A Short History Of Cigars And Tobacco
Have you ever wondered where cigars were first produced? It is widely believed that cigars were first produced in Spain. But before cigars became all the rage in Europe, tobacco was needed to make them. Tobacco is indigenous to the Americas, where native peoples have produced it for hundreds of years. It is believed that the Maya of Yucatan peninsula in Mexico and parts of Central America cultivated tobacco, and even smoked it! Tobacco use spread to other tribes, both north and south. It is believed that its first use in the United States was probably among the tribe along the Mississippi. It wasn't until Christopher Columbus sailed his famous voyage to the Americas in 1492 that the rest of the world came to know tobacco.
It is said that Columbus was not impressed by tobacco or its use among native peoples, but many sailors grew found of the strange plant. Soon it quickly caught on in Spain and Portugal. From there, it spread to France, where the French ambassador Jean Nicot lent his name to the scientific name for tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum). The origins of the word tobacco itself are still suspect, although many believe it is simply a corruption of the word Tobago, which is the name of a Caribbean island. Still others believe it comes from the word Tabasco, a region (and now state) in Mexico.
The first tobacco plantation in the United States was established in Virginia in 1612. More tobacco plantations followed in Maryland soon after. Although tobacco became a popular crop, it was only smoked in pipes. The cigar was not introduced to the United States until the late 18th century. Israel Putnam, an army general who had served in the Revolutionary War, is credited with introducing the cigar to the United States. He had traveled to Cuba after the Revolutionary War and returned with a box of Cuban cigars. Their popularity quickly spread, and soon enough cigar factories were established in the area of Harford, Connecticut, where General Putnam resided.
In Europe, cigar production and consumption did not achieve widespread popularity until after the Peninsula War in the early 19th century. British and French veterans returned to their homelands after years of serving in Spain with their tobacco pipes in tow. Among the rich and fashionable, the favored method of taking tobacco was the cigar. Cigar smoking remains a habit associated with the rich and discriminating of upper society.
The Parts Of A Cigar
What are the different parts of a cigar? Many long-time smokers enjoy their stogies without learning the basic parts of their cigar. While it's true that you can enjoy a cigar without knowing how it was put together, learning the basic parts of a cigar can be instrumental in helping you choose the best quality cigars.
The first thing many smokers notice about a cigar is the wrapper, the layer of tobacco on the outside of a cigar. A cigar's wrapper is very important because it provides much of the flavor of the cigar. The best quality tobacco leaves are usually used to construct the wrapper. They range in color from very clear (claro) to very dark (oscuro).
Binders are known as the 'intermediate leaves.' They are used to hold the tobacco filler together. Binders can vary considerably.
Last but certainly not least is the filler used to make a cigar. The filler is the tobacco. Generally, filler can be either long or short. Long filler consists of whole tobacco leaves, while short filler consists of scraps.
How To Pair Cigars And Alcohol
The cigar has long been viewed as a luxury of the rich and powerful. Images of well-to-do men puffing on a stogie and swirling a glass of good brandy have been well documented and memorialized in films and TV. If you are just becoming interested in cigars and would like to relax with a stogie and drink after a long day's work, here are a few tips to get you started.
Traditionally, the cigar has been paired with a strong drink. Popular spirits include rum, brandy, or whiskey. Some argue that a good cigar should always be paired with a strong drink that has a hint of sweetness. Indeed, cigar smokers have long enjoyed these popular pairings. For years, the idea of pairing cigars with beer has gone overlooked. But why overlook good old beer? Recently, the trend has been to pair cigars with various varieties of beer. It seems that as cigars have entered the mainstream, it has been democratized and popularized. What better way to enjoy a puff of this newly popularized treat than to pair it with beer?
Pairing a good cigar with a good beer is not an easy feat, but when accomplished, it is well worth the effort. Much of the pairing has to do with your experience level. If you are a novice, you will probably need help in pairing your specific cigar with an appropriate beer. If you have a more experienced palate, and you know what you like, you can probably make connections between certain types of cigars and beers.
Because cigars are so strong and flavorful, one of the challenges in pairing is to find a beer that complements the intensity of most cigars. Most cigars will pair nicely with a good barely wine or a single malt scotch. If your cigar can be described as woody, spicy, with hints of cedar, try pairing it with a barley wine. The fruity hint of barely wine should complement nicely with the spicy flavor of your cigar. The combination of a spicy cigar with a slightly fruity beer can create an overall creaminess that enhances the flavors of each significantly.
If you have no clue as to what flavor combinations might work, experiment. First, find a cigar that you enjoy. Try to identify the characteristics that you enjoy about it. Then, find a beer whose flavors you think might 'match' or complement the cigar. Many incredible discoveries have been made in much this same way.
All Styles And Sizes The Basic Types Of Cigars
For the new smoker, the different styles and sizes of cigars can seem mind-boggling. It helps to know that all cigars can be divided into two broad categories: parejos and figurados.
Parejos refers to cigars that are basically straight. They are subdivided into three categories: coronas, panatelas, and lonsdales. Coronas come in a variety of styles and famous brands. They are known as cigars with an 'open foot' (or tip) and a rounded head. Panatelas are generally longer than coronas, are thinner. Lonsdales are also longer than coronas, but are thinner than panatelas.
The second basic category consists of the figurados. Figurados refers to cigars with that are irregular or somehow hand-shaped so that they are not strictly straight. The smallest type of figurados is the belicoso cigars, which are known for a larger foot and a smaller, rounded head. Another basic figurado cigar is the pyramid, which have pointed heads that taper to a large foot. The perfecto is a figurado cigar that is tapered on both the head and foot, with a thinner middle. The largest figurado is the diademas, known as the 'giant' of cigars because it is always eight inches or longer.
How To Buy Cigars As A Gift
Is there a cigar aficionado on your gift list? Wondering how to choose a decent cigar for a friend or loved one? Even if you know nothing about cigars or choosing a good cigar, just learning a few basics can help you sniff out (sometimes literally) a good cigar to give to a friend.
Fortunately, cigars have now entered the mainstream. Once the symbol of the rich and powerful, it's easier than ever for just about anyone to purchase a good cigar. Of course, you probably won't be able to buy your friend a box of top-tier Cuban cigars, but you can definitely buy them a good quality cigar that will put a smile on their face.
First, visit your local tobacconist or specialty smoke shop for the best quality and widest selection. Avoid 'drugstore' cigars. Although they may be inexpensive and convenient to purchase, drugstore cigars are usually filled with preservatives and generally of poorer quality. They may contain, at minimum, saltpeter, paper, glycerin, and other preservatives and irritants. You should make sure that the cigars you purchase are made of 100% tobacco. If you have any questions regarding the cigars ingredients, ask the salesperson. An experienced and knowledgeable sales clerk will be able to tell you extensive information about the ingredients.
Your local tobacco shop is a good place to shop because you will generally be allowed to smell and touch the cigars. Squeeze the cigar gently. A good quality cigar will give a little when squeezed. The cigar should be firm, with no excessively soft or hard spots. Never buy a lumpy cigar. Look at the wrapper. If you notice any drying or discoloration, best not to buy it. Ideally, the wrapper should be tight and smooth. Inspect the color of the tobacco to make sure it is even. Do this by inspecting the end of the cigar. Some color variation is normal, but if the color changes abruptly, chances are the cigar was not rolled properly. A cigar that is not rolled properly may result in an uneven burning and unpleasant odors.
If you're not sure how much your friend smokes, choose a longer cigar. Longer cigars tend to have a 'cooler' taste
Drugstore Cigars A Good Buy
The sheer diversity of cigars can be confusing for new smokers. Many new smokers want to know: is it OK to buy cigars from their local drugstore or chain store? What is the quality of these cigars? Can you expect to get good flavor from these cigars?
While of course, it's perfectly OK to purchase these cigars, be aware that these packaged cigars are usually of poorer quality. Most 'drugstore' cigars contain preservative or other non-tobacco ingredients. Common ingredients found in packaged cigars may include paper, Glycerin, and saltpeter. High quality cigars will contain only tobacco. Packaged drugstore cigars will generally contain these extra ingredients designed to keep them stored on the shelves for extended periods of time.
In order to get the best quality cigars, you will have to visit your local tobacconist. While many mail order businesses do carry good quality cigars, be aware that they usually will not sell singles, thus you will have to purchase whole boxes. Visiting your local tobacconist allows you to test different brands before settling on a box.
Cigar Smoking 101
What are the basics of cigar smoking? How do you light a cigar? How do you draw on the cigar properly? Do you inhale? What are the dos and don'ts of cigar smoking? If you have ever pondered any of these questions, read on. Here is a simple and accessible primer designed to help you gain familiarity with the sometimes confusing, always enigmatic world of cigar smoking.
First Step: Lighting Up
First, all new cigar smokers should learn how to properly light a cigar. Use a clipper designed for cigars to clip off the edge of the head (the section you put to your mouth). If possible light the foot of your cigar with a cedar match. Avoid regular cigarette lighters. They produce a nasty odor that can linger and ruin a good cigar. If you must use a lighter, use butane lighter. These will keep the odor to a minimum. However, you should always strive to use a wooden match because lighters can easily taint the foot of your cigar. How do you light up? Simply strike a match and hold the edge of your cigar over the flame. Avoid touching the cigar to the fire, simply hold the cigar over the flame and draw deeply until the cigar is lit.
Second Step: Burn it down to a nub?
Should you burn your cigar down to a nub? Experts recommend you leave at least two inches to your cigar. Even the finest cigars will tend to get bitter if you let it burn all the way down. What about ashes? Should you knock the ashes off of your cigar? Rather than knocking the ashes off the edge, let the cigar rest in the ashtray when you're not smoking it. The ashes will fall off naturally.
Third Step: Relax and Enjoy
A cigar should never be rushed. By design, cigars should be savored, preferably after dinner and with a glass of good brandy. Hold the cigar between your thumb and fingers
Tasting The World Cigar S From Different Countries
Most everyone is familiar with the much-lauded flavor of Cuban cigars. But how do you know if you're smoking a Cuban cigar, or a cigar from any other country for that matter? For those new to the world of cigar smoking, you should know that every cigar-producing country has its own unique flavor and character. The soil quality and the way the tobacco is produced and rolled contribute to the overall flavor of the finished product.
One must of course allow for significant regional variety, here are some very basic guidelines for getting to know the world's flavors.
The famous Cuban cigars are renowned for their smoothness and 'creamy' flavors. They are applauded for their rich flavors and overall premium quality. Cigars from Central American countries like Honduras and Nicaragua are known to be strong and rich in flavor. Caribbean countries like Jamaica and the Dominican Republic are known for their milder flavors.
Whatever country you purchase from, remember that a good way to gauge the overall flavor of a cigar is to note its diameter and length. In general, cigars with a thicker diameter will have a richer flavor. Longer cigars are generally cooler.
Cigars 101 An Overview Of Cigars
Cigars have long been associated with the rich and powerful, with relaxation and rich flavor. Cigar aficionados have created a culture around the art of smoking, assembling various theories and accessories to debate and facilitate smoking. Much like wine tasting, cigar smoking has been seen as a diversion of the upper echelons of society.
It is believed that cigars were probably first produced in Spain, and then quickly caught on in other European countries. Although many different countries manufacture cigars, Cuban cigars have long been highly regarded as one of the most flavorful and rich of all cigars. This is due to regional microclimates that are said to produce the highest quality tobacco, as well as the skill of the country's cigar makers. Other countries that produce significant amounts of tobacco and cigars include Brazil, Mexico, Honduras, Ecuador, Cameroon, Dominican Republic, Indonesia, and the United States. Why have cigars long caught the attention of so many? Many speculate that the cigar's main attraction is in the way it is manufactured. High quality cigars are always wrapped by hand. Unlike cigarettes, cigars undergo a lengthy process of fermentation and aging (much like wine), resulting in subtle flavors and textures. They are highly individual and the best cigars will provide no smoky aftertaste at all.
The taste of cigars is much more complex than cigarettes. The majority of all cigars are created by wrapping three different layers of tobacco leaves together. High quality cigars usually contain long leaves of nicotine as the filler, although they may also contain a combination of scraps. This results in subtle variations, different textures, and complex flavors. Cigarettes, on the other hand, are mass-produced and generally only contain one type of tobacco. Cigars also come in an incredible variety of flavors. The dedicated cigar aficionado can find chocolate, vanilla, apple, and even coffee-flavored cigars!
Although cigars have long been lauded for their smooth and complex flavors, they can also pose a great health risk. All tobacco contains nicotine. We've all heard about the negative health risks of nicotine, but what does it do exactly? Nicotine is a stimulant that produces a sense of euphoria. Even the casual smoker cannot escape the fact that nicotine is highly addictive and contains various toxins, carcinogens, and irritants. Although most connoisseurs of cigars will avoid inhaling the smoke, they are still at risk of developing various types of oral and larynx cancers.
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