Facts About Fillers

Tobacco is like wine. Its characteristics are connected to the country, the province, the village, the variety, the vineyard….And more, as weather conditions are not steady, the year of the crop is an important information, at least for the manufacturer.

Aging

Even if well processed, fillers have to be aged. The fuller bodied the tobacco, the longer the aging, which improves the taste. Tobacco fillers can be stored for years. Once they have reached the optimum aging, they keep steady. But very light and thin tobaccos can be deteriorated if stored too long.

Blending

When two or more tobacco types are blended in a cigar, the resulting taste is, obviously, something in between the taste of each component. When you smoke a cigar just after having made it, the strongest component is going to dominate over the milder one. After a while, a kind of osmosis happens between components and the taste reaches a balance. That is why cigars have to be aged too.

Tasting 

There are three major types of cigar fillers : Cuba, Brazil Bahia, Java. Each one has its specific flavors and taste. Cuban fillers are full bodied with the richest and most complex aroma. It is so unique that it is easy to recognize it when somebody smokes it in the neighborhood. Bahia Mata Fina is medium to full bodied with pleasant fruity flavors. Java is mild, slightly bitter with some spicy flavors. As soon as several types are blended, the resulting taste and flavors are different from the original types.

Composition

Blend components are bought separately. The tobacco buyer has to taste all of them, which is sometimes tough. He has to know the required characteristics and find out the proper grade for the blend. Fortunately, dealing regularly with reliable and steady tobacco suppliers makes the task easier.

As a blend component can be different from one crop to another, when you finish using one crop and start using the next one, the taste may change. To keep the blend steady, avoiding sudden change, using two consecutive crops is worthwhile. As it is not always easy doing it at the time of bunching, the other way is to make pre-blend of the two crops, mixing the leaves in a pile or a wood box, letting it age and finally using it as a single component.

Color

In the fields, tobacco develops green leaves. If nobody picks up these leaves, they are going to turn yellow then brown as do many other plants and trees. When the leaves start becoming yellow that means that the plant, if annual, is starting to die. Tobacco leaves have to be picked up at the right ripeness and, at this stage, they still have a green color. The tone of green depends of the tobacco type and the process applied in the field. When just picked, leaves contain some 90% water. They have to be dried out under controlled conditions to be used for smoking. Right after being picked, green tobacco leaves are hung in a curing barn. If no artifacts are applied, leaves are going to naturally turn yellow then brown. It is very important to know that the higher the stalk position of the leaf, the darker the color. So stalk position is the primary factor influencing the color of the leaves, as well as the body of the leaves: the higher leaves are the stronger in taste.

Ever heard of " volado " " seco ", " ligero "? These are terms related to the stalk position and consequently to taste strength. The range of browns coming out after tobacco is dried depends of the type. For example, Brazilian Bahia fillers are in a brown/black range, and Cuban fillers are in a light brown/dark brown range. However, this does not mean that Bahia fillers have a stronger taste than Cuban fillers. We only can affirm that a dark brown cuban filler is stronger than a light brown Cuban filler, if they come from the same growing area.

By Luzzie Normand
Co-Founder & Editor; Neptune Cigars Inc.
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