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Cigar House

 

"A 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.
 


Cigar Etiquettes

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 etc.

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 definitions.


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 diameter.

CIGARS can be classified into two categories by shape.


(i) Parejos:- Straight sided cigars. (ii) Figurados:- irregular shapes.

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)


Robusto:- 5×50

Presidente:- 8×50

Viajante: 8½×52

Panetelas:-(7×38):The panatelas are usually longer than coronas but much thinner. They also have an open foot and closed head.

Lonsdales:- (6¾×42): The Lonsdales are thicker than panatelas but thinner and longer than coronas.

FIGURADOS:- 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 open foot.

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 worth knowing:

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 soft-squarely appearance.

 

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 possible shades.
 

Double 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 today.


Claro:- A light tan colour. The leaves are usually grown under shade. The Claro is prized for neutral flavour qualities.


Natural:- also called EMS: English Market Selection or Colarado Claro. Light brown to brown. It is most often sun-grown.


Colarado Maduro:- Brown to reddish brown. It is also usually shade grown and has medium strength and subtle aroma.


Maduro:- Very dark brown, like black coffee. A Maduro should be silky and oily with a rich strong flavour and mild qroma. Acolout for seasoned smokers.


Oscuro:- 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.


BLENDS:- The two basic blends used in high-grade cigars are Olor and Cubanito.


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 slightly vary.

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 to inhale.

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.

 

 

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