Thursday, October 12, 2006

The Cigar Ash Obsession Part II - Ash Color

cigar ash balanceAs a follow up to my previous post, I wanted to make a short post about Cigar Ash Color.

I will be the first to say, that there is nothing more beautiful than that WHITE ash... white like coconut shavings, powdered sugar, or snow... connected to that dark wrapper. Like a yin and yang of new and old- unused and used... but I digress.

White cigar ash is not always a good thing. White ash, in many circumstances is the product of chemicals, processing irregularities, and God knows what else. Some of these things could be dangerous. I never like the idea of my cigars having chemicals added... it just seems TOO "corporate tobacco" to me.

My simple point is that white ash does not always mean we are talking about a quality wrapper/cigar. That is a misconception that I have heard brought up many times.

Cuba is known as the cradle of the best tobacco in the world, but it is not necessarily know for being white. In fact, I had a conversation once with a older Brazilian who is a long time cigar lover that has been going to Cuba for a long time. He was explaining to me that Cuba was know that "latierra de la ceniza negra " or "the land of the black ash." Although I have not confirmed this with any other source, he informed me that since the beginning, Cuba was known for it cigars with dark ash. He is of Italian decent, and a tradition of "old world" smokers.

I have heard of and seen some wrapper leaves that burn very white; Criolle (Criollo), Corojo, and other unknowns coming out of San Juan y Martinez. From what I have heard, the curing process is very specific and the soil is prepared with things like peanut shells. BUT - In Cuba, we are talking about an all natural process.

I have smoked many great cigars without white ash, some had had nearly a black ash- In fact, I am smoking one right now. On the other hand, I have smoked some great cigars with a white ash, but be do not let your self be fooled into thinking that white ash is a sign of a good cigar.

As always, smoke what makes you happy- but do not get caught up in the legends.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting article. I also don't think the ash color is indicative of the quality. I've smoked a lot of brown/black ash cigars that were amazing. I don't know about the chemical additive thing, that'd be just wrong, and i'm pretty sure that most, if not all of the top cigar makers (padron, cohiba, etc..), do not do this.
    I do know that a white ash is indicative of a high potassium content in the soil, as other colors are indicative of other mineral soil mixtures, so this is just one of many puzzle pieces to figuring out the origin of the tobacco.