Ian Gordon 2013-04-16 05:19:16
Appreciation of a fine handmade Cuban cigar starts with understanding what goes into making them. Cigars share many characteristics with vintage wine. The climate, the soil, the heritage and ageing all contribute to the unique character, which any handmade premium cigar embodies — and Cuban premium, handmade cigars, commonly known as Habanos, are widely regarded as the benchmark of quality by cigar aficionados. Tobacco has been cultivated in Cuba since the 16th century. It takes two to three years and up to five different types of tobacco leaf to create a premium, handmade cigar. Initially, the harvested tobacco leaf is air-cured in thatched-roof barns for approximately 50 days. The leaf is then tied in bundles and placed in cloth-covered piles, where they undergo an entirely natural process of fermentation. The leaf then goes through a further selection process based on size, colour and texture before moving on to the stripping house, where a process of moistening and stripping of veins takes place to prepare the leaf for a second fermentation. Once the fermentation is complete, the tobacco leaf is aired on racks for a few days prior to being packed in Hessian bales and transported to the warehouse for a final ageing. The final stage in the production is the selection of the different types, sizes and textures of leaf, which combine to give a specific type of cigar its unique characteristics of appearance, size, aroma and flavour. Three types of leaf are used to create the filler: one for combustibility, one for aroma, and one for strength and slow burning. The binder is a special leaf that wraps the filler and provides the cigar with its structure and shape. The wrapper is the exquisitely thin and supple leaf that forms the outer surface of the cigar. The wrapper contributes little to the flavour but stands as the ultimate symbol of the cigar’s perfection. In Cuba there are more than 50 shades of wrapper leaf! A cigar aficionado, like any wine connoisseur, will savour every nuance of character in a premium, handmade cigar. Ian Gordon is president of Cuarenta Bucaneros Limited, 25 Church Street, Hamilton. Tel: 441-295-4523 or 441-336-2446; Fax: 441-292-5116; Website: cigarbox.bm
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