A cigar is a rolled bundle of dried and fermented tobacco leaves made to be smoked. They are produced in a wide variety of sizes and shapes. Since the 20th century, almost all cigars are made up of three distinct components: the filler, the binder leaf which holds the filler together, and a wrapper leaf. Often the cigar will have band printed with the cigar manufacturer’s logo.
Cigar tobacco is grown in significant quantities primarily in Central America and the islands of the Caribbean, including Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Panama, and Puerto Rico; it is also produced in the Eastern United States, the Mediterranean countries of Italy and Spain (in the Canary Islands), and in Indonesia and the Philippines of Southeast Asia.
The origins of cigar smoking are still unknown. A Guatemalan ceramic pot dating back to the tenth century features Mayan smoking tobacco leaves tied together with a string.
Cuban cigars are rolled from domestic tobacco leaves. The filler, binder, and wrapper may come from different portions of the island. All cigar production in Cuba is controlled by the Cuban government, and each brand may be rolled in several different factories in Cuba.
Torcedores are highly respected in Cuban society and culture, and travel worldwide displaying the art of hand rolling cigars.
Cuba produces both handmade and machine-made cigars. Habanos SA and Cubatabaco between them do all the work relating to Cuban cigars, including manufacture, quality control, promotion and distribution, and export. All boxes and labels are marked Hecho en Cuba (Spanish for made in Cuba). Machine-bunched cigars finished by hand add Hecho a mano, while fully handmade cigars say Totalmente a mano in script text, though not all Cuban cigars will include this statement. Because of the perceived status of Cuban cigars, counterfeits are somewhat commonplace.
Coming soon: a directory of Cuban Cigar suppliers in South Africa, as well as information and resources about Cuban Cigars