Any cigar connoisseur will know a fine cigar from an average one upon handling. From how it is packaged to the smell and eventually the taste, quality cigars are very different from the cheap ones peddled at gas stations. |
The quality of a cigar is set in motion from the time the tobacco leaves are picked. The finest quality leaves that remain whole throughout the curing and baling process and develop the best flavors will be those that command the highest prices. In turn, these are the leaves that become the outer layers of fine cigars. They are kept whole throughout the rolling process. Fine cigars are always hand-rolled, by and experienced cigar roller who is careful to keep the leaves and the wrapper moist throughout the process. In addition, the finest cigars are made with at least two and sometimes three varieties of whole leaves, in addition to a blend of chopped tobacco. Since they are rolled by hand, the roller can select a very fine and delicately flavored variety to wrap the outside and progress to a more strongly flavored blend in the center.
When it comes to storage, makers of fine cigars know that their consumers demand consistency and package their cigars to provide it. The very finest come in wax-sealed glass tubes or other airtight packaging. This serves several purposes. First of all, a hard protective surface prevents breakage and fraying of the cigar, which could cause it to burn too quickly or lose some of the tobacco inside. In addition, this careful job of sealing also prevents the cigar from soaking up flavors from surrounding cigars and the outer environment. Finally, the protective wrapping also serves to keep the cigar and its wrapper adequately moist. The loss of moisture and tobacco oils causes the flavors to wash out. Fine cigars will absorb the bitter and off flavors of lesser cigars that they are stored with if not adequately protected, as well as losing moisture that is crucial to their flavor.
Far more than the cheap, chopped tobacco, filler paper, and added chemicals that make cigarettes, fine cigars have a flavor that no one will forget once they have been tasted. Because these cigars are finely aged in a way that retains tobacco oils and the leaves are a carefully selected for the best combination, the flavor is complex and unforgettable, never acrid or bitter. The centers of fine cigars are made only from chopped, high quality leaves and are referred to as long. Cheaper cigars are made from short filler, which is comprised of chopped bits of stems, leaves, and tops and tends to burn hot and quickly.
Buying fine cigars requires a critical eye and a lot of experience smoking them. In addition, almost every cigar lover needs to have a humidor to maintain his or her expensive and high quality cigars in the best condition. Maintaining the careful moisture balance sought by the hand roller will maximize the cigar’s flavor and shelf life.
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