Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Reevaluating the Cigar Cutter


By Gary Korb

Everyday I get emails asking for suggestions about all sorts of cigar smoking-related subjects, but rarely do I get asked for suggestions about what cigar cutter to use. I suppose cigar cutters, like cigars, fall under the "personal preference" category. I think it's also fair to assume that most cigar smokers have more than one cutter, and probably more than one type of cutter at that.

The most popular cigar cutter is the double blade guillotine, because it's neat and can handle just about every cigar made. Of course, if you smoke really wide ring cigars like 54 and higher, you could run into some problems. XiKAR cutters, known for their patented "teardrop" shape, are one of the few that are made to accommodate a 54 ring vitola, and they even claim that, "Depending on how much cap you cut, they will cut up to a 58 ring gauge cigar." If the cigar is really big, like a 60 ring, you might be able to squeeze it into a 54-ring cutter. Otherwise, you may have to opt for a good pair of cigar scissors. Lately, I've been using a pair of XiKAR MTX scissors, and they cover all the bases.

Then you have the double blade cutters that are closed on one side. The cigar is placed in the "hole" at a depth of about 1/16 of an inch, or thereabouts. When the blades come together the result is a perfectly-straight cut. I like this type of cutter, but once the blades get dull, they can be a disaster. Secondly, if you're a chewer, or want to cut back the ashed end of your cigar before relighting it, you're out of luck. Moreover, if the cigar's cap isn't applied well, the preset depth can sometimes cause unraveling problems.

I had an Avo punch cutter that I loved until I decided to put it on my key ring. Somehow it slipped off the ring in a supermarket parking lot and fell into a black hole. The punch is a nice way to go, but the blade really has to be ultra sharp. The aforementioned Avo is made from a solid, round stainless Swiss blade, so the cuts are not only sharp, but neat. The drawbacks I've found in using punch cutters are that sometimes the cigar wrapper can crack from the pressure, plus I seem to get more flavor from the cigar when the entire cap is exposed, so I really don't miss the punch all that much.

A few days ago I purchased a V-cutter, which was actually the inspiration for this blog. I have a decent number of tapered head cigars, and I really like the effect of the V-cut in the head. There's no guessing, and you usually get a pretty decent draw. I can't tell you how many times I've had to re-clip a Pyramid to get it to draw well, clipped it crooked, or clipped it too far, and, well...there goes another junker. I've even been using it on some of my round headed cigars. Even though it only clips part of the head, like the punch, the vertical shape of the cut tends to widen during the smoke, so there's not as much loss of flavor.

Why didn't I mention single blade guillotine cutters? Because IMHO, most of them are cheaply-made, clumsy, and basically suck.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Regarding punch cutters: A great device is spent ammunition. the open end is sharp enough for a few dozen cuts, you can find sizes to fit your taste and various cigar guages, and you can toss it without regret when it dulls. Might want to rinse them off before the first cut though.