In order to get smoke to pass through a premium long-filler cigar, a hole of some sort must first be made on the end of the cigar that is placed upon the palate. This tapered area consists of what is commonly called the shoulder and head of the cigar.
Finishing this off is the cap of the cigar, which is the piece of tobacco resting on the very end, atop the head. It is this scrap of tobacco, and the head underneath, that must be augmented to allow smoke to flow through.
To do so, cigar smokers typically either punch a hole in the end with a cigar punch or opt for the classic cut.
Today, we'll briefly go over both of these methodologies and explain why one is not better than the other, at least until a certain cigar type is in need of cutting or punching.
Making the Cut
While the cigar cutter remains the most commonly utilized form of preparing a cigar for smoking, it is not meant for every situation.
Take large ring gauge cigars for instance, which oftentimes can be challenging, if not impossible to cut. These types of cigars are best reserved for a punch, or a V-cut if you have one handy. We'll cover the whole V-cut side of things another time though...
Just make sure that you don't cut off more than just the very tip of the cap because once you get past the lower seam of the cap, the whole thing could start to unravel on you. You can always snip more off later, but you'll have a devil of a time trying to reaffix a severed cigar cap.
On the upside, a clean cut will often allow more smoke to flow through the cigar and is ideal for pointed torpedo tip cigar types. Just be sure to use a double guillotine cutter, as straight-cut single-blade cigar cutters can cause cracks to occur due to uneven amounts of pressure being applied.
Throwing a Punch
As opposed to cutting a cigar, punching a stogie does not come with the risk of removing too much of the cigar cap. Instead, this razor-sharp cylindrical tube punches a hole in the end of the cigar cap.
The trick to a good punch is to always punch dead-center, and apply a slow, steady amount of pressure in twisting motion. This will help form a deep, even hole, and in turn, a very smooth draw.
Typically, the cigar punch is best utilized on larger ring gauge cigars that cannot accommodate a cut, or for when a tighter draw is needed. Yes, there is such a thing as too much cigar smoke, a topic that we'll cover in another dive at some point.
Punching a cigar also drastically reduces the amount of tobacco you may get in your mouth. When implemented properly, a punch can also eliminate the risk of cracking the cap, head, and/or shoulder of a cigar due to too much blade pressure from a cutter.
The downside to punching a cigar is that it will not work on certain cigar caps, like pigtails or torpedo tips for instance. It also can be a bit time-consuming, as it requires a slow, steady hand, and gradual amounts of pressure. Having too tight of a draw is another risk here, as sometimes a cigar will simply not perform well, even when properly punched.
Regardless of which method you prefer, both cutting and punching a cigar will get the job done if the cigar type matches up.
Just remember to gauge where you plan to cut or punch carefully so that you do it right the first time.
Oh, and if you find that your cigar caps are cracking during a cut or a punch, try popping that stogie in your pie hole prior to proceeding. Sometimes a little bit of saliva can provide a cigar cap with all of the moisture it requires to receive a cut or punch without cracking.