Brief History Of The Evolution Of The Hand-Made Cigar"
The year was 1492. Christopher
Columbus not only discovered a New World, but a wonderful new
enjoyment that is delighting connoisseurs throughout the entire
world to this day: Tobacco
From tobacco, came the cigar, and with it the unprecedented
popularity that spread throughout Europe and the United States,
attracting presidents, kings, generals, gentlemen, and a fair
number of women. In fact, in 1900 an estimated four out of five
men in the U.S. were cigar smokers.
Cuba led the way in the cigar industry. Early in the 16th
century, Cuban peasants became tobacco growers. Later, the cigar
became the country’s national symbol and the Havana cigar became
recognized as the world’s finest. The take-over by Fidel Castro
and the subsequent U.S. embargo were the start of events that
began to challenge Havana’s supremacy in the world of cigars.
Former Cuban cigar-makers took their skills and seeds to the
Caribbean, Dominican Republic, Honduras and Mexico and began
producing high-quality premium and super-premium cigars for the
American public. Today, the pure pleasures of the premium cigar
are all the rage. Cigars handmade by experts from a choice blend
of top-quality tobaccos and aged to perfection are referred to
as premium cigars.
The Dominican Republic alone produces almost half of the
hand-made cigars sold in the U.S. Cigar smoking has burgeoned.
Celebrities, industry leaders, politicians, sophisticated women
and men are seen at dinners and at smoking clubs enjoying luxury
cigars. The cigar is alive and well, and here to stay.
Choosing a cigar
The ring gauge of the cigar will give you a general indication
of how full the taste is. The larger the ring size, generally,
the fuller, smoother, cooler, and slower the smoke will be. Ring
gauge is the standard set to measure the circumference of a
cigar, 64 rings equal one inch.
Cutting a Cigar
The cap or the head of a handmade cigar must be cut before
lighting it. You can do this with a cigar scissors or guillotine
cutter. The guillotine is recommended for the most effective
cut. Make sure not to cut the entire cap off, because this could
damage the wrapper.
Lighting a Cigar
Lighting the cigar is an art that will enhance the enjoyment –
by using a slow, two-step process you can ensure that one side
of the cigar will not burn faster than the other side.
Step one:- Hold the cigar horizontally and rotate it in
the flame to evenly warm the end.
Step two:- Put the cigar in your mouth. Keeping it still
in a horizontal position, hold the flame only to the tip of the
cigar, and draw slowly as you continue to rotate.
Presenting a Cigar
Premium cigars lovers are known for their appreciation of food,
wine and liqueurs. The best time to offer a cigar is after a
meal, with dessert, coffee, port or cognae. Cigars should always
be presented from an attractive humidor or appropriate
container. Carry the humidor to the patron. Offer it opened and
present a full selection.
Smoking a Cigar
Cigars are meant to be savored and appreciated for the taste,
the feel, and the aroma. Don’t rush it. Smoke slowly. Avoid too
much puffing, and remember – don’t inhale. If your cigar
extinguishes itself, it is proper to relight it within one to
two hours. Any later that, it will taste stale.
A BRIEF INTRODUCTION TO THE SIZE & SHAPE OF CIGARS
Cigars makers call different names for different sizes & shapes
of cigars. In Spanish, the word ‘Vitola’ conveniently covers
both concepts, but in English, we are left describing both size
(length & girth) and shape. The popular names referred are :
CHURCHILLS, CORONAS, PANETELLAS, LONSDALES, PRYMIDS, TORPEDOS
It is unfortunate that there is so much confusion about the size
& shape when there needn’t be. But after several generations of
every manufacturer independently deciding which size name went
with which length and girth, there is no simple logic to the
The basic measurement standard , however is the same. LENGTH is
listed in INCHES or CENTIMETERS and DIAMETER or RING GAUGE in
64th of an inch or in MILLIMETERS. A classic corona size is 6×42
which means it is 6 inches in length and 42/64 of an inch in
CIGARS can be classified into two categories by shape.
(i) Parejos:- Straight sided cigars. (ii) Figurados:-
Parejos: Simply put Parejos are straight sided cigars,
the kind which most often you come across. There are three basic
groups in this category:
Coronas:-(6 inches×42 or 44 ring gauge) The
coronas have traditionally been a manufacturers benchmark
against which all other cigars are measured. Coronas have an
open ‘foot’ (the end you light) and a closed ‘head’ (the end you
smoke). The head is most often rounded. The following sizes most
often referred are all variations on the corona theme:
Corona:- 6×42(or 44)
Petit Corona:- 5×40(or 42)
Double Corona:- 7½×49(or 50)
Churchill:- 7×47(48 or 49)
Panetelas:-(7×38):The panatelas are usually longer
than coronas but much thinner. They also have an open foot and
Lonsdales:- (6¾×42): The Lonsdales are
thicker than panatelas but thinner and longer than coronas.
The term Figurados refers to every out-of-the-ordinary-shaped
cigars. Few are given below:
Pyramid:- It has a pointed closed head and widens to an
Belicoso:- A small pyramid-shaped cigar with a rounded
head rather than a point.
Torpedo:- A shape with a pointed head, a closed foot and
a bulge in the middle.
Perfectos:- Perfectos have both head and foot rounded and
a bulge in the middle.
Culedra:- Three panatelas braided together and tied.
Diademas:- giant cigar, 8 inches or longer; most often it
has an open foot.
Even with these usual ‘irregular’ shapes, there are variations
among manufacturers. Some cigars called belicosos look like
pyramids and some torpedos also look like pyramids.
Confusing? Yes, it is.
Style of Packing:-
Cigars are usually packed in cedar wood boxes of 25, 20, 10 or
5. The style of packing have given rise to certain designations
8-9-8:- This simply means that the cigars are stacked in
three rows inside the box, Eight on bottom, Nine in middle and
Eight on top.
Amatista:- This refers to a glass jar of 50 cigars
(originally packaged by H. UPMANN), which was developed for
smokers who wanted a factory fresh smoke.
Tubos:- Cigars that are packed in aluminium, glass or
even wooden tubes. A tightly sealed tube will keep cigars fresh
for a long period of time.
Box-Pressed:- Some cigars are box-pressed meaning they
are put inside a box so tightly that they acquire a
A GLOSSARY OF TERMS FOR THE WELL – INFORMED CIGAR SMOKER
Sizes:- Sizing for cigars is done by an ancient system
whereby length is shown in inches and thickness or ring gauge is
shown in 64th of an inch.
Filler:- Filler is the inner bulk of the cigar and can be
either cut-filler or shorter pieces or long filler running the
full length of the cigar. Binder Holds the filler together. It
can be either a half-leaf of tobacco or pieces of chopped
tobacco processed into sheet form.
Wrapper & Colour:- The outer tobacco leaf covering of a
cigar . This may be sun grown or shade grown under cheesecloth,
to avoid direct sunlight. Colour refers to the shade of the
outer wrapper leaf. The darker the colour, the sweeter and
stronger the flavour is likely to be and the greater the oil and
sugar content of the wrapper. Darker wrappers will normally have
spent longer on the tobacco plant or will come from higher
altitudes. The extra exposure to the sunlight produces both oil
(as protection) and sugar (through photosynthesis). They will
also have been fermented for longer.
Cigar wrappers can be
classified into six basic colours, although there are dozens of
Claro:-also called AMS: American Market Selection
or Candela Greenish brown colour. The colour is achieved by
picking the leaf before it reaches maturity and then drying it
rapidly (heat cured) to fix the chlorophyll in the leaf. They
are mild, with very little oil and often taste bland. Double
Claro wrapper cigars used to be popular in America, but not
A light tan colour. The leaves are usually grown under shade.
The Claro is prized for neutral flavour qualities.
also called EMS: English Market Selection or Colarado
Claro. Light brown to brown. It is most often sun-grown.
Maduro:- Brown to reddish brown. It is also usually shade
grown and has medium strength and subtle aroma.
Very dark brown, like black coffee. A Maduro should be silky and
oily with a rich strong flavour and mild qroma. Acolout for
More or less black colour. Very strong. Though very popular
once, are rarely produced today. These wrappers tend to be from
NICARAGUA, BRAZIL and MEXICO.
The two basic blends used in high-grade cigars are Olor and
Olor:- Is hybrid obtained from crossing Connecticut
Valley strains with Havana. It is grown mostly in the Olor
province of the Dominican Republic and is cured a year longer
than other tobaccos for a mild, aromatic smoke.
Cubanito:-This is a direct descendent of the original
Havana drown in Cuba and is now grown in Nicaragua, Honduras and
Mexico. It furnishes a rich, full-bodied smoke. Humidor is a
wooden box usually cedar lined with a water filled unit
(Humidifier) inside and are kept at room temperature. The
Relative Humidity inside a Humidor is to be controlled between
67-72%. A Hygrometer is usually provided inside a humidor to
measure the humidity.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT CIGARS
What is the definition of the size designation?
There are two dimensions to a cigar, the length, which we
measure in inches and the ring gauge (thickness) which is a
number divided into 64ths of an inch. For example, a cigar of
5×50 means, it’s 5 inches long and 50/64ths of an inch in
diameter. It is important to keep in mind that hand rolled
cigars are each made individually and sometime the size will
Is it true that real men inhale their cigars?
We strongly encourage you to NOT INHALE! Most cigars have a
sufficient pleasure from the taste and aroma. Just hold the
smoke in your mouth and swirl it around and you won’t even want
Sometimes I buy cigars that are individually wrapped. Should
I take the cigar out of the cellophane wrapper in order to store
it in my humidor or should I leave it in the wrapper?
The cellophane found on individual cigars is more of a
protective device than an enhancement to any cigar. In other
words, in a non-friendly cigar environment the cellophane is a
good thing. Even in tobacco store humidors you’ll find
cellophane to prevent many different people from touching the
cigar you will eventually purchase. However, once you get the
cigar home you should immediately remove the cellophane and
allow your cigar to breath and mature in the cigar friendly
environment of your personal humidor. You will find a much
better tasting cigar that has been in your humidor without
cellophane for a few days one that has been there month with the
cellophane on it.
If you don’t use wooden boxes will your cigars stay fresh in
the packaging you do use?
Yes, they will stay just as fresh as if they were in a wooden
box. However, we strongly recommend that you put your cigars
into a humidor that is equipped with a humidifier and a
hygrometer. At the proper temperature and the proper humidity
your cigars will stay fresh forever.
What is the proper humidity and temperature?
Your relative humidity should be RH 70 to 72% and your
temperature should be at 70 degrees Fahrenheit. You do have some
flexibility with those numbers. It is very important to make
sure that your humidity factor stays below RH 80% because you
will get mold at the higher humidity.
If I leave my cigars out of the proper environment too
long, should I just throw them away because they are too dry?
Absolutely not! Dried out cigars can be rejuvenated but you must
be careful. Put them in your humidor for a week or two. The
tricky part is to make sure your humidifier isn’t fully charged
for a few days then slowly fill your humidification system. You
need very slow absorption of moisture, otherwise, the filler
(inside tobacco) will absorb the moisture faster than the
wrapper (outside tobacco leaf) resulting in an expanding filler
that will make the wrapper burst (split). Put your dry cigars as
far away from your humidification unit as you can and then
slowly (every few days) move them closer until they feel supple.
Your cigars will then be refreshed.
If I find a cigar a little too strong for my taste, is
there any ways I can make it milder?
Yes, there is…Simply keep in your humidor for about 10 days and
you will notice a slight mellowing of the blend.