The dreaded band tear-off: notoriously the most lascivious portion of the smoking experience, yet one that’s far too often met with disappointment. Every smoker has their personal preference when it comes to removing the band; be it when the ash meets paper, before the cigar is lit, or the occasional burn-right-through-it smoker.

Unfortunately, this is an overlooked portion of the smoking experience—especially by many manufacturers—that can be the difference between enjoying a cigar well into nub territory and calling it quits before the smoke has given all it has to give. Sometimes, it’s the littlest of annoyances that can leave you with a bad taste in your mouth. A poor de-banding experience, in my opinion, falls in this category. Sure, many wrappers are hearty enough to withstand the poking, pulling, and corkscrew tearing process that is often necessary to free tobacco from band, but more fragile leaves are less fortunate. The fate of Cameroon and Connecticut-wrapped cigars is practically in the hands of a well-placed band. It becomes like defusing a bomb, requiring surgical-grade accuracy in order to enter the cigar’s final third unscathed.

Nick Perdomo, Jr., owner of Perdomo Cigars, contends that a band should be removed when the burn line is roughly an eighth of an inch away from the paper. This allows the heat from the cigar’s embers to warm the band’s glue, making for more painless band removals. It’s tough to argue with this logic, but sadly, only so much can be done to remedy certain bands—those that seem determined to cling to the cigar as if the two were fused at birth. In many cigars’ cases, this is because they were. Glues from the band intermingle with pectin glue on the leaf and become locked into the material of the band. And when bands are made from porous, cotton-like paper—well, let’s just say you’re in for a battle.

The report card below consists of 50 of the industry’s most prominent brands, ranked from A+ to F- (why aren’t there F- grades in school?) on their ease of band removal. Additionally, we’ve listed each brand’s worst culprits and best efforts to help provide some context. This table can be sorted by company or grade (though the grade letters don’t rank A+ above A above A- (sorry)).
Company Worst Best Grade
Aganorsa Leaf New Cuba JFR Lunatic Locos C+
Aging Room Aging Room Bin No. 2 Quattro Nicaragua B+
A.J. Fernández Cigar Co. New World La Gran Llave B-
Alec Bradley ABCO Miami MAXX B
Arturo Fuente Arturo Fuente Gran Reserva Fuente Fuente OpusX A-
Ashton Ashton VSG A-
Asylum Cigars Asylum Premium Medulla Oblongata B-
AVO Cigars AVO LE05 AVO Syncro Nicaragua F-
Caldwell Cigar Co. Eastern Standard All Out Kings C-
Camacho Cigars Camacho Double Shock Camacho Corojo A+
CAO Consigliere Amazon Basin Series C
C.L.E. Cigars C.L.E. Corojo (Original Release) C.L.E. Corojo B
Cohiba Siglo Series Behike BHK C-
Crowned Heads Las Mareas La Coalición C+
Crux Cigars 2019 Re-brand Crux du Connoisseur B-
Davidoff Cigars White Label Series Winston Churchill C
Diesel Whiskey Row Sherry Cask Delirium LE 2020 C+
Drew Estate Year of the Rat (2020) Undercrown C
Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust Umbagog Sobremesa A
EPC Cigar Co. Dimension Series Perez-Carrillo Series A-
Espinosa Premium Cigars Warzone Las 6 Provincias F
Foundation Cigar Co. Charter Oak El Güegüense B+
Fratello Cigars Camo Series Fratello Oro B
Gurkha Cigars Cellar Reserve Series Gurkha Ghost C+
HVC Cigars HVC Cerro HVC Serie A B
Illusione Cigars OneOff Fume D’Amour D+
Jas Sum Kral Toothpick 2.0 Nuggs C
J.C. Newman Cigar Co. Quorum Diamond Crown Maximus C
Joya de Nicaragua Clásico Número Uno B+
JRE Tobacco Company Aladino Corojo Reserva Aladino Maduro A
La Aurora La Aurora 1903 Edition La Aurora 115 Anniversary Limited Edition C+
La Flor Dominicana Reserva Especial Andalusian Bull B+
La Palina El Diario La Palina Number Series B-
L’Atelier Imports Surrogates Crystal Baller Identité B+
Montecristo Montecristo (pre-2013) Montecristo 80 Aniversario D+
My Father Cigars My Father Limited Edition Series Flor de las Antillas C
Oliva Cigars Oliva Connecticut Reserve Oliva Serie V B+
Oscar Valladares Tobacco & Co. Leaf by Oscar Super Fly D
Oveja Negra Brands BLTC Royalty BLK WKS Killer Bee B+
Padrón Cigars Padrón Series Padrón 1964 Anniversary Series C+
Perdomo Cigars Perdomo Special Craft Series Perdomo Double Aged 12-Year Vintage A
Plasencia Cigars Plasencia Reserva Original Alma Fuerte B+
Protocol Cigars Protocol Night Stick Protocol P Series B-
Quesada Cigars Oro Dominicana Quesada Reserva Privada Oscuro B-
Rocky Patel Premium Cigars Legends 52 Ray Lewis Number 6 C+
RoMa Craft Tobac Intemperance Series CroMagnon F+
Room101 Cigars The Big Payback FARCE B-
Southern Draw Cigars 300 Hands Connecticut Cedrus B-
Tatuaje Cigars Tatuaje Series P Tatuaje TAA Exclusive Series D
Warped Cigars Villa Sombra Flor del Valle C
Do you find a tedious band as annoying as we do? Let us know in the comments and on social media your picks for the best/worst band tear-offs.
  • Joya de Nicaragua cigars
  • Atlantic Cigar Sale
  • Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust
  • Cigar Wars
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