Lesson 9: Cutting the Cigar
Pick the color wrapper you prefer – dark or light. Gently feel the cigar between your fingers (don’t roll it because that could cause the wrapper to crack) to see if it’s too moist or too dry. Inspect the construction of the cigar to ensure there are no cracks in the wrapper and the cap is in good condition. While some cigar smokers like to hold the cigar up to their nose and sniff the product, others find this distasteful when they see someone put a cigar up to their nose and then put it back in the box. If you must smell the tobacco, just hold your nose 12 inches over the box of opened cigars and take a breath; this should be sufficient to determine the bouquet of the cigar, and it will cause fewer problems for other customers.
Many feel that a guillotine-style cigar cutter or cigar scissors are the most effective way to cut a premium cigar. Be careful not to cut beyond the cap of the cigar. Aside from a guillotine cutter, some smokers use a sharp knife, a cigar punch, a V-cutter, and some even use their teeth. Perhaps the most difficult cutting instrument to use is the scissor-style cutter, which requires practice, a steady hand, and a keen eye.
You’ve only just begun and you’re already in a quandary: where to cut? Well, first of all, you are cutting the uncut portion of the cigar – the head. The basic rule of thumb is to cut just past the shoulder (where the cigar stops being round). A half inch in (or 1.5 cm) usually does it, but that measure isn’t a universal guideline because of the various shapes in which a cigar may manifest itself. That’s why we’ve created this handy-dandy, where-to-cut-depending-on-the-shape-of-your-cigar guide.
Handy-Dandy Where-to-Cut-Your-Cigar Guide
Cigar heads come in three basic shapes: round, torpedo, and pyramid. You’ll notice that, in the case of a torpedo, you can’t cut it behind the shoulder because the head of the cigar inclines too gradually (you’d lose too much cigar!). And, although a pyramid straightens itself out much more quickly, in this instance, you should cut it slightly before you pass the shoulder.
The Guillotine Cut
The guillotine cut takes the technology responsible for separating many a French nobleman (circa 1792) from his head and applies it to your cigar. When purchasing your guillotine cutter, you can either select the cheaper one-blade guillotine or the more expensive two-blade guillotine. The two-blade is the better choice if you want a cleaner cut. The one-blade is preferred if you want to spend less money; however, you may have an inferior cut because the single blade sometimes has an annoying habit of smushing (that’s the technical term) one side of your cigar head.
The V-cutter offers its own unique benefit. This cutter places a V-shaped notch in your cigar tip when it makes the cut. This is sometimes desirable because the V gives you more surface area without exposing your tongue to loose tobacco (which you would need to continuously spit from your mouth – not terribly suave or sexy). Increased surface area is desirable because it allows you to draw more air through the cigar. The V-cutter is generally only used for smaller-ring cigars.
The Cigar Scissors
Cigar Scissors are the third and final cutting method. “Oh, dandy,” you say, “I’ve got a pair of those in my desk drawer!” Not so, we respond. Cigar-cutting scissors are specifically manufactured for the purpose of snipping cigars only. Forged from high-precision, surgical-quality stainless steel, they are your optimum choice for a cigar cutter. Small, pocket-sized versions are commonly available.