Smoking a high-quality cigar is one of the most luxurious experiences a person can have, and can too often be marred by improperly cutting it. Far from arbitrary, ensuring that you have the right technique for cutting your cigars will help ensure that you have a positive smoking experience.
A bad cut can cause the cigar to burn too hot and fast, making it harsher as well as rushing you. Alternately, poor cutting can also make it too hard for air to flow and keep your cigar going out constantly. In a nightmare scenario, you may even find that the wrapper falls off altogether.
Once you have learned how to properly prepare a cigar for enjoyment, you may even find that the ritual adds to your overall experience.
Cigars have been around since at least the 10th century, when Mayans rolled tobacco (already a worldwide staple for millennia) in palm or plantain leaves. Knowing this long history, it makes sense that there are a wide variety of types of cigars, and cutters that go with them. As you learn more about cigars, the style you go for will be a matter of your preference and personality.
While the different kinds and styles are limited only by the human imagination, there are a few that are considered more common.
Usable for all kinds of cigars as long as you do so with care, cigar scissors make immediate sense by name alone. These scissors are smaller than what you may be imagining, with thick, wide blades that can make a clean slice through the paper and filling.
Just like you would not use school scissors to work with fabric, you absolutely should not attempt to use any scissors that are not intended explicitly for use on cigars. Ordinary household scissors are not sturdy or sharp enough to be ideal for cigar cutting. More than likely, you will wind up either hacking away loose bits and pieces or ripping off the wrapper entirely.
One of the easiest and cleanest methods is using a punch cutter. Unlike the other common options which, in one way or another, slice off the end of your cigar, the punch cutter simply pops a little hole in. There are a few different kinds of punch cutters as well, but they all work in similar manners.
The main attribute that makes or breaks a cigar punch is the circular blade. Depending on the style of punch, you may need to pull apart the cutter to reveal the blade, or it could be on the end of the punch, or even controlled via a button on the side of the device. Regardless of the particular style, this rotary blade then cuts out a small cylinder of material from the end of your cigar.
This makes for a very attractive-looking cut, and significantly less loose tobacco coming into contact with your mouth. These may not be the best option for thinner cigars or cigarillos, as the hole may be too large, but they make for very easy and efficient cigar cutters.
The straight cigar cutter is definitely the most common option, and you are sure to have seen one before. These cutters can have one or two blades and are often referred to as “guillotine” cutters due to their appearance.
These cutters traditionally have a large hole in the center for you to insert your cigar, after which you press the blade or blades into the hole, severing the end. It is critical to use a sharp cutter, and can often be beneficial to opt for a two-blade straight cutter. Doing so will ensure that you get a clean cut, and minimize the risk of tearing.
Something like a cross between the straight cutter and a cigar punch is the V-cutter. Like the punch cutter, this device does not cut the entire end off of a cigar, but rather removes a smaller amount of material to make for a cleaner and simpler experience.
That said, in appearance and usage, it can strongly resemble the straight cutter. The V-cutter also has a hole in the center, though it is in a slit shape rather than being large enough for the cigar to fit into. After pulling the blade out, you can insert the end of your cigar, and again press the blade back into the device. This will cut a wide slit into the end of your cigar if that is your preferred method for cutting.
Now that you have reviewed some of your options when it comes to cutters, it is time to go over the actual act of safely and properly cutting your cigars.
The first step is to find the cap of your cigar. To make it as simple as possible, it is the part that your mouth will go on, and should be immediately visible to you. It is the side that is sealed and held together by glue, whereas the “foot” is the opened end of the cigar that you will eventually light.
Regardless of how rounded or pointed the cap of your cigar might be, the main thing to watch out for is going too far past the cap, as this might harm the overall stability and cause your cigar to unravel. As a general rule, you can play it safe by cutting right between the tip of the cigars cap and the point where the cap reaches the same width as the rest of the cigar.
Err on the side of caution, and slice less off rather than more, as going past the point where the cap wrapping is glued can be messy at best.
A great part of the ritual of smoking cigars is the dampening of the head. Serving multiple purposes, this step is not always critical, but can certainly make for a more enjoyable experience.
Putting the cap of the cigar into your mouth will let you get a little taste of the cigar, awakening your senses for the incoming experience. Not only that, but the moisture from your mouth can help keep the leaves from cracking when you cut, and help the cap glue to hold firmer. This can overall help make a cleaner cut than a dry cigar might get.
In the moment of truth, your next step is to cut the cigar with the device of your choosing. The act itself could not be more simple, yet requires finesse and confidence. Cutting too hesitantly will leave you hacking at a tearing nub, so make sure to make your cut count. Like with anything, practice makes perfect, but hopefully, this guide will prevent you from making any rookie mistakes.
There are some things that you should, frankly, never ever do when cutting cigars. That said, desperate times call for desperate measures, and while messy, these methods can get the job done.
Whatever you do, make sure that you do not bite off the cap of your cigar. This will be messy, taste gross, and will not look anywhere as cool as it may in the movies. If you do not have any other options though, you can still use your teeth to get a passable cut for your cigar. Find the same part of the cap that you would try to cut in general, and use your incisors to slowly nibble away, rotating the cigar as you do.
This will certainly leave you with more tobacco in your mouth than you might like, and will not be nearly as clean as a professional cutter, your teeth should at least get you a smokable cigar.
A step up from biting into your cigar is using a pocket knife. As in all cases, a sharp knife makes all of the difference, and a dull one will be messier than it is worth. With care, slice away the cap end of your cigar, being careful not to tear the wrapper.
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