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Thursday, November 5, 2009

How to Cut a Premium Cigar

When you smoke a premium, hand-rolled cigar, you always have to cut it first. When cutting cigars, there are certain principles you must follow to get the maximum enjoyment from your cigar. Following these principles will ensure you get the most out of your cigar smoking experience.

The whole point of cutting a cigar is to remove the cap from the unsealed end. This cap was originally installed to keep the filler in place and to preserve its aroma and flavor. We do this to create a sufficient opening to draw smoke, but we also want to do this in a way that does not damage the shape of the cigar or mash the filler tobacco within it.

To begin with, always use a sharp cutter to cut your cigar. Like any other type of blade, a dull blade does far more damage than a sharp blade will ever do. Never waste your money on a second rate cutter and never procrastinate replacing a dull one.

When cutting the cigar, do it with constant pressure in a quick manner.

Make certain that you place an equal amount of pressure on all sides of the cigar. This will prevent the cigar from being crushed.

When you cut the cigar, hold it at eye level. This will allow you to see where the cap meets the body and enable you to cut in a straight line.

  • Begin by placing your cigar cutter between you and your cigar. Point the cigar’s open end away from you.
  • Find the point on the cigar where the end begins to curve toward the closed end that is facing toward you. This curved part of the cigar is called the shoulder. Typically, on most cigars, it lies between a half inch and one sixteenth of an inch from the cap.
  • Now, place your cigar under the blade where you intend to cut it.
  • Before you actually cut the cigar, bring the blade down to wrapper and rest it there gently, lining it up in the process.
  • Once you have lined up the cutter, cut the cigar with a swift surgical movement. Use even pressure and do not jerk the cigar as you cut. The more precise you are, the less likely you will be to tear the wrapper or crush the tobacco.
  • Throw away the cap and light your cigar with either a wooden match or a butane cigar lighter.
There are three types of cigar cutters, as we discussed in a previous blog on this site. The most popular among cigar aficionados is the guillotine cutter, which may either be single-blade or double-blade in design.

We recommend that if you follow this preference, that you use a double blade so that you can deliver precise, equal pressure from both sides at once. Of course, if you have been cutting cigars and smoking all of your life, you can easily do the same work with a single-blade cutter.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Cigar Types

How are different cigar types classified?
Cigars are categorized in several ways, such as by method of manufacture, size and shape, flavor or strength, and country of origin.

One of the most common ways to categorize cigars is by their shape and size. Although this sounds simple, it can be very confusing. For many years, the cigar industry has been using terms such as Corona and Panatela, which correspond to the approximate length and width of the cigar, not the manufacturer or brand.

How do different types of cigars taste?
The taste of different cigar types refers to both the nature of the taste and the depth of its perception on the palate, lips, nose, and throat. Many different adjectives are used to describe flavor, and of course, different types of tobacco and methods of maturing it have a very big impact on just what a cigar ultimately tastes like.

Such terms as coffee, cherry, sweet, salty, apricot, mature, and green are used to describe the actual flavor.

The depth of flavor that a particular cigar type produces is normally described by adjectives of intensity. Terms such as bland, hints, overtones, decidedly, massive, or rich can signify not so much the actual taste you will encounter, but the intensity of the taste you will experience once you have encountered it.

So if you here a person say something along the lines of “that cigar has a rich, sweet flavor”, such an expression signifies that the cigar both smells and tastes sweet, and that other senses beyond the taste buds themselves (such as the palate and the nostrils) participate in sensory enjoyment of the cigar.

If you are new to cigar smoking, awareness of this simple descriptive process can go a long way toward building your cigar etiquette and having intelligent conversation with other cigar aficionados.

Where is the tobacco for the best cigar types grown?
While some cigar tobacco is grown in the Eastern United States, the majority of it is grown in warmer, more humid climates. The world’s largest producer of cigars is the Dominican Republic. This is not by accident either, because the Dominican Republic lies on the island of Hispaniola, which was the first islands discovered by Christopher Columbus, who also brought tobacco back to Europe.

This part of the world has ever since been a major player in the production of all sorts of premium and coveted cigar types.

Cuba has a more widespread claim to fame in popular culture, mostly due to its turbulent history. However, the majority of cigar aficionados prefer Dominican cigar types both in terms of aroma, colors, and prices.

Other countries where cigar tobacco is grown include Honduras, Brazil, and Nicaragua.

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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Cigar Rolling

It is the process of rolling cigar filler in a cigar binder and wrapper to produce the finished product of a fine, premium cigar.

The best cigars are still hand rolled. Cigar rolling by hand is an art as much as it is a skill. In fact, the Torcedor, the old term for cigar roller, was regarded in the early days as being more of an artist than an employee.

You might even say it’s almost like a craft whose very practice commands a respect beyond assembly and production. It takes years of on-the-job training to become a Master roller.

For the new craftsmen, it takes at least a year for a roller just to learn the basics of cigar rolling. These basics appear remarkably simple at face value. This is not the case. Each step requires pinpoint accuracy and must be done correctly in order for each brand of cigar to have its own unique flavor, burn, aroma, and true quality appeal.

The roller must learn to take the filler and pack it evenly for the cigar to burn smoothly. The wrapper must also wind about the cigar in a spiral. Both of these aspects of cigar rolling require insight, intuition, and skill with the hands that does not come overnight.

Hand cigar makers like this sit at small tables in cigar factories. He or she has a tray with sorted tobacco leaves on it and enough room for cigar rolling. The first step in the process is the selection of the leaves for the filler.

They must be placed on top of one another and rolled in a bunch. The binder then goes around this bunch cylindrically, and the half-finished cigars are then placed in wooden molds that keep their shape until they can be wrapped.

The binder, though a flavorless part of the cigar, is crucial to rolling the more famous and sought-after brands because it literally helps hold the cigar together.

Cigar rolling requires all rollers to keep the tobacco moist—especially the wrapper—and to use chavetas, which are specially designed crescent-shaped knives to shape the filler and wrapper leaves quickly and accurately.

After the partially finished cigars are placed in a wooden mold, the press is turned by hand until the roller feels that enough pressure has been placed on the tobacco leaves. This gives the cigars their shape.

After this, the rollers in training carefully take the cigars from the molds and pass them to the Master roller, who then completes the finishing touches of cigar rolling and puts the head on the cigar.

A Master will produce hundreds of cigars a day that look almost identical.

Prior to the cigars being aged, an examiner inspects the cigars for imperfections and checks them for quality assurance.

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Monday, November 2, 2009

Cigar Humidifiers

What is the difference between a cigar humidor and a cigar humidifier?
A cigar humidor is a container, normally shaped like a box, in which cigars are stored to keep them humid.

A cigar humidifier is the device that maintains the desired humidity level within the humidor.

It is important to know this, because not every humidor comes with a built-in cigar. You need to know the basics of how these devices work and how to choose the one that is best-suited to your humidor.

Why are they important?
Without cigar humidifiers, there would be no way to maintain the humidity levels with a humidor that are needed to keeping the cigar collection in prime physical condition.

How do these devices actually work?
A humidifier is charged with a 50/50 mixture of propylene glycol solution and distilled water. The device must be properly charged in order to achieve the 65 to 70 percent humidity.

What does a cigar humidifier look like?
It can any shape, size or color. Common shapes include square, rectangular, round, and stick shaped

These can be in various shapes, sizes, and colors. There are square ones, rectangular, round, stick shaped, etc.

How do you choose the right type and size of cigar humidifier?
Choosing the right shape and size depends on the size of the humidor or traveling case, and on the number of cigars in the container.

Where in the humidor is the humidifier attached?
It goes on the inside of the lid of the humidor, or it attaches to the side by means of either Velcro or a thin piece of metal held in place by a magnet.

These attachment devices normally come with the humidifier itself.

How do you maintain your humidifier?
When it comes time to use your cigar humidifier for the first time, you need to completely moisten it with a propylene glycol solution. This is also called a humidification solution, and it consists of 50% propylene glycol and 50% distilled water. A Germicide agent should also be used in this to help prevent the growth of bacteria and to allow you to better control the environment.

Allow the device the thoroughly absorb the solution before you turn it over. Gently shake out any excess, wipe it dry, and then attach it to the appropriate place within the humidor.

How often should I apply the humidification solution?
You should not use it more than once every 3-6 months. A good rule to follow is to use this solution only when you notice a dramatic change in seasonal temperatures?

What happens if I choose to use more than that?
You will diminish the capacity of your humidifier to properly maintain humidity levels within your humidor.

Can I use regular water instead?
No. Regular water contains too many minerals and will render your cigar humidifier useless by clogging it.

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