Cigar Reviews info on 13 Sep 2010 04:28 pm
As promised, here is the first article about Cuban tobacco from our new mini-series on how cigars are actually made and where it all comes from. We hope you enjoy it!
What defines a certain tobacco is not only the seed, the fermentation process or amount of sunlight that it receives, but also the soil. A seed grown in two different regions in the same fashion will still produce different tobacco.
Cuban cigars usually are composed of three components (the filler, the binder and the wrapper), and five types of tobacco leaf (there are exceptions however, such as thin cigars, which usually don’t contain any Ligero, or the Behike which contains a fourth filler leaf, the Medio Tiempo known for its rarity and potency):
- The Filler:
Volado (a leaf of light flavor and good combustion), a.k.a. Fortaleza 1
Seco (medium flavor, most defining for the aroma of the cigar), aka Fortaleza 2
Ligero (full flavor, gives the cigar its strength and slows the burn), aka Fortaleza 3
- The Binder (a.k.a. Capote) defines the shape of the cigar and keeps the filler together.
- The Wrapper (a.k.a. Capa) defines the look of the cigar and adds a certain distinctness to the aroma.
A cigar consists of three sections:
- The Head or Cap (La Perilla), which is cut before smoking,
- The Body (the mid part of the cigar),
- The Foot (La Boquilla), the part which is lit.
The types of leaves:
Wrapper leaves are grown in fields (tapado), covered from side to side with muslin cloth, intended to filter the sunlight. At about a half month after the start of the growing phase, the tobacco fields are completely covered with the muslin and each plant is then tied to the cover. Only the largest and finest leaves are destined to become wrappers, which is why the “hunt” for good wrappers is a constant one. The wrapper leaf is the most expensive one to produce and by some calculations often makes up to 80% of a cigar’s price. The upper leaves produce the darker colored wrappers, while the lower ones become lighter in color. The leaves have different characteristics at each level of the plant. The shade-grown leaves are classified as follows (top to bottom):
Segundo Centro Fino
Primer Centro Fino
Segundo Centro Ligero
Primer Centro Ligero
Uno y Medio
Libre de Pie
Filler and binder leaves are grown in the sun. The Ligero leaves grow at the top, closest to the sun, which gives them their strength. The Seco leaves come from the middle, while the Volado leaves grow nearest to the bottom of the plant. They are classified as follows (top to bottom):
Uno y Medio
Libre de Pie
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