Tuesday, 24 February 2015

The Making of Macanudo Cigars

A frontmark was a fancy name in the U.S. given to the front of cigar boxes that indicated the shape and  size of the cigar sold particularly under a company’s brand name. Frontmarks are  not standard though. Many companies have their own descriptions which change from time to time.

The Cuban makers of Punch gave the name “Macanudo” to a frontmark created in Jamaica.  When General Cigar acquired the rights to that name outside Cuba, they introduced a new cigar by the name of  Macanudo. It was manufactured in Jamaica under the guidance of Ramón Cifuentes. In 2000, the production shifted to the Dominican Republic.

Dominican Republic has the special soil that is needed to grow some of the best cigar fillers in the world. Cigars form an indispensable part of Dominican Republic’s culture, history, and economics. It all started when the Spaniards landed there in 1492, and introduced the locals to tobacco.

Now, let’s see how expertise crafts itself into every single Macanudo and why smoke of  Macanudo cigars is special.

The process begins even before the tobacco seeds are laid in the ground. The soil is checked for composition, acidity and the likes by skilled agronomists from the factory. An ideal environment is ensured for every seed by adding special nutrients. The seeds are carefully selected, and the whole process is overlooked by the agronomists.

The next process is of curing and fermentation. Mature leaves are plucked and sent through an air-curing process for 30 days. They are then slowly dried by hanging in sheds or barns to make them lose their moisture content and release natural sugars. The leaves change their color from green to yellow, then orange, and finally a dark, beautiful brown. There is an additional process of fermentation that lasts up to six months.And that is just the beginning.

The wrapper tobacco is left alone in bales to age for at least two years. The fillers are also made to age, but in a more sophisticated style. The dried brown leaves are ridden of the extending mid-stem by hands and placed into tercios, which are handmade bales crafted out of royal palm bark. They are left for two years during which the flavors deepen and the intricate aromatic nuances develop. At the end of those two years, they are packed into Dominican rum barrels where the aroma and taste gets a notch higher.

The next step is stripping and selecting. It involves removing the main stem totally from the leaf. For that, they need to be re-humidified to adequate moisture levels. That is done so that a certain amount of elasticity is introduced into the dried leaf  and no damage is done when the main stem is eased out of the frame. This a followed by a tedious leaf selection process. All the leaves that reach this stage are then sorted out by consistency and color. Only top-notch experts are involved in this job because a cigar’s nothing if not its blend.

After the selected leaves are blended according to the guarded recipes, they go through the classic entubar process for getting bunched up. The bunch is then covered with the binder leaf and placed into the desired mold. Skilled rollers then deftly wrap that bunch in the wrapper and apply a cap. After the bands are placed and individual cigars enveloped in cellophane, crystal, or metal tubes, they are packed into specially crafted boxes.

What makes Macanudo cigars special is that they are aged before being packed. So every cigar that you take out from a new box is already aged and ready to delight your palate.

Have an anecdote related to your cigar? We would love to hear.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

How to Properly Smoke the La Flor Dominicana Double Ligero Chisel

Unlike many popular brands, the La Flor Dominicana was a late bloomer. In 1996, it was founded by the husband-wife duo Litto Gomez and Ines Lorenzo-Gomez in Santiago, Dominican Republic. The brand, now popular among cigar connoisseurs, offers a range of delectable flavors. One fine specimen among them is the Double Ligero Chisel.

Here’s why we think the Double Ligero Chisel is so special:

The Double Ligero Chisel is different from other offerings of this brand because it is shaped differently and there’s a special way to smoke this one. The unique chisel shape given to the cigar is not just a decorative stunt. It is there to concentrate and focus the smoke as you take a draw and as a result, the cigar you smoke is strong, flavorful, and heady -- exactly what you suppose a full-bodied cigar to be.

Second, one doesn’t have to cut the chisel. Period. Say goodbye to your precious little cigar cutter if you are going to be a Double Ligero Chisel fan for a while. So what do you do when you don’t cut? Do you light it as it is? No, but all you have to do is take the end of the chisel between your forefinger and thumb, and give a little pinch. That’s all. If you cut it, there’s is going to be a hole in the chisel, which will defeat the entire purpose of that special shape.

When you pinch the cigar, there will be a thin slit opening at the base as the delicate wrapper leaf at the end gives way, which will direct the smoke in a concentrated path when you draw in, giving you the taste of the strongest cigar you will ever smoke in your life.

A suggestion

When do you generally smoke your cigars? Many people come home from work and take their first cigar in the evening. They begin with a mild one, and then gradually move on to a strong flavor as the night progresses, saving their favorite one for the last. Well, there’s no difference whether you take your cigar in the morning or in the evening or at any time of the day. But, your choice of the first stogie of the day will make a difference to how you perceive the taste of the subsequent ones.


The simple reason being that your palette is the most receptive when you light the first one of the day. It means, you will get the most flavor and enjoyment. As you progress to your next one, the taste from the earlier stogie will still be lingering and no matter how good it is, it won’t have the same impact as it would have had if it was smoked afresh. So, when you want to enjoy a particular stogie, make it the first one of the day, not even the third or second.

The La Flor Dominicana Double Ligero Chisel leaves a slightly sweet finish on your lips. The taste is a mix of mocha notes, savory saltiness, and the delectable hint of grass. However, the best thing you would like about this particular cigar is the unhindered smoothness that will caress your senses like a dream. From the humidors of Litto and Ines’s La Flor factories, this well aged, master of a specimen, is a must-have for you if you like to call yourself a taster of all the finest cigars in the world.

Have you tasted any of the La Flor Dominicanas ? Liked them or not, tell us your opinion in the comments section.