…aaaaaand, Cut –
“In the perfect world, I would retire all this fabulousness traveling, promoting my wares, or – in the least – humidor bathing, but for the cut. I don’t have to like it, but I respect it … so stage left is where I exit.”
Cutting a cigar is a precise point of entry into the delicacy of cigar smoking. Although you could take anything sharp – like teeth – to your cigar, there are techniques and devices specific to the art.
Like a knight in shining armor, the cigar cap preserves the valuable soon to be consumed and is the ideal place for cutting. The Cap is placed at the top of the cigar to secure the filler and wrapping. Once cut, it exposes the head (of the cigar) for puffing. The cap is where you should keep the cut. Too much more might compromise the flavor. Generally speaking, only cut the tip.
Like a rose stem or a piece of construction paper the cap cut should be quick to keep it clean. This is not time for contemplation … just commit and cut. Things you should know before cutting: how you want to cut it and what to cut it with. Let’s explore three common cuts:
- Guillotine (straight cut)
- A guillotine cutter is flat with round openings on either end for a thumb and a finger to pull it apart, exposing the hole in the middle of the device. The cigar is placed in the whole, the cutter is rapidly pushed closed and “snip,” the cap is off. This is the most common and usually has a single or double blade. Double blades make a cleaner cut. There are also cigar scissors which can be more exacting when used by a seasoned cutter. Imagine the difference between using a paper cutter or a pair of scissors. The scissors allow more liberty when cutting but can easily turn into jagged edges and spilled filler for the novice cutter. For most, the guillotine cutter is more practical, more accessible, less expensive, and easier and safer to transport. The guillotine cutter also allows maximum smoke with minimum build up.
- Punch cut
- The three primary punches are bullet punch, Havana punch and multi-punch. The bullet puncher is named for its shape. The top is twisted off to expose the circular blade to create a similarly shaped punch in the cigar cap. This is preferred by some who may want less smoke and/or limit the chances of getting tobacco in their mouth. Some have an aversion to this cut because the draw can be constricted, and chances of saliva and tar buildup are increased. That’s not tasty! Unlike the bullet, the Havana puncher is safer because the top is more secure, reducing the chances of the blade being exposed. Also, the blade is recessed, unlike on the bullet puncher. Multi-punchers are no misnomer; they offer different sized holes for different sized cigars.
- V-cut (a.k.a. notch cut, cat’s eye, wedge cut, English cut)
- V-cutters are like guillotine cutters, but they cut a wedge into the cap, instead of cutting the cap off. The wedge …. imagine two Vs turned sideways opened toward each other or the kissing lips emoji. V-cuts penetrate deeper into the filler, which is good for more flavor consumption; and the tapered shape moderates the smoke. For aficionados, this is the best of both worlds.
Cigar cutting is a geometric art to be done when the cigar is ready for consumption, as not to dry it out. The goal is an even smoke without frayed ends. A clean, fast cut with a clean, sharp cutter is ideal.
Now that you’re ready to light up, you better not reach for a BIC. A respectable cigar lighter has a tank for refueling and burns like a torch. A cigar that has been manufactured with care, unpackaged and cut with precision justifies an even burn and that can only be accomplished with a fierce flame. So, ladies watch your acrylic, lashes and extensions when lighting up. A good cigar lighter has at least three torches for a steady and even toasting.
Hold the foot of the cigar just above the flame and rotate in a circle while also rotating the flame around the foot and edges until your cigar has an even glow. While rotating the cigar and flame, take long, slow draws from the cigar. And for the most enigmatic, anti-climactic, conclusion: do not inhale! Correct, take short puffs until the foot is glowing evenly and consistently enough to burn independent of the flame. As an exception – usually for seasoned smokers – there’s the retrohale. Retrohaling consists of drawing from the cigar, absorbing the taste, blowing the smoke out of your mouth and inhaling it in through your nose.
Cigar smoking is a proverbial blowing smoke experience; except the more you smoke, the more refined your palate becomes for the subtle flavors of the cigar. Though the cigar is the star, smoking isn’t necessarily the highlight of the experience. What you pair your cigar with and who you share a smoke with is the making or breaking driving force.
Next in Series: Sharing & Pairing