Cigar Smoking Origins

Where were YOU in ’92?  Not 1992…1492!

Before you grandfather’s grandfather was even a sparkle in HIS grandfather’s eye, Christopher Columbus was out discovering America and something else, too – tobacco!  From lowly tobacco came the most elevated of pleasures – the fine smoking cigar.

It really was the beginning of a whole New World!  Cigar popularity burned a path back to the continent, setting Europe afire before finding its way back to America again.

When Victoria was queen, cigars were king in England, but their enjoyment was limited to private clubs and residences.  [Read more…]

How are Cigars Made?

Let’s start at the beginning…

Fun fact:  Two tablespoons of seed can produce 10 acres of cigar tobacco!

First comes the harvesting of the leaves, in itself a thoughtful and careful process.  Leaves that are harvested from the bottom of plants (Valdo) have the mildest flavor.  Middle level leaves (Seco) which are the largest leaves and some say best tasting, deliver milder flavor, while the top leaves (Corona) have the greatest exposure to the sun, and therefore the most pronounced taste.

Fun Fact: Valdo, Seco, and Corona only apply to Sun Grown tobacco. In Cuba, wrapper tobacco that is grown in the shade (under cloth) is called Ligero (light), Seco (dry), Amarillo (yellow), and Viso (Glossy).

These pre-sorted leaves are re-sorted according to size and texture.  They’re bundled and hung to dry (cure) for 6-8 weeks.  During curing, the tobacco leaves must be able to release moisture and (sweat or ferment) rid themselves of toxins like ammonia and other chemicals that develop during the process.  If proper fermentation has not occurred during curing, the resulting tobacco will not burn steadily and will have a harsh, bitter taste.

In preparing premium cigars, the blender will carefully sort and strip the three components of a smoke – the filler, the binder and the wrapper.  All this must be completed prior to the creation of the unique combination (recipe) of tobacco and wrapper that will result in a perfect smoke.

The blender assembles a special combination of tobacco leaves to make the filler.  Depending on the type of cigar, its size and ring gauge, there may be as few as two and as many of four tobacco leaves in the mix.  Blending is an art unto itself.

The next art is shaping, and the ‘hand’ of the expert is revealed in a consistent shape and texture.  A buncher forms the filler leaves into a neat cylindrical shape.  A binder leaf comes next.  Then, the entire cigar is placed into a mold to gently and slowly ‘massage’ it into a perfect cigar shape.

When the shape has been achieved, a roller applies the outer wrapper leaf of tobacco and voila – cigar perfection…almost.

After the cigar maker has ‘introduced’ the elements of the cigar to one another, the stogies are placed in the “marrying room” for a 3-week (minimum) honeymoon together.  The ‘marrying room’ is actually a tobacco aging room, usually made of cedar, in which temperature and humidity are carefully controlled. During this time, Nature brings the various tobacco components together to synthesize their best qualities into the richly layered taste of a fine cigar.  Lots of things go into how cigars smoke with this being an important step! It is not uncommon for some growers to skip this process – a serious mistake to true cigar connoisseurs.

Avo Uvezian Turns 85 +1

[Update: 85? What the??? Actually,  Avo just turned 86. This post is from last year AND we are still having to keep up with him. Look for some stuff from the 86th party coming soon!]

At a private party at an undisclosed location, I was honored to gather with friends to celebrate Avo’s 85th birthday.

If you don’t know Avo’s cigars, you are missing out. If you don’t know the man, you are truly missing out.

I have known Avo for some time. Although most people know him as one of the world’s premier cigar makers, he is also a world renown pianist.

Maybe you have heard Frank Sinatra’s, Strangers in the Night. Yeah, that was written by Avo.

But the depth of Avo goes well behind the cigars, music, and signature hat. [Read more…]

How to Refresh a Dry Smoke…

It takes only a few weeks for a cigar to become dry in adverse conditions, but it takes a few months to restore them.  And although dry cigars could be brought back to an acceptable smoking condition, they will probably never be as good as they originally were.

So an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  Don’t let a good cigar go bad.  Read up on humidors and storage options on this website. [Read more…]

Top Ten Cuban Cigars

cigarsstandardThe Top Ten Cuban Cigars? Well look no further, the votes are IN!

If you are lucky enough to get your hands on any of these, find a nice quiet area – or a loud one with friends – and enjoy!

1. Cohiba Esplindidos

2. Cohiba Robusto [Read more…]

Should I Buy Name Brand Cigars?

 

There is a lot of talk of whether you need to find a popular label to get a good smoke. Well, here is my take…

[Read more…]

How to Size up a Cigar

Not sure what size is what?

Click on this handy chart!

Create Your Own Flavored Cigar

Did you know you can easily create your own flavored cigars? Just take a few mild smokes (no maduro’s) and put them in a tight sealing container (no need for a humidor for this one). A tupperware bin works great.

[Read more…]

Cigar Talk…Zino Davidoff

Rumor is…Zino Davidoff was best friends with Rothschild family, they both traded wine for cigars every year. Zino named his cigars after the 5 best first growth wines and later named a cigar after Dom Perignon champagne. Davidoff was allowed to raid Rothschilds personnel cellar for cigars, which after 1992 were never made in Cuban again. [Read more…]

How to Blow Smoke Rings

The term “blowing a smoke ring” is something of a misnomer and probably the reason many cigar smokers fail when attempting their creation.  Most people think they have to exhale to form a ring when, in fact, just the opposite is true. [Read more…]