Creating a premium cigar: is much the same as a master wine maker blending a fine bordeaux - each must have the skills to grow and create their own blends.Construction

Growing tobacco requires exceptional artistry and experience. Plants are nurtured in nurseries and the seedlings are transported to fields. Two tablespoons of seed can produce 10 acres of cigar tobacco.

When it’s time to harvest, leaves are picked from the bottom to the top. Valdo, the bottom leaf, has the mildest taste. Seco, in the middle, has a medium flavor. Ligero, at the top, is exposed to the most sun and has the strongest flavor.

The chosen leaves are then bundled according to size and texture and are hung to dry in curing barns for six to eight weeks.

During curing, the tobacco must ferment and "sweat" properly in order to smoke with good taste and aroma. Fermentation removes ammonia and other natural chemical components. Improperly fermented tobacco causes harshness or bitterness, and will not stay lit.

The three parts that make up a premium cigar are the wrapper, binder and filler. Each has to go through meticulous preparation, including sorting and stripping before it is ready to be rolled into a cigar.

After this preparation, the master blender is now ready to create the "recipe." He pre-blends the filler by selecting the special combination of tobacco leaves. Depending on the ring gauge and type of cigar, a cigar will often contain a blend of two to four different tobaccos.

Expert hands make the difference in a fine cigar. The "buncher" forms the filler into a cylindrical shape. This is rolled into a binder leaf and placed in a mold to coax it into a cigar shape. The "roller" then skillfully applies the outer wrapper tobacco leaf.

After rolling, cigars are placed in the "marrying room" for a minimum of three weeks. This is a temperature and humidity-controlled cedar room that gives the selected tobaccos time to meld their tastes and for the moisture to equilibrate.

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