What Makes a Good Cigar?
Ask any cigar expert what the main components for a good cigar are, and you will usually receive a variety of answers. The general consensus is that the two main components of a better cigar are the tobacco and the construction. If you have ever had the misfortune of smoking a fake Cuban cigar. then you will know exactly what a bad cigar tastes like.
For the cigar novice, the variety of cigars on the market can be bewildering. There is a huge variety of brands, sizes and flavors of cigars available. The price can range from a few dollars for a cheaper cigar to around $30 US dollars for one good cigar.
The construction of the cigar is important because this will aid the taste and draw of the cigar. If a cigar has been made with less leaves in the filler then it will be smoked easily, which may not always be a good thing. Underfilled means that when you draw on the cigar it will burn faster. This may be caused by too many air pockets in the cigar.
Overfill the cigar and it will be much harder to draw a smooth smoke. So the correct amount of filler in the construction is essential to a good cigar. When properly lit, a better cigar will burn evenly. If the cigar does not burn evenly, then the rolling process is likely of an inferior quality.
Another sign of a good cigar is the ash. You should be able to smoke a cigar without the ash falling off frequently. A better cigar should also have springy yet firm touch. They should feel smooth to the touch and a better cigar should really have only one shade of leaves covering it.
The tobacco used in a good cigar should be of the highest quality. If the taste is harsh, burning to the mouth or unpleasant, then the tobacco will no doubt be of inferior quality. The major cigar brands have been in business for many years. Their reputation is second to none when producing a better cigar. Rumor has it that Davidoff rejects more cigars than they actually sell in the production process.
Consistency in cigar making is a must for the top brands. The big brands have a commitment to selling only the best tasting cigars, using the highest quality tobacco. They have a long distinguished reputation to maintain. Although they may be more expensive than the cheaper brands this will be reflected in the taste and construction of the cigars. With over 40 types of Cuban cigar alone to choose from, the more expensive brands are a safer option for a good cigar.
Behold, there is fair traded tobacco in this world!
There is a fair traded cigar in the market, called Campo Verde. It is a longfiller from Panama. The organization which sees to the fair trade and production is Fairtab. They come in three varieties: the Robusto, Mille Fleur and the Churchill. The Robusto is 2,1 cm thick and 11,5 cm long; The Mille Fleur is 1,7 cm thick and 12,5 cm long; The Churchill is 1,9 cm thick and is the longest with a length of 16.5 cm.
All the three varieties have a medium strong taste. I have smoked the Robusto and Mille Fleur and I would call both of them mild.
You can buy them, among other shops, at the Hamburger Cigarren Conto.
For ethical trade cigarettes - and even organically grown tobacco for them - I can direct you to Natural American Spirit.
I think that fair trade cigars need to become as popular as fair trade coffee, ensuring that the best possible working conditions and fair practices are the ones which are supported by Americans. We tend to pay no attention to what we invest our money in, and our dollar can wind up supporting horrible suffrage and slavery in the third world because of this.
The work that goes into making cigars is often done in poor countries where they cannot afford machinery and do the whole process by hand, making very little money. Although they may often make only about five dollars a week, these jobs are considered prestigious in the areas which they are found, and can tend to form the backbone of certain Latin American economies.
I get annoyed at how many internet cigar companies are able to make a huge profit selling the reject cigars from cigar factories all over the world. They tend to buy the worst of the worst leaves for fillers, but them for as little as a dollar, and sell them for 2.50 on the internet, making the customer think they are making a profit. If you really want to have a good cigar, make friends with someone who knows cigars well and learn to be wary of these sham cigar deals.
The cigar is also affected by which leaf is used for the binder and the wrapper. If the top leaf is used, which is called the "ligero" leaf, then the cigar will be thicker and stronger, as well as less easy to keep lit. This kind is the Guinness of cigars. This leaf is clipped last, so it absorbs the most sunlight on its own. The other leaves are easier to burn, but have a lighter taste and effect, depending on their position on the tobacco plant.
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