It’s often true that necessity is the mother of invention and so it was with the birth of the XIKAR brand. Nearly 30 years ago the founder of XIKAR, Kurt Van Keppel, set out to find a well-functioning, easy-to-use cutter for his cigars. All the cutters he looked at-even the high end cutters-fell short. So, fortified with their midwestern ingenuity and a can-do attitude Van Keppel and XIKAR co-founder and designer, Scott Almsberger set off to design a cutter to satisfy their needs.
The XIKAR cutter is an ergonomic and reliable tool and one that is as stylish as it is functional. Beautifully engineered and easy to use, the XIKAR cutter is considered one of the top cigar cutters in the world. It’s certainly one of the best-selling. But, that wasn’t always the case.
Buoyed by an unyielding belief in their product, Van Keppel and Almsberger tried selling the concept to distributors and those in the cigar trade. No one bit. But, this was in the 1990s, at a time when the cigar industry was really beginning to boom. As far as anyone in the industry was concerned the cutters they had were adequate enough and no one thought the two entrepreneurs from Kansas City would compete with, let alone best, such titans of the industry, as Davidoff, DuPont and Colibri.
Fortunately for the XIKAR founders they never lost sight of their goal to improve the cigar cutter market with their exceptional product.
With Van Keppel’s concept and Almsberger’s design the pair decided to get to work producing the cutters themselves. They were eager to see if other cigar enthusiasts were as thrilled as they were with this unique concept in cutters that produced clean and even cuts time after time. Working out of a garage the two assembled 155 cutters themselves and shopped them around local cigar lounges and stores hoping to create a buzz.
The superior cutter was very well received, however it took an aggressive mail campaign to get retailers on board. Van Keppel, whose background was in marketing and sales, mounted his campaign, enclosing a sample of the product with his request and sales information. He implored retailers to try the cutter themselves and, if they don’t think it would sell, send it back. If they were impressed by the cutter Van Keppel asked that they order a dozen more.
This bold move paid off and soon requests were coming fast and furious for more cutters. After their first trade show and official launch the XIKAR founders had 350,000 orders. They never looked back.
When idea man Kurt Van Keppel approached his friend and industrial designer Scott Almsberger with his ideas for the perfect cutter he had a list of requirements. He knew the cutters on the market at the time weren’t, well, cutting it.
A perfect cutter, thought Van Keppel, would need pivot points to provide greater leverage for an even clip. It needed to be spring loaded for fast action and locked when closed. To make the cutter efficient and easy to use the user must be able to operate it with one hand. And finally the blades must be precision sharp and provide a powerful cut.
Almsberger’s design hit all the marks and more. The shape and appearance of the XIKAR cigar cutter is so iconic the company had it trademarked.
While the XIKAR cutter is the product that started it all, other cigar accessories soon followed, including lighters, butane, ashtrays, cigar punches, travel humidors and humidor components. Each item was designed to be ergonomic, sleek, stylish and affordably priced. In fact all XIKAR brand products must meet the “4 F’s”.
Each of those lofty standards must be confirmed in every product the company offers. No compromises and no shortcuts. For instance, the inaugural product, the best-selling XIKAR cutter line, fulfills function by providing a precision cut from two surgically sharp, stainless steel blades that form an X-shape rather than the traditional “S” cut. The product is so good-looking as to be iconic enough for it’s trademark. One-handed action and a smooth and easy execution means the XIKAR cutter is as ergonomic as can be and no one can argue this best-selling cigar cutter isn’t affordable.
The name XIKAR is obviously unusual. So, what’s in a name? Well, back when Columbus sailed the ocean blue his sailors came upon a group of indigenous people in the Caribbean and what is now south Florida. These people were called the Taino. They smoked rolled tobacco they called “sikar”, the Taino word for cigar. Van Keppel and Almsberger liked the name and replaced the “S” with an “X” to represent the double blades of the XIKAR cutters. A star was born.
Kurt Van Keppel and Scott Almsberger understood that the products, innovative as they are, wouldn’t necessarily compete with the big leagues on their own merit. There had to be something solid to back up these amazing cigar accessories. Enter the XIKAR exceptional customer service and their total satisfaction warranty. Suddenly those outstanding and affordable products, with their ergonomic design, good looks and superb function were even more desirable. Who wants to waste money on a newcomer to the cigar world if they’re left dissatisfied? This proved the XIKAR company was in it to win it.
The company sought to find out what else they could improve for the dedicated cigar lover. To their line of cutters Van Keppel and Almsberger added lighters, fuel, shears, augers, humidors, humidifiers, ashtrays, cigar punches and cigar tools.
As the company grew, so did its customer base. XIKAR’s fans knew their products were reliable and nearly indestructible. Combined with their attention to customer service the humble company, which began with one man’s search for a functional cigar cutter and lead to a garage in Kansas City, Missouri, and then the world, flourished.
In 2018 Kurt and Scott stepped back from their ownership, selling to Miami-based company Quality Importers. The new owners retained the founders as vice presidents and continued the XIKAR brand’s four pillars that make for quality products, as well as the outstanding customer service synonymous with the name XIKAR.
While all of the XIKAR products are known for excellence and are warranty-backed there are a few that stand out with our customers. Here are some of our top-selling XIKAR cigar accessories.
This is one of the first cutters that wasn’t rendered in the iconic teardrop shape. But, true to the XIKAR brand, this guillotine cutter is one sharp product. Innovative, precise and whisper thin, theUltra Slim Guillotine is easily stored in your wallet. It’s as thin as some credit cards. The laser engraved ring gauge measurements allow you to precisely cut 24RG up to 56RG, however this cutter has the capability to cut 60TG stogies in half and take the cap off of your 70RG cigar for an even and satisfying draw.
Here’s what our customer Larry Holt had to say:
“Excellent cutter and small enough to carry. I was surprised at how well it fit in my hand because I have chubby fingers. No problem.”
This cigar punch is the embodiment of that XIKAR innovation and perfect for any occasion. Pull the body in two and the punch reveals a razor sharp 9mm tool to punch your favorite stogie for an exceptional smoking experience. This punch is compact, comes with a key ring so it’s easy to carry and easy to use. The Pull Out Punch is available in silver, black and gunmetal finishes to complement your accessories.
If you want a luxury, heirloom quality, iconic XIKAR cutter look no further. This is possibly the rarest cigar cutter in the XIKAR line and one of the most covered. The dual action, high-carbon stainless steel blades provide the high-quality precision cut for which the brand is known, and the hands are made from rare fossilized mammoth tusks. Each cutter is unique and comes with a certificate of authenticity. The unusual gradient colors of the fossilized ivory speaks to the soil, ice and plant life which surrounded the fossil as it was formed. No two are alike. This is truly an heirloom piece and the ideal gift for the cigar smoker who appreciates rare and beautiful things.
Anyone who appreciates a good cigar understands the importance of the proper light. This lighter is exceptional in good looks and reliability. The easy-view fuel window ensures you can always inspect your fuel level. Adjust the flame height with the easy to use oversized adjustment wheel at the base of the lighter. This lighter is wind-resistant and altitude tester to 12,000 feet.
Here’s what our 5 star reviewers had to say:
“Love It!” ~ Anthony L.
“Great lighter. Solid Construction. Loved the oversized adjustment knob.”
“Awesome Lighter” ~ David Caplan
“The Xikar Tactical 3 is an amazing lighter. Looks rugged yet elegant when you remove the clip and pair with a nice cutter. Thank you Northwoods Humidors for carrying top of the line products and constant top line service.”
“Nice Looking Lighter” ~ Albert Moon
“I am a fan of tactical items (pens, flashlights, gear) and the Xikar Tactical 3 Torch Flame is a great addition to my collection. I really like how it feels and looks. It feels very substantial with a good amount of weight to it. It looks very stylish as well as rugged. It has other features that I really like such as the fuel window (to see how much fuel is left) and the easy dial on the bottom to adjust the flame. Overall, I am happy with this lighter, and I am glad that Xikar continues to put out quality products.”
The MTX Multi-Tool is no doubt one of the best and most useful cigar tools available. Tools include the following.
The Multi-Tool is lightweight enough to carry in your pocket and, as with all XIKAR products, backed by their excellent warranty. Here’s what reviewer MrTeeth had to say:
“The Best Accessory!”
“Without question, the most productive cigar accessory out there. Does it all. Bleeds lighters, cuts any ring gauge cigar, adjusts any lighter flame, and more. My only disappointment? No longer made in Italy and no longer has the short blade as one of the tools.”
It would be difficult to find a better travel humidor! XIKAR family of travel humidors are highly reliable and perfect for taking along 15, 20, 60 and even 90 of your most precious smokes. Airtight and maintains the proper humidity for your best stogies. The temperature outside isn’t any concern as this travel humidor is dependable no matter the climate.
Reviewer Jeffrey Glosset gave this humidor five stars and said:
“Excellent product and seller. Keeps your cigars perfectly humidified at 67% humidity with 2 Boveda packs. Price was the lowest on the internet. Prompt free shipping.”
Of course any product, no matter how excellent, is only as good as the retailer from which you purchase. At Northwoods we’re proud of our dedication to our customers. No matter the Size of your order we stand behind out products and adhere to our own set of four principle pillars”
No matter your cigar accessories needs, we accommodate our customers. Owner Kevin is a certified tobacconist and devoted to providing cigar aficionados with a great experience. His knowledge of the luxury tobacco industry is vast and he is eager to impart that knowledge in any way his customers need it. Just look at these reviews:
The Northwoods Humidors team specializes in the best, highest quality humidors and cigar accessories for every smoker. Whether you’re new to the world of premium cigars or you know the ropes, trust Northwoods Humidors to be there for you.