Every time I pick up a cigar to smoke, I have a habit of examining the stick - not only admiring its aesthetics (wrapper color and texture, aroma from the foot), but also admiring its construction. During this period of wonder, I can't help but think of how the cigar came into existence, how it took several years from the time the seed was planted to this moment. It's truly amazing, and after several years of cigar enjoyment it still fascinates me. I believe that a true cigar enthusiast appreciates the time that goes into the creation of a cigar - the labor, the delicacy, the complexity, and the craftsmanship that it takes to cultivate tobacco seeds to create that which gives us much pleasure.
Below is a very general timeline that outlines the steps taken to bring tobacco seeds to cigars to your local retailer, and then to smoke.
*Priming is the harvest process by which 2 to 4 leaves are hand-picked from the bottom of each plant at least once a week, working towards the top. Each plant is primed about 6 times (in some cases, up to 8 times).
†Volado leaves are from the lower portion of the tobacco plant, just above the sand leaves (the leasves at the very bottom of the stalk that are most often coated with dirt that has splashed up from the rain). Volado leaves are of the mildest flavor.
‡Seco leaves from the middle of the tobacco plant are slightly richer in flavor and darker in color compared with volado.
§Ligero leaves at the top of the tobacco plant are the most robust in terms of flavor and strength.
So the next time you pick up a premium handrolled cigar, pause to consider and appreciate its journey!