Smoking Kills

Ka mate koe i te kai hikareti

What is that horrible stuff oozing from my cigar?

Update - a week and a bit after I wrote the original blog-post:

So, I checked and re-checked the humidity of the same cigars in the humidified storage bag; as well as the same cigars in-stock in our walk-in humidor; all were just fine, not high at all.

But - what I did change was the cutter I used; for the week I had nothing but bad, oozing cigars I had used a new cutter that has a safety backplate; I smoked the same cigars again over the last few days using my trusty Xikar Xi3 and had zero issues...

So, was it just bad luck or was it the new cutter I was using?  The cutter was new and sharp; maybe because of the backplate it just didn't quite cut enough off the cap?


This is thankfully a not too common problem for cigar aficionados the world over; however it will happen to all of us at some point in time.

What is it?

On a really basic level, the overall consensus is that it is sap oozing out the end of your cigar (cigar juice, tobacco juice for a nicer word).

Either way, its horrible (horrific to be honest).

If you are lucky, you'll see it before you taste it; however when your enjoying a cigar you don't really tend to gaze at the head of your cigar.  Most likely, your going to touch that bubble of tobacco juice against your tongue.

From there, well from personal research you'll want to drink about a 1/4 of a bottle of top shelf just to try to get the taste out of your mouth...

What causes it?

This is the controversial part; everyone agrees that it is sap oozing out; but some believe it is simply because you over-smoke your cigar (draw on it too much); now I disagree with this analogy because I've had two cigars this week do it and I would be lucky to puff on my cigar every 5-minutes.

For me, both of these cigars were stored in a humidified bag (not a Boveda bag); so my guess is that they have gained too much humidity and the stem(s) in the cigar have absorbed the moisture and thus creates the tar (tobacco sap).

Side note: I will put two of the same cigars in there and check the humidity and see if I am right or wrong.

One key thing is though, your cut can greatly increase the chances of getting the tar oozing out.

Any cut that concentrates the smoke/draw of your cigar will increase the chances of tar; but again; I believe it really does occur when a stem or stems have absorbed too much moisture. 

This Arturo Fuente Opus X for example is what I am talking about - a punch-cut cigar that has filled with tar (and quite a lot by the looks of it).

Now, the two cigars I enjoyed (as much as I could) this week were both cut with a standard double-blade guillotine cutter; so for me; the cut wasn't the issue at all.

But a Punch cut or a V-cut certainly aids to the problem.

This is the second possible reason for tar - if your draw is tight, then you are drawing very hard through the cigar; this I believe is also another key factor to why you will get that tar oozing from the head of your cigar.

There is also a third potential force that creates tar - people that slobber on the head of their cigar (we've all got that friend...).  Remember your smoking a cigar, not giving a BJ.

But in all seriousness, I guess some people just produce more saliva than others and those people may just end up with more "soggy" cigars that have tar issues than others.

Master Steve Saka has a couple of opinions, one being along what I have said; a stem has retained moisture and is now oozing tobacco-juice; the other is that the tobacco is under-fermented. He goes on to say that in extreme cases the under-fermented tobacco can begin to actually rot and cause the tar issue.

See the bottom of the page and I will try to add a link to the YouTube clip on him discussing tar in cigars...

What can you do about it?

Obviously the first thing is (and always) - check your humidity levels and maybe re-think that 70/70 rule.  If you missed my last Blog Post, maybe read it now.

BLOG Post - Rethinking Humidity and Cigar Storage

My gut feeling is tar will be more likely if your cigars are a bit too moist/humid.


Now, if you do have tar on your cigar - well the easiest thing to do is to re-cut your cigar; thankfully I can attest that most of the time, one re-cut does the trick... most of the time.

However, one of the cigars I had this week, I re-cut five times and still had tar dribbling out. By far the worst case I've ever had in the last 30-years!

If you have Punch Cut or V-Cut your cigar; grab your double-blade guillotine and cut that part clean off; you'll be surprised how well the draw improves and hopefully the tar is gone too.

Remember nothing can improve your cigar enjoyment more than good drawer, an easy flowing cigar.

Thankfully I can say that the re-cut works very well and honestly over the last 30-years it has been the best solution yet to this annoying problem.

Like the one cigar I had this week, yes, from time to time your going to get one stubborn cigar that is most likely just a touch too moist or maybe has too many stems in it and will produce way too much tar.

Sadly, as the things we love so dearly are artisan products and hand-made, it is just one of those things we have to endure.  The good news is, it is not a very common problem.

Due to YouTube limitations, just click on the link on the above and it'll take you directly to YouTube so you can watch the video...

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