Cigar Lovers Collection
It is easy to say that Christopher Columbus discovered cigars. However, like America, cigars were around way before Columbus supposedly discovered them. Let’s put it this way, he simply helped introduce cigars to mainstream culture.
Eventually, cigar smoking became a wildly popular activity among men in the early 20th century. Masculine men such as Babe Ruth and John Wayne were continually depicted in the media smoking cigars. Orson Welles intentionally wrote cigar-smoking characters into his films, and it is said that Mark Twain smoked as little as 22 cigars a day. He was supposedly quoted as saying, “If smoking is not allowed in Heaven, I shall not go.”
History of Cigars
The largest of the islands Columbus would claim for Spain was named Isla Juana in honor of the ruler of Castile. Later it would be known as Fernandina. Native Taino Indians called it Colba, which Spanish tongues twisted into “Cuba.” They also had a name for the curious dried leaves they set on fire in order to inhale the smoke – cojoba or cohiba.
Cuba is probably the most famous cigar producing country in the world. Its tobacco is renowned for its flavor and high quality. Although it has been banned in the United States for more than half a century, it still has the reputation for making the best cigars in the world. Some famous brands crafted here include the original versions of Montecristo, Partagas, H. Upmann, and Cohiba.
Because of its fertile land and favorable climate, Cuba is the only country where all three types of tobacco leaves to be used in a cigar are harvested – the wrapper, filler and binder.
American retaliation against Castro took the form of an economic embargo but, according to JFK’s press secretary Pierre Salinger, not until Kennedy assured himself a stockpile of his favourite Habanos. Called into the Oval office one afternoon, Salinger was ordered to obtain a thousand Petit Upmanns by the next morning. He returned and proudly reported completion of the assignment. With a satisfied smile Kennedy opened his desk, took out a long sheet of paper, and signed his name to it. Therewith imposing by the stroke of his pen an embargo on all imports of Cuban cigars that would remain in effect for decades.
The embargo on importation of Havana cigars led directly to an exodus of Cuban cigar makers and the growth of competition in premium cigar manufacturing in the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Nicaragua and other Latin American countries.
Although Cuba has the reputation and the original premium cigar maker, it was the Dominican Republic that first cultivated tobacco for cigars. It is known for its light and smooth flavor. However recently different strands have been grown that have been incredibly powerful. The Dominican has produced some amazing brands such as Arturo Fuente, the Dominican Montecristo, and La Flor Dominicana.
After the Cuban revolution, many of the finest cigar rollers left Cuba and many of them settled in the lush, humid nation of Nicaragua. Its tobacco is known for its power and great spicy flavor profile. If you look at some of the great Nicaraguan cigars, you will see that they had their roots in Cuba. These brands include Padron, My Father, and Perdomo.
Honduras is home to some very rich and powerful tobacco. Cigars here are known to be strong and dark, with a great earthy flavor to them. The famed Cuban seed Corojo tobacco was first grown here after leaving the island of Cuba. Camacho has laid its claim as one of the finest Honduran cigars. With newer companies Room 101 and CLE quickly rising up the charts.
Ecuador is relatively new to the cigar scene, and by new I mean about 10 -15 years. That doesn’t seem new to us, but with the Cuban Partagas recently celebrating its 170th birthday, Ecuador is still a baby. Yet, in a short period of time, it has produced some great cigars. Its humidity and usual cloud cover is perfect for making delicious and spicy cigar wrapper. The Ecuadorian Habano wrapper has been used on Tatuaje, Montecristo, My Father and Rocky Patel.
Mexican tobacco has been used in premium cigars for years. If anyone remembers the old fashioned Te-Amo, well there you go. However, Mexico has recently been producing some great dark Maduro wrappers. Known as the Mexican San Andres, it is right up there with Connecticut broadleaf in terms of high quality maduro. It has been used on such cigars as the San Lotano Maduro, the Crowned Heads Jericho Hill, the Drew Estate Norteno, and even our own private label, the Black Abyss.
When describing Brazilian tobacco, only one word comes to mind: power. This is an insanely strong and dark tobacco and has a rich dark flavor profile. It has been made famous by its use on the CAO Brazlia, but recently has found its way into other great smokes such as the Liga Privada No. 9 and the brand new Davidoff Escurio.
Yes, the United States is famous for the mild and creamy Connecticut wrapper. This is the wrapper used on every mild cigar. And with a variation grown in Ecuador gaining popularity. However, The US has recently been producing some richer and more flavorful cigar tobaccos. First you have the Kentucky Fire Cured by Drew Estate, which uses homegrown Fire Cured tobaccos, giving it a very smoky flavor. More current was the release of the Camacho American Barrel Aged, which uses American broadleaf tobacco, and a dash of Pennsylvanian long filler.
After the Cuban embargo, the market became filled with various countries trying to fill the void. A major player at that time was the island of Jamaica. Jamaica was the original producer of the Macanudo line and made the first Partagas cigars outside of Cuba. It was known for its very mild and sweet tobacco. The Royal Jamaican became one of its signature products. However, after the devastating Hurricane Gilbert in 1988, the nation’s tobacco industry was nearly destroyed. It has taken them a long time to recover. But recently, we are starting to see more and more brands using Jamaican tobacco.
Itineraries ideas. The journeys outlined are just ideas, created to give you a sample and taste of what is possible, but are by no means your only choice. We can craft your dream vacation if you do not like what you see or do not see what you like.
HAND-ROLLED VS. MACHINE MADE
The method by which they are made is the easiest way to categorize cigars since there are only two groups: hand-rolled and machine made.
Hand-rolled cigars are the preferred choice for beginners and connoisseurs alike. Machine made cigars such as Dutch Masters may contain preservatives and chemicals whereas hand-rolled cigars are made with pure tobacco. The filler in hand-rolled cigars as well as the binder to hold the filler and the outer wrapper are all made from 100% tobacco leaves.
Generally speaking, tobacco in hand-rolled cigars tastes better than that of machine made cigars.
We recommend you to find a nice, mild cigar to start with. Some cigars may be a bit too strong for beginners and may ultimately ruin the entire experience. Mild-flavored cigars are also slightly cheaper, which may make it easier to ease into the hobby. You also will not have to worry much about lighting an expensive cigar incorrectly or cutting off too much of the cap of an expensive cigar.
Once you have made up your mind on the type of cigar you enjoy the most, inspect it for any imperfections. Check the wrapper for cracks or discolorations, and search for any hard or soft spots by gently squeezing the cigar.
STORING YOUR CIGARS
Initially, we would not recommend heading out and purchasing a humidor immediately, as you may still be easing into the art of cigar smoking. Just do not buy more cigars than you can smoke within a few days, and keep them safe in their cellophane packaging or a Tupperware container to prevent them from drying out. A dried out cigar burns quicker, loses its flavor and will peel or crack more easily.
However, if you plan on committing to this age-old past time, a humidor is a must. A humidor is a box-like piece of furniture, or even an entire room, that optimizes the humidity surrounding your cigars. Essentially, humidors keep your cigars fresh and worthy of smoking for an extended period of time.
CUTTING YOUR CIGAR
If you do not have a cigar cutter, biting the cigar with your teeth should be the absolute last thought on your mind. Using scissors or a sharp knife will work better, or you could just poke a hole in the end of the cigar. This will provide an acceptable passageway between the tobacco and your mouth without unraveling the cigar or getting bits of tobacco in your mouth.
Getting a cutter is the easiest way to provide the best smoking experience. There are a lot of different styles of cutters and ways to cut your cigar. Just try to avoid cutting into the body of the cigar, as it will cause your cigar to unravel.
The object of the cut is to create an ample, smooth opening for smoking without damaging the cigar’s structure. With most cigars, this means cutting away part of the cap or flag leaf that closes the cigar, while leaving some of it glued around the end to keep the filler leaves together.
LIGHTING YOUR CIGAR
For the best cigar smoking experience, use butane lighters or wooden matches to light your cigar. Never use candles to light your cigar, especially scented ones. This can ruin the quality of your cigar.
Lighting a cigar is not like lighting the tip of a cigarette or the wick of a candle–it takes longer. Light your cigar the same way you would toast a marshmallow over a campfire–keep the cigar above and near the flame, but do not let them touch. Burning a cigar directly in a flame makes it too hot. Rotate the cigar so all parts of its tip are equally heated. Be patient, and keep at it until there is a glowing ring all the way around the cigar’s tip. Once the cigar is lit, gently blow on the embers to create a smooth, completely rounded ash.
Then, raise the unlit end of the cigar to your mouth and take the first puff. The question is, which way to puff? Many aficionados blow the first puff out through the cigar in order to avoid unsavory flavors such as sulfur from matches or gases from lighters. No one, of course, should ever apply more than one outward puff.
Again, do not inhale the smoke. Trust us, you won’t like it. Allow the smoke to fill your mouth, taste it and blow it out. Continue to puff and rotate your cigar every once in a while. If you smoke it too fast, your cigar will burn fast and ruin the flavor. If you smoke it too slow, you’ll have to continually relight it. Flick the ashes once they’re down to about half an inch.
You may also want to choose a drink to accompany your cigar. Although we will always recommend an aged dark rum or a cognac, scotch, coffee drinks and martinis pair well with the full flavor of your cigar.
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