The Problem with Cigar Tunnelling

The Problem with Cigar Tunnelling
Date: September 2023
Author: Inspector X

Tunnelling, the problem when the burn of your cigar burns the filler but not the binder or the wrapper anymore, creating a tunnel. And it’s an issue, an issue that in some cases is the fault of the bunchero, in most cases the fault of the smoker, in other cases the fault of the retailer and in a very rare case the fault of the blender.

Tunnelling affects the way your cigar tastes and burns dramatically. So as a smoker, try to avoid tunnelling as much as possible and just hope that the other links in the chain did the same thing.

Now, what are the causes of tunnelling? Let’s start with the first step in the process and work our way down. The first two steps are out of the control of you and me, the cigar smokers, and cause three can be the fault of several parties but cause four till six are easily avoidable. Cause seven is just bad luck.

Cause 1: the ligador, the blender, selected poor materials to create the cigar. There is nothing you or I can do about it, except to let the factory know. Enough complaints will force the factory to change the blend and use better materials.

Cause 2: the bunchero, the person who bunches the filler for the cigar, uses an improper bunching technique. The thickest leaf in the cigar, often the ligero leaf, is improperly centred. Again, nothing you or I can do about it, just let the factory know so they can up the quality control and train the bunchero.

Cause 3: Storage conditions. Now this can happen at the factory, at the distributor, at the retailer but also at home. It is important to store your cigars in the most ideal conditions as possible to avoid any burn issues, draw issues or other problems with the cigars.

Cause 4: Here we go to the part where the end-consumer, we as cigar connoisseurs, can do our thing to avoid tunnelling. A clean cut with a straight cut that opens up 80+% of the face of the cigar will prevent tunnelling. Using a V-Cut, a Punch or another cut that modifies the draw or the air flow increases the risk of burn issues such as tunnelling.

Cause 5: Improper lighting. Take your time to light your cigar. Hold the flame in a 45 degree angle from the cigar and never let the flame hit the cigar. I often see people point their four-pit rocket launcher straight on the cigar and just char the inside of the cigar to smithereens, destroying the beautiful aromas of the cigar while creating all kinds of burn issues including tunnelling. In indoor conditions it is always better to use a soft flame anyway, as these flames have a lower temperature which allows the tobacco to release all the delicate flavours instead of being toasted by a torch.

Cause 6: Smoke slowly. Smoking cigars is not a race. By smoking fast you raise the burning temperature of your cigar, which can turn the flavours bitter but also increases the risk of burn issues. If you don’t have enough time to smoke a robusto, select a half corona but at least make sure you smoke it slowly to get the best experience.

Cause 7: this is just bad luck. Cigars are a product of nature and sometimes you just have a leaf in the filler that burns quicker than the rest. It could be either a leaf, or a rib in the blend that burns too fast. There is no way to fix this, it just is what it is.

I hope that this post is educating enough for those of us who experience tunnelling on a regular basis and help the readers of to avoid this problem in the future!

Inspector X

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