The world of cigar smoking is one steeped in tradition, craftsmanship and a sense of refined enjoyment. One of the most important things when preparing a fine handmade cigar for smoking is the art of cutting the sealed end off the cigar. A well-executed cut ensures an optimal draw, allowing the smoker to fully savour the flavours and aromas that make each cigar a unique experience. There are various types of cutters available – straight cutters, V cutters, and punch cutters. If you want to get into cigar smoking a decent cutter is an essential purchase. Here is our quick guide.
Straight cutters are often considered the quintessential choice for cutting cigars. They consist of a guillotine-style blade that cleanly slices off the cap of the cigar. This method exposes a large cross-section of the filler, allowing for ample smoke production.Cheaper versions have a single blade and an work perfectly adequately but can sometimes put too much pressure on a cigar causing it to split.
Better quality straight cutters usually have a pair of blades and create less pressure.
One of the main pluses of a straight cigar cutter is its versatility. It works well on most cigar sizes (most will accommodate up to a 60 ring gauge cigar) and shapes which makes it a popular choice among enthusiasts. However, it is crucial to exercise caution while cutting the end of the cigar to avoid removing too much of the cap. This may cause the wrapper to unravel. A steady hand and a firm grip are essential for achieving a clean cut. In general one should remove around 2mms (1/16 inch) from a round headed cigar, a little more on a torpedo shaped cigar, like the iconic Montecristo No 2.
V cutters, which are also known as wedge cutters or cat’s eye cutters, create a V-shaped notch across the cigar’s cap. This style of cut concentrates the smoke towards the centre of the palate, intensifying the flavours. V cutters are particularly favoured by cigar aficionados who enjoy a rich, robust taste.
One of the key benefits of the V cut lie in its precision and ability to preserve the integrity of the wrapper. By not removing the entire cap, the risk of the wrapper unravelling is significantly reduced. It is worth noting that V cutters may not be suitable for larger ring gauge cigars as the V notch might not penetrate deeply enough to ensure an unobstructed draw.
Punch cutters are a circular blade or punch that removes a small plug from the cap of the cigar. This method is known for its convenience, ease of use, and minimal disruption of the wrapper. Punch cutters are available in various sizes, accommodating different ring gauges.
The main advantage of a punch cutter is its ability to create a small, precise opening while maintaining the structural integrity of the cigar. This style of cut can be particularly useful for cigars with a tighter draw, as it allows for an efficient airflow. However, punch cutters may not be suitable for cigars with a delicate wrapper, as the pressure applied during the cutting process can cause cracking. Due to their compact size punch cutters can often be found on keyrings or attached to certain lighters. It is a great alternative to have on your keyring if you find yourself out and about without your favourite cigar cutter.
When deciding on a cutting method, several factors should be considered. First is personal preference. Experimenting with different types of cutters allows you to discover which style best suits your taste and smoking experience. Secondly, the size and shape of the cigar play a crucial role. Larger ring gauge cigars may require a wider opening to ensure a smooth draw, while smaller cigars may benefit from a more concentrated cut.
Another consideration is the wrapper’s fragility. Delicate wrappers, such as those found on Connecticut Shade cigars, require extra care to prevent damage during cutting. Lastly, the occasion and setting can influence your choice. A punch cutter may be ideal for outdoor activities, as it reduces the risk of loose tobacco debris in windy conditions.
Mastering the art of cigar cutting is a fundamental skill for any cigar enthusiast. Whether you opt for a straight cutter, V cutter, or punch cutter, each method offers unique advantages and challenges. By understanding the trade-offs involved and considering factors like personal preference, cigar size, wrapper fragility, and the smoking environment, you can make informed decisions that enhance your smoking experience. Remember, practice makes perfect, so don’t be afraid to experiment and refine your technique.