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For decades, man has harvested and dried tobacco for its smooth, rich and robust smoky flavor. Unsurprisingly, many drying methods have come forth and one of those being fire-curing, which is one of the key processes in making the famed Toscano cigars.
While precise technique is hotly debated, tobacco farmers all agree that fire-curing the crop is an art. So much so that an average crop can be made exemplary if the fire-curing process is done correctly. Alternatively, a highly promising field crop can be ruined if subjected to a botched fire-curing process. The Kentucky tobacco slated to be used in Toscano and Toscanello cigars is harvested when the leaves are mature, but not over-ripe. Once harvested, the leaves are tied to sticks and attached to scarffolding to wilt, which helps facilitate handling and curing. The wilting time will vary depending on weather conditions.
Once properly wilted, the tobacco leaves are moved to specially ventilated curing chambers. Here, they are allowed to yellow before the fires are started as it will help color the final product. Fires are then started slowly and kept small while moistened sawdust is added to create moist smoke. Next, the ventilation is opened and the fires are stoked with specially selected strong essence wood such as oak and beech. For the final stage, the venting system is closed once again and the fires are stoked to produce as much smoke as possible. The walls and floor of the curing barn may be moistened to keep the leaves from drying out completely.
Finally, the cured Kentucky tobacco is transported to the Toscano and Toscanello cigar factories. Of course, this process can be much more difficult than described here, it greatly hinges on the weather, plant status, type of wood used, time of day, and so on. If you would like to learn more about Kentucky tobacco, we invite you to visit this page on our website.