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Alejandro Turrent on Curing Tobacco and Blending Cigars (video)

Alejandro Turrent of Casa Turrent Cigars took a few minutes to tell us about the curing process for Casa Turrent Cigars and the many years of experimentation it took to get the process right. Also, he explains some of the criteria of what he looks for in a blend.

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I’m Alejandro Turrent from Casa Turrent Cigars. I’m going to tell you how we created this blend. It’s called Casa Turrent 1901. We wanted to make a cigar that is a representation of Mexico. We wanted to create a cigar that can fit in most palates, probably not for the really beginner, but for the consumer that enjoys the complex flavors, complex tastes. We know that our tobacco has a lot of flavor, has a lot of richness.

We know that our tobacco lacks a little bit of strength, that’s why we thought about blending it with Nicaraguan tobacco which contributes with that. And we started to play around with basically the two main tobacco seeds that we grow in Mexico which is the San Andres Negro and the Criollo San Andres. The San Andres Negro is the [inaudible 00:01:40] tobacco from the area, and Criollo San Andres is a Cuban seed that we’ve been growing in San Andres for more than 10 years already.

We started to play, to try with different years. We started to play with different farms. We started to play with different primes of the tobacco. So we found that the blend with the San Andres Negro in the majority had a very, very unique taste combined with the Criollo in a smaller proportion and with less proportion the Nicaraguan tobacco. So the majority of the tobacco that goes in the Casa Turrent is Negro San Andres, then it’s Criollo San Andres, and then it’s the Nicaraguan.

We, as many other tobacco people know that, the more aging the tobacco is the better. You have to be careful not to go too much because then you start to lose some flavor. So it’s a challenge where to stop, when to stop.

So we did a lot of experiments with the San Andres Negro. We aged it for one year and a half, for two years, for three years, and we found that that was the best moment for the tobacco. Also, we found that we needed to age the tobacco slowly, not to rush it, not to get the tobacco with a very high temperature. So that’s also the reason why it takes a lot longer.

The Criollo San Andres, it requires also a long time, but not as much because you are looking for a little bit spiciness, a lot of sweetness, a lot of flavors. So if you go too much with the fermentation on the Criollo, you start to lose flavor and strength. So that tobacco didn’t stay for too long. We are using the Criollo San Andres that has been aged for about 18 months to 2 years, and the [inaudible 00:04:53] we are a using a new blend.

That, since it’s a very strong tobacco, the leaves are very thick, very heavy. And it’s a lot more fermentation. It can resist higher temperatures. So we knew about our tobacco, but we didn’t know too much about the tobacco from Nicaragua. So we started to play around, like I said, with the different tobaccos, with the different cuts, with the different agings. And it took us a long time.

It was a big challenge because when you make a cigar, when you make a blend and you smoke it, you might think that that’s the right blend. But if you smoke it maybe weeks after or two months after, it might change a lot. Then you have to start over. So it took us two years to find the right blend. I think what it also offers is a very nice balance which is what you must look for in a cigar. Of course, the flavor, the aroma, the strength, the combustion, that’s something that it should be on the cigar.

The balance is very important. There are some cigars that are very strong at the beginning and very flavorful, but then the enjoyment stops because it becomes sour and it changes the wrong way. So you need to have balance, and that’s one of the main challenges when creating a blend.