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joy

oh the Story | CRAIG VANDERSLICE

GENTLEMEN’S ROOM CIGAR NOTES

Premium hand-rolled cigars are an affordable luxury—a daily vacation for me, if you will.

M

CRAIG VANDERSLICE

ore than just a bunch of leaves rolled up, premium cigars are handcrafted with time and artistry. As I hold a favorite cigar in my hand—a Padrón 1964 Anniversary Series Exclusivo from Nicaragua—I’m in awe that the seeds for the leaves in this cigar were planted a minimum of three years ago. After two or three months of maturation, the leaves are harvested by hand, carefully and meticulously from the bottom of the plant to the top. Once picked, they are hung by hand in barns to cure. Once brown, they are sorted and placed in piles, called pilons, where they ferment. The pilon’s temperature is carefully monitored and it’s rotated by hand—perhaps several times over several months until the temperature stabilizes and the leaf has the desired color and texture. The leaves are

Tobacco plants in the field in Esteli, Nicaragua

then re-sorted, always by size and color, and baled up to be stored in a climate controlled warehouse for a year or more. Skilled artisans roll at least three and up to 10 different tobaccos (from all over the world different places on the plants, and different levels of fermentation) into cigars—and it’s not as easy as you’d think. In the simplest terms, the roller takes all the leaves in the cigar’s recipe and folds them in such a way that air may be drawn through the cigar— distributing evenly so every cigar tastes the same. He replicates this process up to 300 times a day—box after box, year after year. When you think about it, it’s a miracle that cigars are as affordable as they are luxurious. One of my favorites is the Padrón 1964 Anniversary Series Exclusivo, a 5 and one-half inch, 50 ring gauge cigar from Nicaragua. Padrón has produced exceptional cigars for the last 50 years and doesn’t disappoint with this one that always possesses bold flavors of coffee and cocoa. With several exquisite special editions—look for a 50th anniversary edition this year—they continue to produce consistently great cigars—examples of what Nicaraguan cigars should be. Sit back, light up and with an understanding of the myriad steps involved in producing a hand rolled, premium cigar, and enjoy with a new appreciation. JULY/AUGUST • 2014

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PRIME Living's 2014 "Food & Wine" Issue  

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