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.


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