Cigar Aficionado

Mean Sardine Cutter

Why would anyone name a cigar cutter after a grumpy, stumpy, oily fish? The folks at Xikar have, creating an inexpensive, double-bladed guillotine called the Mean Sardine.

The chief selling point of the Sardine is its big mouth. The lightweight plastic cutter has dual handles that pull the heavily polished blades far out, opening wide for a meal of fat cigars. The makers claim it can swallow cigars with ring gauges of up to 56 ring. I tried it on a cigar with a 54 ring gauge and passed the entire smoke through the open cutter with room to spare.

The Sardine is a good addition to the crowded cutter market, given the increasing number of fat cigars sold today. Cigars with ring gauges of 54 were rare five years ago, but today, they are relatively common. Some guillotines can't easily cut them, so if you like your cigars on the fat side, this might be the cutter for you. It can't be called elegant, and it isn't the type of piece you would carry in a tuxedo vest or put down with pride in the toniest of cigar bars, but it's perfect for more casual surroundings. The blade even has a cutesy logo of a cigar smoking sardine, although the fish appears to have far more barracuda in his bloodline than anchovy. It might take a baseball bat to get him to sit pretty on a Ritz cracker.

The cutters are made in China and retail for $9.95. For those who tend to leave their cutters in pockets, on decks or in cigar bars, Xikar offers a cheaper, one-bladed version. (The manufacturer has no suggested retail price for the throwaway version: Xikar president Kurt Van Keppel says some tobacconists give them away, while others charge $1.95 to $2.95 each.) They are packed in a cardboard presentation box that holds 156 cutters. Naturally, the box is mocked up to look like a sardine tin.