The Cigar: An Introduction

(old jazz piano music) What I would suggest for people who are entering the
marketplace for the first time is that I don’t want them to be scared of the strength of a cigar. To me, the spectrum of taste is not as big as what the novice
perceives in the beginning so there’s a couple of components
that make up the system that we struggle with
or not struggle with, but we…you know, educate people on all the time. The first thought would be in terms of helping a
novice enjoy the category would be to realize that it’s not a race. Cigars are made to be enjoyed. There’s a relaxed slowness to them. In fact, if you over puff and
if you aggressively smoke, then you can overheat the cigar itself and with that comes less flavor. When someone comes in and
sees an array of products within a given line of cigars, the matter of choice of size, you have to remember that
taste should be consistent throughout the line for the most part so it’s just a matter of
choosing size and time. There are different shapes of cigars which deal different benefits. Parejo is the most
common cylindrical cigar, a little bit of a rounded head, but for the most part flat. You also have a torpedo. A torpedo is a cigar that
in theory should be tapered from the very foot all
the way to the head, but probably is more so only tapered today in the
last inch, two inches. And then you have one that’s in between which is called the Belicoso. Belicoso is a cylindrical cigar, but in the last 3/4 of an inch or an inch, it comes to a tapered head. The benefit of different shapes, particularly a torpedo shape, is that when you cut it, you can enjoy a larger ring gauged cigar, but yet have a smaller ring
gauge in the mouth actually so you don’t have to
hang on to a thick cigar even though you may wanna
smoke a thick cigar. There’s three basic components
to how a cigar is made in our business in the premium side. They’ll speak to filler,
binder and wrapper. Filler, on the inside, can be
long filler or short filler. So the uniqueness of a blend
can vary on the inside, the filler, three leaves, five leaves, sometimes they’ll brag
six leaves, seven leaves. Then there is a binder. The binder is what wraps and holds the filler together in place. None of those leaves, filler
and binder, have to be perfect. We’re burning them strictly for taste, but the wrapper, the third
component, has to be perfect. It only tends to be the most
flavorful leaf on the cigar. Cigar tobacco is unique
because if someone asks, “Isn’t all lumber the same? “Aren’t all trees the same?” My analogy would simply be that if you wanna make your house, I trust you would not
make it out of balsa wood, that you would make it out of oak. Same with tobacco. All tobacco is not the same. That’s really the magic
of the cigar maker. In reality, you can’t
buy every type of leaf that’s available in the world. Blends will vary then from
maker to maker to maker because they’re not all the
dealing with the same tobacco. The interesting thing about Cuba and how it plays in our industry is Cuba has a unique spot
called the Vuelta Abajo which is a region in Cuba that yields what we consider to be
the most flavorful tobacco in the world. A frustration that we
have with Cuban product is the reality of dealing
with communist regime and a non-capitalist society in that if today is the day we need the fertilizer to go on the field and when there’s no fertilizer in the barn ’cause they haven’t bought it, then there’s no fertilizer
to go on the plants. Consequently, there can
be issues with quality. There’s also issues with
quality manufacturing when you’re paying
people sub-standard wages and there’s no incentive to make quality on their part per se so we have issues with Cuban cigars. Can they make good cigars? Absolutely. Are they all excellent cigars? No. The rule to go by
in terms of cutting a cigar, if you go too far, if you remove 100% of
the end of the cigar, then you’ve gone past the shoulder and the shoulder is
part of the construction that keeps the wrapper on. So someone who aggressively
takes off quarter of an inch or half of an inch or something like that is not only wasting the
cigar that they have, they’re also challenging
the construction of it. The important things to keep
in mind when lighting a cigar, as you light it, you’re drawing in and you need to rotate
the cigar in your mouth as you’re drawing it in so that it’s lighting all the way around. The cigar is designed to
be burned cylindrically and consequently, the
enjoyment of the filler and the binder and the wrapper are all in correct proportion together. But if you don’t light it well and one side burns more
aggressively than the other, then that proportion, those differences change. But other than that, not a lot of rules, not a lot of do’s and don’ts.