There are several different methods for cutting cigars, and a variety of tools to cut them with. You’ve got your single-blade guillotine cigar cutter, your double-blade, punch cutter, V-cutter and cigar scissors. Some cigar smokers use a toothpick or their teeth. Whichever method or tool you prefer, the key to a good cut is removing the cap without cutting too much of the cigar. You want to keep the cut above the “shoulders” of the cigar. This is the spot where the cap and wrapper meet. If you examine the head of the cigar, you’ll notice a strip (or strips) of tobacco just below the cap, so you want to cut just above that line. Cutting below the shoulders may result in your cigar unraveling on you, followed by steam coming out of your ears.
Since the majority of cigar smokers use a double-blade cutter, including moi, here’s the technique I’ve found most effective for getting a nice clean cut. I call it “scalping the cap.”
- Open your double-blade cutter and position it over the head of the cigar about 1/16th of an inch down.
- Note the direction of the wrapper seam. Depending on how it was rolled, it will be spiraled to the left or right.
- Slowly close the blades just enough to break through the skin of the cap.
- Begin turning the blades in the same direction as the seams.
- When you get about 1/2 to 3/4 of the way around you should see the cap starting to unhinge. Snap the blades together, and an almost perfect circle of tobacco will pop-off.
- Test the cigar for draw. If it’s good, you’re ready to toast and light-up.
Note that you don’t have to use the “scalping” technique. You can just as easily place the cutter in position and quickly SNAP the blades closed.
Cutting figurados, or tapered head cigars like Torpedoes is a little different. Because the wrapper leaf goes all the way to the tip of the head, there is no cap. With a figurado, you want to get as small a cut as possible while still being able to draw easily through the cigar. For these cigar shapes, position the blades about a 1/4 of an inch from the top. Quickly snap the cutter and test the draw. If it’s too tight, lop-off only about another 1/6th of an inch, and draw again. Repeat this procedure until the draw is where you want it. Note that if you go too far, you also risk the cigar unraveling. This is why it’s best to start with a small cut, and work your way down.