Before you can enjoy a cigar, part of the cigar’s cap must be removed before lighting so the smoke can flow evenly through the stick’s body and into the smoker’s mouth. There are six varieties of cutters that can make this happen:
- Single-Blade Guillotine
- Double-Blade Guillotine
- V or “Cat’s Eye”
The scissors and both versions of the guillotine produce a “straight cut” and remain two of the more popular ways to start your cigar off right. Because of their shape, a straight cut is the only way to remove the cap from torpedo, belicoso and perfecto cigars.
Punch cutters take a different approach and pierce the cap, creating a hole through the binder and into the wrapper. The resultant deep hole creates a concentrated stream of smoke. At one point, the punch appealed to smokers of another era; however, it has somewhat fallen out of favor today.
The bullet remains a popular cutter in certain circles; it leaves a shallow slice anywhere from a .25 caliber to 9 mm in diameter.
The V cut (once referred to as a Cat’s Eye) was popular until the 1970s, when it fell out of favor. However, its modern rarity means it is guaranteed to draw eyes during your next cigar party, should you carry one with you.
Remember, it is important above all else to use a sharp blade; a dull one will damage the wrapper and cause it to unravel. Chewing off the end of your cigar likewise has the high potential to damage the stick before smoking.
When making a straight cut, do not make the beginner’s error of lopping off the entire top of the cigar; this is the surest way to unravel the wrapper and wreck the cigar before it’s even lit. When cutting, make sure to take the slimmest possible bit off the top that still allows you to take a comfortable draw.
There are several ways to light your cigar. Many clubs and lounges will offer a cedar strip, referred to as a “spill” or “split,” but these can sometimes be messy.
Paper matches are likewise impractical, although wooden matches are a time-honored and acceptable way of lighting your cigar.
Lighters that use kerosene-based liquid fuel can ruin the flavor of your cigar’s tobacco. Use a butane lighter instead, which produces an odorless blue flame.