WHAT MAKES A GOOD CIGARETTE?
THE MATURITY OF THE TOBACCO
This is the degree of ripeness of the tobacco. Like most agricultural crops, tobacco reaches its peak potential when it is allowed to reach full ripeness or maturity. Tobacco that is harvested prematurely, much like green bananas, tends to have a sharp bitter taste when smoked. When fully ripe, the leaves of the tobacco plant achieve a full chemical balance between natural nicotine and sugar levels. The natural oils of the tobacco plant are permitted to fully permeate each leaf of the plant. This results in a balanced and rounded smoke with no aftertaste.
THE STALK POSITION OF THE TOBACCO
The stalk position of the tobacco on the plant is an important criterion when selecting tobacco for its inherent chemical properties. Stalk position affects how quickly leafs ripen. Quality farmers will make several passes through the fields, harvesting only those leaves which are ready to be picked, and leaving leaves which need to age more to stay on the stalk.
FLUE CURED TOBACCO
Flue Cured Tobacco leaves develop fully after being topped. This permits the sap of the plant to reach the leaves instead of going to the flowering head. Flue cured leaves ripen from the bottom of the stalk to the top. The lower leaves of the plant contain the least nicotine. The top leaves, or tips, contain the most.
Burley Tobacco leaves also develop fully after being topped. Burley tobacco is left in the field until all of the leaves have reached full maturity The entire plant is then cut at the bottom of the stalk and hung in a barn to air cure. After curing the leaves are stripped individually and grouped together by stalk position.