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ItalianSmokes' Blog

The History Of Kentucky Tobacco In Toscano Cigars

Posted on 9th Apr 2015

Tobacco is part of the Nicotiana genus, of the Solanaceae plant family which includes valuable flowering perennial herbs, medicinal plants, vines, lianas, epiphytes, shrubs, trees and ornamentals. This genus includes important crops such as potatoes, peppers and the infamous poisonous nightshade. Tobacco originally grew in the New World, the North and South American continent; where as early as the 1st century B.C., American Indians began to use the plant in different ways which included ceremonial and medicinal purposes.

With the European discovery of America, the famed explorer Christopher Columbus (from Genoa, Italy) was offered dried tobacco leaves as a gift on October 15, 1492. The plant had inherent value to the American Indians which saw it as a cure-all, and used it to address wounds, as a pain killers, even to relive toothaches. This interest in the plant translated to the Europeans whom began to grow it all over the continent for its "medicinal" qualities as well as it's commodity value.

European settlers who colonized America brought the crop to central and western Kentucky. Early on in cultivation, farmers grew burley tobacco with dark leaves and a strong taste. This tobacco was purchased for smoking in pipes, cigars, and used in early chewing products. Eventually Kentucky would become the largest producer of tobacco, burley and dark tobacco in the Union; developing "light" or "white burley" to add to their darker varieties. White burley gained commercial popularity due to its convenience and blending capabilities as well as a harvesting and curing ease which made it a farmer’s favorite.

In 1818, Ferdinand III, the Grand Duke of Tuscany founded a tobacco factory which began manufacturing cigars. Legend has it that a bale of Kentucky tobacco leaves which had been drying in the open were caught in an unexpected downpour. The wet tobacco began to ferment in the summer heat. It was decided that instead of throwing away the fermented tobacco, it would be used to produce cigars to be sold in Florence. It gained popularity amongst Italians, eventually becoming part of regular production and began to be known as the Toscano cigar. Today, the Toscano brand cigars are manufactured by Manifatture Sigaro Toscano SpA located in Lucca and Cava de' Tirreni.

Today, 27 different varieties of Toscano cigars are exported to more than 30 countries all over the world. Manifatture Sigaro Toscano applies its expertise and heritage in producing high-quality hand rolled fermented cigars. Toscano cigars have become a symbol of Italian taste, quality and tradition.

Tags: Toscano cigar Hand-rolled Kentucky tobacco Italy America Christopher Columbus History Tobacco Italian heritage

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