The Amabel Letters



Cigars are iconic, carrying an air of sophistication and power. Traditionally considered a status symbol among men in high places, cigars are viewed as the epitome of high-class living. However, the cigar is so much more than a simple way to smoke tobacco; it has a rich past and culture surrounding it, with a loyal following that believes there is no greater pleasure in the world. Join us as we delve into the history, lifestyle, and complexities behind the global sensation that is the cigar.

The History of  The Cigar

It may surprise you to learn that cigars have a long, rich history spanning back over a thousand years and traversing continents to become the icon they are today. Thought to be the invention of the ancient Mayans, who wrapped tobacco in plantain or palm leaves, we see the first record of cigars from Mayan clay pots. These scenes depict men smoking primitive cigars, making it the oldest known evidence to date. Although it is unknown when the Mayans first discovered tobacco and began smoking the plant, it is interesting to note that men were already enjoying cigars as far back as the 10th century.

Fast forward to the 1400s, and we see Christopher Columbus and his group of explorers become the first Western civilian to encounter the tobacco plant. Introduced by local Native Americans through trade, one of Columbus’s lieutenants took a particular liking to smoking the primitive cigar and notably enjoyed one every day on their return trip home. Once back in Europe, smoking quickly grew in popularity in Portugal and Spain, eventually spreading to France thanks to Portugal’s French Ambassador, Jean Nicot, who brought cigars back to his homeland, where they quickly became a common pastime. From France, cigars spread to the rest of Europe, with new ways of rolling revolutionizing the experience and commercial tobacco companies making their first appearances.

Originally, these companies made their homes in Spain, but the Cuban climate emerged as the ideal location for growing the tobacco plant. Spanish companies were infuriated over the attempt to move the industry across the sea, making many efforts to monopolize and dominate the growth and production of the now lucrative business, but many manufacturers resisted and moved to Key West, Florida. Others wishing for better growing conditions without making the trek across the Atlantic moved to the Philippines, which was still a Spanish colony.

As the industry grew, many small manufacturers began creating their products out of their own homes, and a new and unlikely manufacturing hotspot emerged, New York. In response and in an effort to stop production, the state instituted a ban on the creation and manufacturing of cigars but lifted it after only four months. As the industry grew, it would encounter new regulations driven by political atmospheres, yet nothing could thwart its expansion which continues to this day.

The Cigar Lifestyle

The cigar lifestyle has always been one of affluence and power, something enjoyed by the highest echelons of society. Around the middle of the 19th century, smoking was viewed through two lenses, cigarettes for the lower class and cigars for the upper. Soon cigar lounges hit the scene, stocking premium cigars from Cuba and other prolific locations. The rich flocked to these hangouts, quickly making cigar consumption synonymous with wealth. Men who frequented these lounges wore smart suits and smoking jackets, which would protect their clothing from ash and the pungent smoke smell.

With the emergence of the 20th century, cigars cemented their place among the elite, as cultural figures like Winston Churchill and JFK chose them as their preferred smoke of choice. Forever cigars would be associated with luxury, power, and wealth, even as budget-friendly options emerged. With the onset of faster and more convenient smoking options emerged, the working class widely moved away from cigars. Still, their original loyal base remains, and new and exciting brands are making their way to the world stage, ensuring this historic and timeless pastime will continue for generations to come.

The Tastes Of Cigars

Cigars should deliver a full-bodied flavor, complex with different notes coming together to produce a smooth and enjoyable taste sensation. There is a wide range of flavor options available, including earthly, nutty, spicy, sweet, and floral, that is either apparent at the start of developing throughout the length of smoking. Cigar flavors are endless; however, there are options that are the most popular and widely enjoyed by cigar connoisseurs and novices, respectfully.


Nutty flavors are commonly found in mild cigars and add a decadent richness and creaminess during smoking. These flavors combine well with notes of coffee, cocoa, and dried fruit, making them an excellent after-dinner option.


Earthy notes bring a deep complexity to your smoke, conjuring aromas of the outdoors and a seemingly a-typical option for smoking. Although not immediately apparent as a pleasant taste sensation, earthy notes combine beautifully with many other flavors, making them a favorite among veteran smokers.


Spicy aromas add interest and excitement to your smoke, keeping your tongue alert and delivering bold and intense flavors. Popular options include clove, pepper, anise, cinnamon, and licorice, and tend to bite back a bit! Spicy flavors pair wonderfully with coffee, earthy, wood, and leather providing endless aromatic profiles to enjoy.


Leather aromas add an intense depth and complexity to your smoke, making them an excellent option when seeking something out of the ordinary. It pairs nicely with coffee, spice, and earthy flavors, for a unique taste experience.


Tobacco leaves give off a mild sweetness under certain growing conditions, which pairs beautifully with cocoa and other chocolate flavors. Although you won’t experience an intense sweetness, you will enjoy a hint that expertly balances out any bitterness and pairs well with spicy and earthy flavors. Cigars enhanced with cocoa flavors make for an excellent dessert smoke and pair well with brandy.


Coffee flavors work exceptionally in cigars since coffee beans and tobacco grow under similar conditions. The diversity available when imparting coffee aromas into cigars are extensive, with options like espresso providing a dark, rich, and bitter flavor or lattes offering creamy, sweet, and savory notes. Pair coffee with flavors like earthy, spicy, nutty, sweet, and leather for unique and complementary tastes.


Cigars are porous and absorb the flavor from their surroundings, which is why it’s not uncommon for them to contain woody notes obtained from their cedar humidors. Far from hindering the flavor profile, these wooden aromas add deeper complexity, making them full-bodied and enjoyable.

Understanding The Details Of Cigars

Cigars are one of the most natural consumable products in the world, with everything from their color to flavor being achieved through the use of natural means. It is estimated that over two hundred hands touch each cigar before it ever makes it to your humidor, making cigars one of the most complex items manufactured today. From growing the tobacco leaves, curing, and blending to rolling and sorting, each cigar is a testament to human achievement and creativity. To truly enjoy a cigar, you must understand the details involved in its production, manufacturing, and anatomy. Furthermore, cigar production is a lengthy and time-consuming process, from fermentation to distribution, often taking over a decade. The aging process is precise; the cigar must not be over or under-aged to avoid spoiling and bitterness.

Cigar Anatomy

Cigars are made of a wrapper, filler, and binder, which form a smoking system that creates a complex singular organism we know as the cigar. The wrapper is the outer cover and is the most expensive aspect since it must look perfect and taste flavorful. The leaf cannot have too many veins, blemishes, or a rough texture to qualify for use. The binder sits directly below the wrapper and is made of tobacco leaves that didn’t pass for use as a wrapper. Its combustion rate is a critical component of the cigar, ensuring a proper burn rate for the filler. The filler is the inner workings of the cigar and where the cigarmaker can shine. It can hold different tobaccos from multiple countries, creating unique and complex flavor combinations.

The cigar is rolled with the foot end remaining visible and the head or tip finished off with a cap—the more symmetrical and neat the cigar, the more masterful the roller. You must cut handmade cigars before smoking, and all cigars should be kept in a humidor to ensure freshness.

The Proper Way To Prepare A Cigar

To prepare your cigar, you must cut the end off with a cigar cutter. There are two types, a guillotine, and a punch, with the guillotine being the most preferred method. You can also use a knife or your mouth in a pinch, but this is frowned upon for daily use.

How To Light A Cigar

1. Begin by locating the cap and cutting it just inside its end. Do this quickly to avoid damaging the cigar.
2. Once the cap is removed, toast the holding the cigar at a 45-degree angle, holding the flame near it but not touching it. Rotate the cigar a few times to warm the tobacco inside.
3. Light the cigar without allowing the flame to tough the end of the wrapper, puffing in but not inhaling until smoke fills your mouth.
4. Now check to see that the cigar is lit evenly by looking at the foot and blowing lightly. The entire end should glow.

How To Smoke A Cigar

1. Once the cigar is lit, you can begin smoking it.
2. Smoke without inhaling by closing off your nostrils and inhaling through your mouth as if sucking on a straw. Puff on the cigar every thirty to sixty seconds.
3. Let your ash grow to around an inch and tap off into an ashtray. Avoid smashing the cigar into the tray, choosing to tap it on the side instead.

The Best Cigars From Around The World

There are many high-quality cigars made around the world; it can often be confusing searching for the best. We’ve compiled a list of our top cigar picks that encompass quality and provide an excellent smoke.

Ramon Allones Superiors – Cuban Puro

Launched in 2010, the Ramone Allones Superiors quickly amassed a loyal following, thanks to its rich, robust flavors. These cigars provide a taste of Cuba, with musty flavors, including bitter citrus and a smooth spice finish. When stored in the right conditions, these cigars age wonderfully.

Nub Sumatra – Nicaragua

Numb Sumatra cigars deliver a rich and complex flavor profile, with an ending of honey and molasses. Known as a less expensive option to the Olivia Serie V Melanio’s, the Nub Sumatra is an excellent choice for those seeking a distinctive cigar at an affordable price.

Romeo y Julieta Anejados – Cuban Puro

Romeo y Julieta Anejados cigars are aged to perfection for five to eight years in cedar boxes, developing a complex yet smooth flavor. Although on the pricier side, it delivers an excellent smoke that is worth the cost.

Cohiba Behike 52 – Cuba

The Cohiba Behike 53 cigar is considered by many to be the holy grail of cigars. Crafted with the rare media-tempo filler grown on the top of the tobacco plants, this exquisite cigar offers a creamy and earthy flavor profile that gets better with age.

Upmann Magnum 50 – Cuba

The Upmann Magnum 50 cigars’ claim to fame comes from their famous entanglement with the Cuban trade embargo when JFK told his press secretary to travel to Havanna and bring him back 1,200 of this incredible cigar. Once secure, he signed the Cuban embargo that banned all imports from the region. The Upmann magnum 50 delivers leather, wood, and vanilla notes and is considered an excellent option for beginners.

Partagas Serie D No. 4 – Cuba

The Partagas Serie D No. 4 has been a popular choice since the 1930s, and with one sniff, you can see why. With a potent chocolate smell, you may want to take a bite, but don’t let the sweet smell fool you. The Partagas Serie D No. 4 delivers a strong kick to your mouth with a robust, creamy, and smooth flavor. You’ll want to take your time smoking this beauty!

Cigars are an iconic part of history, maintaining their popularity for hundreds of years. Be sure to enjoy them slowly, taking in the complex flavors and relishing in the fact that you are partaking in a pastime generation have enjoyed.