When we think of countries associated with cigars, the likes of Cuba, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic are likely to come to mind first. But did you know that Italy actually has a long and interesting history of tobacco production itself too? While not offering cigars on quite the same scale as countries like Cuba, Italy has its own special addition to the cigar industry with the Toscano Cigar. In this Cigar Country Spotlight, we take a look at all Italy has to offer the cigar world!
History of Tuscan Cigars
While Tuscan cigars are now enjoyed worldwide, these smokes were actually created accidentally. Tobacco was grown in Italy, but it was not used to make cigars until 1815. In the summer of 1815, an unexpected rainstorm caused a bunch of tobacco that was out drying to become wet. Instead of throwing out the tobacco, a factory manager decided to try drying it out. The hot and humid Tuscan summer weather caused the tobacco to ferment. Believing the tobacco to be no good, the ‘damaged’ leaves were rolled into cigars and sold at a low price, so they would at least get a little money for ‘damaged’ crops.
However, these cigars became a hit, with smokers loving the wet tobacco and fermented flavours. Demand for such cigars grew, and so Tuscan cigars started to be made purposefully, entering regular production three years later! Tuscan cigars were originally produced in Florence; however, following the Second World War, production was moved to Lucca. Now, the majority of Italian cigars are still produced in Lucca, as well as other areas of Tuscany. Cigar production is still a big deal in Italy, with over 80,000 hectares of land dedicated to growing tobacco for cigars.
How Are Tuscan Cigars Made?
There are a number of ways the production methods used make Tuscan cigars stand out from other types of cigar. For one, Tuscan cigars are made using Kentucky tobacco. Kentucky tobacco is typically used as a pipe tobacco, rather than one for rolling cigars. Kentucky tobacco is grown across Italy, in Umbria and Campania, as well as in Tuscany. The outer wrapper of the Toscano cigar typically uses a North American Kentucky leaf, as this offers a wider width for rolling.
The process of preparing the tobacco is also very different from standard cigar making methods. Rather than being left to dry and age, the tobacco undergoes a wet fermentation process. This involves the tobacco leaves being moistened before being flame-cured. The flame is fuelled by beech and oak wood, which helps to impart unique flavours and aromas into the tobacco. The tobacco is left to cure in this manner for between 15 and 20 days.
Another way that Italian cigars differ is the structure of the cigar. While most cigars produced in the Caribbean will involve filler tobacco rolled in a binder tobacco and then wrapped, the Toscano cigar skips the binder. Instead, the filler tobacco is just rolled straight into the wrapper tobacco. High-quality and limited edition cigars will be rolled by hand, while others will be rolled with a machine.
Most cigars will be rolled neatly, with a uniform diameter throughout the cigar and a smooth wrapper. Tuscan cigars provide a more homely smoke, offering a more elliptical shape and slightly rougher wrapper texture.
How are Italian Cigars Smoked?
In Italy, six-inch cigars are typically smoked either ‘intero’ or ‘ammezzato’. This means smoked in full (intero), or smoke half, and then the other half later (ammezzato), leaving you with two shorter smokes.
Types of Toscano Cigars
The Toscano brand of cigars offers the smoker a few different options.
The Toscanello cigar is three inches in length, and offers a medium-strength, making it an ideal cigar for beginners. They are available in a pack of five.
Meaning ‘age-old’, the Antico is a traditional Tuscan cigar, featuring a charmingly rough appearance, with bumps and a more elliptical shape. These cigars are six inches and offer a full flavour with a savoury taste. They are available in packs of five.
A classic cigar, the Classico is six inches and features the classic uneven wrapper of a Tuscan smoke. Unlike the Antico, the Classico has a dark wrapper that helps to impart a much sweeter aroma.
Check out our range of Toscano cigars if you’d like to experience the tastes of Italian tobacco for yourself!
Image Credit: Mr.kombrig