As a cigar smoker, you will certainly know that there is much more to enjoying a cigar than simply lighting it and smoking.
This is not a cigarette, it’s something a long way up the cultural ladder, and deserves to be treated with respect. If you’re new to cigars, there’s a lot to learn.
While it may seem complicated and needlessly etiquette-driven, you will soon come to realise that – in fact – you have become a member of a very exclusive club, one who’s membership understand that every little action regarding the act of smoking a cigar has its place.
If we’re going to talk about cigars, we need to start at the point where you have chosen your cigar, and you are ready to start smoking it. First, you need to prepare it for the purpose. When you pick up a fresh cigar you will usually find it is a sealed item.
The first think you need to do is ensure you have an open end to smoke it through. This is where today’s oft-discussed subject becomes important.
There are two devices you can use to make an opening so that your cigar is ready to go: the cigar cutter, and the cigar punch. Which is better, and why? If we were truly to discuss which were better, we would be talking personal opinion as there is no ‘better’ way.
There are, however, right and wrong ways to use both implements, and it is important you are aware of these. Many smokers carry both a punch and cutter – and you’ll see why as you read on – so rather than talk about better and best, we’ll explain the differences between each, and why you may have occasion to use either!
The Cigar Cutter
Before we get into the details about the differences between a punch and a cutter, there’s one golden rule that we must remind you of: when it comes to smoking a cigar, ignore absolutely everything you have seen in the movies, Hollywood or otherwise. Endless times, films involve a character – usually a tough or ‘cool’ guy – who smokes cigars, and endless times we see our ‘hero’ bite the end off a cigar. It does not matter how expensive, or cheap, the cigar you are about to smoke may have been – this is simply not done.
If you are in cigar-smoking company and you perform this act of biting the end, you will find that’s the last time you get an invitation. It’s uncouth, it’s rude, and it’s ugly, and there is absolutely nothing tough and cool about it. Just don’t do it. If you do find you’ve forgotten your punch or cutter, ask politely if you may borrow one. You’ll find cigar smokers a friendly bunch, and they will understand the predicament you are in!
As it happens, there is little ‘cooler’ than drawing a cigar from your pocket, and following it with a neat little cutter with which you then proceed to snip the end off your cigar – just at the shoulder, where you know it should be. Your friends will be intrigued by this little display of art, for while simple, it is a certain technique.
The cigar cutter takes the form of a small implement, small enough to sit in a pocket, in which there is a sharp blade that can be moved up and down by way of a slider. The effect is that of a simple guillotine: place the end of the cigar in the cutter, action the slider, and the blade cuts swiftly through in one simple action.
It’s a neat and simple way of preparing your cigar for smoking, and once you have the knack, you’ll make perfect cuts every single time. Remember, don’t cut so the end falls on the floor. Always over an ashtray (find our top ashtray recommendations here) or other suitable container. You’re on polite company when you’re smoking a cigar!
We mentioned earlier the possibility of forgetting your cutter. Many are designed to attach to a keyring or perhaps a belt loop. Some smokers carry a punch attached to their keys – these are smaller than cutters – and also a cutter, so if the forget the latter, they can still smoke
The Difference in Smoke
Before we go on to talk in more detail about the cigar punch, here’s about the difference each has on smoking the cigar. As described above, a cigar cutter takes the entire end off the cigar, leaving one end completely open. This is the favoured style for many smokers – especially the traditionalists among the cigar smoking community – as it ensures a full, strong and dense smoke.
A punch, as we’re about to see, results in a smaller hole through which to draw the smoke. Some smokers prefer the effect of this, as it is a finer – if more difficult – smoke, yet is said by many to enhance the flavour. Our advice is to try the same type of cigar with each option; this way you will soon find the one you prefer.
Now, about the cigar punch.
The Cigar Punch
The cigar punch operates in a different fashion to the cutter, which simply slices the end off the cigar. With a punch, the cigar is placed at the end of the device – which is usually a small, cylindrical item – and a button is pushed. The button extends blades – the number of which vary – out of the end of the tube, which punch a hole into the end of the cigar. When the blades are retracted, the excess material comes with them, leaving you with a nice clean hole through which to smoke your cigar.
Ad we have mentioned above, the punch leaves you with a smaller hole to smoke through, but it is entirely personal choice whether you prefer this method to the effect of using a cutter. Furthermore, it’s worth considering the type of cigar you are smoking. While a cutter can be ably used to prepare a broad or a narrow cigar, the punch is not suitable for the narrow type, so you will certainly need your cutter if that is your favoured smoke.
Smoking accessories don’t come more essential than the cigar punch or cutter, and there are many different types of each to choose from. Our recommendation is to look for a good quality example of each and buy them both. That way, you can cut your – and other people’s – cigars in the manner you prefer every time.