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Jack Bettridge

Why a Culebra?

Posted: Jul 17, 2007 11:07am ET
The culebra cigar shape has always flummoxed me. Spanish for snake, a culebra is a crooked viper of a cigar, usually packaged in a set of three intertwined around each other. It’s novel, but what would possess anyone to roll tobacco in that way? They’re hard to package, weird to smoke and they don’t fit in any cigar case I know of.

I’d been ruminating over the mystery particularly lately since we recently tasted a culebra as part of a tasting for an upcoming issue. Then it hit me while in the act of typing said cigar review: With a culebra, you can smoke and type at the same time while keeping the smoke out of your eyes. Simply turn the cigar to the side of your face and let the smoke funnel away from you.

Is that problem solved now officially solved, or does someone have a more viable explanation for the existence of these serpentine cigars?

Comments   5 comment(s)

Steven Marsh — Phoenix —  July 17, 2007 12:49pm ET

Hi Jack~I always felt a culebra was a novel way to share a cigar with two friends. Granted they are difficult to transport for a night out. However, if one had a couple of guests over to their house, it would be great to compare opinions of what is technically the same cigar and it just makes for a great conversation piece.~steve

Nicolas Fauteux — Mont-Saint-Hilaire, QC —  July 17, 2007 1:44pm ET

I believe that, originally, it was conceived as a way to nicely bundle three cigars without the need of packaging or the inconvenience of loose sticks.So, the advantage is not in the smoking part, it is in the "sell & carry" part.

B Casanova — Asheville, NC —  July 17, 2007 2:05pm ET

I have read that they were made originally for the factory workers and rollers. In the past, the workers were allowed to smoke a certain number of cigars throughout the day. The company, in turn, lost a high quality portion of their product. As a result, the cigars designated for smoking by the workers were braided into three while they were still pliable. The sight of a culebra being smoked is unmistakable, preventing the workers from sneaking the higher quality product meant for the consumer.

Dewey Green — D Green, Chapel Hill NC —  July 17, 2007 3:06pm ET

I've always heard the culebra originated when a roller could take home one cigar a day to smoke. An ingenious roller rolled three together to get his "one" cigar and you had a culebra.

Mike van Wingerden — Kortenhoef, The Netherlands,  —  June 23, 2013 6:31am ET

As far as I know a culebra is a way to seal a deal or celebrate a partnership between 'three amigos'.

After looking for years, I was able to secure 2 boxes of 3 culebras each (a total of 2 x 3 x3 = 18 cigars) made by Partagas, at the airport in Madrid.

I still have a few left but have also smoked some with special friends. It is a very special experience and they are lovely smokes.

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