Every year, cigar accessories companies are challenged to come up with new products to essentially do the same thing that the hundreds of other products already on the market are already capable of doing, namely cutting and lighting your cigar.
In the case of lighters, for the most part most of the innovation has happened in the number of jets, which now range from one to six, as well as in the ability to have both a soft flame and torch in the same lighter. While not as prevalent in the cigar space, there are also flameless lighters, some using arcs of electricity and others using a coil of metal and rechargeable battery to essentially recreate the car cigarette lighter.
However, there’s one innovation that has been on the market for seven years or so that finally seems to be getting a bit more widespread adoption: the flat flame lighter.
While I can’t say with absolute certainty that Lotus was the first to develop such a lighter, the company was certainly among the most well known for it via its Black Label line that debuted in 2011 and seemingly introduced a revolution to the lighter segment. However, they never seemed to gain the kind of widespread acceptance to force other brands to adopt the design, at least until recently.
XIKAR—arguably the biggest and most well-known lighter brand in the U.S.—joined a group that includes Lotus, Elie Bleu, Porsche Design, Prometheus and S.T.Dupont as companies with the flat flame design in their portfolio by way of a new lighter called the Verano.
A single flame, pocket friendly lighter, XIKAR says that it provides the power of a double flame and breadth of a triple flame as well as maximum fuel efficiency. It comes in an all-metal body with a pull-down ignition, oversized fuel adjustment wheel and the company’s EZ-View red fuel window on the back.
WHAT IS IT?
At its core, the XIKAR Verano is a single flame torch lighter, though how that flame reaches a cigar is a bit different than the standard method. Instead of creating a single, pointed column of fire, the Verano fans out that flame into a flat brush of fire.
At its lower settings it looks like a W, while at its most open it takes the shape of a spade or flathead screwdriver, with the two outer edges rejoining into a point. While it doesn’t change the overall process of lighting a cigar, it does encourage a bit more of a paintbrush approach, passing the thin flame back and forth over the foot of the cigar, with a couple of passes needed to get the foot toasted and a few more to get the combustion going in earnest. It results in a unique and rather pleasing visual, if you take the opportunity to appreciate it.
WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL?
The flat flame is certainly the biggest selling point, though given it comes with XIKAR’s lifetime warranty, that shouldn’t be overlooked either. However, in terms of lighting a cigar, it is a bit different than your typical single flame. In my experience, the toasting and lighting process was much more even, and it was rare that I ever scorched the foot or sides of a cigar.
While I have seen flat flame lighters described as a midpoint between soft flames and torches, that seems generous to me at best, as there is little about this that resembles a soft flame. Given its ability to resist wind and the undeniable sound of a torch, this definitely shares much more in common with the traditional torch lighter.
- For pretty much every ring gauge of cigars, you can get a smooth, even toasting and lighting of the foot. While some consider single flame lighters to be a bit overmatched by gordos, the Verano can handle it with ease.
- Having reviewed a couple of non-pocket friendly lighters recently, it’s been enjoyable to use something that fits easily in a five-count travel humidor or my front pocket. It’s got enough heft and mass to feel solid, but not so much as to feel bulky.
- The build quality seems rock solid; the ignition mechanism hasn’t developed a millimeter of play after several weeks of daily usage.
- While I won’t say that the Verano lit every time I pulled the ignition, I can certainly say that I don’t recall many times when it failed me.
- When inverted, the Verano won’t ignite, though a bit of fuel will flow should the ignition be pulled. It’s an appreciated safety mechanism that I see more lighters incorporating.
- The Verano certainly seems to be a fuel-sipper, easily making it through several cigars before needing to be refilled.
- The fuel window seems to be quite accurate, which I find to be a huge help. It’s also very easy to read and see how much fuel you have remaining.
- The flame adjustment is also incredibly easy, thanks to the very large, ridged wheel.
- Given how the fan flames out, it can be quite hard to see at times, especially in the daylight or bright indoor lighting. You may think the Verano might not be putting out a flame when it actually is.
- While I don’t think I’ve been needlessly rough with the Verano, it has begun to show a bit of wear on the backside, with some small scratches and discoloration. It’s not bad enough that I would stop using it, let alone consider taking it out of my rotation, but if you are the type that prefers a brand-new looking lighter at all times, this might end up being a drawback.
- I’m hesitant to call it a con, but doing very spot-specific touch-ups aren’t quite the same as with a traditional single torch lighter. It’s still very doable, but it is a bit different.
As noted above, Lotus was one of the first brands—if not the first—into the flat flame segment, and while a number of other companies have joined the party since, I’d still say Lotus sets the standard in the segment.
- Lotus Citadel Flat Flame 3 — a similar design to the Verano but using a push-button ignition and offering a lid as well as a built-in punch cutter on the bottom. With an MSRP of $120 it’s one of the more expensive lighters in the category.
- Lotus El Presidente — a different body style that drops the cutter and uses a pull-down ignition while staying in an all-metal housing. It’s also a bit cheaper, with an MSRP of $100.
- Elie Bleu J-12 — one of the handful of other flat flames that I have extensive use with, the J-12 has been on the market since 2016. It features a side-squeeze ignition and is a bit reminiscent of the S.T.Dupont Minijet. At $200 it is a premium-priced lighter regardless of what kind of flame comes out of it.
- Porsche Design Heber — Given the name on this lighter, it should be no surprise that it has some distinctive design aesthetics. Specifically, there is a flip-down tab that fires the ignition as opposed to a push-button or slide-down mechanism. This is on my list of lighters to review before long, and one I’m intrigued by both for its design and that it will be the first Porsche Design lighter I’ve used on a regular basis.
SHOULD YOU BUY IT?
If you’re in the market for a new lighter, I think you owe it to yourself to at least consider a flat flame lighter, regardless of the brand, simply to see what it can offer. There are seemingly no limitations as to what size cigar you can light with one, and the Verano is no exception. If you decide that a flat flame would work for you, the XIKAR Verano would certainly be in my final group of contenders. The mechanism and body style are incredibly familiar and well-regarded, and the build quality has been top-notch over the course of my usage. While it’s not the cheapest lighter in the world, it is in line with much of XIKAR’s catalog, and if you’re willing to step out of the economy models that generally feature plastic bodies and little in the way of design, the Verano in line with much of where the rest of the market is priced. I know that if I were in the market for a new lighter, I’d have no hesitation picking this up as my everyday lighter.
The XIKAR Verano is available in four colors: black, silver, G2 gunmetal and vintage bronze, each with an MSRP of $79.99.
The lighter used for this review was provided by XIKAR Inc.