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ORIGINS, CULTURE AND HISTORY

The cheroot is said to be the oldest style of cigar, with origins traced back to Asia, and has been long-established in the countries of Myanmar (Burma) and India. Its popularity in this region is mostly likely due to it being an easy and economical way to enjoy tobacco as well as to serve as a convenient mosquito repellent to prevent tropical diseases. In fact, they are so popular that they have been described as “a Burmese facial feature.” Cheroots have also made appearances in Burmese and Indian literature for centuries as well as works by George Orwell and Rudyard Kipling. So it comes as no surprise that many cheroots come from Myanmar. Traditionally, most cheroots are produced in the Shan States in East Myanmar, with leaf plantations being their main cash crop. A ten pack of cheroots typically sells for about $1.20. These little green cheroots are seen throughout the country, but most enjoyed by those in the city. In Inle Lake, the cheroots are known particu-

WHERE CAN I GET THEM TODAY?

Cheroots have some deep seeded roots in history. Luckily, they aren’t relegated to the past. Typically mild smokes, they are perfect for beginners and are affordable to produce and purchase. It is no wonder that cheroot-style cigars continue to be produced all over the world, making access to cheroots fairly simple. If you want to try Burmese cheroots, you’ll have to travel to Myanmar. That is, unless you have a traveling buddy that will bring you some to try. In Lucca and Cava de’ Tirreni, the Manifatture Sigaro Toscano S.p.A company still manufactures historical Toscano brand cigars. Epitomizing the Italian lifestyle, the Toscano has earned international recognition and is now being sold in over 40 countries. In the U.S, if you want real cheroots you need to seek out the Avanti Cigar Company, which produces brands such as Kentucky Cheroot, Parodi, DiNobili, and Ramrod. Inspired by the Italian Tos-

The cheroot is said to be the oldest style of cigar, with origins traced back to Asia, and has been long-established in the countries of Myanmar (Burma) and India.

WHAT IS A CHEROOT CIGAR?

The word cheroot is derived from the French Tamil word for roll of tobacco, cheroute. A Google search of cheroot is flooded with images of rural Burmese women happily smoking giant white cornhusks over bowls, or of Cowboy Clint Eastwood with a tiny brown stick hanging out the side of his mouth. Very different in appearance and culture, yet as it happens, they are both considered cheroots. This style of cigar actually goes by other more familiar names such as Toscano and Cigarillo. In addition, its appearance and flavor vary across cultures and geographical regions.

The cheroot is said to be

Despite the diversity, all cheroots have one thing in common. They are open at both ends during manufacturing and either tapered a slight bit, or not at all, making them very affordable to roll. The most common are thinner than a traditional cigar and do not need to be stored in a humidor.

long-established in the

In Myanmar, the wrapper is made of Tha-nut hpet leaves from the Sebesten tree. Inside is often a complex blend of tobacco, wood chips, dried fruit like banana and pineapple, star anise, brown sugar, tamarind, honey, and rice whiskey, just to name a few. These ingredients yield sweet and fragrant smokes that are known to freshen one’s breath. You can’t really say that about most cigars. The filter is comprised of either dry cornhusks or sugar cane fibers. Both have differing effects on smoke strength. Some brands even change their recipe to complement the season. For those hot summer days, a mild smoke filtered with cornhusks may be preferred, but for those cold rainy days, a bolder smoke filtered with sugar cane fibers would be fitting.

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SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2016

the oldest style of cigar, with origins traced back to Asia, and has been countries of Myanmar (Burma) and India.

larly for their delicious flavors. In fact, they are so focused on flavor that there isn’t much room for tobacco. Some cheroots from Inle Lake only contain a single tobacco leaf. However, in this region the women are famous for their hand-rolling skills, famously rolling up to 500 cheroots a day, which is about one per minute! Not only are women famous for rolling cheroots, they are also well known for smoking them. They prefer the larger ones that are popular in the countryside or in areas of Mandalay. Also called the whackin’ white cheroot, they have a fresh and sweet aroma that the women enjoy as they sit in social circles, smoking over hand held bowls. In Myanmar, cheroots are a major part of society and frequently enjoyed publically as well as socially. They are often given as gifts for guest during ceremonies.

cano-style, Avanti is the only company making dry-cured cigars in the United States. I was very excited when I first discovered cheroots as I hope this article will make you want to try some yourself. Not only are they a mild relaxing smoke for cigar aficionados, but they are a great introductory cigar for beginners. Plus, it is always more fun to know the back story, because it becomes more than just another type of cigar. Smoking a cheroot becomes an experience of history, culture and lifestyle with every draw.

During the days of colonization, cheroots naturally became very popular among the British. Since then, there have been many variations of this style seen throughout the world. In Italy, Toscano-style cheroots are prevalent. Produced in Tuscany since the 19th century, Toscano cheroots use fermented Kentucky tobacco and are smaller at the foot and head than at the belly and have no binder. Unlike Burmese cheroots, Toscano cheroots are more intense and savory, yet the higher sugar content makes them slightly sweet. In North America, the characteristic style of cheroot is short, brown and rustic. Dating back to the 1800’s, Old Virginia Cheroots are one of the oldest of this style produced in the Americas. Made from American tobacco, Kentucky cheroots are more on the spicy side and flavored with anisette and bourbon. Interestingly enough, these are not the ones smoked by Clint Eastwood in his Western movies. In fact, he was smoking a style of Italian Toscano called Toscanello. WWW.CIGARANDSPIRITS.COM

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Cigar & Spirits Magazine October Edition

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