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Cigar Diary: The Virtues of Panetelas

Fine, Thin Cigars Offer Much More than Most Smokers Realize
James Suckling
From the Print Edition:
William Shatner, Sept/Oct 2006

(continued from page 1)

The interplay of these types of tobacco was really fascinating. I smoked all three at the same time—one after the other. I could quickly see the way they worked together. The seco seemed to be the tobacco that held the cigar together. It balanced the strength, almost coarseness of the ligero, while it freshened and enhanced the flavors of the volado. I tried smoking the volado and ligero at the same time and they fought against each another.

The bottom line is that the tasting proved that all three types of tobacco smoke best together, rather than one particular tobacco smoked on its own. In other words, the blend works and it's essential to everything. That's what a great cigar—Cuban or otherwise—is all about. Moreover, it doesn't matter whether the cigar is thin or fat.

Deborah Garcia, the quality control manager of the Partagas factory in Havana, who attended the Italian event, said it in a different way. "What is essential is the blend. That is what is Habanos. You can make a cigar from one tobacco, but that is not what a Habanos is."And the Cubans are always fine-tuning their blends. They announced this summer that they will be launching the Lanceros size, and other vitolas in the Cohiba range, in a maduro wrapper next year. So it should be even more obvious that thin smokes are just as good or better than thick ones. Habanos S.A., the global marketing and distribution company for Cuban cigars, says that the maduro wrappers are all naturally processed (whatever that means) and have a minimum of two years of age. A number of growers in Pinar del Río I've spoken with said that they had been leaving the top leaves, which they call the corona, on their tobacco crop for an extra two weeks before harvesting for the project. This should help produce the riper and darker tobacco.

In any case, just how maduro the new line of Cohiba will be remains to be seen. What can be said is that the introduction of the new smokes is a boost for anyone who appreciates a finer and thinner cigar.

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