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Cutting and Lighting

The best way to cut and light your cigar.
The Editors
From the Print Edition:
Dennis Hopper, Jan/Feb 01

(continued from page 1)

When using a single-bladed guillotine, the cigar should be placed on the far side of the opening, as far from the blade as possible. The blade should then be brought through the cigar swiftly, removing the cap in one fluid stroke. (Picture a real guillotine: if you have to keep cutting over and over again, you'll be left with a hacked-up severed head and an aghast group of onlookers. You may even wind up on the block next, yourself.) Using the cutter in any other manner may cause the cigar to be pinched before it is cut, damaging and often ruining the wrapper.

It's also important to ensure that the compartment sheathing the blade is kept free of loose tobacco. These compartments can clog easily, jamming the cutter and compromising its effectiveness.

Double-bladed guillotines have an advantage over the single-bladed variety in that the cigar is cut simultaneously on both sides, giving a smooth, clean cut without the risk of pinching the cigar. Again, the best method is to position the cigar close to one of the two blades before cutting.

While cigar scissors can provide exceptionally clean cuts and are some of the most elegant cigar tools available, they must be used with caution. Just as each baseball player uses a bat that's weighted to his preference, a cigar scissor must conform to each individual smoker's hand. If the weight of the tool isn't right and the device doesn't feel natural in your hand, you will act like a brain surgeon wearing mittens -- clumsy. Therefore, it is important to test a pair of scissors before you buy them; if the handles and blades don't feel balanced or the scissors feel awkward in your hand, consider another pair. The most beautiful cutting tool in the world is useless if it renders your cigar a pile of shredded tobacco leaves.

It's a smart investment for any cigar smoker to own a quality cutter. A bad cut will destroy a cigar, and ruined cigars very quickly add up to the price of even the finest cutter.


Believe it or not, this is not as simple as it seems. Lighting cigars is not like lighting a cigarette or candle -- it takes patience to achieve the perfect light. Lighting a cigar can best be likened to roasting marshmallows over a campfire: keep the cigar just above the flame, being careful not to let the two touch. Lighting the cigar directly in the flame will carbonize the tobacco, harming the flavor. Also, as with a marshmallow, it's a good idea to rotate the cigar to ensure that all sides are heated evenly. Most importantly, take your time. Be patient and allow the flame to create a glowing ring around the circumference of the cigar. Once the cigar is lit, gently blow on the embers to create a smooth, rounded ash.

Now you're ready to take your first puff. But how do you do it? Many cigar smokers blow the first puff outward through the cigar, to rid the cigar of any sulfuric or gaseous flavors that may have been created by the match or lighter. But never, ever give a cigar more than one outward puff.


Many cigar purists consider it an abomination to ever have to relight a cigar. But when you pay more attention to your conversation than to the cigar you're smoking, the need will sometimes arise. Relighting a cigar is fine if done soon after it goes out, and a warm cigar should be easier to light than a fresh one. Do not, however, relight a cigar the next day, or even several hours after first smoking. This will result in some truly unsavory flavors that will, in all likelihood, make you regret relighting the cigar.

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