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Monday, February 22, 2010

Cigar Prices Vary Greatly

Why are cigar prices so different?
The way the cigar is made is the first reason that prices are so different. The least expensive kinds that you find at corner stores and drugstores are machine-rolled with short filler. Short filler does not run the entire length of the cigar, and may even be shredded. The wrappers on these cheap cigars are also of a lower grade quality. They lack the fine aging and curing methods of the more premium brands.

Fine cigars and premium cigars are an entirely different matter. These are made with whole length tobacco. Both the filler and the wrapper run the entire length of the cigar. Both are carefully cultivated, and the wrapper is painstakingly cured and treated to imbue it with a number of special scents and tastes.

Torcedores, or cigar rollers, hand-roll premium cigars, and they work especially hard to make certain that each and every cigar in the box looks and feels identical to its counterparts.

This is why premium cigar prices are so high—not only does it take longer to make the tobacco, but it takes longer for the most experienced employees in the factory to do their jobs rolling it.

What is the number one determining factor in cigar price?
The makeup of the tobacco is the number one determinant in price. Tobacco for filler, binder, and wrapper are all grown in specific countries and often specific regions of a country. Fine tobacco must be aged a certain way, and every manufacturer has its secret recipes for making the most world renowned brands.

Cigar prices can also be affected by fancy packaging. If you buy cedar or mahogany boxes, then expect to pay more.

What is the general range of cigar prices in a typical cigar store?
You can expect to pay as little as $1 a piece to over $20 a piece on finer brands. To get the best cigar prices, you really need to get a full box of cigars. If you are new to cigar smoking, try experimenting with the different types, prices, and brands to get a feel for what is offered before you buy anything in a large quantity or at an exorbitant price.

Is high cost a guarantee of premium quality?
No. High cigar prices are not always an indication of premium cigar quality. There are always retailers, both online and in brick and mortar establishments, that will charge more than is fair for certain products. Also, sometimes retailers have the very best of intentions, but they have no way of verifying their sources.

That’s why it’s always best to do business with an entity like that is BBB certified and that knows both its sources and the level of quality of each and every cigar in its inventory.

What are the highest cigar prices?
The most famous and well-loved cigars appreciated the world over can possibly cost hundreds of dollars. This depends on their origin, what type of tobacco was used, what was done to it, and how long it was aged.

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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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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Cigar Wrappers

Cigar wrappers make cigars taste great and look fantastic.

What makes cigar wrappers different from cigarette wrappers?
Cigars are made of three different types of tobacco leaves. The variation of these leaves determine the characteristics of the cigar.

The outer leaves of the cigar are the cigar wrapper. They come from the broadest part of the plant. The wrapper adds much to the character and flavor of the cigar. It also defines the color of the cigar as a whole.

A cigarette is distinguished from a cigar by its smaller size, use of processed leaf, and paper wrapping, which is usually white, though other colors are available. Cigars are typically composed entirely of whole-leaf tobacco.

How are cigar wrappers made?
A cigar's outermost leaves, or wrapper, come from the widest part of the plant. The wrapper determines much of the cigar's character and flavor, and as such its color is often used to describe the cigar as a whole. Colors are designated as follows, from lightest to darkest.

How is the cigar wrapper prepared?
After tobacco leaves have aged, they are sorted out to be used as fillers or wrappers. Quality and appearance determine which leaves will become wrappers. Leaves are moistening and handled very carefully to ensure the integrity of every leaf.

Leaves are bailed, then inspected, then unbaled, then reinspected, then baled over again as they continue to mature. At the height of their maturity, leaves are then used to make cigars.

Where are cigar wrappers grown?
The tobacco that is used to make cigar wrappers is grown in the Latin American Countries of Brazil, Cuba, The Dominican Republic, and Honduras. In Asia, it is grown in Indonesia, Sumatra, and the Philippines.

Some of the more notable cigar wrappers are grown in the West African country of Cameroon, and some cigar tobacco is grown in the Eastern United States.

Why are so many cigar wrappers grown in these other countries?
It has a lot to do with soil content and climate. The best environment for tobacco to grow is in ground that is rich and loamy. The optimal climate conditions are those where it is moist and mild throughout the year. Such conditions not only contribute to the health and vitality of the plants, but they also contribute to how tobacco tastes.

In fact, if you take a seed from tobacco in say, Cameroon, and grow it in Brazil or Kentucky, the product you produce will taste differently than the Cameroon parent plants.

Because of this, you will always see on our site a strong emphasis on cigar wrapper and the country of origin. This is both to help the new cigar smoker learn more about their new passion, and to also give experienced smokers a very vital piece of information to the art and lifestyle of smoking cigars.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Cigar Tobacco

What makes cigar tobacco different from cigarette tobacco?
This is one of the first questions that former cigarette smokers new to the world cigars often ask us.

It is a legitimate questions as well that deserves a careful and intelligent response.

What makes cigar tobacco different from cigarette tobacco?
Because a cigar can be shaped very differently than a cigarette, and because it can measure up to 7 inches in length, it can contain between 5 and 17 grams of tobacco. This is enormous compared to the typical 1 gram of tobacco found in a cigarette.

What types of cigar tobacco are there?
There are many different types of tobacco, but only a single kind is used to make cigars. This is known as air-cured or dried burley tobacco.

Are you saying there is only one kind of tobacco used in cigar manufacturing?
No. Type means how it is prepared. Kind means blend or cultivars. Many different varieties of cigar tobacco are grown to create different blends for different brands.

How does cigar tobacco burn compared to cigarette tobacco?
Forget about having a quick smoke with most cigar brands. The very large ones can take 1 to 2 hours to smoke. The average cigarette is gone in less than 10 minutes.

How is cigar tobacco chosen?
The task of selecting the blends for each brand according to its own recipe starts well before the bales reached the factory.

How is cigar tobacco prepared?
It is never rushed, and it consists of a series of specific steps to ensure maximum quality flavor and draw.

1. The leaves are harvested.
2. Leaves are hung in special barns that are both shady and hot.
3. This lowers the sugar and water content in the leaves, but it does not allow the leaves to dry without rotting.
4. This takes 24-25 days to complete.
5. Cigar tobacco is then fermented by allowing it to die slowly under strict control of temperature and humidity
6. This process develops the aroma, burn, and flavor of cigar tobacco.
7. After the leaves have aged, they are then separated per intended use, which will be either as filler or wrapper.
8. Quality and appearance determines which leaves become fillers and which become wrappers.
9. Tobacco leaves are moistened during this process to make sure each leaf is used for its best purpose.
10. It is also continually baled and inspected until it reaches the desired maturity.
11. At this point, human cigar rollers use special knives to cut the wrappers and fillers.
12. They then roll the cigars by hand. A good roller can make hundreds of nearly identical cigars in a day.

After then being allowed to dry in wooden forms, cigars are cut at the uncapped ends to be all one length. They are now ready to be stored in humidors, which can keep them fresh for decades at temperatures around 70 degrees and 70 percent humidity.


Monday, October 26, 2009


What are cigars?
By definition, a cigar is a tight roll of cured, fermented tobacco leaves that can be ignited and smoked. The intention of smoking a cigar is to draw the smoke into the mouth only (not the lungs) so the flavor of the tobacco can be tasted and savored.

How are they different from cigarettes?
A cigar is different from a cigarette. Cigarettes are made of finely cut tobacco rolled up in thin pieces of paper. Cigars are made entirely from tobacco leaves (wrapper) and filler.

Cigarette tobacco contains all types of additives and is intended to be inhaled into the lungs as a stimulant.

Smoking a cigar is more like being a wine taster. You are after the palate—not the effect.

Where is cigar tobacco grown?
The tobacco used to make cigars is grown primarily in Latin America in countries such as Brazil, Cuba, The Dominican Republic, Honduras, Mexico, and Nicaragua. It is also grown in other parts of the world as well in nations such as Sumatra, The Philippines, Indonesia, and Cameroon.

Some cigar tobacco is also grown in the Easter portion of the United States.

What makes a good cigar?
Aficionados agree that the tobacco and the method of construction make a great cigar great.

First and foremost, it has to be handmade.

Next, it has to have the right amount of filler. Fewer leaves in the filler means it will burn more quickly and it will smoke faster. This may or may not be good depending on the point of view of the smoker. If it is under filled, that means it probably has too many air pockets in the filler and simply burns too quickly.

On the other hand, if the filler is overfilled, then it will be much harder to draw smoke. This is why a balanced amount of filler really needs to be carefully placed in each and every roll. This will ensure that when the cigar is let, it will burn evenly at the anticipated rate.

If there is an uneven burn, then the rolling process was probably not done correctly.

What are some other qualities of fine cigars?
Believe it or not, another sign of quality is the ash. There is nothing more annoying than ash falling off at inconvenient and unpredictable times. Instead, you should be able to move the cigar about without ashing all over your clothes or the floor.

The texture of a fine cigar feels both springy and firm to the touch. It also feels smooth and has only one shade of leaves in the wrapper.

What does cigar tobacco taste like?
It should be smooth and flavorful. It should never be harsh or burn the mouth. The flavor of the cigar is determined by a number of factors, such as the aging and curing of tobacco, and what is done to ferment it. Fermenting tobacco improves the flavor and also preserves it.

Additional flavors can also be added to the tobacco, as you can see by simply scrolling through the many brands advertised here on Serious Cigars.

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