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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Fresh Rolled Cigars - Smoke Fresh Or Wait?

Certified Master Tobacconist #1801
Fresh Rolled Cigars-Smoke Fresh or Wait?

What is a fresh rolled cigar? A fresh rolled cigar is a cigar that is handed to you by the roller or rolled within a couple of hours. Although not for everyone, I think every lover of the leaf should experience a truly fresh rolled cigar. A fresh rolled cigar has unique characteristics that are only found straight from the table. The flavor and characteristics of a fresh rolled cigar cannot be obtained any other way. Many will argue that a fresh rolled cigar is too moist because wrapper and binder tobaccos are at humidity levels much higher than 70% RH for rolling purposes.  Obviously, this is a personal opinion that must be experienced individually.

Is it worth waiting a few days to let the moisture content ease? One word, NO! Once the cigar moisture content begins to subside the wrapper leaf and binder leaf become bitter and unpleasant. This period is referred by many as the “sick period”. This causes the natural by-product of ammonia. Not a pleasant smoking attribute. As the sick period begins, it helps the filler and binder tobaccos to meld with the wrapper leaf to complete the blending process. Many in the industry refer to this stage as marrying. Once the marrying process begins the tobaccos get “sick” (sound familiar?). This sickness typically starts around 24 hours after the wrapper leaf has been rolled onto the bunch and last about 60 days. During this period the tobaccos are settling, seeking humidity equilibrium, and releasing ammonia and other impurities.

 When I obtain fresh rolled cigars I always try at least 4. The first one I try that day. The next three I try in one month intervals. Take notes on each cigar and observe the progression of the flavors of the cigar congruent to the aging process.  In conclusion, give a fresh rolled cigar a shot. You’ll be surprised at the unique flavors you may find. Smoke it within 24 hours or wait at least 30 to 60 days for the cigar to recover from the sick period.