Manufacturing process of the cigar
The tobacco that is rolled into cigars is primarily grown in the tropical
regions of the world. Africa, Brazil, the Canary Islands, Connecticut,
Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Sumatra are world
renown in growing the quality tobacco that is used in the various components
of a cigar.
Tobacco is planted in late September and generally takes two months to reach
maturity. Harvesting begins before the plants flower and can take several
months as the leaves are harvested in different phases.
Once the tobacco is harvested the leaves are sent to "tobacco barns" where
the tobacco is dried. Leaves are tied in pairs and hung for the curing process.
The tobacco barn faces from west so that the sun hits one side in the morning
and one side at night. The doors at either side can be opened or closed to
keep the temperature constant. The tobacco is kept in the barn for
approximately 2 months while the leaves change color from green to yellow to
After the leaves are dried, they are carefully laid into large piles for
fermentation, where they are kept for several months. The piles are moistened
and covered in cloth and are watched closely as the temperature can rise and
harm the tobacco. The fermentation reduces natural resins, ammonia and
nicotine present in the tobacco leaves.
The fermented tobacco is taken to warehouses, stored in large bales and allowed
to slowly mature. The aging process can last from several months to many years
depending on the quality desired.
Once the aged tobacco reaches the factory, the leaves are graded according to
size, color, and quality. Leaves that are torn or have holes are set aside and
used primarily as filler. Finally the leaves are de-veined by removing the
center vein from the leaf.
There are three basic components that make up a cigar.
- The filler
- The binder
- The wrapper
Handmade cigars are composed of filler tobacco bunched together with a binder
leave and finally covered with the wrapper leaf. Cigars with long leaves bunched
together as filler are called "long filler" cigars. Cigars with short, fragmented
leaves bunched together as filler are called "short filler" cigars. The binder
holds the bunch together and is enclosed with the wrapper leaf in an aesthetically
Machine made cigars are generally produced using short filler. A processed tobacco
binder which resembles brown paper is used as the binder, and in most cases a natural
wrapper is used to complete the cigar.
How to cut a cigar
The first step involved in preparing a cigar for use is to open a passage way allowing
air to circulate from one end to the other. Some smokers elect to bite the tip off the
cigar; its quick and easy solution and there is no need to carry around any tools along.
Most cigar connoisseurs however use specialized clipper that provide a clean, manicured
If a cutter is used, the incision should be made quickly and decisively. The cutter
should be placed just above the cigar's cap line (the curved area that covers the head
of the cigar) and clipped in one swift motion. This produces a clean cut which is
desirable for smoking a cigar.
Once the cigar has been clipped using the smokers preferred method, it is ready to be lit.
Types of cutters
The "Guillotine" or "Traditional" Cut
The "V" Cut
The "Bullet" or "Punch" Cut
This cutter takes a straight slice across the cigars cap line. It is the best cut to
create an easy, well circulated draw; however residue and tar from the burning tobacco
will come in direct contact with the smoker's mouth.
The V cutter creates a wedge shaped notice in the cigars cap. This cut allows proper
air circulation to occur. The smokes tar and residue accumulate on the sides of the
wedge keeping the bitter taste away from the smoker's mouth. It can be difficult to
keep a V cutter sharp because of its unique shape.
A bullet cutter pierces a small hole into the cigars cap. Depending on the diameter
of the cutter, air circulation may be restricted and the smokes tar and residue can
accumulate around the opening.
How to light a cigar
Tobacco will absorb any aroma or fragrance that it comes in contact with. Paper and
sulfur based matches or the use of a fluid based lighter can leave the cigar with an
unpleasant taste. The preferred method to light a cigar is the use of a butane based
lighter. A lit wooden match can be used once it has burned off the chemicals used in
the ignition process.
Once the cigar is cut, hold the open end of the cigar over your flame and slowly rotate
it. This will "Toast" the cigar and prime it for lighting. While it is still warm, place
the cigar in your mouth and hold it at a 45° angle over the flame. Slowly puff and
rotate the cigar while maintaining slight contact with the flame. A Good cigar will
light easy and burn evenly.
How to store cigars
Cigars should be kept in a controlled environment. A cedar lined box, called a humidor,
is traditionally used for storage. The cedar helps flavor and age the cigar. Cedar also
holds moisture well which helps keep humidity at a constant level.
Cigars kept at 70% RH and 70° F offer the best smoking experience. Tobacco burns smoothly
and tastes the best when kept with in this range. A dry cigar burns fast and has a harsh
flavor. A damp cigar will be hard to keep lit and can grow mold while in storage.
Humidors should always close tightly, providing a seal that keeps the atmosphere inside at
a constant level. A reusable moisturizer should be used to aid in the humidification. A
gauge that monitors temperature and humidity can be helpful to keep optimal conditions