follow us on:

History of cigar bands

I was recently contacted by Luca Cominelli, editor of an Italian magazine about cigars, CigarsLover. They are at their 6th issue now and the current issue has been translated into English. I checked out the magazine and I can say that CigarsLover’s team is doing a great job – there’s a lot of interesting content. You will find below an article from this issue about cigar bands, written by Paolo Topa. You can download the full issue here.

The band represents an iconic image for the contemporary smoker, influenced by different factors including the marketing operations of a brand and their need to distinguish themselves from others.

In the past, cigars didn’t have this accessory. They were just packed with the origin label. In 1830, Gustave Bock, head of a Cuban cigar firm, came up with the revolutionary idea to introduce a recognition system for cigars, in order to avoid counterfeiting when exported to the European continent. His idea was simple and very close to our modern copyright: put a paper band with his signature on each cigar so that no one could steal his work. From that moment on, the band became a necessary element to distinguish one cigar from another. Some people believe the band has a second, more practical, aim: protecting smokers’ gloves. In this context we can compare the band with the “Smoking” – born as a smoking jacket aimed to preserve gentlemen’s clothing.

Gustave Bock

Gustave Bock

Nowadays, producers give special attention to the band. On one hand we find Cuban bands, traditional and simple – however, in the last years Cuban producers are on the path to modernization. On the other hand, Caribbean producers have been investing a lot on the artistic aspects of this element. Bands have become even more impressive, colourful, elaborate, and with elements in relief. On the image level, an attractive band creates more of an impact on the consumer as well as adding another element of design to the packaging. Several brands have become famous thanks to marketing strategies that started from the identification element of the cigar: the band.

Arturo Fuente Opus X Band

Among the most original bands we can find are Arturo Fuente’s Opus X, Don Pepin Garcia’s Flor de las Antillas (made with pastel colours) and Ashton’s San Cristobal (known as Paradiso in Europe because of the contrast with the same Cuban brand). In regards to Cuban bands, the most unique and artistic ones are Hoyo de Monterrey, Bolivar and El Rey del Mundo, while the simplest are Montecristo (actually on the path of modernization), Sancho Panza and Vegas Robaina.

It’s important to note the most recent trend, which is to include a second band to recognize “Limited Editions”, “Regional Editions”, “Reserva” and “Gran Reserva”, in order to give more prestige and exclusivity to the product. Some Caribbean producers are including even a third label to the foot of the cigar, in order to add another layer of protection.

It is very interesting to note the fact that even though paper is the norm, recently other materials have been introduced: Pitbull uses a woolen yarn while Don Pepin Garcia adds a satin band at the foot of the cigar. These are two clear examples of brands that want to break free from tradition and set their products apart from others, a need felt by several producers. Sometimes it is possible to find bigger bands, like Alec Bradley’s “Black Market”, that cover almost all the entire cigar.

Another aspect to take into consideration is the fight against counterfeiting. Almost immediately after the introduction of bands, counterfeiters have been able to perfectly copy the bands of some of the most iconic Cuban brands starting with Cohiba and trickling down to Montecristo and Partagas. Recently, the best anti-counterfeiting system is the one adopted by Cohiba’s Behike line. This system has been extended to other productions of the same brand such as the Piramide Extra and the new Robusto Supremo El 2014, and includes a hologram that is not easy to copy. It is clear that even though technological instruments are different, the aim has always been the same since the nineteenth century: protect the brand. Unfortunately, the war is still not won.

Cohiba Behike band

In the world of bands, colourful, artistic and unique ones have created their own collectors market; here, people try to discover different kinds of bands, from the rare ones to the most historically relevant ones and to those with an important artistic design. Some smokers store them to remember their smoking experiences while others try to re-use them in an artistic way by creating objects or pictures used to decorate their smoking rooms. The question is: what is the best way to protect the band? Remove it before starting to smoke is not the best option. The band is glued onto the cigar and it is better to wait for the cigar to heat up in order to remove it with greater ease. After the cigar heats up, use two fingers, moving the band in different directions in order to remove it without inflicting damage on the cigar. Be very careful; if this method isn’t effective after two or three movements, it’s best to wait a bit since the cigar is far more important than the band.

The last aspect of the band to take into consideration is the psychological one: are we sure that this identification system doesn’t mislead us when it’s time to value the quality of a cigar? How much can a prestigious band or two bands influence the perception of a cigar? To make this determination, several professional tastings have been organized, referred to as Blind tastings, and their specific aim is to remove the influence of a particular band’s presence. However, the second question that comes to mind is: what would a cigar be without its band? In Australia, for example, it is compulsory to replace the original bands with generic band on all cigars, in order to homogenize them on the market avoiding the presence of other damaging products. The consequence of this decision, however, has been the collapse of sales, demonstrating that the cigar also evokes an image where packaging plays a role and adds to the consumer’s desire to enjoy a satisfying product: herein lies the meaning of the band.

Article by Paolo Topa – the ultimate cigars shopping tool!

Post from

The Bands : the Whole Colour of Tobacco

View full post on Cigar Reviews and Ratings at Cigar Inspector

leave a comment

Sam Leccia

Today, General Cigar announced more major changes (just a few days after the acquisition of Torano cigar brand). Firstly, they have made the decision to hire Sam Leccia, famous to have worked on Cain and Nub cigar lines when he was at Oliva Cigar Company, to serve as “Cigar and Blend Specialist.” Secondly, they have acquired Leccia Tobacco Company as part of the deal. Beginning today, they will take over the marketing and distribution duties for the Black, White, and Luchador lines.

Sam Leccia has cultivated a reputation for unique approaches to crafting and marketing cigar lines. His contemporary blends are inspired by traditional blends, but put a modern twist on the flavors and aromas. That same creative quality is evident in his marketing campaigns. He will bring that same expertise and innovation to the table at General Cigar, where he will continue working on his own brands as well as other cigars manufactured by the company. This partnership should have incredible results for both parties.

Expressing his optimism about the new hire, Dan Carr, president of General Cigar, stated, “I am impressed with what Sam has achieved. He broke into the industry, worked tirelessly for years, and made a name for himself by developing interesting cigar brands. Sam will provide additional creative talent to complement the enterprise of our existing team.”

Sam Leccia stated, “To say that I am thrilled to be joining General Cigar Company is a gross understatement … Having creative freedom, access to the resources of General Cigar, and the ability to work with the company’s master blenders and tobacco experts is like a dream come true.” – the ultimate cigars shopping tool!

Post from

General Cigar Hires Sam Leccia, Acquires Leccia Tobacco

View full post on Cigar Reviews and Ratings at Cigar Inspector

leave a comment

What are cigar beetles?

It’s a day like any other day—or so you think. You head to your humidor to grab a stogie; you haven’t had one in a couple weeks, and it’s time for a nice long, languorous smoke. You open up your humidor and you stumble backwards in horror.

They’re so tiny you may not see them; in fact, you probably don’t. They’re only about the size of a pinhead. But you do see the damage they’ve created. There are holes in your cigars where the tobacco beetles have burrowed. You might see them crawling on your stogies or the insides of your cigar box. Whether you see them or not, your reaction is revulsion, panic, and outrage. Are your precious cigars ruined?

There is nothing worse than losing a valuable cigar collection to tobacco beetles. You not only lose all those wonderful cigars, including probably some rarities, but all the money you invested in them. Is there anything you can do? Let’s learn more about these hated pests that are the plague of cigar connoisseurs, shops, and manufacturers around the world, and then we’ll talk about what you can do to save your cigars.

What Are Tobacco Beetles?

Tobacco beetles are tiny, just two or three millimeters in length. They only live a short time when they reach adulthood, about 2 to 4 weeks. Their entire life cycle is closer to 10 or 12 weeks. While that might sound encouraging, they breed like crazy, multiply like mad, and can quickly take over your entire humidor, even if you have a large one. They love heat and they adore cigars.

Tobacco beetle and larvae

Adult female tobacco beetles chew their way through the leaves, making those distinctive burrowing holes. Inside the cigar, it is warm and dark and safe, the perfect environment to lay eggs. The eggs, like the beetles, are tiny. They are so small that even if you unraveled a cigar to look for them, you would not find them. One female tobacco beetle can lay around 100 eggs. Six to 10 days after she lays the eggs they hatch, and the larvae are born. The larvae then eat the delicious natural food source all around them. They devour your cigars and grow into adult beetles. The female beetles then burrow and the cycle starts all over again. Each of those adult females lays 100 more eggs and so on. You can see why these outbreaks are so hard to control!

If an infestation is really bad, you may even find piles of dust in your humidor—the pulverized remains of some of your cigars. Thankfully this is a rare case; most infestations are not this serious. If you find even one cigar with signs of infestation, though, you can be sure it is not alone, even if the others look fine. Often the signs of infestation are more subtle: you may see just one little pinhole on a single stogie. If you do have a really serious infestation and you ignore it, within just two days you could lose your collection.

How Did These Beetles Get Into My Humidor?

“My humidor is a sealed environment, so how the heck did these things get in here in the first place?” That is probably your next question. Usually tobacco beetles piggyback a ride when you bring home new cigars from a store that has an infestation. This is a bigger problem in some settings than others. You should always inspect new cigars at the store when you buy them. Unfortunately, even a cigar with no telltale signs could be harboring tobacco beetles.

For that reason, you should regularly check your humidor for signs of infestation. Regularly means every few days. Never walk away from your humidor for a week or more. Inspecting your humidor frequently is especially important if you recently purchased new cigars or do so often, or if you live in a hot climate where tobacco beetles feel at home.

Can I Save My Cigars?

If you have already noticed holes on your cigars or beetles, it is time to take immediate action. All hope is not lost if you act quickly. Take all of the cigars out of your humidor (except those that are really badly damaged – throw them away) and place them in Ziploc bags. Seal the bags and stash the cigars in the freezer. Remember, tobacco beetles thrive on heat. They hate the cold as much as they love the heat, so the freezer is a great way to kill them. Wait for three days, and then transfer the cigars to the fridge for a day. This intermediary step is to protect your cigars. If the temperature rises again too abruptly, you can ruin them. The fridge allows for a gradual transition back to room temperature.

It is essential that you freeze all your cigars. If you leave even a single stogie in the box, it could serve as a breeding ground for the infestation, even if it looks fine. Whether or not you see signs of damage on all your cigars, they all need to spend time in the freezer. While you are waiting on that, you can clean out your humidor. Wipe it down with a damp cloth. Do not use bug spray or disinfectant or cleaner. Chemicals will damage the wood and leave behind a nasty odor. That odor will cling to your cigars when you put them inside.

Put your cigars (they’re safe to smoke – just try not to think about that special addition to the filler) back in the humidor and make sure that the temperature and humidity inside are stable (around 70 degrees Fahrenheit and 70%). It is generally at temperatures above 72 degrees and humidity levels above 72% that tobacco beetles hatch. If your thermometer or hygrometer seems like it is lying to you, it may be time to replace the faulty gauge. Digital gauges give the most accurate readouts.

There are a lot of issues which can cause temperature fluctuations in your humidor. Where is your humidor right now? Is it near a heating or cooling element in your house? Under a light which produces heat? In the path of direct sunlight through the window during certain times of day? Make sure that you do not have any of these placement problems. Also consider the quality of your humidor itself. Does it seal properly? Is the quality high enough? Would it be wise to replace it with a better one?

To add an extra layer of stability to your humidor, you can put in some extra strips of cedar if you have them, or you can put in humidor beads to regulate the humidity levels. You may find this helpful if you live in a particularly humid or volatile climate. If you have just tackled an infestation, be sure to keep checking your humidor regularly for a few weeks to make sure there were no survivors. Preventing and getting rid of tobacco beetles does take time, work, and sometimes money—but it is worth it to protect your collection! – the ultimate cigars shopping tool!

Post from

What Are Tobacco Beetles and How Do You Fight Them?

View full post on Cigar Reviews and Ratings at Cigar Inspector

leave a comment

FDA Logo

On Thursday, April 24th, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that they intend to heighten the restrictions on tobacco products in the US. The FDA has had oversight of the tobacco industry since 2009. Under the new rules, the FDA would become more involved in tobacco product manufacturing and distribution than ever before, and will impose harsher restrictions than in the past. The FDA has however stated that premium cigars may be exempted from some of these harsh measures.

Nothing has been decided for sure at this juncture, but the FDA has proposed an option which could “exclude from the scope of this proposed rule certain cigars that we refer to as ‘premium cigars.’” For the next 75 days, the public is invited to comment on the proposed exception. Now is the time to reach out to the government and let them know why premium cigars are special and deserve special status.

The majority of cigars which sold in the US are mass-market cigars, made by machine and not by hand. These cigars may range in size from cigarette-sized to full-sized, and are generally made of lower-quality tobacco. As they account for the majority of cigars in the USA at this point in time, it is easy to see why the FDA would want to regulate them. That being said, premium cigars are quite different, and are rolled by hand, and made out of higher-quality tobacco. Whereas mass-market cigars, like cigarettes, are made for mass-market consumption, premium cigars are designed for the aficionado.

Speaking about the FDA’s proposal to exempt premium cigars from their restrictions, J. Glynn Loope, executive director of Cigar Rights of America, stated, “It appears that two years’ worth of education work has paid off to a degree because it does seem that (the FDA is) recognizing the difference between premium cigars and e-cigarettes and mass market products.” Cigar Rights of America is a lobbyist group which is comprised of cigar manufacturers as well as cigar enthusiasts and customers.

Eric Newman, president of Tampa’s J.C. Newman Cigar Co., recognized the huge role played by the Cigar Rights of America lobby when he stated, “Where I was pleasantly surprised was the reference to the FDA taking a special look at premium cigars. I think that’s a real credit to the people involved with the CRA.”

Loope emphasized that the 75-day period is a critical one, and that it is absolutely vital for cigar smokers, sellers, and manufacturers to take this opportunity to speak up and explain to the FDA why it is important to support cigar smokers’ rights. Anyone can speak up for the premium cigar world, so if you enjoy your premium cigars and wish to have unfettered access to them in the future, now is the time to implore the FDA to support the option for premium cigars. – the ultimate cigars shopping tool!

Post from

FDA Increases Restrictions on Tobacco, May Exempt Cigars

View full post on Cigar Reviews and Ratings at Cigar Inspector

leave a comment

CVS Discontinuing All Tobacco Sales

CVS has just announced that they will no longer be selling tobacco products in their stores. The news hit on Wednesday, when the company released a statement saying they would no longer be selling cigarettes, cigars, or other tobacco products. This is quite a startling decision in light of the fact that the pharmaceutical giant pulls in around $2 billion a year from tobacco related sales.

The majority of that money comes from cigarette sales, as opposed to cigar sales. CVS is really not a prime destination for cigar purchases for the simple reason that they do not have humidors on their premises. Some premium cigars which do not require humidors for storage could be sold in CVS stores however, as could machine-made brands. CVS sold a variety of cigar brands, including Dutch Masters, Macanudo, and Backwoods.

While CVS’s decision may inconvenience some cigar smokers, it will cause a much greater inconvenience for cigarette smokers. Premium cigar aficionados generally are better served shopping at local tobacconists with proper humidors to begin with. We can hope that this decision will actually be good for small businesses, since more casual cigar buyers who may no longer shop at CVS may turn to smaller companies for their needs. This may even lead them to discover the joys of premium hand-rolled cigars, which would be good not only for local stores, but for the premium cigar industry overall. – the ultimate cigars shopping tool!

Post from

CVS Discontinuing All Tobacco Sales

View full post on Cigar Reviews and Ratings at Cigar Inspector

leave a comment

Tobacco primings guide

One of the more confusing topics in cigars concerns the classification of tobacco primings. Not a lot of cigar smokers are able to talk in-depth about the leaves on a tobacco plant, how they are harvested, or which leaves on the stalk are used to make premium cigars. So you’ll be well equipped to lead the discussion the next time you’re at the cigar parlor enjoying a stogie with your fellow cigar aficionados after you read this article.

First, a little on how cigar harvesting works

When tobacco plants on the field mature and their leaves are ready to be harvested, the leaves are harvested either mechanically or by hand. Different types of tobacco grown in different regions are harvested in different ways at different times. Some stalks are cut all at once, and all the leaves are harvested simultaneously, as with burley tobacco. Other types of tobacco, like flue-cured tobacco, are harvested leaf by leaf in stages. This process is called priming. When tobacco leaves are primed, the individual leaves are pulled off the stalk as they ripen, instead of all at one time.

The term primings specifically is used to refer to the leaves which are located nearest to the ground (but this is not the typical use of the word in conversation). These leaves are also called sand leaves, because they must be thoroughly cleansed of the dirt and sand they come into contact with before they can be used. Many cannot be used at all, and are simply discarded.

Tobacco plant primings chart

Generally speaking, however, the word primings may refer to any of the leaves on a tobacco plant—and this is the most common colloquial use of the term. Different names are used for the leaves on various types of tobacco plants. Tobacco plants may have up to eight primings. Plants with fewer leaves from top to bottom will have fewer primings. For example, the names are different for the two most common types of tobacco plants, Corojo and Criollo :

Criollo primings, from top (highest part of the plant) to bottom (lowest part of the plant, near the soil):

  • Corona
  • Ligero
  • Viso
  • Seco
  • Volado

These are the most common names for the leaves of a tobacco plant, but not the only names which can be used.

Corojo primings, from top to bottom:

  • Corona
  • Semi Corona
  • Centro Gordo
  • Centro Fino
  • Centro Ligero
  • Uno Y Medio
  • Libra De Pie

Corona leaves, or the topmost leaves on tobacco plants, usually are not used to make premium cigars. The reason for this is that the leaves are typically very small. Ligeros on the second row down on the other hand generally can be used. Outside the Cuban market, the topmost leaves may all be called ligeros. This is inclusive of the coronas, which are considered a subset of the ligeros. So corona leaves are a type of ligero, but ligeros may or may not be coronas.

Ligeros are particularly desirable for use in premium cigars. Why? These leaves get the most sunlight, and are usually more substantial than the other leaves. They are thicker and heavier, and have taken in more nutrients than the bottom leaves. These leaves have more body and strength than the lower leaves. The stronger the leaves used in a cigar, the more robust the cigar will be. These leaves typically are more flavorful as well.

Typically a variety of leaves will be used from different parts of the stem in order to produce a cigar that has a controlled burn, solid construction, and a good combination of flavor and strength. You may sometimes see a cigar that states it is all-corojo or all-ligero. Typically these cigars still use primings from several different rows, which helps to balance out the construction and the strength.

A Note on Color vs. Strength

Note that not all terms which refer to cigar leaves necessarily refer to primings. For example, the word maduro does not refer to a leaf which grows at a particular level on the tobacco plant. A maduro may grow anywhere on a tobacco plant. The word refers to the color of the leaf, not the strength.

It is also common for cigar smokers, especially newbies, to assume there is a direct correlation between flavor and strength. By considering the fact that a maduro leaf may grow anywhere on a tobacco plant, and may refer to any priming, it is easier to understand why there is no direct relationship. Darker cigars are often strong, and lighter cigars are often mild, but there are very strong light cigars, and very mild dark colored cigars. The difference in strength comes not from the color of the tobacco leaf, but which primings were used—those closer to the top of the plant, or those closer to the bottom.

Now you should have a basic understanding of the different primings on a tobacco plant, how they are harvested, and the logic which goes into deciding which primings to use to formulate a premium cigar. This knowledge can really help you out while you are visiting your local tobacconist and shopping for your next premium cigar. It’s also great for generating conversation when you are smoking with friends. Alternatively you can generate this conversation just by wearing this T-shirt. – the ultimate cigars shopping tool!

Post from

An Introduction to Tobacco Plant Primings

View full post on Cigar Reviews and Ratings at Cigar Inspector

leave a comment

New Australian tobacco law requires shock images on packages

Australia’s courts have just upheld a new law that requires tobacco products to be packaged in “plain packaging.” As far as we can tell, this law includes not only cigarettes but also cigars and pipe tobacco. The “plain packaging,” however, is not plain at all. The packages will include shock images of cancerous lungs, gums, and more. These images will be grotesque in nature and will probably scare away a fair number of customers, including people who aren’t even coming into stores to shop for tobacco products!

What will the long term results of this law be? As far as the positives go, hopefully the shock images really will educate the public about the dangers of smoking tobacco, because let’s be honest—those dangers do exist. There are going to be some negatives as well, however. Economically this law will harm a lot of small businesses in Australia, and it’s not going to stop people who are determined to smoke from buying cigarettes or other tobacco products. What it may do is compel those people to turn to other sources for their tobacco products, fueling the black market and harming legitimate businesses in Australia and elsewhere.

People who want to avoid these packages will just turn to the streets to buy tobacco, and who can blame them, especially given that packaging is often part of the appeal of a product? People who want cigars in their original packaging, for example, will no longer be able to buy those cigars from local tobacconists in Australia. They’ll have to turn to black-market cigars, which may not even be the real thing. This will harm cigar companies, including boutique manufacturers who put quality craftsmanship into their products. Should people be apprised of the dangers of tobacco in cigars? Of course—and most cigar smokers already are. These laws are usually aimed at protecting ignorant young people, and while the young people do need to learn what tobacco can do, the fact is that most youngsters who are going to dive into a bad habit are going to buy a cheap pack of cigarettes and not a box of premium cigars.

While this law seems mainly geared toward cigarette smokers, it’s also going to strip the packaging of cigars and pipe tobacco products, rebranding those packages with shock images. Cigar smokers don’t usually smoke a pack of cigars each day, however, and it seems unreasonable that the same law which should rebrand the packages of cigarette companies should also rebrand the packaging of cigar companies. While cigars carry health risks just like cigarettes do, many cigar smokers do not smoke them as a habit; instead they are reserved for special occasions, and collected for their beautiful packaging as well as the artistry in their design.

Right now the FDA is fighting to be able to enforce plain packaging laws in the US for all tobacco products including cigars. If the FDA wins this dispute, similar economic consequences will ensue in America. We’ll have to wait and see how this law unfolds in Australia when it goes into effect, but we’re pretty sure the ramifications will have a major influence on what happens in the US and elsewhere in the world where tobacco products are concerned. – the ultimate cigars shopping tool!

Post from

New Australian tobacco law and cigarette packs

View full post on Cigar Reviews and Ratings at Cigar Inspector

leave a comment

src="" alt="JM Tobacco Classic Petits" width="450" class="aligncenter" />

JM Tobacco, Inc., is displaying its new small cigar product category at the International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers trade show in Orlando, Florida, August 2-6. The 4″ x 32 Classic Petits, according to company president Anto Mahroukian, “Satisfy the rapidly expanding market for shorter-duration smokes.”

“Smokers are moving toward smaller cigars like Classic Petits, because they provide a rich, flavorful fifteen-minute smoke break, for cigar lovers who don’t have the time or budget for a full-sized premium cigar. But, unlike cigarillos, their larger ring gauge delivers a more abundant amount of smoke, which allows the smoker to enjoy more of a ‘large cigar’ experience.”

Classic Petits are available in both natural and maduro wrappers. Their manufacturer’s suggested retail pricing will be announced at IPCPR, and Mahroukian states it will be very competitive with existing brands of European “connoisseur-level” small cigars. The hand-made cigar combines a multi-nation blend of top-quality tobaccos, aged a full 2 years. They are made in the same Dominican factory as value-priced JM’s Dominican line and Carnero premium cigars, also appearing at the show. JM’s Dominican line is a Cuban sandwich, while the Carnero is an all-long-filler cigar.

href=""> – the ultimate cigars shopping tool!

/> /> Post from href="">

href="">Cigar Release: JM Tobacco Classic Petits

View full post on Cigar Reviews and Ratings at Cigar Inspector

leave a comment

short and final blog from northern uk

leave a comment


leave a comment
About Us
Contact Us
Join Us

learn more »

« March meet the girls  

Cigar Review – Rafael G...
Cigar Review – Quai D...
Cuban Cigar Review – Mo...
Cigar Review – Montecri...
Cigar Review – Vega Fin...

follow us on:



home about us contact us join us
Copyright © 2011 - | privacy