Whether you smoke nothing but premium cigars or grab whatever catches your eye at the convenience store, you’ve likely come across flavored cigars. Countless companies produce these aromatic smokes, and a wide array of different flavors have become available. From fruit to coffee to wine, there is a flavored or infused cigar for just about any palate. The question remains, though: if cigars are made from natural tobacco, how are such decidedly unnatural flavors worked into the final product? The answer actually depends on the cigar (and the manufacturer) in question.
Let’s start with one of the most popular flavored cigars among the machine-made options: Swisher’s Backwoods cigars. While other manufacturers use a flavored syrup that is sprayed directly onto the binder, Swisher took a different approach with Backwoods. First, they substituted the syrup, which can often be overpowering, with an improved oil solution. They also revamped the process for applying this flavoring, but the specifics of how it’s done are kept tightly under wraps. Regardless of the process, the result is one of the most popular flavored cigars on the market.
For many manufacturers of premium cigars, the quality of the tobacco used in their products is a source of pride. That means if any additional flavor is to be used, most premium manufacturers would want it to complement the taste of the tobacco rather than take center stage. Still others would rather avoid flavors altogether.
When high-quality cigars are infused with other flavors though, the process is delicate and painstaking. Tim Ozgener, vice president of C.A.O., told Cigar Aficionado that when it comes to their infusion process, “the flavoring is applied in a very subtle way…it’s not painted on the tobacco, there’s no syrup, there’s no direct contact with liquid.” So how do they do it? Well once again, the details are kept in secret. However, we do know that the magic often happens during the curing process. Essences of different natural and artificial flavors are applied to filler tobacco (rather than the binder) and the humidity of the environment helps the flavor soak into the leaves for an enjoyable, even flavor.
Purists may scoff at these attempts to alter the true taste of quality tobacco, but the flavored cigar industry is growing and shows no signs of slowing down. Whether this is due to slick marketing or a true demand from consumers, premium cigar manufacturers like Drew Estate are having continued success with their infused lines. You may not like the fact that flavoring is finding its way into top-shelf smokes, but it looks like it’s going to be commonplace for the foreseeable future.