Cutting Your Cigar

Because most premium cigars have the mouth end sealed with a cap of tabacco you have to create an opening in the head of the cigar before you can smoke it. So where exactly does one do this and with what?

A good sharp guillotine or pair of cigar scissors do the job very well and are recommendable. V-Cutters can be quite awkward to use as often they do not fit the cigar being cut, or are not sharp enough and more tear their way through the cap than cut it. Piercing, with a match or anything else, is to be positively discourage as it an upset the way the filler leaves guide the smoke and result in a focus for heat and tars. Using your own fingernails or teeth is fine, but only if you know what you are doing; with this natural method the risks of removing the whole cap and then standing by helpless as the wrapper unravels are great.

Assuming that a guillotine is used, then where is the best place to cut? The cap that is used to seal the cigar also keeps the wrapper leaf from unraveling, so it is important when cutting to leave enough of the cap in place to ensure this does not happen, whilst at the same time opening up the cigar to the full extent of its bore so that one can draw freely from it. Therefore the best place to cut is right on the shoulders of the cigar, removing the top of the cap as if it were a thin layer of skin but not cutting too deeply into the body of the cigar.

The Band

Taking the band off a cigar often risks damaging the wrapper as the two are sometimes glued together. If you wish to take the band off, this can usually be done without damaging the wrapper after one third of the cigar has been smoked, for by then the wrapper has warmed up and become more subtle. Even then the band should not be pulled off, like a ring off a finger, but rather peeled off.


Lighting is all about following two simple rules; take your time, and do a thorough job. The worst thing that can happen is a partial lighting, as then the cigar burns down unevenly and does not draw well. An even ignition must be achieved before the smoker settles down to enjoy the cigar.

The best route to an even ignition is to first of all char the end of the cigar, holding it at a forty-five percent to the flame to avoid scorch marks to the wrapper. This charring leaves the cigar ready to catch at the next stage, which is when the smoker puts the cigar to the mouth, draws on it whilst rotating it just above the flame, and causes the flame to "jump" on to the end of the cigar. A blow on the lit end will show how thorough an ignition has taken place, and if necessary the cigar is returned to the flame and drawn on until the entire end of the cigar has caught.

It is very important that an odorless flame be used to light a cigar. This means that wooden matches and butane lighter are good for the job, whilst petrol lighters and candles are bad; the dirty odors from these last two will be drawn through the cigar and interfere with its natural tobacco flavors.


To best enjoy a cigar one should not inhale the smoke. The true pleasure is to be found in appreciating the composition of tobacco flavors and these can only be detected on the palate by your sense of taste. Thus any smoke inhaled to the toes is wasted.

What to do with the ash of the cigar is a consideration worth mentioning. Many first time smokers will be tempted to treat their cigar like a cigarette, continually tapping the slightest ash off, when in fact a cigar's ash should be allowed to build up until it is ready to fall, as its consistency is a testomony to ow well the cigar has been made.

Cigars often go out in the course of being smokes, especially as they near the last third. This is because natural oils are concentrating in the reducing cigar, and they automatically put the cigar out if it is not being drawn on regularly. This does not necessarily mean that the cigar is finished, but probably that it is time to re-light. As a rule of thumb you can re-light a cigar up to an hour after it has cone out without its flavors deteriorating. Half-smoked cigars cannot be left for finishing the following day, as the cigar goes stale in the meantime and is not pleasant on re-lighting.