars.

Claro- A light tan color resulting from cutting the leaf before it has fully matured, then quickly air-drying it.

Colorado Claro - A light medium brown color found on leaves from the top of the plant, which thus get more sun, and are allowed to mature longer both on the plant and after cutting. Also referred to as "natural" or "English Market Selection" (EMS).

Colorado - A deep brownish/red color resulting from a lengthy maturation period. Usually has a light oily sheen.

Colorado Maduro - A dark brown color found on leaves from the top of the tobacco plant that are allowed a much longer maturation period.

Maduro - a very dark brown or black due to either longer exposure to the sun, a cooking process, or a longer period of fermentation. Maduro means "ripe " in Spanish.

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How should my cigars be stored?
In an attempt to recreate the conditions in terms of climate where cigar tobacco is grown, it is recommended that for optimum enjoyment cigars should be stored at a humidity level of between 68% - 72% and at temperature range of between 68 - 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

When purchasing a humidor, look for a box that has perfectly squared and fitted seams, a tight seal, and a Spanish cedar interior. Spanish cedar is the best wood used for lining a humidor for three reasons: tobacco beetles don't like it, it's unique in that it helps age cigars, and it is very good at retaining humidity. The cedar should be well aged, aromatic, and unfinished. When you close the box you should hear a quiet suction sound. If it clunks it isn't airtight and won't be able to maintain a constant level of humidity.

Maintenance of the cigars in a humidor is very simple. Use a humidifier. Humidifiers are available in many shapes and sizes. Most of them are made of "Oasis," the same material you find in floral arrangements. Oasis holds a lot of humidity. Be sure to buy a humidifier that is big enough for all the cigars in your humidor.

Another product you may wish to have is a hygrometer, which measures relative humidity. Digital hygrometers are the most accurate. Otherwise, the condition of the cigars is the perfect measure of your humidor's performance. If the cigars exhibit a slightly oily sheen and when gently squeezing the foot of the cigar with your fingers it springs back like a loaf of fresh bread then conditions are ideal. If they seem dry then add more distilled water.

Also be sure to keep your humidor away from windows, heating/air vents, and other heat sources to prevent warping or other undue stress.

Check your cigars every day until you break in your humidor. Eventually, you'll get to know your humidor and how often to refill your humidification device (always use distilled water). Even then, it's a good idea to check it every day. Also, a good idea would be to leave the box open for about 15 minutes a couple times a week to let some air circulate through the cigars, which will keep them from getting too moist or moldy. Another tip is to rotate the bottom row of cigars to the top every so often to make sure all of your cigars are humidified evenly.

To break in a new humidor, pour distilled water in your humidifier to activate it. Wipe down the interior of your humidor with a clean, slightly damp cloth. Again, use distilled water. Put shot glasses or several small cups of distilled water inside the humidor and then let it sit for 24 to 48 hours. Remove the cups of water and add your cigars, being sure to check them every day.

A cigar storage alternative to a humidor is a food storage container, such as Tupperware. Place an appropriately sized humidification device in the container, remembering not to let the device actually touch your cigars. Tobacco does need to breathe in order to age properly. That's why wooden humidors are not hermetically sealed. You should open your container every few days (once a week at least) for about 15 to 20 minutes. It is even better if you can get some pieces of cedar to put in there with your cigars.

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Should my cigars be stored with the cellophane on or off?
This is one of the most common questions we get, and one of serious importance to cigar smokers and collectors. With the prices of cigars today you want to make sure you do everything in your power to take care of them. If you store your cigars without the cellophane, they will "enjoy" the environment in your humidor much more quickly, and age better as well. The problem with this is if you have many multiple types and brands of cigars, and store them all together without cellophane, they can adopt each other's flavors over time. We use these guidelines:

  • When storing many different singles (sticks) together, we leave the cellophane on.
  • When we have them in their original box, we always take off the cellophane, and keep them in their original box in our humidors. (This isn't always possible, depending on the size of your humidor.)
  • If they are only going to be in our humidor a few weeks max, we take off the cellophane no matter what, and let them adapt to the environment as quickly as possible.
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What type of cutter should I use?
It is necessary to cut or clip the closed end, or head, of a handmade cigar prior to lighting. There are many different types of cutters. We recommend a guillotine cutter, as it is easy to use, makes a clean cut, and is relatively inexpensive. However, the type of cutter that you use is your personal preference. Other types include the v-cutter, which takes a thin wedge from the center of a cigar, a corer or "bullet" cutter, which removes a circular section from the center of the cigars cap, and a "piercer", which is used to poke 3 to 4 small holes in the head of the cigar to allow for the draft.

How do you recommend I light my cigar?
Wooden matches or butane lighters are the best sources of ignition for cigars. The fumes from a fluid lighter can interfere with the taste of the cigar. The best way to light a cigar is to hold it at a 40° angle in one hand while rotating it slightly above the flame until the end is evenly toasted. Then place the cigar in your mouth and hold the flame slightly away from the foot of the cigar while slowly drawing and turning the cigar. It is important to take the time to light a cigar slowly in order to keep one side of the cigar from burning faster than the other burns.

Is there a "proper" way to smoke my cigar?
While it can be argued that cigars can be appreciated by each of our five senses there is no denying the pleasure received by a smoker from the distinctive aromas and pungent flavors of a premium cigar. Puff gently, draw in the smoke, taste it, then leisurely exhale. A simple ritual to achieve enjoyable relaxation.

What do I do with my cigar when I'm finished?
Don't stub out a cigar as this can create an unpleasant aroma. Just lay it in an ashtray, and it will go out of its own accord quite quickly.

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How do I avoid "tongue bite or "dottle"?
If you are experiencing "tongue bite" or "dottle" at the bottom of your pipe bowl, chances are you are packing your pipe too tightly. Even if you do not smoke all the tobacco in the pipe, it probably isn't the pipe, but the packing! Please read the answer to "What is the best way to pack a pipe?" below to learn more about packing.

Does the quality of the pipe and/or the tobacco really make a difference?
Yes, it is true that high grade pipes and tobaccos smoke better, but if you have a pipe that is finished with carnuba wax rather than varnish, and pipe tobacco that has no chemicals (additives or preservatives) you should have a very enjoyable smoking experience. It is important to remember that a pipe is basically a filter. The pipe absorbs the moisture, disperses the heat, and affects the flavor and clarity of the tobacco. The tobacco is best enjoyed when moist and chemical free. That means no drug store tobacco! A quality pipe contributes to your smoking enjoyment the most.

What is the best way to pack a pipe?
Pipe packing is basically a 3-step process:

  1. Sprinkle the tobacco loosely into the pipe until it fills up to the brim. Sprinkling loosely is a concept that escapes even the experienced pipe smokers. Sprinkle loosely until the bowl is full, then press it down until the bowl is half full. If you have a tapered bowl, you may wish to press down the tobacco two-thirds full. At this point, draw on the pipe. There should be little, if any, resistance.
  2. Sprinkle loosely again until the bowl is full. Press the tobacco down evenly until the bowl is three-fourths full. Again, draw on the pipe. There should be a little resistance.
  3. Sprinkle loosely once more until the bowl is full and then round up the top so a little mound of tobacco rests over the bowl. The mound should be less than a half inch tall and nicely rounded. Now press down the tobacco flat, and even with the brim of the bowl. Last time, draw on the pipe. Again, there should be a little resistance. The pipe is now ready for lighting.

How do I keep my pipe lit?
If you have problems keeping your pipe lit, even after packing it correctly, then take five or six puffs as you walk the flame around the whole bowl charring the entire area of the tobacco. Then tamp the ashes flat and even. Relight using another five or six good puffs and you should be on your way to an enjoyable, relaxing smoke! Many pipe smokers will pack and light their pipes correctly and still have problems keeping the pipe lit throughout the entire pipeful. The reason for this is likely tamping too hard. When tamping your pipe you should only be crushing the ashes flat and even; not pushing down tobacco. You may tamp as much as you like, but just push down the burning ashes onto the unburning tobacco. Keep it even and keep the draw consistent.

When should I clean my pipe and how?
We recommend cleaning it before the next pipeful. If your pipe smells sour or tastes spoiled, it may be because you haven't been cleaning it regularly. As a rule, you should run a pipe cleaner through the stem and shank every time you smoke the pipe. Never pull the pipe apart while it is warm. Also make sure all the bits of tobacco are out of the bowl as this can lead to hot spots that will cause a burn out. Remember, because a pipe is a filter, it should be smoked only once a day. If you smoke three times a day you need three pipes. If you smoke it more than this, the moisture can build and spoil causing bad aroma and flavor. If this happens, take some whiskey or bourbon (the stronger the better) and pour it into the bowl. Let it sit for 15 minutes, pour out the liquor, and swab out the bowl with a paper towel. Let the pipe sit for 24 hours before smoking it again. You'll be amazed at the difference!

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Milan Tobacconists, Inc.  •  309 South Jefferson Street, Roanoke, VA 24011  •  Toll Free 877-70MILAN (64526)  •
Since 1912, Providing Premium Cigars, Quality Pipes, High Grade Pipe Tobacco, and Related Accessories to Discerning Cigar and Pipe Smokers From Our Tobacco Shop in Roanoke, Virginia, USA.

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