Cigars 101

The Anatomy of a Cigar:

Cigar can be divided to several functional parts both in its length and in depth. Vertically it consists of a cap, body and foot.

 Cap is a loose piece of tobacco applied to the top of a cigar with natural glue. It prevents the wrapper from unraveling.

 Body is the main part of cigar.

 Foot is the other end of the cigar; that you light.

 The body of a cigar consists of three main layers:

 Filler - tobacco leaves in the middle of the cigar. The leaves that are used for the filler usually come from the top of the plant, called Ligero. They are dark and oily, burn slow and deliver most of the flavor. Filler can be long or short.

 Long filler is filled with long tobacco leaves. Cigars with long filler are usually handmade, and all premium handmade cigars have long filler

 Short Filler is filled with cut up pieces of tobacco, in a machine made cigar.

 Binder is a tough, coarse tobacco leaf that holds the filler and the wrapper together. The leaves are harvested from the middle of the tobacco plant, Seco. They are lighter than Ligero in both color and flavor.

 Wrapper is a silky leaf of tobacco that burns well. The leaves come from the bottom of the tobacco plant - Volado. The way cigar looks and feels on your lips totally depends on the wrapper.

How to Cut a Cigar

A bad cut will ruin even the best of cigars, so it's important to snip your smoke correctly to avoid problems later. Before you begin, it's important to know that the object of the cut is to create an ample. smooth opening for smoking without damaging the cigar's structure. With most cigars, this means cutting away part of the cap on the head that closes the cigar, while leaving some of it glued around the end to keep the filler leaves together.

Next, you need to select the right cutting tool. There are several options: single- and double-bladed cutters, scissors, v-cutters, a sharp knife, or even your thumbnail. If you are just starting out, though, we suggest choosing a double-bladed cutter, as they are the simplest to operate, are designed to make a cut across the cigar from both sides simultaneously, and can snip any shape or size smoke you'll see in a humidor. With a double-bladed cutter, there's less of a chance that the cigar wrapper will be torn, whereas other cutting tools require a bit more experience.

Start by identifying the shoulder of the cigar-the place where the curved end of the cigar starts to straighten out. This is where you'll make your cut.

Place the head of the cigar inside the opening of the double-bladed cutter, and slightly close the blades so they are just touching the cigar. This keeps the cigar properly positioned and prevents motion, which might lead to tearing or to the cut happening in the wrong place.

Once the cigar is in position, cut it boldly using swift, even pressure. A true aficionado cuts like a surgeon: quickly and confidently.

If you're having trouble, a simpler way to cut your smoke is to open the blades of the double-bladed cutter and lay it on a flat surface. Then, insert the head of the cigar in between the blades so that it rests evenly on the surface, and finally, swiftly clip the head of the cigar. This is a surefire method to achieve a perfect cut.

Types of Cuts

Straight

The straight cut is by far the most common and the type of cut that most cigar enthusiasts are familiar with, it’s also fairly simple to do, which is why most beginners will start off with this basic cutting method. Using this type of cut leaves a clean cut line which is also what makes it hard to execute. If your attempts at trying to cut your cigar cleanly have failed, you may be using a poor-quality cutter.

V-Cut

Using a V-cut style cigar cutter can provide a wedge-shaped cut in the cap of a cigar. The V-cutter is considered a very precise cutting tool and in order to achieve the right cut, you will need to pay close attention, definitely more so than when you’re using a standard guillotine cutter. To do, you’ll have to insert the cap of the cigar into the V-cutter opening. Next, use your thumb and middle finger pressing down using firm pressure. This will result in a wedge cut. Once you’ve got this technique down, this type of cut can give you more control in terms of drawing and a generally cleaner cut. With this type of cut, the cigar’s cap is mainly left intact, which will reduce the risk of the wrapper unraveling. However, it leaves a much smaller opening compared to a cigar that’s cut straight. This means that when you draw on a wedge cut you will not get as much smoke. Some cigar aficionado’s prefer this while others are disappointed. Basically, this is a matter of personal preference.

Punch

Punch cuts are essentially what they sound like. This type of cut creates a very small circle located on the cigar’s head. These cutters are pretty recognizable and they’re typically more affordable compared to other types of cutters. However, one of the biggest drawbacks to using this type of cut is the fact that doing so can easily clog the cigar with saliva or tobacco. First-time smokers prefer this method because of the reduced chances of getting tobacco in the mouth. Since most of these punch cutters are attached to keychains you can also take one with you pretty much everywhere you go and have one handy when you need it the most.

Most punch-style cutters are very similar to V-cutters since they reduce flaking and create a tight draw. However, this type of cutter tends to only work well on cigars with a round cap. This means that it will be ineffective on torpedoes. Usually, it performs the best on cigars that have a higher ring gauge. Just like the V-cut option, the small diameter of the hole in the cap tends to leave a lot of room for a bigger draw, so some smokers my find this option very restricting.

The type of cigar cut that you decide to use whether it’s a V-cut, punch cut, or straight cut, should be based on the type of cigar you’re cutting in addition to your personal preference. Whether you prefer a large draw, or keeping pieces of tobacco out of your mouth is the bigger priority, you can do a little experimenting in order to find a cut that works the best for you and the types of cigars you enjoy smoking. With a little practice and the right tools you’ll find that cutting your cigar expertly feels like second nature.

How To Light A Cigar

Lighting a cigar is not like lighting the tip of a cigarette or the wick of a candle—it takes longer. In other words, patience is key, especially when you are starting out. Mistakes happen even if you are a seasoned cigar veteran, so just accept it and try not to let errors ruin what should be an enjoyable process.

A properly lit cigar is important because it means all the components (wrapper, binder and filler) will be evenly lit, thus imparting the flavors of the blend as the maker intended them to be experienced. Additionally, you won’t be fighting an uneven burn while you're smoking, which can add hassle to a time that should be relaxing.

But before you can light up, you'll want to cut your cigar so air can pass through it. To light a premium cigar, follow these three steps

1. Light your cigar the same way you would toast a marshmallow over a campfire—keep the cigar above and near the flame, but don’t let them touch. Burning a cigar directly in a flame makes it too hot. If you do accidentally nick the cigar with the flame, don’t worry! You haven’t ruined the cigar. Instead, calmly, but quickly, move your smoke back out of the flame.

2. And, as with a marshmallow, you’ll want to rotate the cigar so all parts of its tip are equally heated. Be patient and keep at it until there’s a glowing ring all the way around the cigar’s tip and the edges are thinly blackened.

3. Raise the cigar to your mouth and take the first puff. The ember should burn evenly while drawing, If it doesn’t, take the cigar out of your mouth and go ahead and touch up the end with the flame. You can also try to gently blow on the embers to create a smooth, completely rounded ash.

Remember, it's better to avoid lighting a cigar with a flame from a source that will alter the essence of your cigar. Examples include a candle, Zippo and oil-fueled lighters, and standard sulfur matches. These lighting implements can add odd flavors to your smoke.

 If you're only option is a Zippo or oil-based lighter, let the flame burn for a moment before lighting your cigar. 

The best way to get the perfect light is to use a lighter designed specifically for cigars, with butane for fuel and a flame (or multiple flames) wide enough to easily light a cigar. The most important requirement is performance—a lighter should fit easily in your hand, ignite easily, and work without fail every time.