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Cigar How-To Guide

Once you’ve found your favorite cigar, here are some helpful tips for cutting, lighting and smoking your Cigar.

How to Cut the Cigar

The closed end (or head) of a cigar is the end that you put into your mouth, but you have to cut it, first. When a cigar is hand rolled, a cap is put on the head of the cigar to keep it from unraveling and drying out. A cigar should not be cut until you are ready to smoke. There are three styles of cuts, and several types of cutters, but the straight cut made with a guillotine cutter is the most common. Hold the cigar with one hand and the guillotine with the other, then insert the head of the cigar into the guillotine and cut into the cap, usually about 1/16 to 1/8 of an inch down. If the head of the cigar is shaped like a cone, then cut into the cone, but not quite at the widest part. In any case, do not cut into the body of the cigar. That would cause the wrapper to unravel, and ruin your smoking experience.

Guillotine Cut
The most basic type of cutter used to make straight cuts is the single blade guillotine. The double blade guillotine is preferred by many aficionados because it usually makes a cleaner cut. Cigar scissors are also used to make straight cuts, and may be the best choice for cutting the cigar at the exact spot you intend. However, the guillotines are usually the most practical, the least expensive, and can be easily and safely carried in the pocket of your shirt or trousers.

Bullet Hole Punch Cut
The Bullet Hole punch is another method commonly used. The cutter puts a small hole in the center of the cap of the cigar, instead of cutting it off. The Bullet Cutter is centered in the middle of the Cap of the Cigar and a plug of tobacco is removed.

Wedge or “V” Cut

The wedge or “V” cutter resembles the guillotine cutter, but the shape of the blade slices a wedge into the cap of the cigar instead of cutting it completely off. The cutter is designed to slice from one side, and at the same depth, so there is no danger of cutting too deep.

How to Light the Cigar

  1. Preheat the foot (the open end) by slowly rolling the cigar above the flame at an angle allowing a tiny black ring forms all the way around the wrapper. Don’t allow the flame to touch the cigar.
  2. With the cigar in your mouth and drawing in as you repeat the process, slowly roll the cigar at an angle above the flame (about .5 inches or so away), without letting the lighter flame actually touch the cigar. Remember to slowly spin the cigar to establish an even burn.
  3. Once it is lit, pull it from your mouth and actually look at the glowing foot to see if it lit properly. If the burn is really uneven, repeat the previous step on the appropriate side to even the burn. You can also gently blow on the end in the appropriate place to intensify the heat there, take a couple steady draws, and then just wait a minute before continuing to puff. This short delay seems to allow the cigar a chance to stabilize and self-correct the burn.

How to Smoke the Cigar

Take your time

To really appreciate your cigar, smoke slowly and not draw too frequently, which will heat it and spoil the taste.  To smoke a Robusto size Cigar should take about one half hour, and the bigger cigars such as a Churchill or a Double Corona can take more than an hour.

Other than that, there are many times that are especially good for cigar smoking. There’s nothing quite like relaxing in a comfortable chair with a cigar. A good rule of thumb is to always allow yourself at least an hour to properly appreciate the cigar. Some of the bigger cigars may require more time even than this.


You should not inhale the cigar smoke. The high alkalinity and small amount of nicotine will make you cough and besides, you can enjoy a cigar’s flavor and body without inhaling.

When to Put it Out

When a cigar begins to let off too much heat and leaves an aftertaste in your mouth (generally during the last 2 inches), it is time to put it out. You don’t have to put out a cigar like a cigarette by crushing it on an ashtray: just let it stop burning by itself inside the ashtray.