When preparing to cut your cigar, closely examine the "head" - this is the closed end of the cigar that you will clip. Most cigars have what is called a "cap" - a bit of tobacco leaf used to close of the end. Inspect the cigar to determine how far down the length of the cigar the cap goes (this is usually 1/4" - 3/8" sometimes less, and on figurado shapes, sometimes longer). Where the cap stops is your cutting limit. If you cut beneath the cap, or even too close to the bottom of it, your cigar may start to unravel.
The goal is to cut as little of the cigar as possible while creating anopening approximately 75%-85% of the width of the end. This might mean cutting as little as 1/32" down or as much as 3/8" - it depends on the cigar's roll and cap.
When using a guillotine cutter, line up your cigar at eye level and clip it quickly. This method will almost always guarantee a clean, straight cut.
A punch cutter, although not really a "cutter", is easy to use, makes a perfectly round opening, and negates the problem of how much to clip.
Another popular option is a V-Cut clipper. Cap length isn't a concern here, as the smoker rests the cigar against the clipper while it takes out a v-notched shaped bit of tobacco of the same size every time.
Cigar scissors are elegant, but difficult to use and hard to carry around. Other more personal methods include razor blades, Swiss Army or pocket knives, or even your teeth. Ultimately, clipping your cigar is a matter of what works best for you.
Lighting Your Cigar
Is there a special, approved method to lighting a cigar that all smokers should use? This question will provide endless hours of debate with your fellow aficionados. Everyone seems to have their own opinion on how best to light a cigar. Ultimately, you'll have to find your own best method. To help, here are a few "opinions" we've gathered.
When using a match, wait until the sulfur burns off before placing it to your cigar. Many smokers prefer long cedar matches called a cedar spill. A cedar spill is a long, thin strip of Spanish Cedar which is lit first and then used to light the cigar. This method is often observed at fancy cigar dinners, as it is a rather elegant way to light up, but not all circumstances lend itself to this method.
Butane lighters seem to be the lighter of choice. Many smokers complain that gasoline based lighters impart an unpleasant flavor. Zippo (who manufactures such lighters) claims that if the flame is allowed to burn a few seconds first, the disturbing odor will dissipate.
What ever your flame source, preheat the foot by slowly rolling the cigar above the flame. Once the foot is heated, place the cigar in your mouth and draw as you keep slowly rolling the cigar above the flame, but never quite letting the flame touch the cigar. Slowly spin the cigar to establish an even burn. Once you've got it going (examine the glowing foot to make sure the burn is even) take a few slow steady draws. Then wait a half minute or so for the burn to establish. Now sit back and enjoy.
If one of your cigars ever goes out, knock off the ash, gently blow through the cigar to clear out the old smoke, then follow your method of choice to relight.
How to Light a Cigar Video
Check out our instructional video on How to Light a Cigar to see the proper technique in action!