Properly Cutting a Cigar

January 25, 2016

Preparing to smoke a top-quality cigar is hardly a chore; in fact, it’s a relaxing ritual and a chance to view, smell, and feel the artistry, bouquet, and craftsmanship of a fine work of art. Unless you are a total newbie, or have smoked only machine-made brands, you know that almost every premium cigar has a closed head that must be cut before you can begin to smoke.

Many smokers feel that a guillotine-style cigar cutter is the most effective way to cut a premium cigar. Since this process involves a modicum of precision, I always prefer to rely on my handy Xikar Cutter. Beautifully engineered, this cutter features dual surgical-steel blades that never dull, and is designed to be both comfortable in the hand and well balanced for that perfect snip.

In the absence of a guillotine cutter, some smokers use a sharp knife, a cigar punch, a V-cutter, a cheap plastic single-blade model, or even their teeth! With practice, all of these methods will get the job done, but in my opinion, nothing beats the precise cut of a Xikar, crafted by one of the few manufacturers to make a solid, dependable line of V-Cutters that don’t turn the head of your cigar into shredded lettuce!

So, where to cut? You are cutting the uncut portion of the cigar—the head. The basic rule of thumb for a standard-shaped stick is to cut just past its shoulder (where the cigar’s curved head begins to straighten); a half-inch in (or 1.5 cm) usually does it.

Rarer than their standard-shaped counterparts, figurado cigars are are more difficult to make and a bit trickier to cut.
So, perform the cutting process little by little. After each cut, pause and perform a cold draw. If the cigar is drawing too tightly, make another small cut until it is drawing just right. Just be careful: if you cut too much off the tip, you’ve turned that beautiful pyramid into a toro, and will lose the unique manner in which this cigar shape directs its smoke your palate and delivers the cigar’s full balance and complexity.

Because of a figurado-shaped cigar’s tapered end, you should not use a punch cutter, as it will most likely destroy the head, or at the very least prevent you from getting an adequate draw. That’s why I always recommend that a guillotine-style cutter or a V-Cutter—and a good one like Xikar.

The Xikar Gunmetal V-Cut Key Chain will take the guesswork out of cutting a figurado and works beautifully on a standard parejo as well. This little devil is made for the cigar smoker on the go, and will always provide the perfect “cat’s-eye” notch while leaving the cap firmly in place.

As for the standard double-blade guillotine, we sell these affordable Xikar cutters in just about every style, including Beechwood, Zebrawood, Silver, Carbon Fiber, and Pearl, just to name a few. While you’re at it, check out our extensive Xikar lineup, find the right one for you, and start snipping those stogies in style!


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