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Have you ever wondered where cigars were first produced? It is widely believed that cigars were first produced in Spain. But before cigars became all the rage in Europe, tobacco was needed to make them. Tobacco is indigenous to the Americas, where native peoples have produced it for hundreds of years. As the legend has it, the Maya of Yucatan peninsula in Mexico and parts of Central America cultivated tobacco, and even smoked it! Tobacco use spread to other tribes, both north and south. Its first use in the United States was probably among the tribe along the Mississippi. It was not until Christopher Columbus sailed his famous voyage to the Americas in 1492 that the rest of the world came to know tobacco.
It is said that Columbus was not impressed by tobacco or its use among native peoples, but many sailors grew fond of the peculiar fragrance of tobacco leaves. Soon it quickly caught on in Spain and Portugal. From there, it spread to France, where the French ambassador Jean Nicot lent his name to the scientific name for tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum). The origins of the word tobacco itself are still debated, although many believe it is simply a corruption of the word Tobago, which is the name of a Caribbean island. Still others believe it comes from the word Tabasco, a region (and now a state) in Mexico.
In 1612, the first tobacco plantation was established in Virginia. More tobacco plantations followed in Maryland soon after. Although tobacco became a popular crop, it was only smoked in pipes. The cigar was not introduced to the United States until the late 18th century. Israel Putnam, an army general who had served in the Revolutionary War, is credited with introducing the cigar to the United States. He had traveled to Cuba after the Revolutionary War and returned with a box of Cuban cigars. Their popularity quickly spread, and soon enough cigar factories were built in the area of Harford, Connecticut, where General Putnam resided.
In Europe, cigar production and consumption did not achieve widespread popularity until after the Peninsula War in the early 19th century. British and French veterans returned to their homelands after years of serving in Spain with their tobacco pipes in tow. Among the rich and fashionable, the favored method of taking tobacco was the cigar. Much like wine tasting, cigar aficionados have created a culture around the art of smoking, assembling various theories and accessories to facilitate smoking. In the 1980s and 1990s, cigar smoking was portrayed as a trendy habit associated with the upper echelons of society. While industrial development has allowed today's public to access inexpensive machine-made cigars, premium cigars crafted from a blend of top-quality tobaccos and aged to perfection remain popular among celebrities and the business class.
While it is true that you can enjoy a cigar without knowing how it was put together, learning the basic parts of a cigar can be instrumental in helping you choose the best quality cigars and follow the discussions on cigar smoking.
Basically, a cigar can be divided into three basic parts: the head, the body, and the foot (as shown in the above diagram).
Head This is the end that you put into your mouth. On the tip of the head is the "cap" of the cigar, which is applied with a piece of tobacco to prevent it from unraveling and drying. The cap must be cut before smoking.
Body Between the head and the foot, the body of a cigar is composed of three important layers: the filler, binder, and wrapper.
The first thing many smokers notice about a cigar is the wrapper, the layer of tobacco on the outside of a cigar. The wrapper provides much of the flavor of the cigar, as the best quality tobacco leaves are usually used to construct the wrapper. They range in color from very clear (claro) to very dark (oscuro).
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