Leroy Lamar, co-founder of ATL Cigar Co., discusses what’s new with the company, including some new vitolas for three of its lines.
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How Cigars Are Made
Cigars are a time-honored pastime that bring together similar-minded people for a social experience and can be an excellent excuse to try new brands and vitolas. It is important to note that cigar smoking can cause significant oral health problems and can be addictive, so it should only be smoked in moderation.
A cigar is a cylindrical roll of cut tobacco that consists of a wrapper leaf and binder leaf. The wrapper is the most expensive part of a cigar and must be strong, elastic, silky in texture and even in color. The binder, which holds the tobacco filler together, must also be a good quality and should offer a fine gustatory and aromatic experience.
The cigarmaker uses the filler, wrapper and binder leaves to create his or her signature blends and flavors. The cigarmaker can also choose from several primings, which are different tobacco types, to achieve desired strength, complexity and aroma. The wrapper, which is the outermost layer of the tobacco leaf, undergoes a process called destemming (or despalillo), where the stem is removed from the leaf, usually by hand or by a machine.
Once the cigar is made, it goes through a secondary aging process that further dissipates any acidity and brings out desirable notes of sweetness. Once a cigar is perfectly aged, it can be packaged and sold at its most flavorful.
The artisanal nature of cigars is apparent in their packaging, which often features intricate details and artwork influenced by ancient Mesoamerican cultures. Foundation Cigars, for example, draws on images of Olmec heads to showcase its ties to the first civilization in the Americas. Despite these connections, Foundation Cigars remains a brand aimed at adults and doesn’t include flavored cigars in its line, which have been popular with youth since 2021.