Like wine or any fine beverage, the construction of a premium cigar is a meticulous and time-consuming process. Each part of the cigar is carefully crafted by the best cigar rollers and has a crucial role in the experience of smoking.

Cutting the cap

The goal in cutting the cap is to create a smooth opening that is broad enough to ensure an unobstructed draw whilst retaining enough of the cap to stop the wrapper from unravelling. The break should be clean and not frayed.

There are a number of devices that you can use to cut the cap. The most popular is the single or double-bladed guillotine which slices part of the cap off.

Alternatively, there are pairs of special cigar scissors.

There is also a punch cutter with a circular blade. It removes a section from the cap, which preserves the shape of the cigar head, although it cannot cut pointed ends.

V-cutters are not recommended as they tend to tear the cap.

You should also not pierce the cap with a match or cocktail stick, as this will compress the filler into a lump and impede the draw.

Lighting the cigar

The foot is the part reserved for lighting, preferably with a butane gas lighter, a wooden match or a spill.

The objective is to light your cigar with an odourless flame, so never use a petrol lighter, a wax match or a candle as their aroma will permeate the cigar.

Take your time and do a thorough job of lighting your cigar. Nothing spoils the pleasure of a Habano faster than the thin smoke you draw when it is badly lit.

A powerful flame that will evenly light the whole edge will help you to have an even burn and a delicious draw.

To ensure you light a cigar right every time, follow this small ritual:

Hold the foot of the cigar at 90 degrees to the flame and rotate it until the surface is evenly charred.

Place the Habano between your lips. Holding the flame a centimetre away, draw on it until the flame jumps onto the foot. Rotate the cigar while slowly puffing on it to ensure an even burn.

Blow gently on the foot to ensure a complete lighting.


A Habano should be smoked slowly, or it may overheat, which can harm the flavour.

This is not a cigarette, so don’t inhale.

Gently draw the smoke into your mouth and allow it to play on your taste buds.

Relax and savour the flavours and aromas of the tobaccos in the blend.

It is fine to relight your Habano if it extinguishes. But you must first clean off any loose ash or you will find it hard to re-ignite.

Don’t fret over the length of the ash and tap your Habano like a cigarette. Let the ash fall in its own time, preferably into an ashtray.

A Habano may be smoked for at least three quarters of its length.

When you have finished smoking the cigar, don’t crush it to a pulp. Lay it to rest in the ashtray and it will go out by itself.

Earlier articles:

The leaves that clothe the body

Cigar anatomy

Cohiba: Fidel Castro’s all-time favourite cigar

Tobacco paradise

The best cigars come from Cuba

What’s the big deal with Havana cigar