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What Causes a Cigar Tunnel?
A 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!