The art of blending

Пятница, 15 Июля 2011



It's the week before the big IPCPR show in Las Vegas ,as I prepare to meet the US cigar industry I get frequent calls and facebook notes from many of the US retailers that I've known for years. Are you bringing some of those rare cigars, what's new from the factory, many of them ask me?


So of course , every year there is the much anticipated Limited Edition cigar from Davidoff , Avo , Grifffin’s  etc . This is always a topic and I better be prepare to answer many questions about the components and overall taste of these new cigars. So I’m getting ready right now, smoking many of those new cigars to have the answers ready.


As I smoke the new Davidoff LE 2011, I noticed one peculiar aspect that highlights this cigar , the subtle complexity and the very harmonious flavor that is consistently present throughout this great smoke. This got me thinking of its creation and remembering how many samples of different filler tobaccos we combined to finally come up with this winner. The Dominican wrapper on this cigar is already proven and we are very happy and familiar with the taste it delivers, so what surprises me it’s how well is blended and how consistent the taste is, cigar after cigar.


So how do we come up with this magnificent blend, why does a blend even matter?


In the wine business the consumers can appreciate and tolerate the differences between crops. They know and accept that 2006 Merlot crop was better than 2007 because that’s what nature dictated and this fact is actually intriguing for wine drinkers. Not so for cigar smokers.


The cigar smoker expects the brand and size of the cigar they smoke to be consistent through time. For example, a cigar I really like since 1997 it’s the  Avo # 2   , I’m  accustomed to that taste and strength level and that’s what I  would expect from this cigar today.


For us, the cigar manufacturers it’s our duty and challenge to keep the consistency in our cigars. To assure the same product through the years   a big tobacco inventory is needed, the company must be vertically involved to control where the tobacco is coming from ( the land ), what fertilizers  and fungicides are used , the agricultural practices of the farmer , the fermentation ,aging,  etc. , we must be prepared and willing to substitute one specific  tobacco that is not available for some reason  with another  from a different farm , seed  or year. The goal is to make the correct adjustments to the filler blend in order that the final result in the cigar will be the same when blending it with the other fillers or re-arranging the other filler components in the blend so the final result is the same in taste and strength.




The filler blend is not necessarily a specific recipe that your grandfather discovered  or a  mythical formula that’s secretly hidden in some drawer not to be touched or corrected by anyone. Like I explained before, the blend is the different filler leaves that create part of the final taste in the cigar and by having good, well fermented, aged tobacco in your inventory you have the potential to blend it correctly and make excellent cigars, but like we see happen in all sports, great players in powerful teams don’t always win the championship, the fail to conquer because there is no chemistry between the players, as individuals they are great but there’s no synergy as a group. The same happens with tobacco for filler, great tobaccos don’t always deliver a harmonious balanced smoke together, therefore you need a master blender to determine the percentages and what works together using the different tobaccos you have. The making of a new cigar blend consists in a lot of sampling smoking (smoking cigars with only one type of tobacco – not blended) , tastings , describing the aroma, where the impact is , controlling the balance of the cigar, etc.  It’s a  long but magical process creating a cigar,  it’s one of those activities that can not be describe in paper,  you need to live the  experience of developing a blend , it’s an art that the finance gurus running some of the big cigar factories can not comprehend,  it’s an  art that can’t be taught .