—– A Panorama of the Cigar World
A cigar at hand and a cup of rum ahead, in the exhaling flirting smokes and mixed aroma of tobacco and alcohol, a woman already irredeemably falls in love with a man at the first sight. This is the scene numerously repeated in films.
Leo Tolstoy quotes in his novel Anna Karenina “A cigar is a sort of thing, not exactly a pleasure, but the crown and outward sign of pleasure.”. Cigar is obviously much more than a mere pleasure, but more associated with and symbolizes charm, sexy, power, masculine, mature, brave, romantic, decisive, strong, and victory.
Historic portrayals of the wealthy often caricatured as cigar smokers with top hats and tailcoats. In this sense, godfather may be its best spokesman.
Cigar lovers arrogantly, or proudly, divide their world as Cuban and non-Cuban cigars, in a way reflects the absolutely dominant position of Cuba in the world of cigars.
Arguably nowhere in the world grows tobacco better than Cuba. But even here, only a few selected farms are judged good enough to grow the tobacco for Habanos, namely Vuelta Abajo, Semi Vuelta, Vuelta Arriba and Partido:
Here are some renowned Cuban brands to start with for a tour in the cigar world:
Cohiba, with the name deriving from the Taíno word for “tobacco”, used to a limited production private brand supplied exclusively to Fidel Castro and high-level officials in the Communist Party of Cuba and Cuban government.
Often given as diplomatic gifts, the Cohiba brand gradually developed its “cult” status. Ever since its commercial release for sale to the public in 1982, Cohiba as the favorite brand of Cuban leaders of Fidel Castro, Che Guevara and alike was widely crowned as “king of Cuban cigars”.
The name for the brand Montecristo was inspired by the Alexandre Dumas, père novel The Count of Monte Cristo, which was supposedly a very popular choice among the torcedores (cigar rollers) in their factory to have read by the lector on the rolling floor.
Through the efforts of the company Alfred Dunhill, the Montecristo brand became incredibly popular worldwide and to this day accounts for roughly half of Habanos S.A.(Cuban state tobacco company)’s worldwide cigar export sales, making it the most popular Cuban cigar in the world.
Film director Alfred Hitchcock has long been fascinated by Montecristo, and he even sent cigars to British friends who were limited by wartime supplies and could not smoke cigars.
German banker Herman Upmann used a box with his own name to hold a cigar to promote his banking business. This wonderful idea has been successful, so the H. Upmann brand has been born and survived to this day. The brand won a gold medal in the International Cigar Exhibition for seven consecutive times between 1862 and 1893. Seven medals are printed on the outer box of H. Upmann.
This brand expanded its fame thanks to the US President John F. Kennedy. The night before he signed the Cuban embargo, he had aide Pierre Salinger procure every box he could gather from Washington, DC tobacconists, totaling 1,200 cigars.
Romeo y Julieta
The Romeo y Julieta marque was established in 1875 by 2 Spanish Inocencio Alvarez and Manin Garcia. The brand is the Spanish name for Shakespeare’s famous love tragedy, Romeo and Juliet.
Sir Winston Churchill was perhaps the brand’s most famous devotee. The flagship vitola of the brand is named in his honor, a long 7″ by 47 ring gauge cigar known as the Churchill.
“I drink a great deal. I sleep a little, and I smoke cigar after cigar. That is why I am in two-hundred-percent form.” The English Prime Minister even tribute his secret of super energy to cigar.
In 1912, Arturo Fuente Sr. founded the brand in West Tampa, Florida. Following the 1960 United States embargo of Cuba, the Fuente brand began a period of slow and steady growth, emerging as one of the most critically acclaimed makers of hand-rolled premium cigars outside of Cuba.
We all know that the renowned write Hemingway is a famous cigar enthusiast. For many of his sailing years, he had the particular request that cigars need to be easily ignited when riding the wind and waves, therefore the cigar ignition point should be narrowed to form an irregular shape with a small tip and tail. Arturo Fuente launched a special line just for this reason.
Cigars in Italy
Tobacco was widely diffused among all of the indigenous people of the islands of the Caribbean. Italian explorer Christopher Columbus is generally credited with the introduction of tobacco to Europe in 1492.
In time, Spanish and other European sailors adopted the practice of smoking rolls of leaves, as did the Conquistadors. Smoking primitive cigars spread to Spain and Portugal and eventually France, most probably through Jean Nicot, the French ambassador to Portugal, who gave his name to nicotine. Later, tobacco use spread to Italy and, after Sir Walter Raleigh’s voyages to the Americas, to Britain. Smoking became familiar throughout Europe—in pipes in Britain—by the mid-16th century.
Tobacco growing in Italy started in Sansepolcro in the second half of the 16th century. In 1574, Cardinal Nicolò Tornabuoni, apostolic nuncio in France during the pontificate of Gregory XIII, sent the seeds from the new world, of which Jean Nicot had just described the characteristics in France, to the uncle, the Bishop of Sansepolcro. In the same period a flourishing tobacco market developed in the Republic of Cospaia, adjacent to Sansepolcro.
In fact today, one of the most famous Italian cigar brands is just named after Tornabuoni to commemorate his contribution to have introduced tobacco in Italy.
The Kentucky tobacco is one of the first American tobaccos that were introduced in Italy. Today Italy is one of the main producers of Kentucky tobacco in the world and with its 2.5 million kg, marks number one in Europe. In Tuscany, tobacco is grown on an area of 2761 hectares, mostly in the areas of Val di Chiana and Valtiberina.
With this American name but Italian heart, Kentucky is the only variety of tobacco that gives life to the TOSCANO cigar
The Kentucky growers are a strategic link in the production chain of the TOSCANO cigar. MST is their main partner and absorbs 90% of the value of the entire national production, a percentage that climbs to 100% for wrapper leaves, the most high quality end of the cultivation.
MST has invested, covering the cut in funding connected to agriculture, to guarantee the farmers productivity and stable income.
Another excellent example of Italian cigar made of Kentucky, but out of the core Tuscan production area is ITALICO.
ITALICO mainly uses tobacco grown on their own plantations, located in the province of Verona, in the lower Veneto, where the medium-textured soil is ideal for the cultivation of Kentucky tobacco. Only the best leaves become Ambasciator ITALICO cigars.
To create perfect blends, suitable for all types of smokers, from beginners to experts, they also use selected Kentucky tobacco leaves grown in Italy – Valtiberina, Val di Chiana and Benevento – and the United States – Tennessee and Kentucky – from where it takes the name of this incredible plant.
Last but not least, just another note that cigar is not just meant for the pleasure to men. Dita von Teese poses with Cigar is to be tagged with sexy for such a scene.
Finally, let’s end with a woman’s quote. George Sand one said “Cigar is perfect complement to an elegant lifestyle”. She is obviously and absolutely right, isn’t she?