Long associated with the rich and powerful, cigars evoke images of relaxation and rich flavor. A culture around the art of smoking, created and debated by cigar aficionados, assembles various theories and accessories to facilitate or enhance smoking. Cigar smoking, much like wine tasting, has for many years been viewed as a diversion of the elite of society.
The general consensus is that Spain is where cigars were first produced, catching on quickly in the other European countries. Although manufactured in many different countries, Cuban cigars have been considered one of the most flavorful and rich of all cigars for an appreciable period of time. This is due to the regional microclimates Cuba is blessed with, which are said to produce the highest quality tobacco. Combined with the skill of the country's cigar makers, the result is a world standard in cigars. Other countries that produce sizeable amounts of tobacco and cigars include Brazil, Honduras, Ecuador, Mexico, Cameroon, Indonesia, Dominican Republic, and the United States. Many speculate that the reason cigars have long caught the attention of so many lies in the way it is manufactured. Hand wrapping is the basis of all high quality cigars. Unlike cigarettes, which are mass-produced by enormous machines, cigars undergo a lengthy process of fermentation and aging (much like wine), creating subtle flavors and textures before they are individually wrapped by craftsmen working with their own hands. This makes cigars highly individual, each with a subtle unique character, the best of which provide no smoky aftertaste at all.
The taste of cigars is also much more complex than the flavor of cigarettes. Most cigars are created by wrapping three distinct and different layers of tobacco leaves together, yielding a depth of flavor impossible from a cigarette. Long leaves of tobacco are typically used as the filler in high quality cigars, though a combination of scraps may also be used. This creates complex flavors subtle variations, and different textures. Cigarettes, on the other hand, are mass-produced, filled from gargantuan hoppers containing generally only one type of tobacco. Cigar flavor variation is further diversified by the addition of non-tobacco flavorings. If desired, a cigar aficionado can find chocolate, apple, vanilla, or even coffee-flavored cigars! Most common, however, are cigars flavored with expensive liquors.
Despite the fact that cigars have long been enjoyed for their smooth and complex flavors, smoking them does pose a considerable health risk. All tobacco products contain the addictive substance nicotine. Everyone has heard about the negative health risks of nicotine, but not everyone is familiar with how it causes them.. As even the casual smoker can attest, nicotine is a stimulant that produces a mild sense of euphoria. It is extremely addictive and cigar smoke contains a multitude of toxins, carcinogens, and irritants. There is still a significant risk of developing various types of oral and larynx cancers even though most connoisseurs of cigars will avoid inhaling the smoke.