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Issue 146 - Cigars and whisky

Whisky Magazine Issue 146
September 2017

 

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Cigars and whisky

Aging is also a key step in cigar production

As with the production of quality whisky, a significant degree of patience is required in order to produce a superb cigar. From seed to smoking, the process involves a surprising amount of waiting around – whether that's as the plants grow, when curing or fermenting the leaves, or ageing the final product. In truth, ageing takes part during three stages of a cigar's lifespan. Firstly, there's the ageing of leaves following their final fermentation. At this point the fermentation bales are broken down and leaves are aired on racks for a few days before being packed up and sent to ageing warehouses. Full-flavoured leaves, such as ligero and medio tiempo, will generally be aged for the longest period, generally around two years minimum in Habano production. On the other hand, lighter-flavoured leaves will be aged for a shorter period. Leaves will be baled up and wrapped in hessian cloth, placed in bins, or sometimes even stored inside a cask. During this period the tobacco will release additional tannins and internal sugar levels will increase, which in turn results in flavour changes during smoking. Once the tobacco has been rolled, quality cigars will enjoy their first period of ageing as a complete product. The finished cigars will be taken to a conditioning room or ‘escaparate', where they will be placed in cedar-lined drawers and given time to release excess moisture. These conditioning rooms are usually maintained at between 16°C-18°C and 65-70 per cent humidity. A...

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