Rafael Nodal has had a hand in blending some of the most renowned cigars in the world, gathering huge ratings and prestigious awards along the way…not bad for a kid who was picking oranges in Cuba at 15. Today, we sit with Rafael to discover the 5 cigars that influenced his style, earned him success, and give some little-known facts about your favorite Altadis and Boutique Blends.
2014 CA Report: 10 Top Performing Cigar Lighters
Top 10 Cigar Lighters: Essential Gear for Better Smoking
We’ve tested our way through some of the best torches on the market to create a list of the top 10 cigar lighters out there in the cigar world…and added an extra for good measure. Hey, with so many good options, it’s hard to keep it capped at 10. So from single jet to flamethrower sizes, and from dirt cheap to blue chip prices – here is an array of the best butane torch cigar lighters that, depending on your wants/needs/desires, will do the job nicely on your next cigar.
Ed. Note: the lighters selected for this updated guide reflect current availability as of February 2017.
EXTREME PERFORMER: Xikar Stratosphere High Altitude Lighter
Because mountain climbers smoke cigars, too. Or maybe because you live in Casper, Wyoming (elev. 5200’), and you’re tired of the cigar lighters in your arsenal going ass-up when it’s time to fire up a tasty, mild Macanudo. Because science says so, altitude can do funny things to cigars: not only will your cigar (supposedly) burn slower, you might even have trouble lighting it because the air is thinner. And that’s where the XIKAR Stratosphere cigar lighter comes in. It’s fitted with a protective rubber body, and this torch lighter’s windproof flame burns bright and hot at up to 12,000’ above sea level…which means you’ll be toasting that Churchill issue-free pretty much anywhere. Easy to fuel and adjust, lifetime guarantee and wickedly affordable – this is essential gear to light your victory cigar whether you’re celebrating (a) a successful climb of Mt. Hood, or (b) the successful climb up the steps of your front porch.
ROCK STAR LOOKS: Black Label Dictator Flat Flame Lighter
Roll up and inspect closely, friends – your eyes do not deceive you…the flame of this lighter is flat. Somehow science has pressed the high-heat output of the traditional torch cigar lighter into a wind-resistant flat flame; and your smaller ring cigars might just send you a thank you note. The Dictator packs more punch than you might expect, forgoing the pinpoint precision of a plain single flame lighter for a broader area of impact; that makes the habit of lighting a cigar with the Black Label Dictator a decidedly different “wall of fire” experience. Fuel efficiency still matters, though, and this flat flame cigar torch and sips butane with the best of them – which you can monitor by peeking in the fuel window. Built-in punch cutter make this lighter an all-in-one tagalong. Classy and solid, fits well in the hand. Do it.
THE CLASSIC: Zippo Classic Cigar Lighter
Zippo lighters have been setting fire to the world’s smokeables since the early 1930’s – and have been a required accessory for both film heroes and American GIs, the latter who were actually equipped with Zippo lighters when the company dedicated all their manufacturing to the U.S. military in 1939; and an American icon was born. This Zippo lighter retains the retro look and features their patented `wind-proof’ screen. BUT – and this is a big but – it uses Zippo lighter fluid, which many cigar smokers think alters the taste of their smoke. Because necessity is a mother-f*@#er and inventors are smart, you can pop in a Thunderbird Butane Torch insert ($9.99) and have a Zippo cigar lighter that has that familiar shape and distinctive click. It’s a classic for cigar and cigarette smokers. Get one.
RAGING INFERNO: Vector Tri-Pump Table Top Cigar Lighter
I could also call this your “TOP HERF BUDDY,” or more accurately, “MOST CLOSELY RESEMBLES WELDING EQUIPMENT.” I might even be so bold as to liken it to the tabletop, stogie-lighting version of the Shockwave Jet Truck. Points in case…it’s a handful: 3 hefty jets are in play, wielded with precision and gusto; and performance peaks when the flame adjustment is pointed to full blast. The thumbwheel is the ignition, the other wheel controls the flame adjustment; but the Tri-Pump is an infectious device, making you want to light many things (or many cigars) with it just because it’s fun to use. Bonus points for all-metal construction and an oversized fuel tank (this thing holds a ton of gas). Take it home, just for the conversation piece factor alone.
RIDICULOUSLY CHEAP: Vertigo Spectre Quad Flame Lighter
So let’s get this straight…a quad flame butane torch with fold-out cigar punch, oversize fuel reservoir with a massive window, all in a single action ignition lighter – and for under 15 bucks? Behold, my friends: it’s the Vertigo Spectre. This is Vertigo’s M.O.: pack a lighter with a ton of features found on some of the best cigar lighters in the biz, dial back the price tag to a ridiculously low amount. As cigar lighters go, the design on the Spectre is pretty straightforward (and dare I say typical); but let it loose in the skills competition, and the Spectre runs wild and free. Four jets make quick work of the big ring gordos in your humidor, though I do have one irk: it’s a little light. For short change, you’ll likely find you can live with that – as you’ll have yourself a four flame cigar torch lighter that’s feature-rich like the big money models, without the assault on your wallet. Dump your other cheapos and jump on this.
CLASSY AS HELL: Rocky Patel South Beach Quad Flame
Points up front for snazzy. This Rocky Patel branded butane torch lighter is available in a variety of Art Deco colors; if that’s your thing, I say go for the gaudiest: wear it loud and wear it proud, brother. Screaming “South Beach” through a megaphone, this bright tropical blue/green-hued gem lays the burn without hesitation: 4 powerful jets will roast and toast your cigar with reckless abandon. The South Beach Quad Flame, at almost 5” tall is technically a tabletop cigar lighter – be mindful of that, as carrying it around would make you feel like you’re walking with a third leg. So while it’s not pocket-friendly, it IS big ring friendly: just flip back the cap and fire away for a quick and mighty light. Good thing there are Rocky Patel 6×60 cigars out there.
THE GOLF PARTNER: Vertigo Tee Time Golf Lighter with Divot Tool
Vertigo is made by Lotus, but designed more with value in mind. And this Vertigo Tee Time Golf Lighter is so disgustingly inexpensive as cigar lighters go, it’s almost shameless – maybe even shameless enough to help you cheat on your golf score, I bet. It’s a wind-resistant single jet torch lighter that features a slide out divot tool (so that you may be courteous on the green), removable ball marker (so that you may be honest on the green) and – when you stand it up on the tines of the divot tool – functions as a cigar holder (so that you don’t put your cigar on the grass. Seriously – do you even want to know the amount of fertilizer it takes to keep the course green?). Add this torch lighter to your golf gear immediately.
THE OVERACHIEVER: Vertigo Churchill Quad Flame Lighter
If you didn’t think you could get your hands on a quality quad flame butane torch for less than the cost of a cigar 5-pack – think again, muchacho. Vertigo does it in style, and in relatively compact style at that. There is sorcery at work here, as it wasn’t previously believed to be physically possible to cram this much stuff into one pocket-sized piece. Check off the pluses: the Churchill feels solid in the hand, lights quickly and offers a cigar punch that folds into the bottom of the case. Even better – no more butane roulette…you know, guessing when it’s time to refill? This Vertigo cigar lighter sports a huge tank AND a fuel level window, while providing adjustable heat. Big thing, small package. Add one of these cigar lighters to your torch arsenal.
THE SOLID PERFORMER: Lotus Scorpion Pinpoint Dual Flame Lighter
Made by Lotus, the price is especially nice for a two-flame lighter whose jets are uniquely pitched inward – allowing the Scorpion to deliver twice the heat with the pinpoint accuracy of a single flame. It’s a win-win: you can light bigger cigars, without gobbling butane like the quad flames do. What makes this especially nice is the integrated 9mm cigar punch that folds out on the bottom of the case. That’s larger than usual – making this a helpful option for cutting both large and small cigars. It ain’t hefty, so no worries about carrying this one around with you – plus it’s easy to adjust, refill and bleed, and throws two torches worth of heat at my smoke on demand with one click of that oversized “START” button on the front. So in totality, that’s more like 5 or 6 wins. Lots of winning.
SPARE NO EXPENSE: Zino Jet Flame Lighter
Need a lighter to match those $800 shoes? Of course you do. Or skip the kicks and save some coin for more cigars with a sweet deal on Zino-level quality and craftsmanship. Indeed, the cost of ownership goes up when you start adding the exotic finishes…but boy, do they look nice. The Zino Jet lighter is finished in a handful of very formal lacquers, and trimmed in chrome so that the Lux-Meter pins at “sharp.” Though a modest single jet flame, it still points huge heat while being butane-conscious – which you can monitor through the fuel window in back. A classy everyday carry that’s pocket friendly, too – consider it an investment in future cigar enjoyment.
ESSENTIAL CARRY: XIKAR Tech Double Flame Lighter
Goldilocks. Xikar designs some pretty nice-looking stuff, yet this is not the only quality that secures the Tech’s spot on our Top Lighters list. I got it free with a box of cigars I bought a little while back – which should serve as a reminder to ALWAYS be on the lookout for a freebie deal on stuff like cigar lighters when you buy cigars online. The Tech double flame is in my arsenal, because a 2-flame cigar lighter really fits that sweet spot for robustos, toros and torpedoes – but the world is your oyster, as you can opt for a Xikar Tech in anything from single flame to quad jet, depending on your cigar lighting needs. Top-notch engineering is paired with devilishly good looks, with Xikar going with a transparent (yet durable) body that will never leave you guessing about how much butane is in the tank. Backed by a lifetime guarantee, this is a great anytime/anywhere tool – and for the money, probably the best cigar lighter you can put in your pocket.