PCA 2023: What’s in my Bag – Charlie Minato

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The Fine Art of Smoking Cigars

Cigars are more than just a way to pass the time – they are an art form, an opportunity to refine one’s palate and enjoy the complexities of tobacco. But, like all tobacco products, cigars can have negative effects on one’s health if consumed excessively. That being said, many people report that smoking cigars provides enjoyment and relaxation as well as social bonding in their lives.

The nuances of a fine cigar are derived from careful cultivation and aging. Tobacco leaves are arranged in huge piles (pilones) and left to ferment, a combination of pressure and natural heat that removes unwanted flavors such as bitterness. After fermentation, the leaves are aged in bales or boxes to add polish and smoothness to the leaf.

When selecting a cigar, look for a good, smooth draw and an even burn. A well-made cigar will also smell fresh and clean with no blemishes or soft spots. Consistency is also important, but just like wine, there will be slight differences between cigars due to growing conditions and crop quality.

It is often said that 200 pairs of hands touch a cigar before it makes its way to the smoker’s humidor. This is an accurate estimate because it takes a great deal of skill to produce the finest handmade cigars. From cutting the leaf to putting the finishing touches on the wrapper, cigar production is a massive endeavor involving many different skills. As a result, a high-quality cigar will be much more expensive than its mass-produced counterpart.

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