Cigars 101


Picking the perfect cigar

It’s all a matter of taste. Although the quality and craftsmanship from one cigar brand to another can differ greatly and affect your overall experience, individual taste and enjoyment should be your gauge to deciding which cigar becomes one of your favorites. It’s safe to say that you will enjoy some more than others and that, amongst those, you will not be able to draw a direct correlation between cost and pleasure. Therefore, forget about any cigar ranking systems or recommendations from friends and begin the wonderful quest of finding out which cigar ranks highest to your palette. Try them all and remember that sometimes it’s more about the journey than the destination.


Not every cigar should be smoked right away. Like a fine wine, a cigar needs time to age. Therefore, it is important that you select the right cigar at the right time. For example, if you are purchasing a cigar for your collection at home, you can select a younger cigar and age it in your own humidor. If you plan to smoke it right away, you should select a cigar that has aged longer – one that is ready. Fuma Cigar Social’s well stocked and properly organized humidor makes it easy to select the right cigar. Their shelves are clearly marked and organized by brand, age and strength. Their knowledgeable and friendly staff is also standing by to assist you.

Cutting your cigar

Not counting Clint Eastwood’s way of ripping off the end of a cigar with your teeth, there are three main ways to cut a cigar; a punch cut, a v-cut, and the popular straight cut.


The Punch Cut, as the name implies, does not actually cut the cigar. It simply punches a hole in the end of the head of the cigar and removes a small plug. This is accomplished by gently pushing and twisting the punch into the head and then pulling it back out.

     Pros: This method exposes less of the filler and binder and reduces the chance of the binder unraveling or having pieces of tobacco ending up in the mouth.

     Cons: Critics of this method argue that the smaller hole affects the draw of the cigar and can also clog with tobacco buildup which can change the flavor of the cigar.


The V-cut is done with a special cutter that creates a v-shaped cut in the end of a cigar. This style of cut exposes more filler and makes it easier to draw smoke through the cigar.

     Pros: Good V-cutters penetrate deeper into the filler than straight cutters, and some smokers prefer them for thicker gauge cigars.

    Cons: A dull V-cutter can result in a bad cut that is too deep into the cigar, which can result in an uneven burn.


The Straight Cut is the most popular cut and is done with a cigar guillotine or cigar scissors.

     The single blade guillotine cutter cuts from one side and applies pressure to one side of the cigar. This type of cutter is typically effective if the blade is sharp, but can compress your filler and cause draw problems if done with a dull blade.

     The double blade guillotine is preferred by many experienced cigar smokers because it usually makes a cleaner cut. The two blades allow equal pressure to be applied on both sides of your cigar for a smoother cut.

     Another type of cutter is the cigar scissors, which are also used to make straight cuts, and is a great choice for cutting the cigar at the exact spot you intend. Cigar scissors are one of the preferred tools for many aficionados and they do take some time to get used to and are not recommended for the novice.


Stop by and check out our great selection of cutters and accessories.

Lighting your cigar

i. For many, this all-important pre-smoke ritual is one of the most enjoyable aspect of cigar smoking. To start, hold the cigar at a 45-degree angle with the foot of the cigar – the end you light – pointed downward. Without letting the flame touch the cigar, gently prime the head of the cigar by rotating the end just above the flame of either a cedar spill, a wooden match, or a butane lighter. Heating the foot allows the natural oils in the leaves to heat up, providing a more consistent burn. Then, without letting the flame actually touch the cigar, hold the flame ½" from the end and draw on the cigar gently while rotating the cigar to ensure an even burn.


Stop by and check out our great selection of cutters and accessories.


Proper cigar care

The only way to preserve any cigar is to maintain their proper moisture content and temperature. This is best managed using a good cigar humidor, the purpose, of which, is to keep your cigars at their peak "smokability". A properly working and maintained cigar humidor will provide a constant environment of about 68° to 70° F and between 70 and 72% humidity.


Stop by and check out our great selection of cutters and accessories.


Cigar Terms

(the highlighted ones are just enough to get you by)


Band -- A ring of paper wrapped around the closed head of most cigars.  For the record, it is equally appropriate to leave the band on while smoking a cigar or to remove it, as long as the cigar's wrapper leaf is not torn when the band is removed.


Binder -- The portion of a tobacco leaf used to hold together the blend of filler leaves called the bunch; with the wrapper and filler, it is one of three main components in a cigar.


Blend -- The mixture of different types of tobacco in a cigar, including up to five types of filler leaves, a binder leaf and an outer wrapper.


Bloom (also called Plume) -- A naturally occurring phenomenon in the cigar aging process, also called plume, caused by the oils that exude from the tobacco. It appears as a fine white powder and can be brushed off. Not to be confused with mold, which is bluish and stains the wrapper.


Bouquet -- The smell, or "nose," of a fine cigar. Badly stored cigars lose their bouquet.


Box -- The container used to package cigars.


Bull's-Eye Piercer -- A device for opening the closed head of a cigar before smoking. It creates a circular opening like a target's bull's eye.


Bundle -- A packaging method, designed with economy in mind, that uses a cellophane overwrap. It usually contains 25 or 50 cigars, traditionally without bands. Bundles, oftentimes seconds of premium brands, are usually less expensive than boxed cigars.


Cedar -- The kind of wood that is used to make most cigar boxes and humidors.


Chaveta (roller's knife) -- The knife used in a cigar factory for cutting the wrapper leaf.


Churchill -- 1. A large corona-format cigar, traditionally 7 inches by a 47 ring gauge but often a 48 ring gauge today. 2. Sir Winston Churchill, who was famous for almost never being seen without a cigar.


Cigarillos -- Favored by some aficionados and scorned by others, these thin, three-inch cigars, popular in Europe, are generally machine-made, and many brands use homogenized wrappers or binders.


Claro -- A pale-green to light-brown wrapper, usually shade-grown.


Colorado -- A medium-brown to brownish-red shade of wrapper tobacco.


Corona -- The most familiar size and shape for premium cigars: generally straight-sided with an open foot and a closed, rounded head.


Draw -- The amount of air that gets pulled through a lit cigar. It can be too easy (hot) or too tight (plugged).


Filler Leaves -- The individual tobacco leaves used in the body of the cigar. A fine cigar usually contains between two and five different types of filler tobacco.


Finish -- A tasting term. It refers to the taste that lingers on your palate after a puff. Mild cigars do not have much finish, either in terms of length or complexity. But stronger, more full-bodied cigars have distinctive flavors that linger for a while.


Foot -- The end of the cigar you light. Most often it is pre-cut, except in the case of torpedos and perfectos.


Habano -- A designation which, when inscribed on a cigar band, indicates that a cigar is Cuban. (Note: not all Cuban cigars are marked with "Habano" or "Havana.")


Habanos S.A. -- the worldwide distribution company for Cuban cigars; formerly called Cubatabaco.


Handmade -- A cigar made entirely by hand with high-quality wrapper and long filler. All premium cigars are handmade. Hand-rollers can generally use more delicate wrapper leaves than machines.


Hand-rolled -- A cigar made entirely by hand with high-quality wrapper and long filler.


Head -- The closed end of the cigar; the end you smoke.


Hot -- Describes a cigar that is underfilled and has a quick, loose draw. Can cause harsh flavors.


Humidor -- A room, or a box, of varying sizes, designed to preserve or promote the proper storage and aging of cigars by maintaining a relative humidity level of 70 percent and a temperature of approximately 65°F to 70°F.


Hygrometer -- A device that indicates the humidity, or percentage of moisture in the air; used to monitor humidor conditions.

Inhale-- What you DON”T do with cigar smoke.


Lance -- A cutter used to pierce a small hole in the closed end of a cigar. Also called a piercer.


Machine-made -- Cigars made entirely by machine, using heavier-weight wrappers and binders and, frequently, cut filler in place of long filler.


Maduro -- A wrapper shade from a very dark reddish-brown to almost black. The word means ripe in Spanish. The color can be achieved by sun exposure, a cooking process or a prolonged fermentation.


Oil -- The mark of a well-humidified cigar. Even well-aged cigars secrete oil at 70 to 72 percent relative humidity, the level at which they should be stored.


Oscuro -- A black shade of wrapper, darker than maduro, most often Brazilian or Mexican in origin.


Perfecto -- A distinctive cigar shape that is closed at both ends, with a rounded head; usually with a bulge in the middle.


Piercer -- A cutter used to pierce a small hole in the closed end of a cigar. Also called a lance.


Plug -- A blockage that sometimes occurs in the tobacco that can prevent a cigar from drawing properly. A plug can sometimes be alleviated by gently massaging the cigar.


Plume (also called Bloom)- - A naturally occurring phenomenon in the cigar aging process, also called plume, caused by the oils that exude from the tobacco. It appears as a fine white powder and can be brushed off. Not to be confused with mold, which is bluish and stains the wrapper.


Primings -- The rows of leaves on a tobacco plant. The number of primings varies, but six is average. The first priming is closest to the ground, the sixth is near the top. The higher the, priming the stronger the tobacco.


Ring Gauge -- A measurement for the diameter of a cigar, based on 64ths of an inch. A 40 ring gauge cigar is 40/64ths of an inch thick.


Robusto -- A substantial, but short cigar; traditionally 5 to 5 1/2 inches by a 50 ring gauge.


Shade-grown -- Wrapper leaves that have been grown under a cheesecloth tent, called a tapado. The filtered sunlight creates a thinner, more elastic leaf.


Smoking Time -- A 5-inch cigar with a 50 ring gauge, such as a robusto, should provide anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes of smoking pleasure. A double corona, a 7 1/2-inch cigar with a 50 ring gauge, may give over an hour's worth of smoking time. A thinner cigar, such as a lonsdale, smokes in less time than a cigar with a 50 ring gauge.


Shoulder -- The area of a cigar where the cap meets the body. If you cut into the shoulder, the cigar will begin to unravel.


Spill -- A strip of cedar used to light a cigar when using a candle or a fluid lighter, both of which can alter the taste of the cigar.


Sun-grown -- Tobacco grown in direct sunlight, which creates a thicker leaf with thicker veins.


Torpedo -- A cigar shape that features a closed foot, a pointed head and a bulge in the middle.


Tunneling -- The unwelcome phenomenon of having your cigar burn unevenly. To prevent it, rotate your cigar now and then.


Vein -- A structural part of a leaf; prominent veins can be a defect in wrappers.


Vintage -- When a vintage is used for a cigar, it usually refers to the year the tobacco was harvested, not the year the cigar was made.


Wrapper -- A high-quality tobacco leaf wrapped around the finished bunch and binder. It is very elastic and, at its best, unblemished.


Wedge Cut -- A V-shaped cut made in the closed end of a cigar