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Category Archives: La Aurora Cigars

How many parts does a cigar have?

For those who are now starting in the world of cigars or those who are used to smoking cigarettes, it may be useful to know the parts that make up a cigar in order to better appreciate its characteristics or to understand the differences between cigars and cigarettes.

Cigars are divided into three main parts: the filler, the binder and the wrapper. Let’s see what these are made of and how they contribute to the cigar:

  • The filler is the most relevant and most distinctive part of a cigar, where we can find the mixture or blend of tobaccos, which offer a cigar its characteristic flavors and aromas. This is the most inner part of the cigar. In higher quality cigars, which are usually handmade, this area consists of large tobacco leaves ranging from one end of the cigar to the other, to allow for maintaining a uniform taste throughout the whole smoke. These cigars made of whole leaves are called Premium cigars.
  • The binder is the first layer wrapped around the filler and its purpose is precisely to bind the filler, so it must be resistant. It is also used to give a cigar its shape, to make it straight and easy to smoke. However, this tobacco also brings flavor and aroma, thus, it must be in harmony with the type of tobacco used both in the filler and the wrapper. This binder, that helps the cigar combustion, is glued with a bit of natural resin diluted in water. After applying the capote, the cigar is pressed for at least two hours, in order to acquire a cylindrical shape.
  • The wrapper is the final coating, one tobacco leaf with oils, that is smooth and uniform. This is like a cigar’s visiting card, since it’s the part a smoker can see better. It’s made from higher quality tobacco leaves to make it look more attractive: smooth, marbled and even, with a nice color and a soft texture.

In the following video, our master cigar roller Luis López demonstrates the three basic pillars of a cigar.

Once composed of its three main parts, we can discuss other areas of the cigar:

  • Head: the part of the cigar that is smoked, which is topped with a cap—a piece of the same leaf used in the wrapper to complete the cigar. It’s graded according to the size of the cigar.
  • Body or barrel: this is simply the body of the cigar. We can say it is parejo when it has a symmetrical size, with straight and parallel lines. And we can call it figurado whenever it is not straight, but rather having a curved or oval area on either end, or both (doble figurado).
  • Foot: this is the open part of the cigar, where we light it for smoking and where we can see the tobaccos that it contains.
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Training kit, a tool to make your own cigar tasting at home

To find out how to enjoy smoking a cigar, learning is the best way. Just like in wine or rum tastings, for example, there are tastings meant for savoring and tastings meant to turn you into an expert when it comes to defining the characteristics of a cigar. They serve to learn how to the detect the types of tobacco, the aromas and flavors it releases, or even if it has been rolled properly or there’s a manufacturing fault.

But attending a training class is not always easy, due to lack of time or because it’s not easy to access this type of training course. La Aurora Cigars has design a Training kit, a tool –used in tasting events or in cigar presentations, for example– that allows you to have your own tasting without traveling to a special location, and to understand how the blends are prepared, in order to become an expert.

At first, this training tool for new consumers was created for the tasting of La Aurora 1903 Doble Figurado Emerald (Preferidos). This first model of the Training kit consisted of four pure grade cigars, a multiwrapper cigar, one La Aurora 1903 Doble Figurado Emerald, an instruction booklet and a DVD with tips to optimize smoking, a lighter and a cutter “to allow smokers to perform their own cigar tasting event, without the presence of a brand representative”, as summed up by the President of La Aurora himself, Guillermo León.

La Aurora 1903 Doble Figurado Emerald is a cigar with a tobacco wrapper from Sumatra seed harvested in Ecuador and binding leaf from Valle del Cibao (Dominican Republic) and filler also from Valle del Cibao, with tobacco from Brazil and Ecuador. Later editions of this tool have been released with La Aurora 107 and La Aurora ADN Dominicano cigars. The first one is a cigar with a wrapper of tobacco from Sumatra harvested in Ecuador, binding leaf from Valle del Cibao (Dominican Republic) and filler from Valle del Cibao (Dominican Republic), Brazil, Nicaragua and Peru.

Finally, La Aurora ADN Dominicano has a tobacco wrapper from Valle del Cibao (Dominican Republic), binding leaf from Cameroon (Africa) and filler from Valle del Cibao (Dominican Republic), Pennsylvania (United States), Nicaragua and tobacco originated in the Andullo process. The most interesting aspect in this case is being able to taste a pure grade from the Andullo, given the aroma and the strength provided by this method.

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Andullo, a method that impart strength and flavor to tobacco

There is a saying which can be applied to various fields of activity and even to some aspects of life: “if something works, do not change it”. This maxim could be applied to the oldest tobacco-processing method in the Dominican Republic, the Andullo (an-doo-yaw). Inherited from the Dominican ancestors, this handcrafted procedure has survived through the ages due to the superb qualities it imparts to tobacco. Namely, a potent strength and a wonderfully heady aroma.

La Aurora Cigars have picked up on this cultural legacy and applied it to produce one of its latest cigars: La Aurora ADN Dominicano. Only seeds from native Dominican varieties are selected to grow the tobacco plants processed with this method by Aurora Cigars. Likewise, the plots of land where they’re going to be sown are carefully chosen. When the tobacco plants are ready, the Andullo process starts, lasting for one year and going through the following phases:

  • Harvesting: the first six leaves from the bottom of the plant are removed. Only the leaves from the upper middle and top of the plant are employed. Those are the leaves that impart the high degree of strength, flavour and aroma found in Andullo
  • Curing: the tobacco leaves are tied up together in bundles or gavillas and sartas are made with ropes stringing them up. Around 55 to 60 bundles are held in every sarta, which ends up being some three meters long. These are hanged up for two weeks in the curing warehouses so that the leaves become more flexible by the time the midrib removal stage comes. In this way, the leaves can be folded with ease to best fit within the cilindrical shape of the Andullo. The tobacco leaves go from green to a yellow hue.
  • Leaf Midrib Removal: the sartas are taken down from their drying slots and the leaves get cleared off 3/4ths of their midrib (the coarser central vein). Then the tobacco is weighed, with the ideal quantity to carry out the Andullo process being around 30 to 32 pounds (13.5 to 14.5 kilograms approx.)
  • Preparation: the tobacco is placed in yaguas – the leaves of the Palma Real, a common palm tree in the Greater Antilles -. The yaguas measure between 1.5 to 2 meters long each and aid the curing and fermentation processes, as they are made of organic material that allows the tobacco to breath.
  • Pressing: the tobacco is placed inside the yagua, which is rolled up around it. Then the pressing stage starts to facilitate fermentation and curing. Once inside, the tobacco is squeezed tight using ropes that go around the yagua This is done at least five times until the tobacco is completely dry. If, at any time during the process the yagua is damaged, then it gets replaced for a new one.
    Around three weeks pass between the first and second pressing. Although, it is possible that the ropes might get untied before that if too much humidity is noticed. Otherwise, the tobacco could end up having stained patches due to excess water. At the time of the second pressing the ongoing fermentation is checked up, as well as the water content and the amount of sap coming from the yagua oils.
    After the second pressing, the yagua is untied and then tied up again once per month until the fifth pressing is done. During this phase the tobacco receives oxygen and starts compacting. The pressings help the curing and fermentation to happen in a homogeneous, uniform way. All these processes take place without generating any heat, they are thoroughly cold processes.
  • Aging: after the last pressing, the aging process begins until the tobacco completely dries up and its flavour and strength qualities become matured. The result is a paste hard to work up, which can be used for chewing, pipe smoking or cigar manufacture.

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Smoking a cigar, a ceremony to enjoy

Smoking a cigar is completely different from smoking a cigarette. Lighting a cigarette in a hurry and consuming it hastily are a long way from the time dedicated to savor a Premium cigar. “The cigar is an enemy of problems and haste. The cigar is the passion of the puff, it’s like falling in love, it’s the closest thing to falling in love because all five senses are used.” This is how the Brand Ambassador of La Aurora, Wascar Aracena, describes how smoking a Premium cigar should be.

And in fact, to fully capture the configuration of a cigar, we must use all five senses:

  • Hearing: To detect the moisture degree and to know whether or not to light the cigar at that moment.
  • Touch: To caress and feel it, in order to verify that there are no bumps, because bumps change the puff.
  • Sight: To see the silky character, the glow, and the veins of the tobacco…
  • Taste: Taste buds detect the sensations that a cigar’s smoke evokes: sweet, salty or bitter notes, and so on.
  • Smell: In addition to the nostrils—where notes and nuances of the cigar are perceived—the true cigar smoker should, at some point, use the retronasal passage (mouth/nose) to allow for identifying the actual strength of the cigar and the aromas in the tobacco.

Once we have ensured there are no damages or imperfections in the cigar, we must perform a 1 to 2-millimeter cut with a suitable tool for the cigar chosen on the first small layer placed by the master cigar roller. Then, the cigar must be put in the mouth to test its draw, in other words, to verify the absorptive capacity it provides (each person has a different absorptive capacity: some like it smooth, others medium-strong), but also to identify what the tobacco is made of. “It’s already talking to us, we can now flavor it”, says Wascar Aracena.

Now is the time to light the foot of the cigar. When the flame combustion is made with gas, we shouldn’t hold it to avoid scorching or overheating the cigar. To secure it, we must rotate the cigar over the flame, to make the tobacco that was once brown or black turn into a bright spot—that’s when we can put it in our mouth. We can gently blow over it to see the embers and make sure it’s burning evenly.

To fully enjoy the cigar, it is important to:

  • Choose wisely where you are going to smoke it—this is relevant when deciding the size and strength of the cigar; and consider the time you have to smoke it, enjoy it and being able to finish it.
  • Keep your hands clean and free from perfume, since this could transfer to the cigar and alter its flavors and aromas.
  • Smoke it from different angles of the mouth to feel all the components, since each part of the tongue detects different flavors: Bitter on the back, acid/sour on the rear sides, bitter notes on the front and sweet on the tip. The center detects the fifth and final flavor discovered, umami.
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La Aurora, One More Time Selected In Top Brands

La Aurora appears, one more time, at TopBrands Dominicana 2016. Our company has been 3 consecutive times winner (edition 2010, 2013 and 2016) which gives an idea of how well known our brand is in the industry. As TopBrands says “Only exceptional brands which stand apart, elevating themselves to the prestigious distinction of being named a Superbrand”, appears in this publication that is published in many countries around the world. It also adds that this is an excellent message for “consumers and suppliers because it communicates that they are buying the best brand in its category”. So let ́s celebrate that La Aurora is one more time, a Superbrand in Dominican Republic Topbrands edition. 

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Manuel Inoa: A Master Blender That Takes La Aurora Around The World

We have left behind the month of April, when our Master Blender, Manuel Inoa, has taken our brand to different locations in Europe and United States. The start of his journey was Madrid, where he met the sales team of Davidoff, our distributor in Spain. Our master blender had the occasion to show his knowledge in a master class where, once more, his charisma stood out. It followed more encounters with tabacconists’ friends in Madrid  and Santander to finalize his visit to Spain and move on to Italy, where thanks to our Italian distributor (ITA) had the opportunity to talk about the introduction of La Aurora 107, as well as the Training Kit, together with Gustavo Velayos, our Marketing & Sales Director and Enrico Della Pietá, Brand Manager of Davidoff Italy. 

After a whole week of activities in Europe, our Master Blender continued his route towards United States, specifically to Washington, Baltimore and Maryland, where he gave a dissertation on the culture of tobacco in La Aurora at different locations. For example, TG Cigar. Once more, a large audience listened intently and curious the words of Manuel Inoa. We will report his next steps. 

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