While the cigar accessories market teems with scores of attractive, well-designed butane lighters, the flame options on them have been limited. Cigar enthusiasts looking to buy the ideal tool to spark their premium, handmade smokes previously had to choose between types of flames on opposite sides of the lighting spectrum: the deft control of a soft flame or the windproof power of a torch.
Happily, the people at Lotus filled this glaring gap in 2011 when they released their Black Label El Presidente ($100), arguably the most innovative lighter to hit cigar-shop display cases in some time. Lotus followed up the success of the El Presidente with the release of Black Label The Dictator Flat Flame II ($140) last year, and the company’s Black Label Flat Flame collection was born.
Setting them apart from other lighters is a flame that is neither soft nor a single intense torch, but razor thin and about half-of-an-inch-wide. Resembling the head of a paintbrush when viewed from the side, it burns cooler than a typical torch, placing considerable lighting control in the hands of a cigar enthusiast. You can apply a gentle toasting of the cigar’s foot in a smooth, painterly motion, and avoid scorching.
While the lighting process is similar to a soft flame, the Flat Flame lighters spark a cigar significantly faster and are wind resistant. However, they are far more fuel efficient than single-jet torch lighters, requiring refueling only about every two weeks if you smoke one to two cigars a day. Mid-smoke touch-ups are also easier to perform.
The El Presidente’s trapezoidal shape, square corners and horizontal ridges work well together to create a piece that is simultaneously unique and sleek. Its lighting action is simple: Use your thumb to flick a cap atop the lighter and operate a sliding ignition button on the front that triggers the flat flame, which can be adjusted via a valve on the bottom.
The Dictator is a bit wider than its predecessor, offering a few more features and a touch more refinement, hence the higher price. Rounded corners and a channeled front add a touch of luxury, while the push-button ignition is a pleasure to operate. The side of the lighter houses a handy 7-millimeter punch cutter and there is a fuel readout on the back.
The lighters’ all-steel construction feels solid, but not cumbersome, in the hand. Each offers a slew of stylish finishes that include polished chrome with chrome satin, black matte, gunmetal, brushed copper with gunmetal, black matte with carbon fiber, metallic red with gunmetal and black matte with chrome satin.