Tobacco means a leaf product containing 1% – 3% of alkaloid nicotine (C10H12N2) which produces narcotic effect when smoked, snuffed or chewed.
Nicotiana tabacum is the plant which produces tobacco for the world commerce. Nicotianarustica is also used for making tobacco in different parts of the Europe. Tobacco grows best inwarm even climate, tropical or sub-tropical region ( java, Sumatra, Jamaica, Cuba, India etc)on well drained, carefully fertilized soil which reduces weekly moisture form rain or irrigation.
There is pre-historic evidence that man learned to smoke before they could write- various cave paintings and clay tablets show it.
In 1492, Christopher Colombus, during his voyage to America, witnessed West Indianssmoking tobacco in a hollow forked stick. He brought the tobacco seeds to Europe where the farmers grew them for medicinal purposes to relax the body.
In 1560, a French diplomat, Jean Nicot (from whose name comes to the name nicotine)introduced its use to France.
John Rolfe, an American colonist, commercialized it in Virginia from where the famous Virginia tobacco comes. America exported Tobacco to England who made it popular in Europe. It however became popular in America by 1850 only.
Varieties of Tobacco
The main type of tobacco for cigarette and pipe smoking is Virginian tobacco. The other types of tobacco include Egyptian tobacco grown in the Nile delta and Asia Minor and the Turkishtobacco grown in Turkey, Balkan, and Syria. The best quality of tobacco for cigars comes fromVeuluabazo district of Cuba where the tobacco is more aromatic than anywhere else in the world.
Processing of tobacco for Cigarettes, Cigars and Pipe Tobacco
After harvesting the leaves are left for drying and then fermented in conditioning chambers with regulated heat and moisture. After fermentation, the leaves become pliable and attain flavor. The leaves are then removed from the midribs and sorted out according to quality /perfection.
The leaves for pipe tobacco and cigarettes are shredded through the machine. The shredding is finer for cigarettes compared to pipe tobacco.
For cigars, the tobacco leaves are sorted out differently. The best quality or the perfect leaves are used for the outside wrapper. The slightly imperfect leaves are used for the binder. Whereas the broken or imperfect leaves are used for the filler. This is because there are three parts to a cigar. The filler, which is the main part of the cigar. The filler is held by the binder, which is again held by the wrapper. The wrapper is a smooth blemish-less leaf. It is then taken for maturing.
A cigar is a rolled bundle of dried and fermented tobacco leaves made to be smoked. Cigars are produced in a variety of sizes and shapes. Since the 20th century, almost all cigars are made of three distinct components: the filler, the binder leaf which holds the filler together, and a wrapper leaf, which is often the highest quality leaf used.
It is the sommelier’s responsibility to sell cigars to the guest. The cigar is made of three elements. The cigar ash gives some indication about the quality of the cigar. The first-grade cigar produces grayish ash which lasts for a considerable time before dropping down.
Tobacco was widely diffused among all of the indigenous people of the islands of the Caribbean. Italian explorer Christopher Columbus is generally credited with the introduction of tobacco to Europe. During his 1492 journey, three of his crewmen Rodrigo de Jerez, Hector Fuentes, and Luis de Torres, are said to have encountered tobacco for the first time on the island of Hispaniola, (present-day Haiti and the Dominican Republic), when natives presented them with dry leaves that spread a peculiar fragrance.
The cigar business was an important industry and factories employed many people before mechanized manufacturing of cigars became practical. Cigar workers in both Cuba and the US were active in labor strikes and disputes from early in the 19th century, and the rise of modern labor unions can be traced to the CMIU and other cigar worker unions.
Manufacturing Of Cigar
Quality cigars are still handmade. An experienced cigar-roller can produce hundreds of good, nearly identical cigars per day. Tobacco leaves are harvested and aged using a curing process that combines heat and shade to reduce sugar and water content without causing the larger leaves to rot. This takes between 25 and 45 days, depending upon climatic conditions and the nature of sheds used to store harvested tobacco. Curing varies by type of tobacco and desired leaf color. A slow fermentation follows, where temperature and humidity are controlled to enhance flavor, aroma, and burning characteristics while forestalling rot or disintegration.
The leaf will continue to be baled, inspected, un-baled, re-inspected, and baled again during the aging cycle. When it has matured to manufacturer’s specifications it is sorted forappearance and overall quality, and used as filler or wrapper accordingly. During this process, leaves are continually moistened to prevent damage.
Cigars are composed of three types of tobacco leaves, whose variations determine smoking and flavor characteristics:
A cigar’s outermost layer, or wrapper, is the most expensive component of a cigar. The wrapper determines much of the cigar’s character and flavor, and as such its color is often used to describe the cigar as a whole. Wrappers are frequently grown underneath huge canopies made of gauze so as to diffuse direct sunlight and are fermented separately from other rougher cigar components, with a view to the production of a thinly-veined, smooth, supple leaf.
Beneath the wrapper is a small bunch of “filler” leaves bound together inside of a leaf called a “binder”. Binder leaf is typically the sun-saturated leaf from the top part of a tobacco plant and is selected for its elasticity and durability in the rolling process. Unlike wrapper leaf, which must be uniform in appearance and smooth in texture, binder leaf may show evidence of physical blemishes or lack uniform coloration. Binder leaf is generally considerably thicker and more hardy than the wrapper leaf surrounding it.
The bulk of a cigar is “filler”—a bound bunch of tobacco leaves.
These leaves are folded by hand to allow air passageways down the length of the cigar, through which smoke is drawn after the cigar is lit. If full leaves are used as filler, a cigar is said to be composed of “long filler”. Cigars made from smaller bits of leaf, including many machine-made cigars, are said to be made of “short filler”.
If a cigar is completely constructed (filler, binder, and wrapper) of tobacco produced in only one country, it is referred to in the cigar industry as a “puro,” from the Spanish word for“pure”.
Size & Color of Cigar
Cigars come in various sizes, three of the most important and popular being
– 5 ½ inches
- PETIT CORONA
– 5 inches
- TRES PETIT CORONA
– 4 1/4
Cigar terms which classify the wrapper leaf according to colour are-
CCC : Claro- light coloured cigar
CC : Colorado Claro-medium coloured cigar
C : Colorado- Dark coloured Cigar
CM : Colorado Maduro- Very dark coloured cigar
M : Maduro- Extremely dark coloured cigar.
A fine cigar should be kept at between 15°C and 18°C (60°F- 65°F) and between 55%- 60%humidity, with a little variation as possible. A cigar is stored in cigar cases that are lined with cedar wood. These cigar cases are stored in a humidor. Humidor or specially made boxes they all either made with or lined with cedarwood. This is done because the aroma of cedar blends well with cigars and as cedarwood is porous it allows the cigar to breathe. A free circulation of air around these boxes is essential. Cigars are usually sold in boxes of 25, 50, and 100.
Service of Cigar
Always carry a cigar cutter to cut the cigar as that ensures a cool-free drawing of smoke. If the guest requires you to cut the cigar take care that you don’t cut too deep so that you disturb the decorate band which held the cigar. For lighting the cigars avoid matchboxes, use lighters instead because for the end of the cigar to be lit, it has to be warmed first.
Few popular brand of cigar
- Cohiba Behike 54
- Montecristo Grand
- New World By AJ
- Partagas Serie D No 4
- Partagás 8-9-8 Cabinet Varnished
- Hoyo De MONTERREY EPICURE NO. 2
- H. Upmann Sir Winston
- Cohiba Rubusto
- Montecristo No 4
- Don Rafael Maduro