If you’re new to the world of cigars, then you might not know how to approach your first smoke, or how to prep a cigar. Many cigar lovers take extra care with their smoking experiences to ensure a smooth and enjoyable smoke. But how exactly do you get from grabbing your cigar to taking your first puff?
In this guide, we’ll take you through the basics. Learn how to cut and light a cigar with precision to enjoy a wonderfully clean draw.
How to cut a cigar
The first step in cigar smoking is precise preparation, so that means you need to know how to trim a cigar. To achieve this precision, you need the right tools.
Let us start by saying straight away that you should never use a knife to cut your cigar. Also, and this may go without saying for some of you, but using your teeth is of course, out of the question.
Using anything other than the recommended tools for cutting your cigar could potentially cause damage to your wrapper, because something like a kitchen knife or basic pair of scissors is just too blunt. If you damage the wrapper by cutting your cigar wrong, you’ll ultimately ruin the overall smoking experience, so it’s essential to use the right utensils.
There are plenty of specially-made cigar cutters on the market. You may find that some are tailored to specific cigar sizes, but most will be able to handle every width.
The most common and popular types of cigar cutters are guillotine, which will either be single or double-bladed. Mimicking the effects of an actual guillotine, this type of cutter makes a wonderfully sharp slice through your cigar cap, making for a smooth smoke.
If you like the finer things in life, you may be tempted by investing in a robust table top cigar cutter. For on-the-move smokers, you’ll also find punch or scissor-style cigar cutters very effective as they will get the job done quickly.
Once you’ve got your tools, you need to know where to place the blade. Find the cap below the cigar band. It’s a small wrapping of tobacco that keeps the whole stogie tied together. You’ll notice a distinctive line between the cap and the outer wrapping – this is where you want to cut, just a few millimeters in.
The trick is to not be soft with it. Make a quick, hard cut to guarantee a clean snip. Even if the edge isn’t completely straight, the cigar will be easier to smoke this way.
This technique is for a traditional straight cut, which we would recommend for every beginner smoker to start out with. If you’re ready to try a punch or V-cut, then you can find specialist cutters to help get your desired draw.
Do you remove the cigar brand?
You’ll no doubt hear a different answer to this question depending who you go to, so you certainly wouldn’t be laughed at for being unsure as a beginner.
Some smokers will argue that you should remove the band prior to lighting and smoking. This is because, once the cigar burns down to the band, you might begin to taste burnt paper. As this certainly won’t have been part of the flavor wheel the cigar manufacturers were hoping for you to experience, the argument for removing the band does make sense.
However – there is also justification for why you shouldn’t remove the band. This is because the band is usually attached to the cigar with plant gum adhesive to keep the cigar nicely wrapped. It may only be a small amount for some types of cigars, but others might use so much that removing the band could cause damage to the wrapper.
For beginner smokers, we would recommend leaving the band on. Once you get a little more experienced and expand your knowledge of cigar styles and brands, you may be more comfortable with removing the wrapper.
How to light a cigar
To truly enjoy and get into your smoking experience, you of course need to know how to properly and effectively light a cigar.
What you use to light your cigar can be quite important. Unlike the humble cigarette, the way cigars are made is quite complex, as they are much more than just tobacco leaves rolled in paper. Because of their different structure, you won’t be able to get away with using a simple disposable lighter. Oil-fused lighters like Zippo’s also aren’t a great choice, as they can affect the flavor of the cigar. The best thing to use for lighting a cigar is a torch lighter.
Hold your cigar at a slight downward angle and bring the flame of your torch lighter close to the foot of the cigar. You won’t need to put the flame completely on it, but just enough to give it a slight toasting like you would a marshmallow on an open fire. Rotate the cigar back and forth slightly to make sure the tip is completely heated. You’ll know it’s ready when a glowing ring appears around the tip.
Then, take a tight puff to encourage the ember to burn. This should be enough but, if not, you can bring the flame directly to the cigar foot.