Chapter 1.General View on Cigars

at Casa Centrala a Armatei ( Army Palace Bucharest )

ONE OF MY FAVOURITE VISITS

DSCF4179My first cigar at Graycliff‘s


Rolling Cigars at the Graycliff

My dear friend Sr. Enrico Garzaroli , talking about Graycliff Cigars

Bahamas Island – Nassau – another place to be when it comes to shopping tax free but the “piece de resistance” would be “Graycliff” a extraordinary establishment owned by Enrico and Paolo Garzaroli .

A hotel , a restaurant , a churrascaria , a cigar factory like no other under the direct supervision of Avelino Lara the creator of Cohiba – the very same Signor Avelino Lara that made cigars for Fidel Castro – El Comandante for about 17 years -and the one that stood behind Trinidad , La Hoya Cubana , Hoyo de Monterrey , Romeo Y Julieta and a few other brands and raised and maintained these brands and put them where they are today – AT THE TOP!Many famous people come to this establishment for the perfect privacy it offers for the perfect cuisine and forthe amazing wine cellar the 3rd. Biggest and most expensive in the world…that is a place well locked up …one will find very expensive and very rare wines , cognacs and other spirits – Chateau Margaux 1900 , XIX Century Cognacs , 1800 Port , the oldest professionally bottled bottle of wine – only from 1727! and many cigars very well preserved and some very old ones to ( up to 200 years ) and the humidor that belonged to Napoleon Bonaparte !

When it comes to the cellar , I’ve seen some items there one would never believe , it is world renowned, with an inventory of 250,000 bottles from over 400 vintners in 15 countries. The cellar is a wine connoisseur’s dream, the inventory ranges from such wines as an 1865 Château Lafite to today’s most popular vintages. In addition to the considerable wine inventory, Graycliff also boasts one of the world’s largest selections of Cognacs, Armagnac and Ports.

Mr. Enrico Garzaroli says “I collect wines. The wine cellar is the heart of Graycliff, with an accumulation of over 250,000 bottles. If you’re looking for something distinct, chances are it’s in my wine cellar.

For me, it was an extraordinary and challenging feat to have accumulated one of the top wine cellars in the world. Not only are we quite a distance from the major producers, but wine is an antique drink-The Bahamas is “New World.” “.

At one momment during my visits at Graycliff , Mr. Garzaroli told me that Herecalls one evening, after returning from Miami, an Iranian and two of his friends ran up a $60,000 dinner fare while drinking 1961 Lafite, which retails at my restaurant for about $1,900 a bottle. For most of us this may seem exorbitant, but many connoisseurs know exactly what they want, and price is not a factor. Some of my clients order classic clarets from the early 1900s, such as 1911 Latour at $3,100 or 1924 Haut Brion at $2,450. They are extremely sophisticated drinkers with discriminating palates.

All of Graycliff’s cigars adhere to the strict standards of quality set by Cigar Company founder Enrico Garzaroli and Graycliff’s world renowned torcedor, Avelino Lara.

Using the finest tobaccos, each cigar is meticulously hand-crafted, to fit the exacting specifications of it’s respective series, series that were developed to deliver individual qualities of aroma and flavor, with cigars suited for every palate, preference and occasion. Master Torcedore Avelino Lara works with Cuban torcedores at Graycliff, following traditional Cuban techniques.

Characteristics of the Graycliff Espresso Cigar *…

DSCF4186


This powerhouse is ideal for those who constantly ask, “Don’t you have anything stronger?” The shadowy, dark, rough-textured Costa Rican wrapper—a sterile hybrid of topmost Cuban-seed corojo—hints at the power to be unleashed with the very first puff. Cuban-seed Cameroon, Ecuadorian ligero (the strongest leaf of the plant) and a touch of soothing Philippine simaba are some of the tobaccos that make this a cigar that lives up to its hard-hitting Espresso name. Our favorite of this three-shape limited-edition line is the Pirate, 6 x 52, a torpedo in more ways than one.

Anyone who doubts the cigar-rolling prowess of Avelino Lara needa to check out his previous employer: Fidel Castro. Prior to landing his current gig at Graycliff, a venerable mansion-style guest house and restaurant on the Bahamian island of Nassau, Lara served as the Cuban dictator’s private cigar roller.

These days, Lara applies his talent to satisfying the tobacco needs of capitalistic vacationers who enjoy lounging on the comfy sofas of Graycliff’s parlor, grooving to the in-house piano player’s jazzy classics, imbibing from the well-stocked cellar (one reveler recently spent $60,000 on an 1875 Romanée-Conti) and sending up puffs of fragrant smoke from the magnificently fresh, deliciously rich homespun stogies.

Master Torcedore Avelino Lara works with Cuban torcedores at Graycliff, following traditional Cuban techniques. The tobaccos are cared for and chosen by him, the blend is obviously his secret. Cheerful, always ready to laugh with the guests of Graycliff, where he works and lives, Avelino remembers his life in Cuba, where he created the famed Cohibas for Fidel Castro.

Discontent over government interference with his artistry led Avelino Lara to abandon Cuba. He had reached the age of retirement when Graycliff’s Enrico Garzaroli offered Lara his own factory in Nassau with the only condition being that he create memorable cigars. Today he enjoys the marvelous Nassau climate and works with Garzaroli to create Graycliff’s splendid cigars, truly memorable cigars designed by a memorable man.

One could learn about cigars just as much as one can learn about wines …or art for that matter.

This has become such a vast field as well , especially when we talk about how the cigar has been made , where is it coming from , the kind of leafs have been used and…who made it – cause that dear readers sometimes or most of the time ….MAKES THE DIFFERENCE!

And who else will be the biggest producer then….CUBA!

There are so many famous brands , quite old , with renowned , huge reputation that will sell in the hundreds of dollars …per piece and there are not so old and famous brands to whom however one will be able to attach strong quality atributes!

Among the countries producing cigars we could name a few just to have a general view over this industry:

Wrappers


Double Claro – very light, slightly greenish (also calledCandela, American Market Selection or jade); achieved by picking leaves before maturity and drying quickly; often grown in Connecticut

-Claro – light tan or yellowish. Indicative of shade-grown tobacco

Natural – light brown to brown; generally sun-grown.

-Colorado Claro – mid-brown; particularly associated with tobacco grown in the Dominican Republic or Cuba.

-Colorado – reddish-brown (also called Rosado or “Corojo”)

-Colorado Maduro – dark brown; particularly associated with Honduran or Cuba grown tobacco

-Maduro – dark brown to very dark brown

-Oscuroa.k.a. “Double Maduro”, black, often oily in appearance; mainly grown in Cuba , Nicaragua , Brazil , Mexico and Connecticut ( USA ).

-American Market Selection (AMS) – synonymous with Double Claro

-English Market Selection (EMS) – can refer to any color stronger than Double Claro but milder than Maduro.

-Spanish Market Selection (SMS) – either of the two darkest colors, Maduro and Oscuro.

store1Cigar Store somewhere on Earth…..

  • HONDURAS

  • Aliados

  • Baccarat

  • Bargain Bundles

  • Camacho

  • CAO

  • Carlos Torano

  • Crown Fumas

  • Don Jose

  • Don Lino

  • Don Mateo

  • Don Tomas

  • El Rey del Mundo

  • Encanto

  • Excalibur

  • Exhibit

  • Flor de Copan

  • Flor de Jardin

  • Flor de Selva

  • Habana

  • Helix

  • Hoyo de Monterrey

  • Indian Tabac

  • Joya De Havana

  • La Aroma de Cuba

  • Las Cabrillas

  • Punch

  • Puros Indios

  • REO/Vibe – manufactured by Rocky Patel for United Tobacco

  • Rocky Patel Premium Cigars

  • Sancho Panza

  • Smokin’ Toad

  • Thomas Hinds

  • Villa Zamorano

  • Zino

  • HUNGARY

  • Ász

  • ITALY

  • Toscano

  • Romano

  • MEXICO

  • Aromas de San Andrés

  • A. Turrent

  • Cesars

  • Ejecutivos

  • El Aroma

  • Hoja de Mexicali

  • Hoja de Oro

  • Hoyo de Casa

  • Irene

  • Matacan

  • Miranda

  • Mocambo

  • Santa Clara 1830

  • Te-Amo – The name means “I love you” in Spanish.

  • Veracruz

  • THE NETHERLANDS

  • Agio

  • Elisabeth Bas

  • Henri Wintermans

  • Hajenius

  • Heren van Ruysdaal

  • Hofnar

  • Huifkar

  • Justus van Maurik

  • Karel 1

  • La Paz

  • de Olifant

  • Oud Kampen

  • Panter

  • Ritmeester

  • Schimmelpenninck

  • Senator

  • Uiltje

  • Willem II

As anyone will see , there are so many brands , so many sizes ….which one to choose , which one will one enjoy best?

The answer is not that difficult to give…..you have to puff a few and then…

None of the less , whoever chooses to begin smoking cigars should read something about , not just for fun , but to understand where these cigars are coming from , how are they made , the huge effort and the tradition behind it .

It is in did complicated and one should learn to understand the aroma , the smell , the feel whena cigar is touched ….I know it sounds a bit strange but handling a cigar will tell you the quality , how that particlualr cigar has been kept and so forth….

As you may know , storage in HUMIDORS is a MUST !

Every humidor should have a HIGROMETER in order to have a close watch on the humidity as it is of the outmost importance that the cigars are at 70 – 80 on the higrometer scale

NO WATER , but DISTILLED WATER should be used instead in the humidor sponges !

The way you prepare a cigar is very important as well , the way you execute the CUT !

Now , there are a few ways to cut / prepare a cigar and it would be the following:

  • straight cutter / cigar scisors – many brands , many shapes and sizes.

  • bullet hole maker – various gauges ( diameter )

  • a toothpik should work just fine as well

    A cigars etui / holder , anyone should posess

I’m the prod owner of such a leather cigars case signed by Mr. Zino Davidoff and let me tell you that is what suits best for any cigar of any size….

It is more and more fashionable to have a big ashtray …not just fashionable …the real reason would be that one’s cigar should rest well on the shoulder of a ashtray so the ashes hold and have a unspoiled experience .

That’s another story…there are many shapes and sizes as well…and prices

One would be able to purchase a decent humidor for 50 euros as well as for 12.000 ……

There are exclusive / high end humidor makers having such prices in their catalogues

Graycliff , the only maker that’s close to my heart will provide such a exclusive humidor , engraved / signed by Mr. Avelino Lara or , a Crocodile Skin Cigar Box made only for the Espresso Cigars :


DSCF6756A good cigar and a glass of wine in St. Marteen sometime in 2006

How did a begin smoking cigars / the first close encounter :

Year 1993 , October , practice at Intercontinental Hotel – Bucharest , Reception / Concierge Area ….long story short…here comes this cowboy ( the whole shabang…bluejeans , cowboy hat and boots …cigar at hand ) towards the desk …he puffed once from the cigar and asked me :”could you link me to my room please , I’d like to talk to my wife”….blowing the smoke to my face.

Needless to say that I turned white ( not a smoker! ) nearly colapsed on my feet ….I’ve succeded however calling His wife and passing the call ….whatever….Only after had he realised the huge drama I was going thru over there and said :”I’m sory young man , did not know that bothers you !”…I said „OK” and that was the end of it .

Later on , intrigued by the smell and the whole situation I’ve started reading about cigars …found an article in „Der Spiegel” , then one in „The Economist”…and so on…then I found a book and I said to myself :”why not buy it?”….and I did , then one more book in Martinique a few years later and so on…

Whatever the publication may be , one will be able to learn something different and a bit more cause every day a certain producer will come with another tobacco combination , with a different wrapper , a new label , new aroma and for the cigar lovers this is important …you need to be up to date !

WHAT IS A STRUCTURE OF A CIGAR ?

A cigar is made of three parts: filler, binder and wrapper.

The Filler gives a cigar its essential flavor. There are three different types of leaf that are normally used for the filler.

  • Ligero leaves from the top of the plant are dark and full in flavor. They have to be matured for at least three years before they can be used in cigar making. Ligero tobacco is always placed in the middle of the cigar, because it burns slowly. If it is too near the wrapper, the cigar will burn unevenly.

    Seco leaves, from the middle of the plant, are much lighter in color and flavor. They are usually used after maturing for around 18 months.

Volado leaves, from the bottom of the plant, have little or no flavor, but they have good burning qualities. They are matured for about nine months before use.

The Binder encloses the filler and gives the cigar its proper shape and size. Binders usually come from the bottom part of the plant, where the leaves are thicker and have more strength.

The Wrapper is the outermost leaf of a cigar. Because its appearance is especially important, quality of the wrapper is crucial in any cigar and generally, can account for up to 70 percent of the tobacco by value. A good wrapper should have flavor and steady-burning qualities. Smokers examine a cigar for appealing appearance, texture and aroma and this is where a good wrapper justifies its high cost.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HAND MADE AND MACHINE MADE ?

The essential difference between handmade and machine-made cigars lies in the fact that, on the whole, most machine-made cigars aren’t made with long fillers (fillers which run the whole length of the cigar) but with short fillers, which make the drawing and burning quality (they burn faster and become hotter) significantly inferior. The quality of wrappers on machine-made cigars is also usually inferior to those used on the best handmade.

Handmade cigars are so much more expensive than machine-made quite simply because they take longer to make, are labor-intensive, and use much more expensively produced and matured leaves. The hand making process also leads to wastage.

HOW DOES ONE MAKE A CIGAR ?

The first step is to put the filler and binder, called the bunch, together. Filler leaves are crimped in an accordion style so they lie neatly and flatly over one another. This ensures even disbursement of tobacco and creates horizontal air canals, which allow for an easy draw. It is also important that there is no soft spots that would make the cigar burn unevenly. Too much tobacco in the filler will prevent an easy draw, while too little tobacco will make the cigar burn too hot. Binder leaves complete the bunch and give the cigar its shape. They should be elastic enough to comfortably hold the filler tobacco.

The next step is to place the bunch into molds to ensure that they retain their shape.

The molds are varied in size according to the shape desired. The bunches are then turned in the molds and pressed for another 10 minutes.

The finishing touch to a cigar is the addition of a wrapper. The leaf should be elastic and very thin, and must be carefully trimmed according to the size of the cigar.

HOW DOES ONE CHOOSE A CIGAR ?

Introduction
Like any of life’s great pleasure – eating, drinking and smoking – the final word on cigars is, to each his own. Experts might make general pronouncements – for example, that a certain size or strength must be smoked at a certain time of day: a mild cigar in the morning, a medium one after lunch, a stronger one after dinner. But that is truly a matter of taste and appearance.

The great Zino Davidoff offered the last word on choosing a cigar: “What is most important is to be sure of your taste. You can understand now why my response to the usual question, “Monsieur Davidoff, what do you suggest?” is always so evasive. After all, you select according to color, shape, brand name, and eventually you will be attracted to one or two cigars that seem right.

Cigars at Various Times of Day
Whether different cigars are suitable for different time of day is again a matter of preference. Usually an aficionado will smoke small, mild cigars during the day before enjoying a large, rich cigar in the evening.

Cigars and Beverages
A wide choice of beverages can complement cigars. Cognac, a traditional companion, can add greatly to the smoking experience. “Light” alcohol such as wines and champagnes or stronger alcohol such as Single malt Scotches, whiskeys, ports, Armagnacs, brandies. Some nonalcoholic drinks pair well with cigars, including fine coffees (cappuccinos and espressos), and tea. Experiment with different drinks while smoking, and decide what’s most enjoyable to you. But be careful that what you drink is not stronger than what you smoke or it will “kill” the aroma of your cigar.

From beginner to connoisseur
As a general rule, cigars with larger ring gauges tend to be fuller flavored (there is normally more ligero and less volado in the blend), smoke more smoothly and slowly, and heat up less fast than those with small ring gauges. They also tend to be better made than the smaller ones. Cigars with small ring gauges often have little or no ligero tobacco in the filler blends. Large ring gauge cigars are almost always the preferred choice – if there is no hurry – of connoisseurs or experienced cigar smokers.

The beginner, however, is advised to choose a relatively small cigar, say a trés petit corona or panetela, and then move up to the bigger sizes of a mild brand. A Lonsdale is probably the best cigar above the corona size to move up to when you feel you have gone beyond the beginner stage.

The color of a cigar’s wrapper (the part of the filler that you can see) will give you more clues, though it is not infallible since the filler blend is the key, as to its flavor. As a rule of thumb, the darker a cigar, the more full-bodies and (since darker wrappers contain more sugar) sweeter it is likely to be. Cigars, if properly stored, continue to mature and ferment in their cedar boxes. This aging process, during which a cigar loses acidity, is not unlike the maturing of good wine. Fuller bodied cigars, particularly those with big ring gauges, tend to age better than milder ones.

Cutting a Cigar

How the sealed end head of the cigar is cut ultimately determines the quality of the draw, the subtlety and intensity of the cigar’s aroma, in addition to assuring that the cigar remains evenly lit. The cut should be directly proportional to the thickness of the cigar, be clean and large enough to permit a proper draw.

HOW TO LIGHT A CIGAR ?

Cigar should be lit with a short flame. Hold the flame 1/2″ under the open end of the cigar and rotate the cigar until the end is evenly lit. Then, and only then, bring the cigar to your mouth and enjoy the first puff. Cigar can also be lit with gas lighter or torch lighter, what is important is to have a non-odorless flame i.e. do not use Zippo lighter. A cigar should not be lit too quickly or slowly, but rather patiently with small puffs.

“Cigar smoke should not be inhaled, but should be savored in the mouth, rolled around the tongue and exhaled either through the mouth.”

“Smoke less, but smoke the best”. Do not rashly light up a cigar if you do not have the time to enjoy it, but create time to indulge in the pleasure.”

Zino Davidoff

WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THE BAND / RING ?

Whether or not to remove the band is a matter of controversy. Since cigar bands are manually put onto most hand-made cigars, there is always the chance that these bands will stick to the wrapper and damage the cigar. Therefore, it is highly recommended to leave the band on for at least the first third of the cigar so that the glue gets hot to make it easier to remove the band without damaging the wrapper.

RING GAUGE

A standard industry measurement for the diameter of a cigar in 64ths of an inch. A cigar with a 52 ring gauge, for example, measures 52/64ths of an inch in diameter. Ring gauge for figurados shaped cigar may be written as 46/49, as it is not straight-sided, or with a tapered head or foot.

CIGAR DESTROYERS / BUGS!!

Although all tobacco should be fumigated, it is still some time possible for the cigar bugs to escape from fumigation and lie dormant in the leaf of your cigar. The only way to deal with this problem is to throw out all damaged cigars and then to thoroughly clean and aerate your humidor. Place all undamaged cigars in a plastic ziplock bag. After sealing, put it in the freezer for three days. Then remove the cigars and thaw them out slowly, preferable in a refrigerator first and then in a normal room, until the whole body of the cigar has reached the room temperature. But don’t withdraw them too quickly; otherwise, the wrapper will split. If done properly, your cigars will be back to normal and the dreaded enemy will have been destroyed. However, remember, this should be the first and the last time that you should put your cigars in the refrigerator.

CARE INSTRUCTIONS ! ONCE AGAIN !

1. Use only sodium free distilled water in your humidor.

2. Fill each element with approximately 3oz of water (or until saturated). Acanta suggests you to use a bottle with a nozzle to pour the water directly into the slots; the elements inside the slots will absorb more water. Allow the elements to absorb the water for at least 15 minutes. Stand the elements on their short side to allow excess water to drain for at least 5 – 10 minutes. Wipe the elements dry, make sure it is not leaking water and place them at the top of the humidor.

3. For the first month fill them once a week. After the first month fill them once a month.

4. The hygrometer is very accurate, but it takes a little time to acclimate to the humidity in the box. So for the first few weeks it will not read accurately. Don’t worry, your humidification systems are self-regulating and will begin producing the correct amount of humidity as soon as you fill them.

5. Only use non-abrasive soft cloth to clean the exterior of the box. If you like, glass cleaner can be used, but apply it to the cloth then wipe the humidor. Do not apply any cleaning agents directly to the box.

6. Do not expose your humidor directly to light (especially sunlight). This will cause the stain to fade and under extreme conditions could damage the structure of the box.

7. Under normal circumstances the interior of the box does not need to be wiped down or cleaned. If you live in a very dry climate, the humidity may be lower than normal. Then, lightly wipe the interior with a paper towel dampened with distilled water. Make sure to squeeze any excess water and you should only do this if it is absolutely necessary and only do it sparingly.

DSCF5986

mediumI simply prefer cigars and wine for myself , but hey …this is a very good choice as well…besides this….nice photo!

//

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Published on October 15, 2008 at 12:03  Comments (3)  

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