When I first got interested in cigars, this was my first question. I was given a quick tutorial on the proper cutting and lighting of a cigar by ABC’s own, Chris Gwaltney. A year later I was certified as a Retail Tobacconist and it always makes me smile when I have a guest ask me the very first question I asked. I’ve fallen in love with the artistry and the long history of cigars and I enjoy sharing that with my guests.
A proper cut is an essential part of enjoying a cigar. An improper cut can cause your stick to fall to pieces in your hands, and no one wants to have that happen to them. The three most popular cutters that we sell at ABC are the guillotine cutter, the punch cutter, and the V-cut (also known as a Cat’s Eye) cutter. Which cutter you use is largely up to your preferences (I tend to lean towards the guillotine cut or punch cut myself).
However, no matter which cut you take a fancy to there are a few things you should keep in mind. You don’t want to cut too far down on the cigar. A cigar is constructed in three parts: there is the filler, the binder and then finally the wrapper. The binder keeps the filler in place and an improper cut can cause damage to this all too important part of the cigar. When the binder is damaged the cigar can unravel.
An important rule is to never cut below the cap of the cigar. You can normally distinguish the end of the cap by a small line (In the picture below, my finger is on the line) where the cap meets the wrapper. I tend to cut well above that line at what is called the shoulder of the cigar. The shoulder is right where the cigar starts to curve down.
With these things in mind you should have a pretty decent understanding of how to properly cut a cigar. The only variety of cigar that can be a bit trickier is what is called a figurado which generally ends in a point as opposed to a rounded cap. An example would be a torpedo cigar. The cap rule still applies with these but you have a bit more control on how much you can cut.
I wish you a happy smoke but remember. You do have to cut the end first.
Marcus Hess, ABC Fine Wine & Spirits Tobacconist – Fernandina Beach