There is always a sense of occasion when it comes to smoking a cigar. It starts with the selection of your chosen cigar, and then comes the first of many rituals: cutting or punching it ready to smoke.
A cigar punch is a simple yet essential item to own, and there is a right way to use one.
Following, we’ll look at how to correctly punch a cigar, and when it’s better to cut than it is to punch, but first, let’s have a quick look at one factor that will influence the cut or punch debate – the shape of your cigar.
Shape and Cutting
The difference between a parejo and a figurado is an important distinction. With these two terms we are talking about the shape of the cigar, rather than the size. The parejo is most likely to be sitting in your humidor: this is the standard type of cigar with a rounded cap. A figurado is any other type of cigar, one that frequently has a pointed cap, and it’s this that makes the difference.
But, when it comes to cut or punch, it is likely you will cut either, but you can punch a pajero without a cut. A brief piece about cutting both, before we talk about punching.
To cut a pajero, you find the place where the rounded cap is just beginning to flatten. This is where you make one straight, quick and smooth cut. This spot – the shoulder – should be no more than few millimetres from the tip. Cutting a figurado is slightly different; you need to move further down the pointed end to achieve a finish as you would with the rounded cap cigar, so you are cutting a bigger chunk than on your pajero. Keep your cutter sharp, and make sure you cut in one swift movement.
So, now we have cut the cigar, why are we talking about punching it?
Is It Better to Cut or Punch a Cigar?
The simple answer to this question is this: it’s up to you!
Above, we talked about the straight cut. There’s also the v-cut method – we’ll leave that for now and revisit another time – but here, we want to talk about punching a cigar. We’ve already mentioned that you may cut your cigar before you punch it. This is a personal choice. Many people will punch certain types of cigar without a cut. This can’t be done very effectively if your cigar has a pointed end. Let’s talk about punching a cigar in more detail, and how it should be done.
Let’s say you have your round-capped cigar ready, and you are a novice at using a punch. What is a cigar punch, and how do you use one correctly? A punch is a small – very small, in fact – device that is very simple to use. Basically, it has a sharp, small point on it that you press into the cigar end, creating a hole. There is no need to cut with this method, as the hole is used to smoke through. But is this the best way to smoke a cigar?
Once again, it’s personal choice. There are pros and cons to punching a cigar, so let’s have a look.
Pros of Punching a Cigar
Punching a cigar results in a far smaller opening than cutting it. The effect of this? Many cigar smokers claim that as the smoke is forced through a smaller opening, it will concentrate the flavours more effectively, giving a richer flavour and better effect. There is also a far lesser risk of getting bits of tobacco in the mouth, something is easy to do when smoking a cut cigar. One further benefit is that punching a cigar is much quicker and more convenient than cutting one, and many people say it is also easier. Are these claims true? Undoubtedly so, and many people prefer a punched cigar to a cut one, so let’s check out the downsides of punching.
Cons of Punching a Cigar
The smaller hole and more concentrated push of smoke may not appeal to the more leisurely smoker who prefers a cut cigar. Furthermore, saliva can easily block the hole – which is of course very small indeed – and hinder the smoking process. The cigar can also become too hot thanks to the small area of ventilation, which is not a welcome feature. Another problem with punching is that it is not suitable for thinner cigars, and the punch itself is a very small device, so is easy to lose.
We do advise that you try a punched cigar if you have yet to do so, as it is a different experience to smoking a regular cut one.
How do You Use a Cigar Punch Keychain?
As mentioned above, it’s very easy to lose a cigar punch as it is a very small item. There is a way around this. Many manufacturers have among their range of cigar accessories a punch attached to a keychain, and these are a great idea. In fact, a lot of people who usually cut their cigars will carry one of these attached to their keys for convenience, as it is not always convenient to carry with you a cigar cutter.
How do you use it? It’s the same as a regular cigar punch, and will have a cap which you unscrew to release the punch itself. Check them out as, of there’s someone in your family who enjoys a cigar, one of these makes a great welcome gift.
Do You Have to Poke a Hole in a Cigar?
Let’s just reiterate here: you don’t have to punch a cigar – or poke a hole in it – as you can choose to do what the traditionalists do, and cut it.
The choice to punch rather than cut should be that of the individual, and that’s why we advise that you try both ways.
You may find that you prefer a punched cigar, or you may find that you want to stay with your traditional cut cigars. That’s up to you, but there’s no obligation to punch.
What you must do is make sure that one end is cleanly removed before you smoke, so that you can enjoy the sensation that comes with smoking a cigar. There really is nothing like it, so try a punched example and see what you think!