Part of the fun of this great hobby of cigar smoking is choosing and collecting your accessories. I know that I am not alone in taking great pride and joy in my collection of lighters and cutters. I have beaters to throw in the jacket pocket as I run out the door for the evening dog walk and quick smoke, I have throw-away cheapies to stash in the car or the go-bag in case of emergencies, and then I have my special occasion, top-shelf equipment, which only come out for top-shelf cigars, ultra-premium sticks that deserves to be cut and lit by high-quality gear. This series of blog entries, the Accessories 101 Series, aims to assist you in making your choice of which accessories to add to your arsenal.
In this first installment of the Accessories 101 Series, we will explore the different types and styles of cigar cutter, and I will explain why I believe a serious cigar enthusiast should own at least one of each, and make the decision of which to use in each case with care and consideration.
A cigar punch is a small bullet sized cylinder with a sharp metal edge at one end, designed to literally punch a hole in the cap of a cigar. With just enough downward pressure and a back-and-forth twisting motion, the circular blade will slowly slide through the cap. Once the blade has penetrated the cap (only 1/8 inch deep is necessary), pull the blade out at a slight angle, which will pull the severed circle of cap leaf out with it, and the cigar is now ready for a dry pull to test your draw.
- Small, fits easily in the pocket. Many come on keychain rings.
- Convenient, easy to keep on you at all times.
- The only proper cut for certain shapes of cigar, such as the CAO Flathead.
- Nearly impossible to use with Torpedos.
- Not ideal for cigars with tighter draws which might require a larger opening to achieve the desired amount of resistance.
V-Cutters are a modified guillotine cutter with an angled blade, which slides through the cigar’s cap creating a “V” shaped notch or opening. This style of cut has the benefit of leaving more of the cap intact, and can decrease the chance of the wrapper unraveling, and of leaving small bits of tobacco in your mouth when smoking.
Another point to consider is the size of the thing. I carry my accessories in my pockets every day. For my everyday use accessories that I carry with me everywhere, a slim profile that fits nicely in the front pocket is a must. Many V-Cutters have a wider, bulkier profile due to the bent blade. They simply can’t be made any thinner.
- Clean cut, decreases unraveling.
- Leaves more room to dig your teeth into the cigar for long, stable pulls.
- Thicker profile than most guillotine cutters, can be bulky in the pocket.
- Not appropriate for some vitolas, such as Torpedos or small ring gauges.
The Guillotine Straight-Cut
This is the most common style of cigar cutter. Some exist that have only a single guillotine blade, and these should be rejected out of hand in my opinion. If the blade is not incredibly sharp, or encounters a thick stem in the cigar, it will crush the poor thing, cracking the wrapper and ruining your day. Only double-blade guillotine cutters should be considered.
This is my go-to cutter of choice unless the vitola calls for something different. The Straight-Cut offers the most versatility and precision of any cutter style. A precise straight-cut does require some knowledge and experience, however. For example, a very common mistake made with straight cutters is attempting to cut off much more of the cap than is required. This increases the chance of crushing the cigar and of the wrapper unravelling. Only the thinnest shave off the top is required for round-cap cigars. The guillotine is also the only proper option for a Torpedo. So if you have a few of these in your humidor, you’ll want a guillotine cutter in your accessories arsenal.
- Versatile – can be used on nearly every cigar you can buy.
- Widely available.
- Most are very slim and fit nicely in your pocket.
- Debris from the cut can come off in your mouth.
- Risk of unravelling if cut too deep.
In the end, I come down on the side of the Guillotine Straight-Cutter almost every time, unless the shape of the cigar requires something different. But a serious smoker should own at least one of each style of cutter, so as to be prepared for every situation. And as I said, collecting and caring for your accessories is part of the fun of cigars.
Keep coming back.