Cigars, what you should know (continuation)


Stages of Cigar Making


Cuban cigars are made from specially selected tobaccos for the filling, strapping, and the cover sheet.

Firstly, the quality of the raw material needs to be improved. The tobacco needs to obtain the correct ratio of nicotine and resin to give a tangible flavour-aromatic property during tasting. The cigars acquire a unique bouquet, fragrance.

Under a cold temperature (2-3º) the leaves for the filling undergo fermentation. They are removed from the bags, inspected, and placed in oak barrels to evaporate any excess moisture. The raw material is aged until and then it is sent to the twisting room.


Manual labour is used in the factory. The leaves are cleaned of debris, insects and dirt. The defective, damaged or deformed raw material is also rejected. They are sorted according to density, size, shade, and vein thickness.

The tobacco is made wet to remove the central vein. It is then graded. The coats must be textured, elastic, and without defects. Master craftsmen work with the material softly, gently picking tobacco from the stacks.

Blending – creating tobacco blends

This is the most delicate, complex and painstaking phase, only endured by a master craftsman. For this role, they need to have the skill of tasting aromas. They then classify the tobacco according to the type of aromatic oils.

The main types of tobacco leaves for flavour formation are-

Volado is low in strength. Seco has a medium strength and aroma and lastly Ligero is full-bodied and has a distinctive flavour.

Shaping and labelling

Using pre-pressed materials a Capote binder is used to shape the cigar. The next stage is coating. This is the most expensive stage, a kind of cigar cloth, is taken. The finished product is then labelled and boxed.


Some interesting facts about cigars

The phrase, “Close, but no cigar,” originated in the day when a cigar was a popular carnival game prize.

In preparation for his first high-altitude aeroplane flight, Winston Churchill ordered the creation of an oxygen mask that would accommodate cigar smoking.

A highly skilled or specifically trained cigar roller is referred to as a torcedor, with them able to produce at least 200 cigars a day!

The tobacco plant belongs to the potato and tomato plant family know as Solanaceae.

1000 tobacco seeds can fit inside a thimble.

Legendary writer Mark Twain used to smoke 300 cigars a month. At one point he quit the habit, however, he ended up suffering from writers block. He then resumed his cigar habit and wrote a book in three months.


How to be a cigar connoisseur 

Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your cigar experience. 

Don’t let the cigar burn out – it’s best to inhale every 30-60 seconds. Also, unlike cigarettes, cigar ash is not actively shaken off – it will fall away on its own if you need to brush it off, just gently place the cigar on the edge of the ashtray.

When you have finished tasting a cigar, do not put it out like a cigarette – it is considered bad manners and it will also give off an unpleasant smell. Simply leave it in the ashtray and the cigar will put out by itself. If you leave a cigar in the ashtray for hours and then decide to light it, be prepared that it will be bitter and not as flavourful. Experienced aficionados do not light a cigar a second time.

To light your cigar hold the flame an inch or two away from the foot of your cigar. If you bury your cigar in the flame, it won’t burn evenly and you’ll taste a nasty mix of butane fuel and charred tobacco in the first puffs. Rotate your cigar over the flames taking a few puffs as you go. Once big blow the end until you have an orange glow over the whole base

Professionals advise to not take the band off the cigar until you are about an inch or two away from it. The heat from the cigar naturally loosens the band so you won’t tear the cigar removing the label 

It seen as good smoking etiquette to keep few spare cigars to give as handouts

Although there are obvious health problems linked to smoking today smoking a well-made cigar still has strong connotations with being well admired and quietly confident.

Cigars, what you should know



The history of the cigar dates back to the 10th century. Historians believe that cigars were created by the ancient Mayans, who wrapped tobacco in palm or plantain leaves. This story is supported by an ancient Mayan pot that dates back to the 10th century, on this, there is an image of a man smoking a cigar shaped object! 

The first recorded Westerners to encounter tobacco were the Christopher Columbus team in 1492 when they arrived in Cuba. On initial arrival to the ‘new world’ Columbus was reported to be disappointed as he thought there was no ‘treasure’ to be found there. However, through trade, the local Indians introduced Cohiba (tobacco) to his team. They showed the eager spectators how to burn and inhale the leaves for pleasure. The men enjoyed this new sensation, in particular one lieutenant who was so taken with the new vice that he smoked it every day on their epic journey back home.

In Spain and Portugal cigar smoking started to catch on. The French ambassador to Portugal, Jean Nicot, made cigar smoking popular back in his home country. You can see how much influence when you realise that the name nicotine is derived from his name.

Next cigars hit the rest of Europe, but it was the Spanish who developed the use of specialised papers instead of leaves to contain the tobacco. Tobacco started to be grown for customer consumption. Initially, the tobacco was grown in Spain until procurers discovered that the climate of Cuba was more suited for most productive growth. 

Other popular places for growing tobacco were Key West in Florida, New York, and the Philippines.


Let us look a little more at the different elements of cigars.


The Mayan Indians created the most commonly shaped cigar the Parejo. There are many subcategories of Parejo cigars, such as the Toro, Corona, and Carlota. 

A good marketing ploy used by the manufacturers was to name their cigars after those in the media spotlight who smoked them examples of this are the Churchill, Rothschild, and Lonsdale.

In the 1800s the irregular shape of the Figurado made them popular. Narrowed on both sides, the Figurado initially gives off only the flavor of the coating and binding leaves, and the true flavour of the blend is revealed only when the smoker reaches the widest part of the cigar. They were considered high end at the time and nowadays are seen as collectors’ items. Examples of these are the Presidente, Torpedo, and Toscano.

Other popular shapes of the cigar are Robusto, Torpedo and Viola. 


How many hours is a person willing to devote to smoking? It’s not an easy question to answer today because time “costs” much more than it did in Columbus’ day. That’s why shorter formats of the Robusto cigar are recently gaining in popularity. Small cigars are deemed popular as they also hold have less tax.

The flavour intensity of a cigar is influenced by its length. The longer a cigar is in the mouth, the longer the resins and ethers dissolve in saliva and the more the essential oils evaporate, so the smoker gets a better sensation so experienced smokers prefer larger formats.

A 60-ring-gauge Cohiba cigar also known by its factory name, Grandioso, is 7 inches long and is extremely rare. As part of the Cohiba 50th anniversary, 50 humidor were made, each containing 50 cigars, for a total global run of 2,500 cigars. The No. 1 humidor was auctioned at the 2016 Festival del Habanos for approximately $350,000. The other 49 humidors were auctioned to the main Habanos distributors around the world, with a base price of $227,000. Others have been know to sell for even more.


Remember – the thicker the cigar, the better it tastes and the cooler the smoke. Because a thicker cigar has more tobacco, more flavour, and also more space to cool the smoke. Thin cigars, which have fewer leaves, are simpler and more even in flavour. They are virtually devoid of the flavour dynamics inherent in more powerful and full-bodied cigars.

To be continued…