There is nothing quite as gratifying as relaxing with a great cigar. The unmistakable aromas of fine tobacco, the swirling dance of the smoke, the savory flavors massaging the palate, all coming together to create a magical experience. Before that moment comes, however, a cigar must be properly readied. This guide will show you how to prepare a cigar for smoking, so you can find maximum enjoyment with a fine Cuban.
How To Prepare a Cigar for Beginners
The first step of the cigar-smoking journey is, of course, purchasing a great cigar. Always look to reputable dealers and seals of authenticity. Whether you buy Cuban cigars from your favorite online retailer or from your local brick and mortar shop, there is a wonderful variety and chance to buy the finest cigars to suit your tastes.
There are many different cigar sizes and types from which to choose. The size, the shape, tobacco-growing region, and even how the cigars are made are all factors that contribute to a cigar’s character. So, understanding the differences and how they might affect the overall cigar experience will help you to better select the right cigar for the occasion. This, along with a little bit of trial and error, will help to define your personal preferences and be ready to prepare your cigar for action.
How to Cut a Cigar
Before you can spark up a premium cigar, you will need to cut the cigar. A genuine high-quality cigar will have a small piece of tobacco leaf, called the cap, which is placed over the head of the cigar. This ensures the wrapper leaf stays in place and holds the contents of the entire cigar together.
There are various ways of how to cut a cigar, yet ultimately an incision of some kind is required to open the end of the cigar. You do not want to remove the cap entirely, as the cigar can unravel and make for a rather disappointing experience. Removing just a portion of the cap still allows you to draw through the cigar, letting you light up and enjoy all the flavors the tobaccos have to offer.
The ever-expanding range of cigar cutters means there is a cutter for just about every occasion or type of cigar. Finding the best cigar cutter for your cigar might take a bit of experimenting on your part. Yet understanding the different types of cigar cutters and what each brings to the cigar experience will help in the process.
The most popular of cigar cutters, the guillotine cutter is generally found in a single blade or double blade formats that slice through the very tip of the cigar’s head. It can work for all different cigar shapes. Guillotine cutters are preferred by many cigar aficionados as the cutters create a larger opening on the end of the cigar from which to draw through, as well as the flexibility to cut a wide range of sizes.
Punch cigar cutters, cut or “punch” a small hole in the head of the cigar with a circular blade, allowing a clean and precise opening through which to draw. Small and compact, these cutters are often attached to keyrings, making for an ideal option when traveling.
A connoisseur’s classic, scissor-style cutters offer a similar type of cut to that of a guillotine yet with a touch more flair and sophistication. These scissors feature short rounded blades, optimized for cutting cigars. As you bring the blades together, they snip the head of the cigar to provide a large aperture through which to draw. Cigar scissors can range from the large desktop models ideal for relaxing in a lounge setting, to smaller pocket-sized variations perfect for when you are out and about.
The V-Cut is the most intriguing of all cigar cutters. Occasionally referred to as a cat-eye or wedge cutter, a V-cutter carves a V shape out of the head of the cigar. Proponents of the V-cut suggest the two surface areas provide for a smoke that is more complex in both body and taste. These cutters were once limited to specific sizes and shapes, yet modern designs offer much greater flexibility.
There are times throughout every cigar aficionado’s journey that a cigar cutter might not be readily available. The ways you can improvise are endless, yet there are a few practical ways to cut a cigar efficiently.
If no cigar cutter is available, then a small knife, razor blade or any other sharpened utensil will prove adequate. These devices can mimic the cutting action of a guillotine cigar cutter.
Remember to exercise great caution when cutting – losing a finger is okay but don’t lose a Montecristo No 2 to a bad cut. Using a poker to punch one or several holes is another option.
As a last resort, you can also use your fingernail or teeth to remove a small portion of the cap. Contrary to the popular myth you should never try to bite off the end of a premium cigar. Take a deeper look at how to cut a cigar without a cutter to learn why biting is never a good thing and other strategies that will help you in a time of need.
After cutting your cigar you are ready to set it to flame and expose all of the sensory treasures hidden within the tobacco. Understanding the steps of how to light a cigar properly will not only provide for an evenly lit cigar but a more rewarding cigar smoking experience.
Toasting or heating the entire foot of the cigar before you fully ignite allows each of the three parts of a cigar to burn at the same time. Skipping this step can often result in unevenly lit tobacco and can adversely affect the initial taste of the cigar. While it takes a little longer, warming the foot until it is entirely toasted gives you a better chance of enjoying the cigar to its fullest.
Only after toasting can you light the cigar fully.To avoid excessive heat and residues from the flame source, never place the cigar directly into the flame, rather just out of its reach. As you draw through the cigar, the heat from the flame will ignite the tobacco cleanly and efficiently.
Learn more about How to Light a Cigar to maximize your cigar smoking journey, with best practice on how to touch up and relight a cigar, along with the pros and cons of different modes of lighting: matches, lighters, cedar strips, torch lighters and more.
Preparing a cigar for enjoyment is not just a process, but a major part of the cigar-smoking ritual. It helps you slow down and get into a zone where you can better savor the flavor and moment Sit back with your cigar, relax, and celebrate becoming a full-fledged cigar aficionado!