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Remember this about premium cigars. No two of the same brand are exactly the same. Cigars vary year to year. Leaves are different. Different climate seasons cause difference. As do the different crafters. Cigars are truly like fine wine and each premium cigar should be an experience.
Boutique Premium Cigars are handmade in small batches with attention to each and every detail. Unlike regular mass-produced premium cigars, boutique cigars go through an extensive labor-intensive process.
To make boutique cigars, the bales of cigar tobacco are brought into the rolling factory and placed in a temperature and humidity controlled area. The tobacco for cigars is unpacked on an as needed basis and classified by the color, size and texture of the fully fermented and aged leaf. After carefully selecting the cured leaves, they are transferred and organized in the blending room based on the cigars to be made and their blend. The handmade cigars process requires precision.
The Master Cigar blender prepares the tobacco leaves for the Roller and Master Roller teams. The teams work together as a pair to hand make the cigars. The Blender normally mixes enough tobacco for the daily production of the Roller and Master Roller pair. The Rollers are highly trained and only reach the Master level after many years of on-the-job training. First the Roller “bunches” the tobacco leaves and forms the cigars. It is done by taking a measured handful of leaves for the filler and then forming it into the desired shape. Then they wrap a binder leaf around the filler tobaccos to hold them together. The partially finished cigars are pressed in a wooden mold. The press is turned by hand until the Roller feels that there is enough pressure on the tobacco leaves to properly form the cigars into perfect, predetermined shapes. After the press is released, each cigar is removed from the mold by hand and passed on to the Master Roller.
The Master Roller, who is the most experienced member of the pair, carefully finishes the forming of the cigar and delicately puts on the wrapper leaf. Both hands are used in this process, a chaveta (hand cutter for tobacco leaves), and an all natural tree sap glue. The Master Roller puts on the head of the cigar and looks it over for any possible flaw or imperfection. After adding the finishing touches and details, it is now ready for the aging process, which requires patience and time. These cigars take longer and are harder to make but the taste and quality is unmatched. If you can buy them at discount prices, you will be getting a real bargain.
Knowing what selection to make of premium cigars can be confusing. What cigar to choose with what foods? Which cigars go with what wines or liquor? Learning cigars takes time and patience like learning about fine wine. Experience and knowledge of the cigars come with time. But, don't hesitate to start. Remember, one of the best and most fun ways of expanding your cigar repertoire is by testing these combinations yourself!
The main determinant in a premium cigar is what goes into it, but the crafting of the cigar is also important. Like a winemaker or chef, a quality cigar crafter creates the cigar.
Good tobacco starts with the growing, harvesting, curing, and fermenting. In a handmade cigar, the tobacco is then “rolled." The master blenders will then craft the cigar according to the type and ring gauge (or how large the cigar will be in circumferance).
Many cigar stores offer premium cigar samplers. The samplers allow you to experience a variety of cigars at a discount price. Finding a quality favorite cigar can get quite expensive, but the samplers help with some to the trial and error. The samplers usually come at extremely fair prices. They are a way of expanding your tastes.
If you haven't properly stored your premium cigars, they will lose their moistness and dry out. It will make them easier to light and smoke, but they will lose most of their flavor and body. You can restore moistness to a dried-out cigar by putting it in a humidor or other humid, airtight container. It won't be as good as it was, but you can get much of the flavor and smokability to return.
Wholesale cigars are offered by numerous outlets. Cigars are available on the Internet, by mail order and in cigar shops. Premium cigars are not cheap. The wholesale opportunity allows the cigar connoisseur to buy in bulk and take advantage of more attractive pricing. Once you have a favorite cigar it is wise to buy in quantity. Find those cigars at the best prices possible. Just make sure that they are the real thing and not fakes.
What to do with the ring on a premium cigars? There are many thoughts on this subject. However, if you take the ring off before smoking the cigar you are in danger of damaging the wrapper. The natural glues used may stick to the leaf. Leave the ring on until at least one third of the cigar is smoked. It is also alright to leave it during the entire enjoyment of the cigar.
Premium cigars have been around for centuries. Quality cigars have been enjoyed by men and women at all levels from heads of state to entertainers to the average worker. Smoking laws have made the enjoyment a challenge at times, but the true connoisseur will find a way to smoke their tobacco treat. One of the most gratifying aspects of cigar enjoyment is the opportunity to experiment with different tobacco blends, papers and manufacturers until you find your favorite.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|