Creating the ultimate smoking experience relies on a few crucial factors. Matching cigar shapes with their appropriate cut style is just as important as how the premium cigar is cut.

Before we jump into proper cutting techniques, aficionados need to identify what cigar shape they are going to smoke. (If you need a refresher on cigar measurements and vitolas, check this out) Parejos are the most popular type of cigar shapes, which are crafted with a rounded cap and a straight body. Common vitolas include Toro, Churchill, Lancero, Robusto and Corona. Cigars in the Figurado category are far less standard in their shapes and feature a pointed cap, like Torpedos, Belicosos and Pyramids.

The four most common methods of cutting a cigar are:
Guillotine Style: This style delivers a straight cut across the head of the cigar’s cap. When purchasing this type of cutter, aficionados will be met with two options, a single-blade and a double-blade. The less desirable single-blade version is not as efficient and tends to be manufactured with cheaper materials. If done properly, double-blade guillotine cutters offer a pristine, even straight cut. Both Xikar and Colibri have an excellent selection of guillotine cutters. Punch: Quite different from a straight cut, Punches create a circular hole in the cap of the cigar. Using a Punch on a smoke with a small ring-gauge or a Figurado’s pointed-cap is not recommended, as it will likely end up ruining the integrity of the cigar. Due to their petite size, Punches are easy to store and equally as easy to lose. To help avoid this dilemma, Xikar designed its top-quality Twist Punch to fit on a key ring, making it much more difficult to misplace. V-Cutter: When used correctly, V-Cuts can elevate a cigar from good to spectacular. Compared to other cuts, much more of the surface area is exposed resulting in a burst of flavorful smoke onto the taste buds with every draw. V-Cutters with a wide angle should not be used on smokes with a very small ring-gauge. Cigar Scissors: This type of cutting method is elegant and adaptable for most any type of cigar shape. In recent years, cigar manufacturers have been releasing bigger, bolder sizes. Unfortunately, Guillotine and V-Cutters are not always wide enough to accommodate the larger ring-gauges, but scissors can. The key to effectively using cigar scissors is to make sure the cap is not cut off, as the cigar will fall apart.

Once you have your premium cigar and desired cutting tool in hand, it’s time to make the perfect cut. Remember not to be over zealous with the amount you are chopping off, since you can’t add it back on.

When using a Guillotine cutter for a Parejo’s rounded cap, aim for where the curvature of the head begins to straighten, which is approximately a half-inch. Although slow and steady often wins the race, cutting a cigar in that manner can lead to ruining the cap and in turn, the entire cigar. Figurados rarely follow a standardized set of rules, so cutting techniques are as equally vague. Personal preference is largely at play since the goal with using a Guillotine on a Figurado is to expose enough of the filler to get a smooth, crisp draw.

To properly execute a Punch cut on a Parejo, press the bladed end against the center of the cap. With a light amount of pressure, gently rotate the cigar until the blade is roughly a half inch inside of the cap. Like oil and vinegar, Figurados and Punches do not mix. If the point is not too angled it may be possible to use a Punch without destroying the cigar, but use discretion.

V-Cuts create an angled divot in the center of the cap that complements both Parejos and Figurados. Place the Parejo’s rounded cap in the center of the V-Cut’s bowl and firmly press the blades together. Figurados can have pointed heads with a tiny diameter, so it is important to pay attention how far the cap is going into the center of the bowl. Instead of making a nice angled cut in your Torpedo, you could end up turning it into a Robusto.

The versatility of cigar scissors accommodates large and small ring gauges of Parejos and Figurados. Aficionados should make sure the blades on the scissors are adequately sharpened before cutting their cigar. Line up the scissors and cap to the desired length, make a light score around the cigar and firmly finish clipping it.

The experience of smoking a cigar is unique for every aficionado. Selecting the perfect blend, vitola and cutting technique relies heavily on personal preference and experimenting. With the never-ending influx of premium blends and top-quality cigar accessories, there is always something new to try here at SeriousCigars.com.

As aficionados get ready for the Big Game, we’ve compiled Top 5 List for the best cigars to enjoy during the highly anticipated match-up. Whether you are watching alone or with fellow fans, these premium cigars will make game day even more exciting and captivating than it already is!

1. La Flor Dominicana Cigars - Football Special Edition 2017:

La Flor Dominicana Football Special Edition 2017 is a Big Game Day essential. Last year’s edition flaunts an eye-catching football pattern, a uniquely angled foot and a luxurious medium to full body. The savory blend was designed to be a crowd pleaser with its ultra-premium tobacco arrangement and top-quality craftsmanship. Celebrate the most anticipated game of the year with the luxurious La Flor Dominicana Football Special Edition 2017!

2. Rocky Patel Cigars - Legends 52 Ray Lewis:
A collaboration between one of the best defensive players in football’s history and a renowned cigar industry titan resulted in the Rocky Patel Legends 52 Ray Lewis. This amazing blend is crafted with the finest premium tobaccos from five different countries, creating a well-balanced flavor profile and medium strength. Legends 52 Ray Lewis offers aficionados with a smoking experience almost as captivating as the Big Game!

3. AJ Fernandez - Last Call:
When the 4th quarter commences and seconds begin melting of the scoreboard, it is time to light up Last Call by AJ Fernandez. Before Last Call was added to the Portfolio Series, it was said to have been passed out at Fernandez’s Casa Blanca during the final quarter of football games. This premium smoke will wake you up with a full blast of flavor and strength, making it ideal for the last quarter of the very long game day.

4. Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust - Mi Querida:
A spectacular accompaniment to the Big Game for New England supporters is the Mi Querida by Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust. Hand-rolled with the best premium tobaccos, the rich smoke has a medium to full body. Founder Steve Saka is a New England native who has traveled the world learning from the industry’s top leaders, eventually becoming a cigar master in his own right. Mi Querida is the product of Saka’s unwavering dedication and patience, just like the region’s celebrated team.

5. Ashton Cigars - Symmetry:

For Philadelphia fans, there is no better way to watch the game then with the 93+ rated Ashton Symmetry. Not only is Philly home to one of this year’s top football teams, but it is also where Ashton Cigars was founded. On more than one occasion, the Symmetry has made Cigar Aficionado’s Top 25 Cigars of the Year list due to the blends innovative, yet classic style. Whether you are hosting a party or just attending, lighting up an Ashton Symmetry is the perfect way to cheer your team on from home.

Montecristo is arguably one of the most well-known cigar brands in the history of the industry. The iconic brand is constantly releasing innovative premium blends with the same devotion to the highest quality standards that has helped it gain generations of loyal enthusiasts. That inventive spirit lead to a collaboration between the renowned Plasencia Family and Montecristo’s Grupo de Maestros, resulting in the luxurious Epic Craft Cured series. The Plasencia Family’s mastery of growing, aging, blending and flawlessly hand-rolling premium Nicaraguan tobacco is unrivaled, creating a truly remarkable smoking experience.

An unorthodox fermentation process marries together Plasencia’s superior craftsmanship and the versatile arrangement of tobaccos. Rather than fermenting each tobacco varietal in separate large pilones, the different tobaccos in Craft Cured are fermented together in smaller sized pilones. This process allows each distinguishing tobacco characteristics to intertwine and mesh together, resulting in an unparalleled aromatic bouquet and a luxurious array of textures.

Medium to full in strength, this decadent blend liberates palates from the status quo. The immaculate construction that Epic Craft Cured flaunts unapologetically is complements of the Plasencia Family’s factory in Estelí. With help from the Grupo de Maestros, the finest tobaccos from Nicaragua’s four growing regions were selected to create a rich, well-balanced flavor profile. Blending a cigar with tobaccos harvested from different parts of the same country might not sound special, but the unique geography of Nicaragua produces an incredibly complex smoke.

The filler is a medley of leaves from Estelí, Jalapa and Condega, which all bring different characteristics to the blend. Estelí adds distinct spiciness and potent strength, Jalapa infuses sweet aromas and delicate textures, while Condega melds the blended filler together with honey-like flavors and mineral undertones. Epic Craft Cured is furnished with a choice binder from the volcanic island of Ometempe, known for producing Nicaragua’s most prized and rare tobacco. A gorgeous, oily Nicaraguan Rosado Oscuro 2006 wrapper cloaks the cigar with an eye-catching reddish-brown hue.

Epic Craft Cured is the ultimate Nicaraguan puro and needs to be experienced by every true aficionado. Order yours online today at SeriousCigars.com and change your palate forever!

Although understanding cigar measurements and vitolas can seem a bit overwhelming and confusing, they are both crucial elements when selecting a cigar. Being able to distinguish between shapes and sizes enables aficionados to recognize the impact it will make on their overall smoking experience. The foundation begins with two basic concepts: the length and the diameter, known as the ring gauge.

The length is most commonly measured in inches, but aficionados may find the occasional odd-ball cigar that uses centimeters. Ring gauge is measured in 64ths of an inch, so the diameter of a smoke with a 64-ring gauge is an inch. For example, the dimensions of a premium cigar with a length of 5 inches and a 46-ring gauge is 5 x 46.

Feel free to put your calculator away since categorizing vitolas is much less technical and far more imprecise. Manufacturers construct cigars with their own size parameters, cap style and vitola names. Also, keep in mind that there are traditional Havana terms and non-Cuban names. The shape of a cigar has two general categories known as Parejos and Figurados, which both have underlying sub-categories. Designed with a straight-edged body and a classically rounded head, Parejos represent the standard cigar shape. Figurados are crafted in irregular shapes and tend to be more of a wild-card category for reasons we’ll delve into shortly.

A favorite Parejo shape is the Churchill, named after history’s most well-known aficionado, Winston Churchill. Generally, a standard Churchill is constructed with a 7-inch length and a ring gauge ranging from 47 to 54 (7 x 47 to 54). Due to the rounded head and meaty diameter, Churchills can be enjoyed with any type of cigar cut. Davidoff Winston Churchill The Late Hour is a superb example of this iconic vitola. The longer, fuller shape of a Churchill enables the flavors to develop into a more complex profile further into the smoke. The science behind this attribute is that even though the tobaccos towards the head and center may not have an ember yet, they are influenced by the continuous heat.

Another popular Parejo shape is the Toro, known as a Double Robusto in Havana terms. Generally, the standard dimensions are 6 to 6.5 inches in length with a ring gauge between 50 and 54. A prime specimen of a classic Toro is the Montecristo Epic, which has 6 x 52 dimensions and holds up perfectly with any type of cut. The Toro size offers aficionados a luxurious, savory smoke that enables flavors and textures to mature evenly.

Aficionados should be on the lookout for Lanceros, a Parejo first developed in Cuba by Cohiba. Originally, the Lancero was only rolled for Fidel Castro, but quickly began building popularity among cigar enthusiasts. Savvy connoisseurs know that roughly 85% of a cigar’s flavor comes from the wrapper. By crafting a thinner smoke with less filler and binder tobaccos, the wrapper’s rich flavors become more pronounced, disproving the misnomer that bigger smokes are better. Measuring in at 7 x 40, the Liga Privada Unico Serie L40 Lancero by Drew Estate Cigars is a top-rated smoke that needs to be in the repertoire of anyone who considers themselves a true aficionado.

The Petit Corona is a tinier version of the traditional Parejo Corona shape. Typically, the dimensions for a Petit Corona ranges from 4.5 to 5 inches in length with a ring gauge between 38 and 42. The Rocky Patel Java Petit Corona flaunts a dainty size so the ideal cut would be a straight guillotine, as the ring gauge is too small to accommodate a punch and V-Cut.

The more diverse and less standardized Figurado category ranges from iconic shapes like the Torpedo to eye-catching designs like Culebra, which was developed for cigar factory’s torcedors. It is important to always remember that cigar companies have carte blanche when it comes to construction and naming the final product. For aficionados, this means that although a cigar might be labeled as a Pyramid, it could more closely resemble a Torpedo leading to some confusion.

An attribute unique to Torpedos is a sharply pointed tapered head that serves to centralize the draw. This often results in Torpedos concentrating a cigar’s flavor profile onto the taste buds and burning slower, however factors like craftsmanship and tobacco varieties may affect those characteristics. Typically, aficionados give Torpedos a straight guillotine cut or in some cases a V-cut. Some of the most recognizable cigars in the world are available as a Torpedo, such as the Montecristo No.2. For a more modern version of this shape, you should also check out the El Gueguense Torpedo by Foundation Cigars. Overall, Torpedos give blends a sophisticated appearance, while also siphoning the flavors directly onto the palate.    

Another member of the Figurado family is the Belicoso, which can also easily be mistaken for a Torpedo due to their similar appearances. A major telltale difference is the shorter length of a Belicoso. The other distinguishing attribute is the tapered head, which is historically more rounded in a Belicoso size. La Aroma de Cuba Belicoso is a great example of the traditionally accepted format of the elegant vitola.

Although understanding the breakdown of sizes and shapes is important in helping aficionados select the ideal smoke, it does not account for other crucial factors. The quality of tobacco and construction coupled with if a cigar was adequately humidified affects the flavor profile and smoking experience. The best way for aficionados to figure out their palate preferences is to experiment. Explore the amazing collection of blends available on SeriousCigars.com today and find your new favorite smoke. Be sure to join the email list to receive exclusive offers and special discounts!

At Serious Cigars we take our cigars very seriously, as you can tell. We also take our bourbon seriously. It is safe to say we have no sense of humor and we take everything seriously. So, when we do our research and layout a cigar and bourbon pairing, it would behoove you to take it seriously as well. In our minds, nothing compares to the flavorful experience of matching up a cigar with its perfect bourbon. At the end of a long day, a good smoke and a stiff drink helps you forget your worries and helps you push on to the next day and the day after that. Now for the laymen, you may have not heard of some of these whiskies, but that’s the point. Serious Cigars wants to provide you with new experiences and we think we have done just that… seriously.

Eagle Rare 10 Year Old Bourbon & Laranja Reserva
Eagle Rare is a member of the first family of whiskey. They are crafted by Buffalo trace, who, along with its name brands, is also responsible for the legendary Pappy Van Winkle. It has a heritage and tradition of fine American bourbons. It is soft and slightly sweet with an orange zest aroma that continues into your first sips. Being the dominant orange themed cigar, Laranja is an easy match up for this. I’d recommend this pairing on a nice spring day. .

Michters US 1 Straight Kentucky Bourbon & Southern Draw Rose of Sharon
If it’s a hot summer day and you are looking for a mellow, smooth smoking and drinking experience, this is the matchup id go for. Michters has become a favorite in our office. It is smooth, creamy and has a good sweetness to it. The Rose of Sharon from Southern Draw will change the way you look at Connecticut wrappers. It remains mellow and creamy, but has a lot more flavor to it then you’d think, including a subtle sweet spice that pairs well with the whiskey. .

Blantons Original Single Barrel & Caldwell Hit and Run
Every time I go to my local water hole, I ask if they have Blantons. Some days I get a yes, more often I get a know. But on those yes days, I am more excited than a kid on Christmas. It is an exquisite bourbon, made it limited batches making it harder to find. It was originally created only to be given to foreign ambassadors and dignities, and when you taste it you will see why. It is incredibly well balanced with notes of caramel, roasted nuts, and an underlying sweetness. The new Hit & Run from Robert Caldwell and Matt Booth is the epitome of a medium bodied, well balanced smoke. With notes of nuts, caramel and a dash of sweet spice, I cannot think of a better partner for the elegant Blantons. .

Basil Haydens Kentucky Straight Bourbon & El Gueguense
Basil Hayden has become a more recent favorite of mine. A bottle was gifted to me during the holidays by a dear friend. He used to be an acquaintance, but after gifting me the luscious notes of Basil for the first time, he is now in my wedding party. It is an almost perfect whiskey for the fan of a little more body. It has a great spice to it but it is not overbearing. It is well balanced with a dry finish and notes of spice and leather. Where else can I find a well-balanced, medium bodied product with notes of spice and leather? Well Nick Melillo of course. His debut brand, El Gueguense has become one of my favorite cigars of all time. It is the epitome of craftsmanship with a wonderful bouquet of flavors and a near perfect draw. .

Elijah Craig Small Batch & Monte by Montecristo by AJ
When thinking of Elijah Craig, two words come to mind. Those words are rich and full. The small batch is a hearty bourbon, with bold notes of nutmeg, nuts, spice and a little smoke while it has a sweet and toasty finish. For this pairing I headed to the latest Altadis USA/AJ Fernandez collaboration. This box pressed cigar was listed on several top 10 lists due to its Altadis reliability and its AJ craftsmanship. It is rich and bold, similar to the Elijah Craig and adds in wonderful notes of coffee, chocolate and a rich smoky aroma. .

Serious Cigars is always open to new experiences, so if there is a whiskey and cigar pairing that you’d like to mention just let us know…until then try out our selection of amazing premium cigars…seriously.

There is a new dawn in the cigar industry. With the advent of the internet, information gathering by the general public is at an all-time high. Cigar smokers now know the blends and the process and the story behind each cigar they smoke. Long gone are the days where you can throw together a cigar, sell it for cheap, and make a lot of money. Customers today yearn for something new, something original. This is where the newest generation of cigar manufacturers will play a pivotal role. With the FDA regulations looming, new is going to be a relative term. The newest companies are already 3-4 years old, but when compared to manufacturers like Altadis, General, or Fuente, who have been crafting premium cigars for almost 50 years, these new companies are still in their infancy.

When looking at these companies, I’d like to start with Nick Melillo and Foundation Cigars. Nick is an old soul, even though he dresses like a college bro. This is not an insult, but a compliment. Nick has mastered the cigar making process, from cultivating and purchasing the correct tobaccos, to the aging process and then turning them into new and innovative blends. He has a marketing strategy that has every cigar fan boy pining for his newest releases. Nick is not a passing trend, but a pillar of the new generation of cigar manufacturers that should be taken seriously. Each of his major releases including the Tabernacle, El Gueguense and El Gueguense Maduro were each named to Top 10 lists in their respective release years. Serious Cigars is very excited to provide you with Foundation Cigars and we look forward to whatever new projects Nick has planned.

Next, we have the great Steve Saka and his newest venture, Dunbarton Tobacco and Trust. Steve has the benefit of experience at the highest levels of the cigar industry. He was an innovator in the use of online cigar forums back in the 1990s, when the internet was just getting its start among the populace. He was an executive consultant to Lew Rothman, the preeminent cigar retailer during the boom. He was then named President of Drew Estate and helped take that company from is fun quirky origins to one of the largest premium cigar manufacturers in the world. Steve is a seasoned cigar veteran, and his releases over the past 3 years show this. Sobremesa, Mi Querida, and most recently Todos Las Dias were all massive hits with the cigar community. He is also skillful in the art of the small batch limited cigar, such as the Muestra de Saka, and the old fashioned budget smoke like the Umbagog. If you want an idea of where the industry is heading, take a good look at Steve Saka.

This next choice may seem an unusual and many will feel it should have been included on my previous list. The Plasencia family is the most knowledgeable tobacco families in the world. Nestor Plasencia Sr. was born into a tobacco framing family in Cuba in the pre revolution days. Following their emigration out of the country, Nestor and his family continued to grow and cultivate cigar tobacco in Honduras and Nicaragua. During the cigar boom, they became well known in the industry for creating masterful blends, however they were mostly for other companies. Anytime a newer manufacturer needed the expertise and strategy of a seasoned cigar maker, they would go to Plasencia. In 2016, Nestor and his sons developed one of their first name brands. While they have had cigars with their name on it before, they were mostly unknown to the general public. With the release of the Plasencia Alma Fuerte, this company skyrocketed to the top of almost every Top 10 list. It was a new Plasencia, bold and edgy with a modern twist but using age old techniques. This demonstrated Plasencias ability to adapt to the new market, without sacrificing the knowledge and traditions that had got them to this point. The follow up, the Alma de Campo, is garnering rave reviews as we speak. This is a new Plasencia company, one that will capture the hearts and minds of cigar smokers everywhere.

At Serious Cigars, we pride ourselves on our selection. We will always carry the staples, the Montecristo Whites and the Macanudos and Partagas. These cigars have weathered the test of time and will always be favorites among the premium cigar community. However, we are also looking to the future. Serious Cigars will always be the place where you can find the newest brands at the best prices.

The past year, the cigar industry has seen its fair share of hardships. The FDA regulations have many people confused and has all but stopped new companies from entering the market place. The industry was also dealt three serious blows since last summer. In July of 2016 we lost the great Don Carlos Fuente, founder and patriarch of the Fuente Cigar company. This March saw the loss of renowned manufacturer and musician Avo Uvezian. Then this December, both Jose Padron and Gilberto Oliva passed on, within two weeks of each other. These men were on the Mount Rushmore of the cigar world. They were innovators, creators, masters of their craft. However, the cigar industry has always been resilient and must look to a newer brighter future. Let us see who we have to lead us into the next generation

In terms of the companies mentioned above, it is safe to say they are in good hands. While Carlos Fuente built the company up from nothing and was instrumental in developing there entire business plan, his son Carlito has played a major role for decades. It was Carlito who developed the legendary Opus X line which has become the most sought after cigar in the entire world. Carlito has become an expert in marketing and releasing desirable small batch products while maintain the quality of their general releases.

Fans of Padron also have nothing to fear. Jose’s son, Jorge, has been the leader of the company in all but name for quite a while. While his father was always diligent, even in his final years, Jorge has lead the company to new heights. He is become a master of aged tobaccos and quality control, ensuring each cigar coming out of their factory is flawless. He is also responsible for releasing the Family Reserve lines, which have become the highest rated line of cigars ever released in Nicaragua. Padron will remain at the top of the premium cigar industry for years to come.

Oliva seems to have just hit its stride in the past few years. The Oliva V and V Melanio have been rated in the Top 25 more times then I can remember. Their Nub and Nub Café lines are popular among that the younger demographic, while the Master Series and O lines have become staples for the seasoned smokers. The Oliva family, now run by the four Oliva siblings, have a business strategy in place that will continue to expand their products into humidors around the world.

Now, we have to look towards newer companies. The established fan bases of Fuente, Padron and Oliva will always remain and they will continue to produce fine products. Yet, it is the emerging boutique companies, that many may view as a fad or trend, that really hold the industry in the palm of its hand. Serious cigars has always stocked the newest hottest brands, but we have never forgotten these titans of industry. Padron, Fuente, and Oliva will always be a staple of our business and we are proud to be working with the new regime and are excited to see what the future holds.

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