Italians on Italians
Beyond Toscano

Preserving tobacco: maintaining perfection

Just like most products made with natural ingredients...
Il Sigaro della Sera
Just like most products made with natural ingredients, great care should be taken in preserving Toscano cigars. When it comes to flavor, a little TLC goes a long way. From the moment the Kentucky tobacco leaves are picked, to the lighting of the cigar, there is a correct way to store the cigar and its components to ensure it reaches the smoker in optimum condition.
The tobacco leaves start their journey to becoming a cigar as wet, so it’s important they don’t dry out or have their flavor tarnished by changes in humidity. During storage, the temperature around them is kept at a constant 18°C, with humidity of between 60 and 65%. Just like a fine wine, the tobacco improves with age, so the wet leaves are left to ferment in these conditions for different lengths of time depending on the style. Noise, light and strong odors are all banished from where the tobacco is ‘resting’ on its side, gently placed under a sheet of paper, so as not to taint it. 
Once made, ideally the cigar would be kept under similar conditions. And while it’s hard to control exactly how a retailer will store and present their merchandise, many tobacconists take great care to preserve the cigars they sell, taking advice from the manufacturer on how to keep them at optimal conditions before sale. 
When it comes to the Toscano cigar, there are several schools of thought on the best conditions, each according to taste. Slightly dryer cigars have a pleasing crackle as they burn, while a milder, more elegant experience can be enjoyed when the cigar is slightly more moist. 
As ever, there is no right answer – it is according to taste, so be sure to ask your tobacconist about the preservation styles they use if you have a preference. Most will store cigars in a quality humidified cabinet. The insides made of Spanish cedar, cedrella, mahogany or similar woods that don’t taint the tobacco with their odors. But if you love the dry crackle of a burning cigar, then simply leave it out in the open for a few days before smoking.