Decatur Wine and Spirits
Cigar Humidor

Totalmente a Mano: It’s Not Just About Prestige

Many seasoned smokers often count on visual cues such as color to determine the quality of a cigar. But there are a number of subtler factors that account for quality in picking a cigar.

While premium cigars, or cigars filled with long-leaf tobacco, account for the majority of cigars exported to the U.S., there are distinctions that go beyond the grade of tobacco. Among those distinctions are whether the cigar was hand-rolled or machine-rolled, along with the skill of the cigar maker.

No Substitute For Experience
Most cigars in the “premium” category will be aged longer than typical cigars. But it is the cigar maker who selects the type of leaves that go into the filler and binder.

As a result, a more skilled roller will use their instincts to combine different parts of the tobacco plant in the filler to create a more complex flavor and aroma. Their skill in picking the tobacco is especially significant in that a truly premium cigar might be made using leaves from 20 plants, marrying flavors from different types of leaves in search of harmony. The different leaves blending together account for the more complex flavor.

And while the most expensive cigars are made from a single year's outstanding crop, there is another reason for the premium price on hand-rolled cigars.

selectionDon’t Fray On Me
The primary reason good cigars cost more is because they're aged longer. A quality wrapper will be aged over 7 years before the cigar is even rolled. Afterwards, the rolled cigar typically is put in a cedar room an aged for an extra 90 days or more.

But this aged tobacco requires special handling, such as a the care provided by an expert roller. Therefore, a hand-rolled cigar is also likely to be aged for a longer period than a machine-rolled cigar.

Picking The Best
Cigars in this category generally are made by all the major brands as “reserve” cigars. They can be distinguished from their lesser counterparts by the label, which will designate the cigar as being “Totalmente a Mano,” or completely made by hand.

Among those are the Aurtro Fuente “Ashtons” and Romeo and Julieta “Toros.” The rolling of these upper-end cigars is often supervised by a family member and is judged for quality prior to release.

But as with most things, you will be charged for the extra service. After all, this is one field where man still beats machine.

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