Cigars 101

What Causes a Cigar Tunnel?

Gary KorbA cigar tunnel (or tunneling), a circumstance in which a cigar’s wrapper leaf doesn’t burn, causing a cave-like formation in the foot of the cigar, can be caused by several factors: First, the binder tobaccos could be to blame. The purpose of the binder leaf is to help all of the tobaccos burn at approximately the same rate. Therefore, if the wrapper is too moist, too thick, or too oily, it may not burn at the same rate as the filler and binder. (Maduro and Oscuro cigar wrappers tend to be much oilier than most shade grown and other “natural” wrapper leaves.)

Another cause of tunneling is when the wrapper is not neatly rolled around the bunch causing a gap between the wrapper and binder. It may not be noticeable to the naked eye, but all the wrapper needs is a minuscule bit of gap between it and the binder to cause tunneling.  There is also a condition called “double bunching.” If a cigar is properly rolled all the leaves will “fall into line” when its lit and you’ll get a nice clean ash. It’s a rare occurrence, but what happens is, during the bunching process the binder gets doubled back causing it to be too thick. Because there is now “more” combustible tobacco in the mix, the cigar will tunnel.

Finally, make sure you get a good even burn at the foot when lighting your cigars. The leaf at the center, normally the ligero, burns slowest, so if the surrounding tobaccos burn properly you should get a well-formed cone or “cherry” when you tap off the ash.

 

Sometimes because the construction issues are inherent to the individual cigar, this problem can not be corrected. In those cases, you have to make the decision based on how severe the cigar tunnel is, and how much you’re enjoying the cigar otherwise. You can either continue to smoke in spite of the issue, or just give up, toss it, and try another stick. Comment below and let us know how you make the call on whether to keep smoking or throw it away!

14
Leave a Reply

avatar
14 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
9 Comment authors
Jeffrey HurleyHarry LennardSeagar lvrDeanoMongrel Recent comment authors
newest oldest most voted
Danno
Guest
Danno

This is a major problem with premium cigars. My biggest issue is that it seems to happen with specific makers, and that most of the box will tunnel. It is like trying to smoke a tobacco straw. One highly coveted brand is consistently underfilled. Gary’s reasons may also play into this, but I’ll be damned that a major manufacturer can’t consistently roll a proper cigar. I have NEVER had a Padron tunnel, and I have smoked literally thousands. Fuente, maybe two, at most, having smoked thousands as well. If Gary’s reasons are the case with the cigars I am referring… Read more »

santana
Guest
santana

agreed…

Mongrel
Guest
Mongrel

let’s face it, this is a common factor in cheap cigars (over priced cigars), and some green cigars. it’s the roll and age that matters! you can take cheap leaf and roll a good burner. if it’s done properly and aged well in a humi anything can burn well. brands like these aren’t sold with respect, they’re pushed.

Deano
Guest

Amen.

Ed Engelhardt
Guest
Ed Engelhardt

A major problem? Wouldn’t consistency be a trait of any good company? I’m kind of new in the cigar world, so after trying a sampler pack of Java Corona. They were great, so I picked up a box of 24. OK, this is no joke. I have had about 7 cigars so far and each one does the same thing. The first inch and a half, they smoke fine. After that, these literally go out about every 30 seconds. So I keep re-lighting. That’s when the tunneling starts. After about 2 inches, the tunneling gets worse and worse to the… Read more »

Gary Korb
Guest

ED: You are not the first person to whom this has happened. And I don’t just mean Java, but other cigars, too. The weirdest part is, the cigars, be they 5-packs, singles, or boxes, all come from the same factory and use approximately the same tobaccos. I say “approximately” because though the blend remains consistent, there may be some inconsistencies in the tobaccos themselves, not to mention that the cigars may also have been bunched and rolled by different workers at different times. When you factor in sorting and boxing etc., it’s always surprised me how so many cigars can… Read more »

trackback

[…] to know more? Check out these resources on the topic of cigar tunneling: What Causes a Cigar to Tunnel? on Famoussmoke.com Burn Problems on Cigars4dummies.com Burn Issues in Cigars on […]

Craig Ihlefeld
Guest
Craig Ihlefeld

I just keep on smoking. It does not draw like I like but I don’t want to waste a stick

Marco Lebron
Guest
Marco Lebron

I’ve have a lot of issues lately with my father cigars! It seems like he’s trying to keep up with demand and it’s afecting the quality of his construction. I have stopped buying his cigars cause I’m tired of wasting my hard earned dough.

Dan Smith
Guest
Dan Smith

I kept on smoking a Rocky Patel Super Ligero that was tunneling bad, forced myself all the way to the end of it. Had to puff every 15-20 seconds or so to keep it lit and went through about 10 matches. Puked about 10 minutes after. Wasn’t worth it.

Andrew Carson
Guest
Andrew Carson

I get this problem often with Petit Edmundos. It’s a royal PITA.

Seagar lvr
Guest
Seagar lvr

Was smoking a Romeo y Julieta churchill. Had to relight so many time in 2nd half that I finally ditched the stick with 2 1/2 inches left. Kept tunneling badly. The cigar was well humidified. After a few easy puffs the tunneling returned. It was not a maduro.

Harry Lennard
Guest

I have had some success cutting off 3/4″. May have to do it a couple of times.

Jeffrey Hurley
Guest
Jeffrey Hurley

I hate when that happens! Rarely, I’ve been able to fix one with a cigar pick or some long, thin metal object. I always thought it was because they got leaf stem or something caught up in the cigar. That explains why my technique rarely works!

Gary Korb

Gary Korb

Executive Editor

Gary Korb has been writing and editing content for CigarAdvisor.com since its debut in 2008. An avid cigar smoker for over 30 years, during the past 12 years he has worked on the marketing side of the premium cigar business as a Sr. Copywriter, blogger, and cigar reviewer. A graduate of the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, prior to his career in the cigar business, Gary worked in the music and video industry as a marketer and a publicist.

Show all Gary Korb's Articles
Master Blenders Podcast Nestor Plasencia Jr 2019 Cigar Advisor Cover

Master Blenders: Nestor Plasencia Jr., VP of Plasencia Tobacco S.A. (2019)

Nestor Plasencia Jr. joins Cigar Advisor’s Gary Korb for another Master Blenders video podcast: watch them talk about the Plasencia family’s 154 years of tobacco growing, the success of Alma Fuerte cigars, how they grow and create hybrid tobaccos, and more.

Read More
5 things about maduro cigars cacover

5 Things You Need To Know About… Maduro Cigars

Maduro-nados: Besides the fact that you love this sweet, dark leaf, what else do you know about this delicious cigar choice? Go deep in the weeds with us as we dig out 5 fun facts about this fetching, extra-fermented tobacco, and why it’s such a fan favorite.

Read More

CA Year-End Report: 2018 Top 25 Best New Cigars of the Year

Our Top 25 Cigars of 2018 are announced: these are the year’s best smokes, each a new-for 2018 release that more than impressed us…they left a mark. If you’re feeling adventurous for new cigars to try, here’s a quick n’ tidy recap of the selections we think are totally worth your time.

Read More
top new cigars April 20 2018 CAcover

CA Report: Top New Cigars – Apr. 20 2018

Looking for new cigars to bring to the golf course this year? We have three great picks from Trinidad, Romeo y Julieta and EPC that will make your next round of 18 great, no matter what your scorecard says. Before you grip it and rip it - grab these new additions for your travel humi today!
Read More