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The Ritual - Cutting & Lighting Your Cigar

Without question, a cigar provides a great deal of enjoyment and is not to be rushed. As with any act of pleasure, time must be allowed to appreciate the entire experience - from selecting the cigar to smoking the cigar. The ritualistic opening act of smoking the cigar is the cut, which if not performed delicately or respectfully will ruin the experience.

All premium cigars, regardless of the shape (parejo or figurado), has a finished and closed head that must be cut for a proper draw. The head of the cigar has a convex, or curved shape, part of which is called the shoulder, at which a perfect cut will leave most of it intact. Only a small amount of the wrapper needs to be removed to expose the filler. It is unnecessary to cut the entire head of, as it will likely not improve the draw, but may also cause the cigar to unravel.

But why have you read a dissertation about the proper method to employ when cutting your cigar, when you can hear directly from a former Penthouse Pet and adult movie star...

Regardless of the type of cutter utilized (piercer, punch, guillotine, scissors), the primary objective is to remove enough wrapper leaf for the cigar to draw properly. The cut should be careful, clean, and crisp without any damage to the cap. Towards that end, you should NEVER use your teeth, a knife, or your fingernail to cut your cigar.

The most critical part of lighting a cigar is evenly lighting the foot, as a cigar unevenly lit will not burn or taste properly. Our friend Aria will demonstrate the proper technique...

A few tips to consider for cigar lighting:

  • When using a match, allow the sulfur/chemicals to burn off the match head before taking the flame to the foot

  • Hold the flame slightly off of the foot - for a flame, approximately 1/8 of an inch; for a torch lighter approximately 1/2 inch

  • Rotate the cigar to evenly light the foot

  • Puff on the cigar in order to draw the flame to the foot

  • Never use a candle or a liquid fuel lighter to light the cigar

  • Never lick the cigar prior to lighting - it is not only unnecessary if the cigar is properly humidified, it's horrible to watch

Periodically, a well-lit cigar may go out midsmoke. Should this occur, gently knock off the ash and double check that the cigar is truly out by carefully exhaling through the cigar. If no smoke is generated, first warm the end of the cigar by rotating it over the flame to release the tars, then re-light. You may find the entire cigar burning again as the edges of the wrapper are re-lit. Another alternative is to cut the cigar just behind the charred area and start again. Relighting the cigar may require a heavier application of flame than the initial light. In addition, it may take some time for the flavor of the cigar to stabilize and become pleasurable again.

Cutting the cigar...striking the flame...toasting and lighting the cigar...taking the first puff - the intimate ritual that, although demands appreciation and attention, provides a moment of true pleasure.

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