A cigar cutter is a very personal accessory to many cigar smokers. Even the preferred cut is a highly personal choice. As in the whisky world, it’s best not to pass judgement or tell someone they are doing it wrong. If you like your cigars to be cut a certain way then don’t let anyone tell you to stop. However, if you are new to cigars or if you are looking to refine your technique, read on to learn more about tips, tricks, and pitfalls of cutting a cigar.
“The biggest mistake people make when cutting a cigar is cutting too much,” says Liquor Barn tobacco merchant, Jason Lois. “I believe this mistake occurs most often from lack of knowledge on how that cigar was crafted. If you take a moment and look at the shoulder/cap area of the cigar, you will notice that there is a reason for that cap to be there in the first place. It acts as a stabiliser to the wrapper so the cigar does not unravel while you are smoking. That would lead to an unenjoyable experience and that is why we smoke cigars in the first place, for the experience.”
One of the easiest ways to avoid this pitfall, generally speaking, is to either purchase a cigar cutter with a closed back or to lay the cutter flat on the table, insert the cigar perpendicular and cut. The latter method is especially helpful if you have any sort of issues with hand strength or shaking.
“Cigar manufacturers offer many different vitolas (shapes and sizes) across the board. So saying one style of cutting can adhere to all would be incorrect, however, I would offer this piece of advice: take your time. Cutting a cigar is like getting your hair cut, take a little off the top and then take a pre-lit draw to ensure enough air flow is coming through the cigar. If not, cut off just a bit more and again take another draw. It’s also like a haircut in the fact you can’t put it back on. So make sure you take your time and enjoy the experience,” says Lois.
Other common types of cutters include scissors, punches, and v-cutters. Some lighters even have punches built in so you only have to carry one device with you.
“If you prefer smaller or thinner ring gauge cigars, a great method of opening those cigars is to use a punch. Opening up that perfect ring in the cap will allow the proper air flow so you can enjoy your experience. If you gravitate towards larger ring gauge cigars then I suggest using a v-notch or guillotine cutter. Both will allow, when properly cut, the adequate amount of air to flow through your delicious cigar,” Lois says.
Cutter styles range from rosewood to polished brass to Wooly Mammoth Ivory scrimshaw and everything in between. Choose your cut, and your cutter, wisely.
Where to smoke
Nestled down a relatively quiet side street near the intersection of Bourbon Street and Orleans Street in the French Quarter, Crescent City Cigar Shop is the kind of place that feels like home no matter where you are from. You will often find the hotel manager from across the street talking with some locals while tourists trickle in and out. There’s a well-stocked walk-in humidor that features everything from their own house branded cigars all the way to high-end and rare Arturo Fuentes. It’s one of only 36 cigar shops nationwide where you’ll find boutique Elogio cigars, and there’s even a selection of pipes and pipe tobacco. Owner Armando Ortiz can often be found working the cash register or sitting and chatting with the locals. There will often be special events like Bourbon and cigar pairings or crawfish boils, which draw locals and tourists alike. Prices are very reasonable considering the area, which can be a very welcome thing after getting dinged at some of the local tourist traps. Crescent City Cigar Shop is the kind of place that keeps you coming back by feeling like your home away from home.
730 Orleans St.
New Orleans, LA 70116Cccigarshop.com
Leaf by Esteban by RoMaCraftFour Roses Bourbon
Esteban Disla has been RoMaCraft Tobacco’s master blender since 2010, but he did more than join a company – he rolled the first CroMagnon cigars in his garage and kept production there until the following year when ground was broken for the RoMaCraft factory in Esteli, Nicaragua. This is a limited release cigar meant to celebrate Disla, so if you see it, buy it. The Ecuadorian Habano wrapper surrounds Nicaraguan Jalapa Crillo and Corojo binders and a Nicaraguan Jalapa Condego filler. Four Roses Bourbon is a great cigar pairing Bourbon because it has enough complexity with 10 different recipes to compliment many cigars, and this one is no exception. The Bourbon brings out cedar and cocoa nibs in the smoke, while the smoke highlights the green apple, honey, and baking spices already present in the cigar.
Nat Sherman Panamericana Gordo TAA, James E. Pepper 1776 Rye
Nat Sherman started his cigar business in New York in 1930. Today you can still visit the Nat Sherman Townhouse in Manhattan and the brand is available and recognised as the mark of quality worldwide. The TAA Panimericana is made exclusively for Tobacconists’ Association of America shops, which have to meet rigorous standards for sales and quality in order to achieve membership. Many manufacturers make TAA exclusive cigars which can be found at 80 companion retailers nationwide. The wrapper is Ecuadorian Sumatra, the binder is Nicaraguan, and the filler is Nicaraguan and Costa Rican, and it is made at the Placencia factory in Nicaragua. The James E. Pepper Rye brings out milk chocolate in the smoke, while the smoke brings out sweet ripe apples and molasses in the rye.