The Tuscan Cigar is a product that was born 200 years ago, precisely in 1815, when a large batch of tobacco stored in Florence in the courtyard of Santa Orsola was soaked in an unexpected downpour and to recover what was possible and not to throw it all away, cigars with wet tobacco were made and sold below cost to the people of Florence. Still, they soon realised that these cigars were unique, and were appreciated so much that the production process was refined and the Tuscan cigar was born.
In 1853, to give a boost to the economy of the city of Lucca, the production moved to the convent of Porta Sant’Anna, where it remained until 2004. This cigar, which is produced with Kentucky type tobacco, not tanned but naturally fermented, starts from basic production from a plant originating in the United States of Kentucky. Since the second half of 1800, it is also produced in Italy, it develops in height and can exceed two meters. The processing is comparable to that of wine, that is, there are fermentation and maturation, the tobacco is harvested in September, and the cigar is produced in February of the following year. At the end of August, when the colour of the tobacco takes on a yellow note, the leaves begin to be picked from the base until they reach the upper parts, at the end of September it is ready and matured, it is dried over a fire in so-called drying rooms, using beech and oak wood, and smoking takes place in this way.
After 20 days in these rooms, it is taken to Arezzo and is selected, and depending on the characteristics it will be used for one type of cigar or another. The fermentation is fundamental; it is a natural process given by the water in which the marmione, with a temperature of 70 degrees, Vine put in containers and turned for days to allow a homogeneous product and a fermentation that will last 20 days, this type of tobacco are one of the most expensive in the world, so much so that in the processing phases maniacal attention is required, the cigars that are not perfect are reused bringing them back to the initial process.
Il Moro is a cigar that requires a lot of skill and important production time, eighteen months of preparation, 23 cm long and 40% longer than other Tuscan cigars and 25% more in diameter. To obtain a perfect cigar, you start from a leaf of Kentucky tobacco that the cigar-maker will carefully roll out to assess its perfect shape, after which she will moisten the leaf with corn starch, then comb the filling, spread it on the band, roll it and close the cigar. This work requires so much skill that it is said to have been passed down through generations, today’s cigar makers are often the granddaughters or daughters of those who worked before them in this reality that produces 196 million cigars of which 3 million are handmade.
At the same time, 29 million are sold abroad in more than 50 countries, in Japan, Australia, Canada, Russia, Argentina and the United States, even in Arab countries are having great success. Istanbul is the airport where they sell the most cigars. It all depends on the fundamental quality standards for Lucchese production; the requirements are continuously checked on the samples produced, the maturation ranges from 4 to 12 months, as soon as a cigar is produced it has a humidity of 70%. It must reach 14%, after which it is ringed and cured for 12 months. From the time the tobacco is sown to the production of the cigar a minimum of 2 years pass.
Short advice for a refined use of the cigar a suggestion as a combination to exalt you must try the experience of the Tuscan cigar associated with rum, it is a classic that enhances the “heat effect” as you feel the actual heat of the cigar, on the contrary, the apparent heat of the rum. Interesting are the concordances or the contrast that can be obtained with associations of distilled foods, such as coffee or chocolate, otherwise foods of a fatty nature such as dried fruit that enhances the bitterness of the cigar and its smoky aroma.
To close with a famous phrase by Sigmund Freud who said to his nephew Harry: “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar”. I hope that this wonderful reality in Lucca can always continue to exalt a product that makes us proud of “Made in Italy” for its unique characteristics and for the deep respect for which it is made.
Edit by Antonella Malizia