the making of a quality cigar

The comforting hobby of lighting one up has confused too many for too long. That changes today, in this piece we breakdown the anatomy of premium cigars. That’s not to say that everything referred to in this piece should service as commandments, but rather a foundation for both novices as well as those who’ve been forced to navigate through this maze without any guidance. Get your lighters ready gentlemen, we are about to blaze through everything-cigar.

one of few artisanal products

Unlike machine-made cigarettes, quality cigars contain no preservatives or sweeteners to lengthen their shelf-life. Ideally, cigars should be made of one thing and one thing only, sweet-holy tobacco. Everything from color to taste should be constructed naturally. In its construction, rolling a cigar is as much art as it is science, from blending pure unadulterated tobacco to carefully packing it in a suitable binder.

Despite occasional inconsistencies in crop yield, cigar-makers do everything in their power to ensure that their product remains of consistent quality. Of course, like any other handmade product, each cigar may consist of slight variance, though only in a minute capacity.

Some argue that a part of the beauty is exemplified because of these minor inconsistencies. ‘Beauty in the imperfections’, as some would say.

More prominent smokers should be able to pick up the slight variations in the way a cigar smokes. The location of the harvest and the style attributed to the cigar-maker are the two biggest factors which influence the culmination of a well-crafted cigar.

fermenting & aging tobacco

Fermentation, a process notoriously used in the production of wine and spirits, is used prominently in the curation of tobacco. More specifically, microbial fermentation is implemented to break down tobacco leaves through water, pressure, and oxygen. This process of oxidation alters the chemical composition of the tobacco leaf, resulting in better-tasting tobacco.

For those of you who are more inclined to educate yourselves on the process of fermentation, not to worry, we’ve got you covered. To start things off, curated tobacco leaves are gathered and piled on top of one another in a respectable environment (such as a barn). Once that’s done water is added to the pile. The combination of the water, oxygen, and natural pressure encouraged by gravity, leads to an enzymatic reaction which produces heat. From this point onward, the pile of tobacco leaves is regularly checked until it reaches a certain temperature, at that point the pile is broken down and reassembled. To produce a quality cigar, each pile should consist of homogeneous leaves with minimal discrepancies among one another.

Once the process of fermentation reaches its culmination, the procedure of aging the tobacco begins. To ensure that the tobacco is aged correctly, its leaves are tightly packed into ‘bales’ which allow carotenoids to slowly break down, which introduces desirable properties to the cigar. Unlike most wines and spirits, cigars may suffer from over-aging, which can make the cigar taste flat and dusty. However, under-aging is a far greater threat to the taste of a perfect cigar. Just remember you’re looking for an earthy-almond and raisin tasting cigar, not one that reminds you of freshly cut grass.

the anatomy of a well-made cigar

Most cigars consist of three components: a filler, a binder, and a wrapper. The three aforementioned components, when combined, form an entity we all know as a ‘cigar’. To ensure a complete comprehension of a cigar’s anatomy, let’s break it down from the inside out.

A cigar’s filler consists of slightly longer and more girthy strips of tobacco which are placed in a cigar to ensure that the cigar doesn’t burn too quickly. When compiling the filler, the cigar-maker is able to dive in to great depths of creativity, experimenting with different sources of tobacco, from all over the world, and how they complement or neglect one another.

The binder is essentially a leaf of tobacco that didn’t make the cut to be a wrapper, it is rolled just below the wrapper and binds the filler in place. A quality binder allows the filler to burn more evenly.

The final component of a cigar also happens to be the pound-for-pound most expensive, the wrapper. This component consists of premium tobacco leaves, both in appearance and taste, which represents the last layer of a rolled cigar. All wrappers should be smooth by touch and consist of an abundance of flavor. Note that these criteria represent a rough and simplified take on the selection of wrapper leaves.

The construction of a cigar should be of focus to all cigar-makers, as the added value of premium raw materials only take effect if the cigar is rolled correctly. A cigar can only be as good as the effort that goes into it.

Well Gents! That concludes our deep-dive into the world of cigars. To ensure that information described above is one that you remember refer to it frequently. Make sure to stay-tuned to our Gentleman 101 series for everything and more on living a lifestyle of chivalry. If you derived any entertainment or education from this piece, please share the post with others who you think may enjoy such content. Till next time gents, stay chivalrous!