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Cigars 101
Helpful articles on basic cigar knowledge

HUMIDOR TIDBITS


WHAT IS THE RIGHT HUMIDOR?



When a customer walks in my shop and
asks for a humidor, my reply is what for? (not trying to be a
wiseguy)  I want to know, how many cigars  do you
plan on storing?  Do you want a portable or desktop?  How
long do you plan on storing your fine cigars?



Customers will look at a 100 count
wood humidor.  When I ask how many cigars do you plan on
storing, they say 10 to 25.  Now here is what most people don’t
understand:  In order for a humidor to  create the proper
environment it must be at no less than 75% capactity.  Yes that
is right, for a Cigar Humidor to keep your premium cigars fresh it
must be mostly full.  I can’t tell you how many times a week
someone asks me why their box is not holding the humidity, especially
during the winter months.



Ok so now we know the size you need,
how about the style?  Most consumers don’t need to store more
than a box of 25.  I always suggest plastic Travel Humidors from
Xikar.  There are different sizes ranging from 5 to 25 cigars.
The feature I like most is they seal up airtight, guaranteed to keep
your stogies nice & fresh.  Some prefer an inexpensive
desktop which are fine for short term storage, but they are the ones
that need to be mostly full.


WHAT TYPE OF HUMIDITY DEVICE TO USE?



Wood Humidors need to be seasoned.
Rubbing the inside down with distilled water does nothing.  It
does not penetrate the wood.  I suggest the Boveda Seasoning
pack.  Throw it in there for about two weeks (without cigars).
After, put your cigars in with the proper amount of Boveda bags. The
capacity of the humidor determines how many bags.  There are
different Boveda bags from 69%-75%.  I like 75% in the winter,
and 72% during the summer.  Boveda works great, they actually
control the environment (don’t ask me how).  After about three
months they become brittle, simply replace them, no muss, no fuss.


DO I TAKE THE CIGARS OUT OF THE
CELLOPHANE?



Simple answer No.  I feel the
cellophane helps protect the cigar from nicks and scratches to the
wrapper.  Secondly you do not want different cigars touching for
an extended period of time. The blends will marry distorting the
taste.



The only time I suggest taking them
out of the cello is if you have one type of cigar which will be aging
for 6 months or more.  It also helps if you have real nice
humidor from Davidoff or Diamond Crown.  



Finally cigars are like wine, in the
proper condtions they can get better with age.  I have cigars
from 7 years ago and believe me they have matured and become much
more complex.  You all spend a lot of money on your Premium
Cigars, please make sure to protect your purchase by storing them
properly for optimum pleasure.




CIGARS ARE HUMAN


Ok, I let me explain the title.
Premium Cigars from seed to smoke are created by humans.  From
seedlings which are planted into the earth until the time you ignite
a fine stogie about 300 sets of hands handle it.  From seed, to
plant, to gathering the leaves off the plant, to the curing barn,
rolled, aged, banded and boxed, 300 sets of hands.


The phrase Premium Cigar has little to
do with price.  Definition is a long filler cigar bunched,
bound, and rolled by hand.  Machine made cigars consist of short
chopped up  filler with non tobacco ingredients added.
Fine Cigars are all natural , only tobacco, even the wrapper is
affixed with vegetable glue.


So now that we have established that
humans play a huge  part in creating our great smokes, let’s
talk about quality control.  One of the biggest  challenges
for every manufacturer is consistency.  There is always some
human error involved as we are not a perfect species.  Sometimes
a cigar will unravel, canoe, or be plugged.  It is an
unfortunate reality.  For every box of cigars purchased you can
expect a few bad ones, there is no way around it.  Yes they
have  machines that help draw test each cigar, i have witnessed
it at the Davidoff Factory, but even that is not perfect.
Cigars like the humans who make them are not perfect.


How do i as the retailer handle it?
I always try and make good  on a poorly constructed stogie,
especially to a loyal customer.  I look at it as  the cost
of doing business.  The manufacturer will also help by taking
back unfit to smoke cigars, after all they are the manufacturer i am
only the middleman.  By the way there are always some who try
and take advantage.  For instance if a particular cigar is a bit
tight or maybe slightly cracks they are looking for a new one
gratis.  Again one of the costs of business.


I think it is truly amazing  that
80 to 90% of the cigars put to  our lips  are perfect..
Some are less than perfect but very smokable, and very few are not
good at all.  How cigar companies create the same tasting cigar
year after after year with different tobacco crops is astounding.
The best manufacturers perceive creating great cigars  as an
art, i tend to agree.



AN EXPLANATION OF THE STALE CIGAR MYTH


Occasionally, a friend or relative
mentions that a cigar does not meet high standards because it tastes
stale. This reaction is the last thing that tobacconists want to hear
from customers. Unlike most food and drinks, cigars do not get stale.
On the contrary, cigars improve with age. Like wine, there is a
proper method of storing cigars to keep them aging well in ideal
conditions. 

The occurrence of dryness causing the cigar to
crack does not reflect how long ago the cigar was first rolled. It is
common for cigars to be low-end in quality because they did not were
not stored in a space with proper levels of humidity or because the
cigars were not handled with due care when they were manufactured. A
cigar with a cellophane wrapper that has yellowed indicates an aged
cigar that is typically a high quality product.

An aged cigar,
also known as a round cigar, offers a smooth and enjoyable taste. The
aged cigar is not necessarily a superior cigar. It basically has a
roundness that causes the product to taste mellower and less like
tobacco. Experienced cigar smokers know that cigars aged in humidors
for several months after the initial purchases normally taste better.
A cigar that has aged well also may burn more evenly. Sometimes, a
cigar that is freshly rolled is overly wet and soggy, which means
that the product does not have an even draw. 

Placing cigars in
a humidor causes them to lose some of their initial moistness. The
humidor causes the tobacco to have a looser texture, which then
results in a subtler flavor. A few serious cigar smokers purchase
several boxes of cigars in order to give them time to dry out in
humidors. Numerous consumers let their newly purchased cigars rest in
humidors for more than a year. When it comes to the age of a cigar,
patience takes on a new level of meaning.

Consumers who want to
age their cigars have their own preferences about how long to let the
cigars rest in humidors. The typical amount of time to age a cigar is
a minimum of one year. Naturally, the aging effect only applies to
higher quality cigars. Inferior cigars are not as likely to improve
with age. It is also noteworthy that some cigars develop
extraordinary flavors and aromas after they age properly. A cigar may
smell horrible today and wonderful after it rests in a humidor for a
year. 

Some cigar lines age better than others. One example of a
cigar that ages well is the larger ring-gauge type of cigar. If a
cigar is thicker, it normally contains several types of tobacco
leaves, and the result is that the cigar has a richer flavor after it
is aged. The inner components of a large cigar are normally protected
from the atmosphere, which means that the cigar is not as dependent
upon variations in humidity or climactic conditions. This type of
increased stability is good for the aging process. 

Other cigars
do not receive any benefits from the aging process. Maduro-wrapped
cigars are aged or cured using artificial methods. This technique
causes the wrappers to take on dark hues. However, Maduro-wrapped
cigars are already in their final resting stages and cannot receive
any more improvements from the aging process. Every cigar has unique
qualities, but each product is only capable of reaching a point when
it achieves its best possible flavor and aroma. Once a cigar reaches
this point, aging no longer improves the product.



A LAYERED UNDERSTANDING OF THE MASTER
BLENDER'S ROLE


As with any fine food or spirit, the
quality and proportion of a cigar's ingredients is what creates its
taste and consistency. Master blenders spend much of their lives
learning how the tobaccos used in each component of a cigar interact
to provide different tastes and aromas. The skill of rolling a cigar
is certainly important to the overall cohesiveness, yet it is the
blending of different tobaccos used in the filler, binder and wrapper
that ultimately determines the flavor, strength and draw of any
cigar.

Tobacco leaves are harvested green and cured using a
variety of techniques, some of which are specific to the region,
species or family. The investment of care and time in the curing or
ageing process plays the largest role in tobacco quality. Blenders
often use both high and low quality tobaccos in different proportions
with the goal of creating a fine smoke that is also affordable.


WRAPPER LEAF


The highest quality leaves from various
curing techniques are often kept intact for use as the outer layer of
cigars. Wrappers tend to be the most expensive component, and they
account for a large part of the cigar's taste, especially those of a
smaller diameter. The growing process, species and curing time are
all important aspects of the wrapper. 

Maduro cigars, for
instance, use a sun-grown wrapper with a long curing process that
results in an oily wrap, visible veins and a strongly sweet taste.
Oscuro is similar, but only the upper leaves are used for an even
richer flavor. Claro cigars, on the other hand, impart a mild flavor
with less oil. These leaves are shade-grown and slowly dried without
a long cure.


BINDER LEAF


Underneath the wrapper is a binder that
holds the cigar's bulk together. Binder leaves are not visible, so
they tend to be of lower quality and impart less flavor to the whole.
It serves to maintain the cigar's shape and provide an even burn.
Some blenders will choose a specific binder that augments the flavor
of the wrapper or adds to the complexity of undertones.


FILLER TOBACCO


Blenders choose their filler tobacco
based on cure quality and cut size. In thick cigars, the filler plays
a larger role in the overall taste, and the blender may choose a
higher-quality, long filler for both stronger taste and more
consistent burning. Excess filler is cut from the cigar and used for
short filler. Generally, long filler is used to create more expensive
cigars. Both types of filler may be used in different proportions to
create a variety of different flavors with the same tobacco.


Blenders use their advanced knowledge of the quality of various
leaves and cut sizes to create cigars with consistent flavors,
strengths and burn rates. Smokers often perceive the color or
diameter of a cigar to play the largest role in its strength and
flavor, but this is more often than not a misconception. The
knowledge of an experienced smoker is a valuable resource for
newcomers.



ROLES PLAYED BY TASTE AND SMELL WHEN
CHOOSING A CIGAR


We examined the roles that sight and
touch play in the smoking experience. Now, we are going to look at
the role played by the senses of smell and taste. These two senses
are difficult to separate from each other. Even though certain people
have better senses of smell or taste, almost every individual
believes that sinus problems can have negative impacts on the taste
buds. The bottom line is that a person who cannot smell loses 50
percent of the necessary factors that result in a positive smoking
experience.

Various kinds of tobacco go into the manufacturing
of a cigar, so it is important that the manufacturer develops a
pleasant flavor. One of the problems that every cigar manufacturer
needs to address is that cigars need to display the same flavors
throughout the years. This is a difficult task to accomplish because
every tobacco leaf is unique. The taste of tobacco is continuously
subject to change because of the variance in the qualities of the
leaves.

There are two reasons that cigar manufacturers use
different types of tobacco during the cigar manufacturing process.
One reason is because the leaves vary in taste, depending when and
where they are grown. It is not an easy process to produce handmade
cigars because there are so many variants that manufacturers need to
confront. Manufacturing a cigar differs from the production of a
product that consists of man-made ingredients. Cigar makers need to
deal with natural products when they manufacture cigars.


Consequently, there is no such thing as a consistent blend. For
instance, a person who eats two different apples may notice that each
apple tastes slightly different even though people, mostly due to
habit, may think that the apples taste identical. Similarly, one
cigar never duplicates the exact taste of another product, but adding
more flavorful tobacco this year and a milder flavor next year helps
to create a sense of similarity even if this sensation is not exactly
true.

Additionally, the complexities involved in manufacturing
cigars include the following factors: types of soil, varieties of
tobacco, weather conditions, ground conditions, curing aspects,
harvesting, processes involving fermenting the tobacco, curing, the
actual manufacturing process and the level of humidity. 

However,
the basic idea is that any type of binder, even if it is not a strong
type of tobacco, has an effect on the smoker's experience, and the
filler is the component that renders the cigar's general potency. The
wrapper adds its own kind of look to each cigar. Due to various
growing conditions and varieties of tobacco seeds, every wrapper is
unique.

The roles of aging and construction also need proper
consideration. A high quality cigar features various levels of taste
that are altered by incorporating tobacco, representing different
ages. Normally, tobacco that is aged adds a smoother and more robust
taste to the cigar. This does not mean that an aged cigar is
superior. On the contrary, the significance of aging means that the
cigar has a rounder, more mellower taste that differs from a sharp
flavor. 

Additionally, how good a cigar tastes depends on well
it is constructed. High quality construction yields a vastly superior
product. A faulty draw caused by poor construction yields a smoking
experience that is not optimal. A cigar that burns too quickly, known
as a loose draw, makes the temperature higher, which serves to render
the taste unfavorable. The sensation of the taste buds is reduced by
a tight smoke. The basic meaning of this aspect is that the ability
to draw less smoke ultimately leads to a deficient flavor.



USING SIGHT AND TOUCH TO JUDGE THE
QUALITY OF A CIGAR


What are the elements that go into
manufacturing a cigar that has an exceptional flavor? People
frequently comment that the only way to tell if a cigar has an
extraordinary taste is by looking at the product. However, trying to
find a million reasons that a cigar tastes great only serves to
dispel its magical quality. Even though people wish to understand
some of the reasons that certain cigars have extremely satisfying
flavors, consumers do not want to dwell on technicalities. 

The
most dedicated cigar lovers desire to have romantic interludes every
time puffs emerge. Nevertheless, the majority of cigar smokers are
sure to concede that certain attributes cause some cigars to taste
better than their counterparts. The art that goes into manufacturing
a high quality cigar involves more than simply puffing on a cigar.
The sense of taste is only one aspect. The other senses also play
parts in an ardent cigar smokers' experience.

This article
comprises the first segment of a two-part series. The evaluation of a
cigar includes the roles played by the senses of sight and touch.
These two senses are extremely similar. When a person takes a cigar
out of the box or humidor, the first thing to do is to look at the
product.

A cigar wrapper plays an important role in the taste of
the product. A wrapper should have an oily coating that indicates the
correct level of humidity. The type of leaf and the climate in which
it flourishes determine the appearance of the cigar wrapper. Any
blemishes are sure to render images about what to expect before the
sense of taste is used.

Superior cigar wrappers have silky
surfaces. For instance, the Connecticut shade wrapper has a texture
reminiscent of silk, and it has a stretchable texture that does not
always appear in wrappers manufactured in other parts of the world.
In contrast to the Connecticut shade wrapper, the Cameroon wrapper
has an oily, bumpy texture that is known as a tooth. Bumps indicate
that the cigar is going to have a great flavor despite the fact that
the leaf does not have a silky surface. Wrappers from Connecticut and
Ecuador resemble each other in their textures but do not have similar
hues. 

A higher quality wrapper leaf from Ecuador does not have
as much of the tooth, and it features a matte-like, smoother surface.
The Connecticut wrapper reveals a greater amount of depth, slightly
expanded tooth and an attractive, shiny appearance. Oil always
implies that a wrapper has received the proper amount of
humidification and that the smoker is going to experience a cooler
smoking experience. Cool smoke offers a better flavor than hot smoke.


A wrapper leaf that has ripples or cracks indicate that the
cigar received an excess of humidification. This factor is very
important because if the cigar expands and contracts rapidly, the
basic composure of its intrinsic elements can be ruined. This type of
cigar offers an uneven smoking experience or plug. A manufacturing
flaw can also cause this same flaw. A smoker who purchases a cigar
with a superior wrapper is more likely to have a product that offers
excellence.

The burn rate also plays a significant role in the
analysis of what makes a cigar taste great. A cigar needs to burn
correctly in order to sustain the intensity of the flavor. If a cigar
does not burn evenly, it is rendered as a flawed product. The cigar
needs to burn evenly during the entire period in which it is smoked.
Due to various types of tobacco components, the flavors and
smoothness of a superior cigar take on different roles during the
smoking process. If the cigar burns unevenly, the expected changes
never take place. One part of the cigar may burn, but the other part
does not. This can cause an excess of smoke, which then causes the
taste buds to experience a monotonous flavor.



FIGHTING TOBACCO BEETLES


Buying a box of cigars might result in
finding a few tobacco beetles in the mix. Although measures are taken
to prevent the tobacco beetles from moving into the cigars, the
insects have been found in cigar boxes. Understanding where the
tobacco beetles come from and ways to identify when they have
attacked a cigar will make it easier to select the right cigars and
avoid having the beetles appear at home.


ORIGINS OF THE BEETLE


The tobacco beetle is an insect that
infects tobacco leaves before the plant is used in the creation of
cigars. The beetles are common in countries where cigars are
produced, particularly in the Caribbean Islands. The hot and humid
climate allows the beetles to continue reproducing, and newer beetles
have evolved so that basic pest-control measures are not effective.


MEASURES TO FIGHT INFESTATIONS


Because the insects often infest the
tobacco plant, measures are taken to eliminate the insect before
tobacco is processed and used in cigars.

While the common
measure of killing the infestation with pest control chemicals is
sometimes used, it is not the most effective solution. The beetles
have adapted to the chemical treatments and many are not killed when
the plants are sprayed.

Because of the ineffective measures of
pest control treatments, the tobacco importers began freezing the
plants. Shock-freezing at low temperatures was thought to kill the
moths and prevent the life cycle from continuing. Unfortunately,
temperatures of minus 20 to minus 22 degrees centigrade were not cold
enough to have the expected result. The best results from
shock-freezing occur when the tobacco is frozen at 28 degrees below
zero. Anything warmer will allow the eggs and larvae to survive, so a
colder temperature is required.


DOWNSIDE OF FREEZING


Although freezing seemed effective at
first, experiments and observation showed that it was not enough to
completely rid the cigars and tobacco of the insect. When cigars are
frozen, the moths are killed. That provides the feeling that the
cigars are safe and will not have problems. Unfortunately, the
shock-freezing method was not effective.

In many cases, the
larvae and eggs survived the freezing process. When the eggs hatched,
the larvae ate through the cigars and showed that freezing was not
helping. This was particularly evident when the cigars were thicker
because the tobacco provided insulation and the cigars were more
likely to have an infestation of eggs and larvae.

When the
cigars began to warm up, the eggs would hatch and the larvae would
eat the tobacco. The cigars become ruined when larvae eat through the
tobacco and it is not possible to smoke the cigar.

The cigars
are shipped after freezing and then sold to consumers. When customers
open the box of cigars, the beetles are found in the box and the
cigars are damaged.


REAL SOLUTION


After experimentation, it was
discovered that microwaving the cigars can provide a real solution to
the problem of tobacco beetles. The gamma rays from the microwave
kill the larvae and eggs so that the beetles will not eat through the
tobacco. 

While the initial testing showed that the microwave
kills the beetles, the problem that then arose was drying out. Even
at a low wattage of 350 and a limited amount of time, three minutes,
the tobacco leaves become dry.

Further experimentation showed
that immediately freezing the cigars after microwaving them and then
thawing them at room temperature would restore the moisture to the
tobacco. The real solution to the beetle problem is a microwave
combined with freezing and slow thawing. To prevent severe drying out
of the tobacco, it is best to microwave a box of cigars rather than a
single cigar. That keeps the tobacco from becoming too dry to enjoy.


Fighting the tobacco beetles requires a careful process of
microwaving and freezing the cigars. When the microwave is used, the
insects are not able to withstand the gamma rays and they ultimately
die. As more research and experimentation is completed, it is likely
that the beetles will become less of a problem for cigar customers.
The key is finding the right way to fight the insects and kill the
eggs so that the cigars are not damaged from the shock-freezing
processes after they are thawed out.



THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MACHINE-MADE AND
HAND-MADE CIGARS


There are two different ways in which
cigars are manufactured and produced. They are either made by machine
or handmade by professional cigar rollers. There is usually a great
bit of difference between the two methods. Machine-made cigars are
usually mass-produced in a factory setting and contain homogenized
tobacco leaves. Handmade cigars are much different and can be made
either entirely by hand or bunched together by machines and finished
by hand workers. In some cases, you may be able to tell the
difference between a machine-made and handmade cigar while other
times you cannot.


ESTABLISHING THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN
CIGARS


One of the most surefire ways to
establish the difference between a handmade and machine-made cigar is
the price. Cigars that are made entirely by hand are usually quite
pricier than those that were machine-bunched and finished by hand or
those that were created entirely by machine. The feel of the cigar
itself is not always a determining factor in deciphering type. The
feel and construction of each cigar can be very similar. While
machine-bunched cigars are commonly labeled as handmade, the draw and
incentive of buying them is not always as great as with those that
were not bunched in a factory. Cuba is one of the most popular
countries known for machine-bunching followed by hand-finishing.


PRODUCING A MACHINE-BUNCHED CIGAR


Upon touring a cigar factory, you will
notice that the common method of machine-bunching tobacco leaves is
to feed the filled leaves into a certain type of machine that bunches
them together to prepare for rolling. Binder leaves are then placed
over a specified template for the cigar, and a blade will trim the
leaf to its correct size. The binder is held together with a
vegetable glue and is then rolled before making its way down the
conveyor belt. Hand workers will then collect the cigars and trim
them to standards, place them into a mold and apply the wrapper to
the product for mass distribution. A quality inspection process is
also used after the manufacturing process to ensure that they meet
standards and regulations.



WHY USE A SALT TEST?


Tobacco growers have to keep a close
eye on the humidor, which helps to create the perfect environment for
tobacco leaves. Without humidity, tobacco leaves become coarse and
too tough to create the formidable aromas, tastes and textures that
cigar aficionados love so much. In order to make sure that you have
the perfect environment, you should own a hygrometer. However, you
have to know whether your hygrometer is reading the humidity
accurately enough to produce the perfect environment. The key to this
is making sure that your humidity levels are showing accurately on
your hygrometer. There's a simple trick to this that will allow you
to calibrate and check your hygrometer during the process.


1. DO A TOWEL TEST


Moisten a towel so that it's damp but
not soaked. Think of the dampness of a hot towel wrap. Then, place it
around the hygrometer for 30 to 45 minutes. You want to make sure
that the hygrometer is fully wrapped. Unwrap the hygrometer and check
the humidity level very quickly. With a perfectly calibrated
hygrometer, it should read 100 percent humidity. However, most are
not calibrated and usually will show only 80 to 90 percent humidity.
Now, set your hygrometer to 75 percent after the test if you want it
to have a better calibration. This level is the prime humidity that
tobacco leaves require for the best environment.


2) TRY THE SALT TEST


Salt and water can create a perfect
equilibrium for 75 percent humidity. The combination of NaCl and H2O
provides the optimum method to calibrate a hygrometer. Just take a
Ziploc bag, screw-on beer bottle cap, small amount of table salt and
water.


- Put the salt in the bottle cap.
-
Moisten the salt with water. You don't want to moisten too much. Just
dampen and allow the salt to soak in the water slowly.
- Place the
hygrometer and bottle cap of moistened salt in the Ziploc bag. Seal
it off tightly so that no air can escape while the test is
conducted.
- Leave the Ziploc bag for eight hours.



After eight hours, the humidity in
the bag will be 75 percent. You can then compare this to your
hygrometer. It should also read 75 percent, and if it doesn't, then
you'll know by what point exactly that the percentage is off. Note
the amount and direction that the meter shows and then add or
subtract this amount when reading the hygrometer. If your hygrometer
has a control feature to adjust, you can simply set it to 75 percent
right after the test. 

Be sure to test your hygrometer every six
months so that you maintain an accurate amount of humidity. Remember,
this is one of the most important aspects of tobacco harvesting and
can mean the success or failure of your entire crop.



BASIC DETAILS ABOUT CIGARS


Cigars are commonly used for
celebrations, special events or personal enjoyment, but many people
do not understand the basics of the cigar. By learning about the
basic facts and details, it is possible to find the best cigars for
personal tastes, preferences and occasions.


SHAPE BASICS


The shape of a cigar has some common
features that are well-known to people looking at the options in a
store. A cigar is commonly a long and cylindrical shape though the
exact look might vary slightly based on the specific brand and the
way it was rolled.

The term to describe the most common shape is
parejo. Although most cigars are still a parejo, it is possible to
find alternative shapes that are called figurados. Those shapes are
similar, but they have a slightly different cut and look that sets it
apart from the traditional cylinder shape.

Although the basic
shape is usually a cylinder, the actual method of determining the
shape is based on the length of the cigar and the diameter, which is
called the gauge. The gauge is usually measured by 1/64th of an inch
while the length of the cigar is measured by the inch. The number for
the gauge on the cigar is written based on the diameter. For example,
a cigar with a gauge measurement of 48/64 of an inch is actually 3/4
of an inch around.


PARTS OF A CIGAR


The shape of the cigar is broken down
into four main parts. The four parts are called the cap, the head,
the body and the foot. The cap is the very tip of the cigar and the
foot is the end of the cigar that is lighted for smoking.


INNER WORKINGS OF A CIGAR


The main inner parts of the cigar are
the filler, the binder and the wrapping, the last of which gives the
cigar its uniqueness. 

The filler is the tobacco used in the
cigar. Depending on the cigar, it might have two or more types of
tobacco blended to make the inside part of the cigar. In most cases,
filler is described as either long or short filler. The long filler
refers to whole tobacco leaves while the short filler is the term
used to describe the left-over tobacco that is put into a cigar.
Short filler is a lower-end and is commonly used in poor quality
cigars. 

The binder is the coarse leaves of tobacco that are
designed to hold the filler together and keep it in place. This type
of leaf is usually elastic and is wrapped around the filler for
better holding capabilities. 

After the binder holds the filler
in place and forms the basic shape of the cigar, a wrapper is placed
around it. The wrapper is the part of the cigar that provides flavor
and smell.

Selecting a cigar requires a basic understanding of
different elements in the cigar. By knowing the basics about the
filler, binder and wrapper, it is easier to select a cigar that
appeals to personal tastes and preferences. Which cigar one smokes is
a personal choice and the reputation of the cigar is only one element
of making that choice.



PAIRING UP ALCOHOL AND CIGARS


Enjoying a relaxing evening with a
cigar and some alcohol is a good choice, but only when the pairing is
appropriate. Although the traditional pairing of strong spirits with
a cigar is common, it is not the only option available. It is
possible to pair a cigar with beer if the right flavor combinations
are considered.


BASIC CHOICES


Pairing up any type of alcohol with a
cigar is something that requires careful consideration. It is
possible to make good choices, but it is also possible to select a
poor pairing and ruin the taste of both the cigar and the
drink.

Just as it is important to consider the elements of a
good meal with the drink, the flavors of a cigar and an alcoholic
beverage must be paired appropriately. The key is to consider the
flavors of both items and use those elements to find the right pair.
For example, a strong red wine might not pair well with oysters but
would match well with a lighter meal. On the other hand, a crisp beer
would pair well with a spicy meal or something a little tart.
Something sweet will often pair well with a cigar regardless of the
type of alcoholic beverage.


APPRECIATING THE FLAVORS


Before it is possible to pair up
alcoholic beverages with a cigar, it is important to recognize the
different flavors of the cigar. The only way to recognize the subtle
or obvious differences between cigars is by trying the different
options. Certain cigars will have an earthy flavor while others are
smoky and sweet. 

Taking time to savor the different cigar
flavors will provide the key knowledge to recognize the tastes. When
trying to pair alcohol with something earthy and full-flavored, it is
important to avoid drinks that will eliminate the flavor or make it
overpowering.


LOOKING FOR COMPLEMENTARY FLAVORS


The key to pairing drinks or food items
with a cigar is looking for flavors that complement rather than
distract the palate. The goal is to not find a mismatch because it
will ruin the taste of the food or beverage.

A cigar has a
strong flavor, and it can last for several hours after one smokes the
cigar. When eating or drinking alcohol at the same time as smoking,
it is important to select something that will not clash with the
flavor of the cigar.

Complementary tastes and flavors are the
goal. For example, a sweet liquor is often a complementary flavor
that does not get ruined by the earthy and strong taste of the cigar.


Spicy flavors are also a great complement to rich and
full-flavored cigars because the sudden bite of the drink is a
complement to the rich taste of the cigar. The key is picking out a
drink that matches and improves the smoky and cedar flavors found in
most cigars. Furthermore, the drink should be chosen based on whether
the cigar has a creamy flavor, which is common in Cuban cigars, a
mild taste that might not pair well with strong drinks or a strong
cedar taste. 

Ultimately, the only way to properly pair a cigar
with alcohol is through individual preferences for taste and flavor.
Since every individual will enjoy different flavor combinations, the
best way to find the right match is by a little trial and error.





DEFEATING THE TOBACCO BEETLE


Many cigar smokers are unaware of the
pesky little tobacco beetles that create more work for manufacturers
and retailers. While tobacco beetles are simply a fact of life in the
tobacco industry and cannot be completely prevented, they can be
controlled to an extent. In order to kill the tobacco beetle and keep
them from destroying your precious cigars, you must first understand
what they look like, learn their life cycle and find out why they
enjoy tobacco leaves.


TOBACCO BEETLE BASICS


To determine whether or not you are
currently dealing with tobacco beetles, you must first know exactly
what you are looking for. These little creatures are about the size
of a pinhead and can occasionally go unnoticed if not in a group. In
most cases, when a beetle is discovered, many do not know what to do,
and they handle the situation incorrectly, only causing more tobacco
beetles to produce and feed on their product. If there is anything
that these beetles need in life, it is tobacco and heat above 74
degrees Fahrenheit. Only living for around two to four weeks, they
can be controlled when handled correctly.


LIFE OF A TOBACCO BEETLE


The entire lifespan of a tobacco beetle
only lasts for around 12 weeks' time. This includes the beginning of
the cycle, such as the production of the egg, larva, pupa, and then
their adult phase. Adult beetles can make their way through an entire
tobacco leave, creating a big problem for those dealing with these
insects. Because cigars are usually in a nice, warm environment that
the beetles prefer, they typically choose to lay their eggs here. One
hundred eggs can be birthed at one time, and they hatch within
several days of being laid.


PROTECTING YOUR CIGARS


Unfortunately, tobacco beetles cannot
be 100 percent prevented, but there are some steps that consumers can
take to ensure a healthy life for their cigars. When cigars are
purchased, the humidors should be inspected every couple of days.
Upon purchasing your cigars, or immediately after beetles are
spotted, simply follow these steps to control the outbreak and
prevent them from rearing their ugly heads again.

1. Empty all
cigars in your humidor and other contents. Place each cigar in it's
own sealed plastic bag.
2. After sealing the bags, place them all
into your freezer.
3. After freezing for several days, move the
bags with contents into the fridge.
4. Leave the cigars in the
fridge for 24 hours and once complete, move them back into the
humidor.

Freezing the cigars will kill any living tobacco
beetles or eggs that have been laid on your cigar. Also, be sure to
clean out the entire humidor, removing dead beetles and eggs that may
be found. Ensure that your humidor never rises in temperature above
70 degrees as this can attract the beetles to come back, seeking
refuge and looking for food within your precious tobacco leaves.



HOW TO MAKE A COOLER-DOR FOR CIGARS


Whether you are a cigar manufacturer,
enthusiast or simply someone who collects different types of cigars
as a hobby, a Cooler-dor can be quite beneficial. For those who are
in need of storing a large number of cigars, a Cooler-dor is the
perfect alternative option. Store your cigars in the perfect
environment where they will stay fresh with the same taste and aroma
that they would typically produce on the day they were made. Rather
than purchasing a Cooler-dor, one can be easily be made at home for
an affordable price. Continue to add to your cigar collection, and
never worry about running out of room ever again.


HOW TO MAKE A COOLER-DOR



  1. The first step in making your very
    own Cooler-dor is to purchase a cooler. This can be your everyday
    56-quart cooler, or you may opt to go up to a large 150-quart one.
    No matter what size you're interested in, a Cooler-dor can easily be
    created using the cooler of your choice. Be sure to search around
    for the best deals before making a purchase.
2. Head to a lumber
    or hardwood store to purchase Spanish cedar. If you cannot find it,
    simply take out the strips from the inside of a cigar box to use. Be
    sure to only purchase the Spanish variety of cedar as white cedar
    will not work as intended. Each time a new cigar box is purchased,
    save the wooden cedar strips for use on your Cooler-dor.
3. Using
    a mild or fragrance-free detergent and cool water, rinse out the
    inside of your new cooler. Rather than towel drying, allow the
    cooler to air-dry with the lid open for a few days. This eliminates
    that plastic and mildew smell that leftover water may produce.
4.
    Purchase a high quality sponge or foam that holds water, like the
    ones that florists use. Place the sponge or foam into a plastic
    Tupperware container and completely douse it with a mixture of half
    part water and half part Propylene Glycol. Close the lid to the
    Cooler-dor and allow it to sit.
5. Dampen a new, clean cloth with
    water and rub the Spanish cedar inside of the cooler with it. The
    cedar will then know to act as a reservoir for moisture inside of
    the Cooler-dor.
6. An optional step in creating a Cooler-dor is to
    add a hygrometer. While not necessary, a hygrometer will show you
    the temperate and humidity inside the box.
7. Close the Cooler-dor
    and wait until the humidity rises to 70 percent before adding cigar
    boxes and loose cigars into your collection.





PROPERLY AGED CIGARS RELY ON HUMIDORS
AND CEDAR WOOD OIL


An experienced smoker recognizes the
superior quality found in a well-aged cigar. This type of cigar has a
gentle, tarrying tobacco flavor. An excellent cigar is frequently a
cigar that was aged properly.

A cigar typically experiences a
complete metamorphosis after it goes through a proper aging
procedure. Some people have preferences for smoking young cigars
while others prefer cigars that feature subtle nuances. People who
favor aged cigars but do not wish to spend a lot of money for these
products may want to learn how they can age their own cigars.

Most
people age cigars for one year, but some people age them for even
longer periods. Less expensive cigars do not normally improve with
age. Nevertheless, proper aging techniques give better flavors to
certain types of cigars. A cigar may smell rather unpleasant when it
is first purchased, but the aroma can then change after it has gone
through the right type of aging process. 

Certain kinds of
cigars age better than others. One good example of a cigar that ages
well is the ring-gauge cigar, which is a larger-sized cigar. Because
of its thicker size, this type of cigar has more than one type of
tobacco leaf, which gives it a more intricate flavor and aroma after
it is aged. The inner parts of a larger cigar do not receive a great
deal of exposure to the elements, so its flavor is not affected by
humidity or climate changes. 

Many people appreciate larger
cigars because they age better than smaller products. Nonetheless,
certain Maduros containing wrappers that turn dark, do not adapt well
to the aging process because these cigars undergo an artificial aging
process. The recognizable sweetness of this type of cigar results
from the artificial procedure. Because of this type of unnatural
aging method, Maduros do not improve with age.

In order to
maintain their superior qualities for longer periods, cigars need to
receive proper storage. The correct climate for storing cigars
follows the typical 70-70 rule. Higher temperatures can cause cigars
to develop visible areas of mold while lower temperatures can result
in ineffective aging. It is important to keep cigars stored in a
relatively unchanging climate because constant changes in
temperatures or humidity can ruin the products. 

Fluctuating
temperatures cause expansion and contraction along with cracked cigar
wrappers. A perfect humidor should have a space that equals two times
the volume of the stored cigars. A cedar wood lining that has the
protective qualities commonly associated with cedar oil is the ideal
type of wood. The natural cedar wood oil combines with the oils from
the tobacco leaves over time, and this ideal combination results in a
mellower taste. These types of complicated and subtler aromas and
essences occur when cigars age in ideal surroundings.




THE BASICS OF CIGAR CUTTING


Cutting a cigar is a traditional
ritual, but with a high quality cigar, you want to make sure that
your cut is precise and exactly where it needs to be to get the best
smoke. A badly cut cigar downgrades the experience, and no one wants
to ruin a perfectly good smoke. The premise is rather uncomplicated.


You simply want to make an opening for smoke without causing
harm to the rest of the cigar. Usually, this means that you cut away
the part of the cap that slips on the head of the cigar and just
leave some glue around the end, which allows the filtered leaves to
stay together. With many cigars, you only need to make the cut about
1/16 of an inch from the end. One way to remember is to cut at the
shoulder of the cigar where it curves and begins to straighten
out.

In the old days, cigar smokers used their teeth to cut the
end. This method still works if you have no alternative, but you
should consider trying one of the other popular approaches in order
to get a better smoke, including scissors, punch cutters, v-cutters
and, of course, the guillotine method.

Cigar scissors aren't
like the ones you have at home. These types of cutters are
specifically made to snip a cigar in just the right way and use
surgical-quality stainless steel materials. The Wenger Swiss Army is
possibly the ultimate choice of a cigar scissor that you'll find
today. With top-quality cigar cutters like this one, you can get a
quick, precise cut that will optimize your smoking experience and
create a better cigar. 

Punch cutters are another type of cigar
cutter. This is a simple, circular, extremely sharp blade that you
push down into the head of a cigar. This will create an opening for
better mixed filler cigar smoke. Mostly, this type of cutter prevents
bits of tobacco from getting into the smoker's mouth. However, you
wouldn't use a punch cutter with certain types, such as small ring
gauge cigars for instance.

The V-cutter makes a small incision
at one end of a cigar. This type of cutter gives more surface area
without exposing your mouth to any loose tobacco. In addition, you
can take in more air through the cigar body. If you love small ring
cigars, this is definitely the choice for you, but you don't want to
use the V-cutter to penetrate too deep into the cigar as it will make
it too hot.

Finally, the guillotine method uses both double and
single-bladed versions in addition to a scissor version that makes a
cut across the end of a cigar. This is the best method for any type
of cigar and is one of the most popular ways to cut it. The double
blade is the best choice if you want a good, clean cut, and it can
slice from both sides at the same time. There is also less chance
that you will tear the wrapper around the cigar. Most cigar cutters
typically require one to place the cigar against a blade and click
the cutter shut for an ultra clean cut and finish.





THE BASICS OF CIGARS


Learning about the basics of cigars is
an important part of finding the best options for a personal budget
and a preferred taste. Cigars are similar to fine wines because the
development from the seed to the final sale takes time and the
process is complicated. It is also important to know the basics of
the different types of tobacco to get the best flavor for personal
taste.


COMMON REGIONS WHERE CIGARS ARE ROLLED


Although most individuals know that
Cuba grows tobacco and rolls cigars, other regions are less
well-known to the general public. Any connoisseur of cigars should
learn about the different regions and the tobacco that is grown in
those areas.

Although Cuba is a well-known growing area, tobacco
for cigars is also grown in Connecticut, Jamaica, the Dominican
Republic, the Caribbean Islands, Honduras, Mexico, Indonesia and
Cameroon.


GROWING AND AGING PROCESS


As is the case with fine wine, tobacco
is aged before it is sold to the public. The process of growing and
aging the cigar depends slightly on the specific company involved but
usually follows some basic guidelines.

Cigars are usually sold
within two to three years, depending on the specific brand and
tobacco. The growth of tobacco plants takes 18 weeks and then the
tobacco is put through a fermentation process. Fermentation will take
roughly six weeks before the tobacco is rolled into a cigar.

The
cigar is then aged for a period of 18 to 24 months before it is sold.
By the time the aging process is complete, the cigars will have a
complex flavor that buyers can enjoy immediately.


PROCESS OF ROLLING CIGARS


Cigars are often hand-rolled in the
country of origin. The filler for the cigar is usually two to four
different tobaccos that are bunched together.

The filler is
surrounded by an elastic and flexible tobacco leaf, which is called
the binder. That binder is used to roll the blend of tobacco into a
bunch and is then put into a cigar mold to provide the right shape.
The tobacco will stay in the mold for a period of one hour or more
before it is removed for wrapping.

The wrapping is put around
the tobacco to provide the distinct color and look of the cigar.
After the wrapper surrounds the tobacco, the cigar is trimmed and
aged before it is sold. The aging will take three weeks to six months
to allow the different types of tobacco in the filler to blend
flavors.


COLORS OF WRAPPERS


Although the shades and colors of cigar
wrappers can come in as many as 100 different options, only six are
commonly distinguished and are considered the most relevant to the
cigar buyer. The six shades are Double Claro, Claro, Colorado Claro,
Claro, Colorado Maduro and Maduro.

Double Claro is a wrapper
shade that is green. Although the actual name is Double Claro, the
wrapper is sometimes called the American Market Selection, or
Candela. 

The Claro cigar wrapper is a very light shade that is
commonly considered beige or light tan.

The Colorado Claro is a
wrapper shade that is commonly found on cigars. The color is a medium
brown, and it is often referred to as European Market Selection, or
Natural. 

The Colorado wrapper is a very distinct shade. The
wrapper has an obvious red tint.

The Colorado Maduro wrapper has
a dark brown that is commonly seen on African cigars.

The final
wrapper that is commonly found on cigars is Maduro. Maduro is a very
dark, almost black, shade.


SIZES AND SHAPES OF CIGARS


The sizes and shapes of cigars are a
part of selecting the preferred options. The size and shape are
defined based on the length of the cigar in inches and also based on
the ring gauge. The ring gauge is determined by 1/64 of an inch.

The
head of a cigar is the cut part and the foot is the area that is
lighted. Straight cigars and figuados are the two common
classifications of shapes. The figuados have shapes that are not
straight down, such as a tapered head or bulge in the middle of the
cigar.


CIGAR CUTS


Three common ways to cut a cigar are
the guillotine, the V-cut and the punch cut. The guillotine is a
curved cut, the V-cut forms a V-shape at the head and the punch cut
creates a circle at the head.


LIGHTING A CIGAR


Ultimately, enjoying a cigar comes down
to the lighting process. A cigar is lit by bringing the flame close
to the cigar but not letting it touch the foot. It is turned while
lighting until embers appear at the end of the cigar. Before drawing
in a breath, blow out through the cigar to remove the flavors of a
lighter or match.

Cigars are enjoyable when a little knowledge
is obtained. Understanding the process of making the cigars will make
it easier to choose one.




HUMIDORS AND HYGROMETERS: SEASONING AND
TROUBLESHOOTING TIPS


Cigar storage requires close attention
to humidity, which is why most smokers invest in a humidor to protect
their finely-crafted purchases. Shop owners are a primary source for
information on humidor preparation and maintenance, but many smokers
lack such a knowledgeable resource in their region. Fortunately, the
process is simple enough to explain, but it does require diligence
and patience on your part.

The basic tools for cigar storage
include a humidor, distilled water, humidification element, sponge
and hygrometer. Generally, humidors are purchased dry from a retailer
or wholesaler and must be prepared before holding cigars. The
interior is constructed of untreated Spanish cedar, which is chosen
for both its neutral aroma and ability to absorb and hold moisture
without warping. Humidors constructed of glass or other nonporous
materials do not require seasoning.


SEASONING THE HUMIDOR


The process begins with a new sponge
soaked in distilled water. You will use this to clean all the
interior wood, including any dividers. The sponge should be plain,
without any additives, and it should not leave any debris after
cleaning. 

For large humidors with sufficient space, wet the
sponge again for placement inside the humidor. A piece of plastic
wrap or another neutral waterproof material should be used to prevent
direct contact with the wood. The humidification element should be
filled to maximum capacity with care taken to remove excess water.
Interior wood will suck moisture from the air but should never be
directly exposed to water for lengthy periods. 

Once the element
and sponge are safely stored inside, close the humidor's lid. Check
progress on the following day. This involves checking the sponge and
element for dampness relative to the previous day. If they remain
damp, return them to the humidor and wait another day. If they are
drier than they were on the previous day, moisten them again and
continue the process. After two days, the wood will reach the proper
moisture equilibrium to maintain internal humidity.


HYGROMETER CALIBRATION AND
TROUBLESHOOTING


Humidors are designed to approximate
the tropical atmosphere in which tobacco is cured and rolled into
cigars. The best test of function is to squeeze a cigar stored in the
humidor. If it is spongy or brittle relative to its condition at the
time of purchase, the humidity is too high or too low. 

The
optimum conditions for storage are a temperature around 70 degrees
Fahrenheit and a humidity between 68 percent and 72 percent. An
analog hygrometer will provide approximate humidity, but an exact
measurement requires a digital hygrometer. Many humidors ship with
one or the other. With an expensive cigar collection or large
humidor, it is wise to employ two or more hygrometers.

If the
feel of the cigar does not match the hygrometer reading, it may be
necessary to purchase a new hygrometer. However, you should first
attempt to recalibrate the hygrometer. A hygrometer may be
recalibrated by being wrapped in a moist rag and left out overnight.
This should result in a high reading, and it will certainly reveal a
broken hygrometer.


OTHER TIPS


The external environment plays a large
role in the humidor's ability to maintain the proper humidity. One of
the more common problems with cigar storage is placement of the
humidor in the home. It should not be placed near air vents or other
places of continuous air movement. Moist environments are also best
avoided. A cool and dry location will prevent the internal
fluctuations that may ruin a batch of cigars.

It will be
necessary to use both the hygrometer readings and inspection of the
humidification element in order to maintain optimal humidity. Simply
refill the element as needed. It is also a good idea to periodically
remove all cigars and wipe down the interior wood. The hygrometers
will likely need to be replaced at some point, but a carefully
seasoned and maintained humidor will serve its purpose for a
lifetime.



TIPS FOR CIGARS


Enjoying a cigar requires some
understanding of the basics. Without knowing the basics about cigars
and the different options, it is easy to feel uncomfortable around
those with more advanced knowledge. Fortunately, the basics of cigars
are easy to understand.


WHAT ARE PLUGGED CIGARS?


A plugged cigar is a hand-rolled cigar
that will have a tougher-than-average draw. In most cases, it is a
bad cigar because of the plugs.

"Plugs" is the term
used to describe the imperfections that occur during packing. The
hand-rolled cigar allows the roller to add extra leaves in certain
areas. In many cases, a plugged cigar will have the most leaves near
the grip. 

The problem with the additional leaves is that they
make the cigar difficult to draw compared with cigars that are not
plugged. Although it is a common problem with plugged cigars, a cigar
that is too moist or that is labeled as well-filled might also have
the same problem.


SHOULD THE CELLOPHANE BE REMOVED?


When cigars come individually covered
with cellophane, a concern about whether it is important to remove
the cellophane or not often arises. In most cases, the removal of
cellophane during storage is a personal decision.

Leaving the
cellophane on is generally appropriate when more than one type of
cigar or flavor is stored in the same humidor. Since the humidor will
have more than one cigar flavor and type, the tastes can mingle and
ruin the unique flavors. When the flavors mingle, the cigars end up
tasting similar and any unique elements are lost over time.

Although
it is ideal to leave the cellophane on cigars when they are stored in
the same humidor as other flavors, it is better to remove the
cellophane when it is stored without other cigars. The reason is the
aging process. When cigars are wrapped in cellophane, the aging
process is not as good as when it is left without the
wrapping.

Ultimately, the decision to leave the cellophane or
remove it is a personal choice. It depends on personal preferences
for flavors, the current storage and the preferences for aging.


PROPER STORAGE


Storing cigars is an important part of
getting the best flavor and preventing an uncomfortable draw. When
the cigars dry out, it leads to excessive burning. That burning can
mean that the experience of smoking the cigar is unpleasant. On the
other hand, a cigar becomes hard to draw when it is too moist.

The
proper place to store cigars is in a humidor. The humidor keeps the
proper temperature and humidity levels to prevent excessive drying or
too much moisture.


PLACES OF ORIGIN


Cigars always have places of origin.
The cigars have different flavors based on the origin and the soil
conditions where tobacco in the cigar is grown. The best cigar flavor
for personal preferences will depend on the country and the type of
flavor that is preferred.

Jamaica produces mild cigar flavors.
For new cigar smokers, the mild flavor might be the preferred option.


Generally, cigars from the Dominican Republic have mild to
medium flavors. The range is ideal for those who want something a
little stronger but are not interested in full flavors.

Honduras
produces cigars that are medium- to full-flavored. The full-flavored
cigars may or may not appeal to newer smokers.

Nicaraguan cigars
are both rich and full-flavored. The rich flavor may appeal to those
who prefer something a little different.

Cuban cigars are the
ones with a full and creamy flavor. Instead of the richness found
elsewhere, the cigars provide a smoother flavor.


MAKING CIGARS


The elements that make a cigar are the
key to creating different flavors, textures and blends. The blending
process uses three main elements: the binder, the filler and the
wrapper.

The term binder refers to the part of the cigar that
holds the leaf together. In most cases, the binder is a low-quality
tobacco that is on the outside layer of the cigar. 

The filler
is the tobacco that makes up the inner part of the cigar. Depending
on the cigar, the filler may include full tobacco leaves or it might
use the scraps of tobacco leaves. When a cigar states that it is a
long-leaf cigar, the inner part of the cigar is made of full leaves.
The term "short-leaf cigars" refers to the cigars that have
filler that is made up of the odds, ends and scraps of tobacco
leaves. In most cases, short-leaf cigars are the low-quality
options.

The wrapper is the paper on the outside of the cigar.
The wrapper adds flavor to the tobacco and can range in color from
light to dark.


AGING PROCESS


The aging process is the element that
adds depth and subtlety to the cigar. For those who enjoy an aged
cigar, learning the process can make a good cigar change to something
better.

Deciding how long to age a cigar varies based on
personal preferences. Although personal preference plays a role in
determining the complexity and taste, a general rule to follow is
allowing the cigar to age for at least one year. 

Beyond the
general timing, it is also important to properly store the cigar
during that time period. Too much humidity during storage will result
in mold growth or mildew. A cigar is ruined when mold begins to grow.
On the other hand, the process of aging will stop if the temperature
is wrong. The general rule for aging without problems is setting the
temperature at 70 degrees and the moisture level at 70 percent, which
prevents the environment from becoming too moist and allows the cigar
to age.

Although the rules of timing and setting are important,
it is vital to maintain constant temperatures and humidity.
Fluctuations in the temperature or humidity can ruin cigars. The
cigars will end up changing sizes if the temperature and humidity
fluctuate, so a humidor should have the right setting and should not
be touched during the aging process.

The best aging occurs in a
cedar-lined humidor that is set to 70 degrees and 70 percent
humidity. It should allow double the space of the cigar to provide
enough air and should be left alone to allow enough time for the
flavors to develop.

Enjoying a great cigar requires careful
selection, proper storage and the right aging technique. Although it
takes a few cigars to establish personal preferences, knowing the
basics of storage and aging will make it possible to enjoy cigars
that are at their best.




FAQS ABOUT CIGARS


SPARKING UP A CIGAR


For many, one of the most enjoyable
parts of smoking a cigar is actually lighting it up. There are
several ways that people may choose to spark up their cigars, but
there is only one way that truly allows you to enhance the overall
experience from lighting it to taking in the aroma and flavor. To
start, the cigar holder must prime the cigar or get it ready to
rotate the end of the tip above the flame. Simply hover the cigar
above the lighter and move it around so that the entire foot of the
cigar gets the same amount of heat exposure. This presmoke ritual
heats up the natural oils that are found in the leaves and prevents
too much smoke coming from the cigar. To complete the lighting
process, simply hold the end of the cigar about half an inch away
from the flame and continue to rotate until the cigar burns evenly.
The perfect lighter from our vast collection can make your lighting
experience all the more enjoyable.


HOW TO CUT A CIGAR


Enhance your overall experience of fine
smoking cigars by learning how to properly cut it. Cutting the cigar
incorrectly can result in the unraveling of the wrapper, which you do
not want to happen. To ensure that you do not cut too shallow or too
deep, a guillotine-style cutter is highly recommended. Be sure to
snip the cigar at its shoulder where the head slopes downward toward
the body. Cigars can also be cut by using a punch-style cutter. To
use this method of cutting, simply pierce the head of the cigar with
the sharp point, twist it around and remove it from the cigar. With
our selection of cigar cutters, you are sure to achieve a high
quality cut every time.


WHAT IS A CIGAR RING GAUGE?


A cigar ring gauge is commonly used to
measure the thickness of cigars. When choosing a ring gauge for your
next cigar, keep in mind that the larger the thickness, the more
flavor the cigar will produce. It is also used to measure the length
of the cigar. The longer it is, the cooler your smoke will be. A
ruler and ring gauge is an excellent tool that all cigar smokers
should have.


THE RIGHT TIME TO SMOKE CIGARS


The right time to smoke a cigar depends
100 percent upon the smoker, but a cigar can be enjoyed during any
time of the day and any day of the week. If you are craving a cigar
and you are looking to enjoy the delicious flavor, it is usually a
great time to smoke. If you find yourself longing for a cigar, think
about the benefits of smoking and whether they can be achieved at the
present time. If you are in an area that allows smoking and you have
recently eaten, it is a good time to enjoy a cigar. Be sure to avoid
inhaling cigar smoke as it can become unpleasant and cause you to
experience stomach discomfort.


SELECTING THE PERFECT CIGAR


While there are no set rules for
choosing the perfect cigar to smoke, there are some guidelines that
you may want to take into consideration. For example, see how the
cigar looks and feels in your hand to discover the ideal one for you.
Some cigars may also be best enjoyed during special occasions and
events. Sample packs will help you to discover new brands and flavors
that are currently available.



PICKING A CIGAR AS A GIFT? DOS AND
DON'TS


As a cigar enthusiast, you may consider
introducing friends or family members to the world of cigars. Because
there are so many different types and styles of cigars out there,
choosing the right one to start their introduction with can be quite
difficult. You may already know that there are hundreds and thousands
of different cigar types and brands out there, including Cubans,
Nicaraguans and Dominicans. One thing that you should keep in mind is
that even though smokers may have their favorite cigars that they
smoke regularly, it can be very exciting to experience new brands and
flavors. From expensive cigars that are typically purchased for
special occasions to more affordable cigars that wont break the bank,
this guide will assist you in choosing one to purchase as a gift.


DO'S OF CIGAR SHOPPING


Because cigars are commonly smoked on
special occasions, it is an excellent gift to give to a loved one on
a celebration. When shopping for a cigar, look for the handmade
variety, as they are typically the best quality. If you are shopping
for someone who is new to cigar smoking, opt for a mild or medium
flavor that can be found in a light brown wrapper. Those who have
been smoking cigars for a long time may prefer dark brown wrappers,
which are usually stronger. The size of the cigar should be at least
5 inches long and a 46 ring size for the best flavor without a burn
that is too hot. The staff at your local cigar shop will be able to
assist you in selecting the perfect cigar for the special occasion.
By opting to buy a good quality cigar, it is sure to put a smile on
your friend or family members face.


DON'TS OF CIGAR SHOPPING


When shopping for a smoker, don't play
it safe and purchase the same cigar brand that they always have. Life
isn't very exciting without a little bit of adventure. For cigar
enthusiasts, choosing the right cigar is all in the hunt. Picking out
a new one that looks promising can be very exciting. Provide them
with a little bit of variety, but do not select a cigar that simply
looks good. Cigar enthusiasts want the cigar to also feel good and
not be too rough when holding it. There's no need to purchase a large
amount of cigars. In fact, the smoke of one cigar is equivalent to
about three cigarettes. A purchase of one or two cigars is an ideal
gift.



TOP 10 WAYS TO KEEP YOUR CIGAR FRESH
WITHOUT A HUMIDOR


"By the cigars they smoke, and the
composers they love, ye shall know the texture of men's souls."
--
John Galsworthy


Perhaps you enjoy purchasing and
smoking cigars, but you lack a humidor at the present time. Although
many cigar aficionados choose to use a humidor for keeping their
cigars in good condition with ease, they can still be kept fresh
without the use of this product. By simply using a few different
items that are commonly found around the house, you will be well on
your way to making your very own "humidor" that will
preserve your cigars for a certain period of time. These top 10
options are not only easy to make yourself, but they are also very
affordable.


DISPOSABLE BAGS


Visit a premium cigar shop in your area
to see if they carry disposable bags for storing your cigars and for
keeping them fresh. These bags are designed to hold up to 25 cigars
at a time and guaranteed to keep them fresh for 6 months. Typically,
one of these bags goes for around $20 USD.


STORING IN A JAR


Find an empty jar from around your
house, such as a jelly jar, and fill about 10 percent of its capacity
with cool water. Cut up a sponge and insert several large pieces in
the jar. Put a piece of plastic over the sponge pieces and then place
your cigars into the jar. Store the jar with the cigars in the
refrigerator. This method will keep your cigars fresh for about 10
days.


STORING IN A COOLER


Find a cooler or purchase one at your
local retail store. Simply soak a sponge in water, place it inside
the cooler and add in your box of cigars. The moisture and humidity
of the cooler will keep your cigars fresh.


MASON JAR WITH MOISTURE BEADS


Similar to the storing-in-a-jar method,
you may opt to store your cigars in a mason jar filled with water.
Instead of a sponge, add in a round disk filled with moisture beads
that can be purchased at most hardware stores. For just $10, you will
be creating your very own humidor.


ZIP-LOCK BAGS


Place your cigars inside of a zip-lock
bag with a damp napkin to preserve the freshness without a humidor.


BOVEDA PACK


At your local tobacco shop or online,
you can find a boveda pack. Soak the package in water and place it in
a Tupperware container. Keep the container at anywhere from 55 to 65
degrees Fahrenheit to keep your cigars fresh.


HUMI-POUCH


Purchase a Humi-Pouch for your tobacco
shop or cigar retailer, and store the cigars in this pouch at 65 to
70 degrees for ultimate freshness.


KEEP CIGARS IN BOX


If you are planning to smoke all of
your cigars within a month, simply keep them in the box that they
came in and store them in a cool, dark space. In these conditions,
they should last for about a month.


SMOKING THE CIGARS


If you do not have a humidor or any of
the items listed above, you may choose to smoke your cigars to take
advantage of their current freshness. They should stay fresh in their
original wrapper for up to a month.




TYPES OF CIGARS AND FIXINGS: THE
CONNECTICUT SHADE WRAPPER


Today, it's all about the stronger,
darker, fuller and more formidable cigar tastes. With that in mind,
it can be easy to forget about the Connecticut shade wrapper.
However, this is a traditional premium wrapper and has always been
considered one of the better wrapper leaves to exist. Connecticut
shade leaf is the wrapper of choice for most cigar smokers in
America. Even with the shift towards powerful ones like Maduro,
Corojo, Habana 2000 and other flavors in the market, the Connecticut
shade wrapper is still premium and delivers a delicious aroma and
taste. In addition to its flavor, it's also valued for appearance,
color, texture and burning qualities. The Connecticut shade wrapper
has one of the most distinct tastes, a rather smooth, cream flavor.
Those who love a more mild cigar prefer the Connecticut shade wrapper
for its medium-bodied flavor.


In addition, Connecticut isn't exactly
the first region that comes to mind when you're thinking of a cigar.
Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Honduras and other South American
countries are typically the cigar makers of choice. However,
Connecticut wrappers are made right in the Connecticut River Valley
and hold incredible worth to worldly buyers.


The Connecticut shade name was given to
the leaf because it grows under large tents that shade the leaves
from the sun. If grown in direct light, the leaf would become dry and
too tough to blend well. However, by shading it, the sunlight hits
the tobacco in filtered light, allowing the leaf to dry in a lighter,
more even tone. Today, the Connecticut shade tobacco leaf is one of
the most expensive agricultural commodities. So, why does this leaf
have such a high value and unique taste? If you've seen one of these
cigars, you know that it's unlike any other. With a silky and thin
look, you can differentiate the Connecticut shade from any other
competitor. The smooth, slow and balanced burn of this cigar is
another perk that makes it a pleasantly fulfilling smoke experience.


Connecticut also has the perfect soil
for growing this kind of wrapper. With decent rainfall and lots of
sunshine, this wrapper is manufactured in the best premium
tobacco-growing region. Experiments have also been done to determine
if Connecticut shade tobacco seeds can grow in Costa Rica or
Honduras, but no other country has been able to duplicate the same
color, aroma and texture of this Connecticut valley leaf.



CIGAR LOUNGE ETIQUETTE


1. Buy from the shop where you are
smoking. This shouldn't need to be said, but there is always an
element that shows no respect for the establishment. Retailers don't
have big profit margins and when you bring a cigar into a shop from
another source you are taking money from the store. IF YOU LIKE
HAVING A PLACE TO SMOKE SUPPORT IT!!


2. Don't take over the Television.
The tv's are there for everyone's enjoyment. It is bad manners to
start changing the channels when the lounge has several customers.


3. Don't tell people how to smoke.
Cigar smokers have their habits and rituals, right or wrong. You will
irritate somebody by telling him he cuts his cigar to low, or isn't
lighting the cigar properly. Some are open to advice, others aren't.
If you decide to be an expert be ready for a chilly reception.


4. Don't be a conversation grabber.
If you walk into a lounge where a conversation is taking place, don't
try to change it. You can wait for an appropriate time to weigh in
and participate, but there is nothing worse than a newbie who
disrupts a discussion about politics or the economy with some
unrelated remark about the Yankees chances this year.


5. Cigars are subjective. Cigar
smoking is a matter of taste, whether you prefer a Davidoff or an
infused Acid. Realize that people gravitate to what they like, with
cigars or anything else. Leave room for those around you to enjoy
what they choose.


6. Know your audience. When i asked
the guys about cigar etiquette, two said keep it clean. Sitting down
and regaling the crowd with the previous night's sexual conquests in
lurid detail may not be appropriate. If you float a controversial
topic and it does not resonate, let it go. Trying to force it will
never be good.


7. Talk on the phone somewhere else.
Cell phones are a part of life. Given enough people and time you are
bound to hear a few ring. Answering the phone is not a big deal, just
have the decency to take your call outside.



8. Beware of other customers. A good
tobacconist won't rush you or show impatience, so don't challenge him
to try. If you don't know what you want, stand aside while you look
around, especially if there are other customers in the shop. Nothing
is worse than hearing I came in last year and bought a cigar, do you
remember what it was? If you see a waiting crowd, let them take care
of their purchases while you find your way through the maze.







    1. Enjoy the lounge. The lounge
      is there for your enjoyment. In order for everyone to have a
      good time, manners is the word of the day. Having a good time
      comes in many forms, enjoying a fine cigar is one of the better
      ones.