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!

Gary Korb

Gary Korb

Executive Editor

Gary Korb has been writing and editing content for 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
nowsmoking 300 manos 300 hands habano cigar review Cigar Advisor Cover

#nowsmoking: Southern Draw 300 Manos Habano Petite Edmundo

#nowsmoking the Southern Draw 300 Manos Habano, “the poster child for ultra-creamy cigars with a woody, full-flavored profile.” Click now to get our tasting notes, and everything else you need to know about this cigar in under 60 seconds…

Read More
cacover fan mail cigar questions pt 25

Fan Mail: Your Burning Cigar Questions, Answered (Part 25)

Fan Mail returns: so many questions have come in since our last presentation it was hard to choose, but some of topics we’re talking about today include tips for cutting extra-wide ring gauge cigars, a trick to unplug a torch lighter, plus questions about Maduro and cigar flavor profiles…watch our videos now!

Read More
now smoking Sept 17 2018

#Nowsmoking: Indomina By AJ Fernandez Robusto

Superb craftsmanship. Good smoke volume and excellent burn. A super-snappy treat for spice hounds…read more now!

Read More
Jon Huber Crwoned Heads cigars interview

Master Blenders Series: Jon Huber of Crowned Heads Cigars

Crowned Heads Cigars' Jon Huber knows how a great cigar should taste, be made and be marketed. Learn his secrets in this Cigar Advisor podcast interview! 
Read More