We receive many questions about various topics. Here you will find a selection of the most frequently asked questions.
What is the difference between a cigar and a cigarillo?
In Sweden, it is really a matter of size and weight, based on old tax classes. The weight limit between a cigar and cigarillo is often 3 grams. Internationally, this distinction does not apply.
What is the definition of a cigar?
There is no official definition for a cigar, but in general, a cigar is usually classified as short filler (finely divided) or long filler (whole leaf). The technology used depends on the manufacture method where long fillers are best suited for handmade cigars, while short fillers are mostly used in machine manufactured cigars. Methods of manufacture do not always agree since there are combinations and exceptions.
Are there any differences between cigars?
A cigar comprises three parts: filler, binder and wrapper. The filler consists of one or several different types of tobacco, which are carefully chosen based on taste, aroma, burning properties and quality. The filler can consist of either a few whole tobacco leaves - long filler, or a base of tobacco chopped into pieces - short filler. The technology used depends mainly on the manufacture method, where long fillers are best suited for handmade cigars, while short fillers are often used in machine manufactured cigars. Methods of manufacture do not always agree since there are combinations and exceptions.
The terms long filler and short filler should not be interpreted as quality conclusive. The quality is determined by the type of tobacco used and the craftsmanship used in manufacturing the cigars. Short fillers are especially popular in Europe since the combination of various types of tobacco creates a balanced aroma and the manufacturing process produces light and smooth draws. Even though long fillers are used for handmade cigars, the technology naturally limits the possibility of complicated mixtures.
Short fillers and long fillers also differ with regard to moisture sensitivity. Long fillers dehydrate easily and have a very short shelf life if not stored in the correct atmospheric humidity. This also applies to short fillers. However, many cigars on the Swedish market are “dry short fillers,” which means that they are less sensitive to moisture and taste excellent even though they were stored outside a humidor for while.
What is filler?
A cigar comprises three parts: filler, binder and wrapper. The filler consists of one or several different types of tobacco, which are carefully chosen based on taste, aroma, burning properties and quality. The filler can consist of either a few whole tobacco leaves - long filler, or a base of tobacco chopped into pieces - short filler.
What is a binder?
A cigar comprises three parts: filler, binder and wrapper. The binder encloses the filler and holds the cigar together. Vickel is the name used for the combination of binder and filler. The binder is not visible and is not chosen for its appearance but for its strength and burning properties where excellent binding creates a slow and even burn.
What is the wrapper?
A cigar comprises three parts: filler, binder and wrapper. The wrapper is the outer tobacco leaf, which is seen on the cigar and is chosen for its appearance. It should be attractive, without spots or blemishes and uniform color. Other demands are that it should be thin, smooth and without large veins and be supple and durable.
In order to produce perfect wrappers for handmade cigars, the tobacco is often shade-grown. This protects the tobacco from strong sunlight, which in turn produces light, thin and elastic leaves with small veins.
What is HTL, homogenized tobacco leaf?
Certain short fillers, often cigarillos, have binders and/or wrappers made from homogenized tobacco leaves. HTL is tobacco that is finely ground to a powder, mixed with water and rolled into tobacco sheets. This is done in order to maintain an even quality in mass produced products.
How are cigars color classified?
Cigars are classified in terms of the color of the wrapper. The most common color names are:
- Claro or Café = light
- Maduro = dark
- Double Claro or Candela = green
What contributes most to the taste of a cigar, the filler or wrapper?
Despite the fact that the wrapper represents 60 percent of the cost of the cigar, there is a great deal of discussion regarding its actual effect on the taste. Some claim that it is 70 percent of the taste while others say 5 percent. Even if the latter is correct, the total experience is still influenced by vision and touch. The only safe assumption is that the total composition affects the wrappers.
The filler represents the major portion of the cigar (70-80 percent) and naturally contributes significantly to its character, which is usually termed as mild – strong, light – full flavored. Aroma and taste are usually termed as elegant – aromatic, and described, for example, as earthy, spicy, sweet, rustic, coffee or chocolate, etc.
What is façon and how does it affect the taste?
Façon is the cigar’s shape in terms of length, thickness and form. The length is given in inches and thickness in ring gauge (1/64 inch).
The shape of the cigar influences the experience as much as the tobacco itself. It is easy to be fooled by visual prejudice. In fact, a small cigarillo can have a stronger effect that a large thick cigar, which is regarded as softer and milder, even though it contains primarily the same type of tobacco. It is easier to produce exciting tobacco combinations (with several different types of tobacco) in one large cigar than a small one. A few popular cigar façons are: Pyramid, Corona, Churchill, Torpedo, Panatella, Cigarillo.
Why are handmade cigars uncut?
This is purely for transport safety purposes. The small lock at the tip simply prevents the cigar from rolling up. It is a difficult feat to cut out and “mount” this transport safety feature and when making a handmade cigar most of the time is spent on this.
Why do cigars have girdles (labels)?
Many cigars have girdles. Actually, it does not have any practical function today, but simply communicates the brand of the cigar. The use of the girdle started in the 1800 to protect gloves from becoming soiled, since many cigars were dusted with tobacco powder to produce an even and matt color.
The pros and cons of cigar girdles is an endless issue for smokers. If you prefer to remove the girdle then caution is necessary in order not to damage the wrapper. The simplest would be to take a few puffs and when the cigar becomes warm, the glue will melt.
However, when testing a cigar it is advantageous to retain the girdle on the cigar, to separate the different brands that are being tested.
What is fermentation?
Fermentation is a bio-chemical process that breaks down and matures the tobacco, which gives cigar tobacco its specific character. The tobacco darkens somewhat and a great deal of the nicotine in the tobacco disappears.
Fermentation is performed by allowing the tobacco to rest in large bales for several weeks. When the temperature reaches the desired level, the bales are restacked so that each tobacco leaf ends up in a new place. The outer ones are placed inside and the upper ones are placed lowest, etc. This is repeated several times during the process. Factors that affect fermentation are heat, humidity and pressure.
Fermentation, combined with choice of tobacco and slow air drying, contribute to cigar smoke being basic. Cigar smokers, who desire the good taste, take slow puffs, since the nicotine from basic smoke is absorbed directly into the mucous membranes of the oral cavity and should therefore not be inhaled as acid cigarette smoke.
Where does the best cigar tobacco come from?
“Best tobacco” is a relative term, where the user is the best judge. In the past, most tobacco came from Indonesia, Cuba and Brazil. But today, excellent tobacco is grown in the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Honduras. But, tobacco plantations are like wine, not just a question of country of origin and district. Small geographical differences and cultivation methods and skills can have considerable effect on the results. Stated simply, one can say that Indonesia produces mild and relatively neutral tobacco, while the Brazilian character is sweeter. The strongest and most aromatic tobacco is often found in Cuba or in the Dominican Republic.
Why is there no declaration of nicotine and tar content for cigars and cigarillos?
According to tobacco regulations, nicotine and tar contents must be stated on cigarette packets. But since there is no satisfactory measuring method for analyzing the values of nicotine and tar in cigar smoke, there is no corresponding demand on cigars and cigarillos. The reason that no standard measuring method has been found is that the products are available in many various forms and sizes and neither government officials nor the industry has been able to produce a model that works for all product versions.
However, values stated on cigarette packets do not measure the actual content in the cigarettes themselves but the values produced during smoking, which is measured in a standard smoke machine.
Why is smoke from cigars and cigarillos basic?
Basic smoke comes from the choice of tobacco type, slow air drying of leaves and fermentation of the tobacco. Nicotine is absorbed into the body from basic smoke through the mucous membrane in the oral cavity, which is the reason why cigar smoke is not inhaled but calm puffs are taken instead.
How much nicotine is absorbed into the body from cigar smoke?
There is no scientific measurement available on this, but an estimate done in the 1990s showed that an average of 10 percent compared with acid cigarette smoke. However, this is on condition that the cigar is smoked in the correct manner, meaning puffed and not inhaled. The basic character also contributes to the slow absorption of nicotine. Cigars are not smoked for the nicotine but for the taste.
How does one choose a cigar?
A good starting point for choosing a cigar is to consider the amount of tobacco and length. A small amount of tobacco often means less aroma, while an abundance of tobacco often produce a heavier aroma. A long cigar is self filtering, which can make it softer and milder than a short cigar.
The size of a cigar also says quite a lot about the time.
Choice of tobacco is crucial to the taste, not least the strength. A classic Havana cigar is among the richest tasting and strongest cigars, which is why it should not be considered a good choice for a beginner.
Before lighting a cigar, should it be licked or dipped in cognac?
The habit of moisturizing or licking the cigar, which is still done, originally began in wartime when it was difficult procuring good tobacco. The tobacco was of low quality, which required more glue in production. This made the cigar hard and stiff, which is why smokers softened them up by simply licking them.
Dipping the tip in cognac is a way of preventing the wrapper from splitting when the cigar is cut. Cognac dipping is a matter of taste, but of course it is debatable whether external tastes should be added to something that took many years to achieve the right taste.
How should a cigar be lit?
After choosing a cigar that suits the smoker in terms of size, taste and occasion, the quality of the cigar should be inspected. The wrapper should be undamaged and the cigar should not be too dry.
To open the cigar, the tip should be cut (the mouth end). This is done with a cigar-cutter. Cut the cigar just above the shoulder, where the cigar narrows towards the tip. The hole should be about the size of a pea. If the hole is too large, it could cause the wrapper to loosen and the cigar to roll up. If the hole is too small the draws will be heavy, which will create little smoke and the smoker will try to compensate by drawing even harder. This will produce a slim, sharp smoke line that could easily result in the cigar “saucing” and becoming bitter.
For igniting purposes, only odorless flames should be used, meaning flames from disposable lighters or matches. If matches are used, the sulfur should burn out before lighting the cigar so that the tobacco does not absorb the sulfurous taste. Benzine lighters or candles are absolutely not recommended since their aroma will spread and destroy the cigar.
The cigar should be held at a 45º angle above the visible flame, where it is the warmest. It should be rotated slowly to allow the binder and wrapper to glow in the form of a ring. Blowing lightly on the end of the cigar helps. If there remains a black rose in the middle, the cigar is not sufficiently warm (acid fire). A “moist” cigar never tastes good. The higher the glow temperature, the better the cigar will taste.
Finally, the flame is put to the cigar for the first puff, preferably from a cedarwood match for the sake of the aroma.
Cigar smoke is never inhaled, but allowed to circulate slowly around in the mouth and then exhaled. The cigar produces basic smoke, which allows the nicotine to be slowly absorbed through the mucous membrane in the oral cavity and therefore does not produce a nicotine kick that is sought by habitual smokers.
How does one smoke a cigar?
Compared with cigarettes, smoke from cigars and cigarillos are not inhaled. The reason is that the smoke is basic in character, which means that the nicotine is slowly absorbed through the mucous membrane in the oral cavity. However, cigarette smoke is acid, meaning low pH, which makes it necessary to inhale to absorb the nicotine.
How much of a cigar should be smoked?
This is a matter of taste. However, an excellent rule is to smoke two thirds of the cigar. The taste may change after that.
How does one extinguish a cigar?
Upon finishing a cigar, it should be placed on the ashtray. It will extinguish itself quickly without producing any unpleasant odors. A cigar should never be stubbed out.
Should an extinguished cigar be relit?
It is acceptable to relight an extinguished cigar if it has not become cold, by putting a flame to the end. However, if the cigar is cold, we recommend that you cut off one centimeter from the end and warm and relight the cigar. An extinguished cigar that is shorter than one third of its original length should not be relit. This is considered a butt and produces a burnt and bitter taste.
How could one get rid of smoke odor caused by a cigar?
With the exception of airing the room, we recommend small bowls of vinegar, which is very effective.
How should cigars be stored?
Cigars should be stored in a humidor, a box or a cabinet that keeps the temperature and humidity at a constant level. This is extra important in the north, since during winter, it is extremely dry indoors.
The ideal temperature for cigars is between 16-20 degrees and humidity should be between 64-68 percent for short fillers and 70-72 percent for long fillers. Humidity is controlled using a hygrometer which should be calibrated regularly (but the best source is a sensitive human hand). If the cigars are stored too dry, they dehydrate and split. If they are stored too humid and warm, they get moldy.
If a humidor is not available, there are other methods. Storing in a freezer or a humid air ventilated plastic trough are acceptable methods; probably not as charming as a humidor, but preferable to allowing the cigars to be destroyed by dehydration. However, the issue of freezing cigars is constantly being debated and it should be pointed out that what is gained through simple and relatively risk free storage is lost in maturity. All fine cigars namely improve through adequate storage, like fine wine. If one chooses to freeze cigars, they should be thawed slowly by being placed in a refrigerator to prevent the wrappers from splitting in the event of rapid temperature changes. But, it is then important that the cigars are properly covered in plastic to prevent them from absorbing foreign odors from foodstuffs.
How should one read the date code on the package?
The code shows both location and date of the manufacture of the product.
03 A 107 10
03 = manufacture day
A = month; A = January, B = February, etc.
107 = machine number
10 = Final digits state manufacture year