When it comes to cigars people are very diverse in which flavours, wrappers and brands that they like. This subjectivity also translates in how they perform their cigar rituals…yes there is a lot of meaning and time put into the ritual of lighting and smoking cigars. Part of this ritual is cutting of the top of the cigar, the cap, which is where you put your mouth on to draw in the smoke. When it comes to this surgical step, a cigar smoker uses one of three tools to take off the cap: a cigar guillotine cutter (single or duel blades….sometimes even a three blade cutter), a cigar punch, or pair of cigar scissors. I will use this article to run through the different types as well as their pros and cons.
This cutter gets its name from the ominous medieval execution device which severs the accused head from his body, but in this case the head is the cigar cap. This is also the most famous and most common form of cigar cutter. They usually come in two forms, a single blade cutter and a duel blade cutter. Whether you choose the single blade or double blade cutter they function exactly the same. You first place the small top portion of the cigar head into the open cutter, then you snip off the top cap by squeezing your fingers together when they are in the holes. This is a very straightforward method of cutting a cigar. However, it is not as easy as it looks. Beginners tend to take off more than they should, and this can cause the structural integrity of the wrapper (outer layer of the cigar) to unravel from the stick. It is because of this that businesses like Cuban Crafters have developed a foolproof guillotine cutter called the Perfect Cutter which has a metal cap on one end of the hole so that the cigar is limited when it goes through the hole, and it provides the perfect cut each time. I would recommend the perfect cutter to new smokers but it takes some of the fun out of learning the art of the cut. One thing to keep in mind is don’t buy a cheap plastic cutter, these almost always destroy the end of the cigar and are not sharp enough to provide a clean cut. Invest in a good cutter and it will last you a lifetime. I would recommend something from Colibri, Xikar, Dunhill, Davidoff or Siglo.
Most smokers know this device as the simplest and cleanest method of cutting. Essentially it is a bullet shaped device with a cylindrical blade. You use the cylindrical blade to ‘punch’ the cap of the cigar and it provides with a round hole in the cap. This eliminates the possibility of cutting too much and it keep s the head of the cigar clean and smooth. there are a few drawbacks however. One is that this doesn’t open up the draw as much as a normal guillotine cutter would, thus restricting the draw more. Secondly, this can only cut cigars with the normal rounded heads and will not punch pointed tipped cigars like torpedos, belicosos, piramides and perfectos. I like to carry a cigar punch on my keychain because of its small and sleek appearance. I would recommend any new smoker pick up a good cigar punch to carry with you in case you forget you scissors or guillotine cutter. Punches are usually more expensive than guillotine cutters, but they are typically of higher quality and build. You can fine some great cigar lighters that have built in punches.
Cigar scissors are looked upon as the more ‘elitist’ method of cutting a cigar. Scissors tend to be the most expensive form of cutters and tend to have very nice designs, cases and very, very sharp blades. It was the latter fact that drew me to buying a pair of scissors, because I found that every guillotine cutter happened to have sub-par blade edges. You can find decently priced scissors but I would recommend picking a pair that has a lifetime warranty. This way you can ensure that every cut you ever make with the scissors is a flawless one. The scissors however tend to be less favoured when on the go because of their size. However, Xikar has developed a pair of folding cigar scissors that can be attached to a key chain and unfolded should the occasion arise to snip of the tip of your stogie.
There are many other niche forms of cutting you cigar, like using a cigar knife (which is just a knife) and table top guillotine cutters as well as shaped cutters like a V cutter. However, it is probably best to stick with the tried and true forms of cutting your cigar. Remember, when it comes to cutters you get exactly what you pay for. You can pay 50 cents for a guillotine cutter but it is not something you want to use on ANY cigar. There are also cutters that go for thousands of dollars because they are limited editions runs or made of a precious metals. These tools are an essential part of smoking cigars and because of that factor you don’t want the hassle of using a cheap cutter on a good cigar.
I hope that this article has helped you to differentiate the different types of cigar cutters and their pros and cons. If you have any further questions or concerns please feel free to address them in either the comment section below or the live chat window in the right side bar. Also, please let me know which form of cutter you prefer and why, it is always interesting to hear the variation between cigar smokers!
By: Steven Umbrello
Steven Umbrello is a student of philosophy and an avid cigar and pipe smoker. He has been smoking cigars and pipes for over five years and has made it his mission to learn as much about the industry as possible. He has attended some high profile cigar events and is a leading member of the Toronto Cigar Club. You can find more from Steven at his blog The Leather Library Blog.