Italians on Italians
Beyond Toscano
Il Sigaro della Sera
Like any well-wrapped present, the joy of a cigar is in the opening. Most cigars are sealed for freshness and need the tip (generally one eighth of an inch) carefully removed by cutting to begin smoking. But more than just a means to get at what’s inside, cutting has a major part to play in the way a cigar actually burns and tastes.

There are three main ways to cut a cigar, each slightly changing the experience of smoking it. Rather than doing it yourself with a blade, it’s always best to use a cutter designed for the purpose. The most popular form of cigar cutting is the straight, or guillotine cut. This takes away all of the cigar’s cap, enabling a large amount of smoke to enter the mouth as it’s smoked. With this cut, you can maximize the mouth-feel of a cigar, with the flavor spread across the palate. Guillotine cutters come in one or two blade varieties, with the latter producing a cleaner, more precise cut.
For a more concentrated flavor, many people prefer the punch cut. This is less of a cut and more of an incision, with a small hole created in the cap. With less space to escape, on inhalation smoke is forced through the hole, directing it at the palate. This cut also reduces the chances of loose tobacco falling into the mouth.

The least common form of cutting is the V cut, also known as a notch or English cut. Like the punch cut, this directs a concentrated amount of smoke at the palate, but because of V shape takes it deeper into the cigar, more air can be drawn through the cigar.
Whichever cigar you smoke, it’s always worth experimenting with different cutting tools and techniques to see which work best for you.