Almost every handmade cigar comes with a capped head. One of the main reasons for this is to prevent the wrapper and binder unrolling while being transported or stored in a humidor. It also means that you need to remove the cap before you can smoke the cigar as the cap otherwise prevents smoke flowing through the cigar. There are several ways to remove the cap, cigarinspector lists the best and most used methods;
The most used method is a straight cut. This means that you remove the cap by cutting of the cap completely. There are many cutters on the market that will help you do so. Some of these cutters just have a blade that slides through the cap and takes it off. Some come with double blades, which work better as the blades cut from both sides, creating less force on the cigar than with a single blade.
There are cutters that come with a back plate. This back plate ensures that you don’t cut your too deep. Cutting off too much of the cap can result into your cigar unrolling.
Another way to do a straight cut is with cigar scissors. These are specially designed scissors to cut the cap off. It is a less popular way though, as cutting the cap with cigar scissors takes a little practice and isn’t as easy as cutting with a single or double blade cutter
The third option for a straight cut is a cigar knife. There are several knifes on the market that are specially designed for this job. The French accessory company Les Fines Lames build a company based on their knifes with different finishes, and knifes in two different sizes. The American knife maker Benchmade also has cigar knives.
The V-Cut does not take the whole cap off. As the name suggests, it cuts a V shaped hole in the cigar. This has the advantage that most of the cap remains intact. And that prevents unrolling of the wrapper. Due to the shape of the cut, the smoke hits your palate differently and it can create a different smoking experience. The V-Cut is an old fashioned way of cutting your cigars, but has made a strong comeback in the last few years. It is probably more popular now than ever. The downside of this type of cutting is that you have a chance of small pieces of tobacco ending up in your mouth.
The final option is a punch. Just like the V-Cut, a punch leaves most of the cap intact has the same advantage. With a punch you drill out a small circle of the cap. The advantage of a punch is that you concentrate the smoke though a small hole, creating a more intense flavour. The downside is that you might experience a build-up of tar, turning your cigar bitter. And the only way to fix that is to cut the tainted part of the cigar with a straight cut.
There are a few other, not so conventional ways to remove the cap. For example, the Shuriken Cigar Cutter, a tool that cuts a few thin cuts in the wrapper and the cap. But our advice is to stay away from this tool. We tried the Shuriken cutter and it did not preform at all.
The Select Draw is a tool with three prongs that punched small holes in the cigar. You can punch as many holes as you’d like, on different parts of the cap and play with the way the smoke hits your palate. But in our opinion, it’s not as useful as any of the three traditional methods.
If you travel to the cigar producing countries, you will often see the old men that work in the industry use their nail to peel off the cap. If you have so much experience as these legends, you know exactly how to do that without destroying your cigar. But for the average smoker, this is a last resort and you might be better off with poking a few holes in the cigars with something sharp.
Advice from Cigar Inspector
It does not matter which method you prefer, but make sure your blades are clean and sharp. Dirty or dull blades tend to damage your cigar. And also, don’t cheap out on buying a cutter or a punch. You often get what you pay for, and a cheap cutter will have lesser quality blades – do you really want to damage an expensive and delicious cigar by using cheap and low quality cutters? Probably not.