Q. I am new to fine cigars. Have been buying off the store shelves. I have the man behind the counter cut the end for me. How much should be cut, or is putting a hole in the end better? I would like to do this myself. Could you recommend a tool for this task?
A. YOU should cut your cigars, and it’s quite simple. I suggest you use a double-blade cutter – one of good quality that will hold up over time, like the XiKAR cigar cutters – but as long as it’s sharp, that’s the key.
Basically, you want to “pop” the cap off the head of the cigar. Also, the more area you expose on the head, the better the cigar will smoke. Using a punch (hole-in-the-head-type) cutter can concentrate the smoke and cause the tars to buildup, which can make the cigar bitter. Carefully place the cutter over the cap and try to sheer off the head. Basically, you want to “scalp” the cigar. If it has a good cap, it will pop off in a little tobacco disc. Even if you don’t get all of it, a good, sharp cutter will permit you to trim the head further without cutting too much. It takes a little practice, but you should have it down in no time.
Another method is to lay the open cutter flat on a table; place the cigar’s head in the hole so it’s also resting on the table. Then snap the cutter shut. That usually sheers off the head pretty well. But be careful of the depth between the blades and the table, because you can cut too much and cause the cigar to unravel.
Actually, XiKAR also makes a cutter called the 333 Easy Cut cigar cutter (see photo) that performs the above method without having to use a tabletop. It’s pretty cool, wicked sharp, and provides just the right amount of depth.