Three key steps from tobacco leaf to cigar

Tobacco leaf

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The flavours that a cigar gives off when it’s lit and tasted depend on different factors and agents throughout the whole process from the time the seed of the tobacco plant is planted to the time the cigar is rolled. But there are three key steps in this long journey.

Aside from the leaf’s position on the plant – since depending on its position it will have a different chemical composition – the three fundamental steps that give the tobacco its characteristics are:

Curing

This is the process of drying the tobacco leaves on the ranch after they have been harvested in the field. Like an autumn landscape, the leaves change colour from green to yellow and eventually they turn brown. The aroma and taste of the tobacco will depend on how the curing process is carried out. In this process, humidity, temperature and air velocity come into play. These are played with by moving the leaves tied in ‘cujes’, lathes for strings so that the air acts on the tobacco’s curing process. When the leaves arrive at the ranch, they have a humidity of around 80-85%, which they will lose in this process which lasts between 40 and 50 days, depending on the type of tobacco.

Curado

Fermentation

This is the next step after curing. The strings are disassembled and the leaves are placed in piles arranged by leaf layers. This is an intense and controlled natural process that lasts about two and a half years. In this case, the heat produced by the combination of the moisture remaining in the leaves and the pressure of the leaves on top of each other causes the bacteria responsible for fermentation to reproduce. During this time, important changes are made in the chemical composition of the leaves. The starches typical of green tobacco are transformed into reducing sugars and ammoniacal nitrogens are released, making the tobacco leaf smokable. It is a step that lasts approximately six weeks; but it can be done several times. The more complete the fermentation, the more balanced and pleasant the smoke will be.

Tobacco ageing

This is a slow process that follows fermentation. Normally, the leaves are placed in bales for a period of 2 to 5 years. The better the aging technique, the better the flavour and aroma of the tobacco will develop. La Aurora is the only manufacturer with double ageing in its super premium lines (rum barrels). An example of this is that an average of nine years is invested in the production of a Preferido, with two ageing processes.

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