Man skills: how to cut and light a cigar

With three types of cuts and three rules to lighting, you need to know the skills to be a cigar smoker.

Neil Churchill January 26, 2015

In ancient folklore, cigar smoke was believed to carry the seed that would grow hair on a man's chest.

Okay, we made that up, it's just a metaphor to describe how manly smoking a cigar is; or at least is perceived to be. However, picking up a stick and doing your best Tony Montana impression is not as simple as it may look.

There is an art to both cutting and lighting a cigar, and if you have no idea what you're doing, chances are you'll ruin the cigar and that refined gentleman/gangster look you had been attempting to pull off.

Bring out the guillotine
There are three styles to cutting a cigar, and while they're mostly about personal preference, they do have an effect on your smoking experience.

Straight Cut - the most commonly-used cut, a guillotine cutter removes the cap - you should aim for around 1/16 to 1/8 of an inch down - and allows a large volume of smoke to fill your mouth each time you inhale. If you don't own a guillotine, a sharp knife or pair of scissors will do the job, but don't get carried away by this manly pursuit and attempt to bite the end off. It won't end well. How to cut and light a cigar.

Punch Cut - rather than slicing off the end, a punch cut makes a small hole in the cap of the cigar, forcing the smoke through the hole before landing directly on your palate. EDGAR's recommended style of cut.

V-Cut - only for the skilled, the v-cut is an uncommon method that creates a small wedge, directing the smoke into the top of the mouth before it flows down to the bottom. One for the connoisseurs.

Light it up
Not as simple as lighting a cigarette, get this part wrong and it will ruin the rest of your smoking experience. Before you do though, you need to decide which tool to light it with. How to cut and light a cigar. Any old school aficionado will tell you to use a sulphur-free match to give your cigar the cleanest light. However a butane lighter gives an extremely clean burn and some of the lighters themselves are awesome gadgets to own. Whatever you do, try not to use a fluid lighter, as these can leave unburned residue on your cigar.

Rule #1 - don't let the flame touch the cigar. You're not trying to start a small camp fire, you just want the heat to toast the foot of the stick, without effecting the wrapper.
Rule #2 - roll your cigar as you light it. The most common problem for newbie cigar lovers is that their cigar only ashes down one side. Roll your stick to get an even burn that should continue as you smoke.
Rule #3 - inhale as you light. Draw in on the cigar as you roll and toast the foot, to help draw in the heat and spread the flame to get that even burn. Oh, and don't forget rule #4 - enjoy this manliest of pursuits and watch your chest hair grow.