The Philippines is known for its diverse culture, delicious local foods and of course, its cigars. The country has been a hub for cigar production for several years now. With the boom in demand for premium cigars on both sides of the Pacific Ocean, a number of manufacturers have set up shop in the country. From Connecticut wrappers to Indonesian wrappers, we have it all here. The following article is designed to answer all your questions about Filipino cigars and what they have to offer you as a cigar enthusiast. If you’re new to the world of cigar smoking or just need an introduction, read on…
Filipino Cigars 101: Everything You Need To Know Table of Contents
What Are Filipino Cigars?
There are two main types of cigars made in the Philippines: Estelí creations and Tatuaje. These cigars are the most popularly recognized. They are usually made with a Connecticut wrapper, Nicaraguan binder and filler tobacco from Cuba, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Honduras and Brazil. Estelí creations are more mild than Tatuaje cigars. Estelí cigars don’t use Cuban filler tobacco but rather Nicaraguan filler tobacco.
This gives them a stronger flavor profile but an even smoother texture as well. Tatuaje cigars are known for their bold flavor profiles and typically have a dark brown or black Connecticut wrapper with a dark Havana binder and fillers from Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Honduras and Mexico that give it its unique flavor profile.
What Is The History of Filipino Cigars?
While there is not much information about the history of Filipino cigars, we do know that it was founded in 1892 by Jose Manuel de Caba. At that time, the Philippines was a US territory and some time later, became a self-governing commonwealth in 1935. So, if you’re interested in learning more about the historical side of these cigars, check out our article on the history of premium cigars. Another thing to consider is that while there are many manufacturers of these cigars in the country, they all use tobacco from different regions and countries.
With this said, they offer a variety of flavors and aromas depending on the tobacco blend used. If you're looking for more information on these brands and where to find them online, be sure to check out our list of best cigar shops in the Philippines as well as our list of online retailers for your convenience!
Why Are Filipino Cigars So Popular?
Filipino cigars are generally milder than other varieties and will usually give you a smoother smoking experience. In addition, they can be enjoyed with a wide range of drinks. These factors make them a popular choice for those trying to cut down on the number of cigarettes they smoke or moderate their intake of nicotine. Also, there is a wide variety of flavors available in Filipino cigars. Some examples include:
- Mysore (myers): A sweet and fruity cigar
- Cohiba: A Cuban cigar that has been around since 1968
- Havana: The company's flagship cigar variety
- Mocha Java: A very smooth, coffee flavored cigar
- Morning Glory: A sweet, vanilla tasting cigar
- Rocky Patel Sungrown: Tastes like tobacco with hints of chocolate and caramel
How Are Filipino Cigars Made?
Filipino cigars are made by rolling tobacco leaves into thin, long strands and then wrapping them around a piece of pre-made paper, or binder. The wrapper is then moistened with a mixture of water and natural oils before being rolled over the binder. After being rolled up, the cigar is placed in a humidor that contains more moisture in order to help maintain its quality.
Who Are The Top Filipino Cigar Brands?
Though not as prominent on the international stage as the cigars from Latin America, the country has a dedicated local industry that prides itself on a tradition of hand-rolling cigars. The fertile lands of the Cagayan Valley and the Ilocos Region contribute to the distinctive flavor profile of Filipino cigars, which tend to be milder with a unique, sweet character.
Established in 1881, Tabacalera Incorporada is the oldest cigar manufacturing company in the Philippines and is highly regarded in the local industry. Known for producing hand-rolled cigars from locally grown tobacco, their portfolio includes a wide range of products. The "Tabacalera" line is their flagship brand, offering classic Filipino flavors.
Tabaqueria de Filipinas
Tabaqueria de Filipinas is a relatively younger brand, but it has made significant strides in elevating the profile of Filipino cigars both locally and internationally. They offer a variety of cigars, from the accessible "Bravo" line to their premium "Don Juan Urquijo" series, which is intended to compete with more established international brands.
La Flor de La Isabela
La Flor de La Isabela is another historical name in the Filipino cigar industry, with production roots dating back to the late 19th century. They offer a diverse range of hand-rolled cigars that aim to capture the essence of traditional Filipino tobacco. Their "Corporales" line is a notable offering, providing a blend that is both rich and aromatic.
The Antonio Gimenez brand offers a blend of Filipino and imported tobaccos, aiming for a slightly more robust profile than the typically mild local offerings. Their cigars, particularly the "Antonio Gimenez" line, are known for their balance and have been positioned as a more upscale choice within the Filipino cigar market.
What Are The Tasting Notes of Filipino Cigars?
Filipino cigars are unique in the world of tobacco. Unlike other cigars, a Filipino cigar will have a few different tasting notes. These taste profiles typically include hints of coffee, chocolate, nuts and cinnamon. Filipino cigars are typically lighter than other premium cigars and are known for their smoothness and complexity. They also tend to be less expensive than other premium cigars which makes them appealing to the budget-conscious consumer. With that said, don’t expect these cheaper prices to come with a lack of quality—these cigars are built to last!
How Much Do Filipino Cigars Cost?
Filipino cigars cost anywhere from $2 to $25 per stick. The price is usually dependent on the size of the cigar, with a larger cigar costing more than a smaller cigar. Therefore, if you’re trying to save money, it may be best for you to buy in bulk. If you want to avoid paying full price for your cigars, check out our guide on how you can get discounts on your favorite brands and types of cigars. Aside from being sold by size, Filipino cigars can also be sold by brand. These are generally more expensive than those sold by size but they are highly sought after and often limited in supply.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Are Filipino Cigars Known For?
Filipino cigars, often called 'tabaquería', are renowned for their unique, sweet, and often mild flavor profiles. They are a symbol of the Philippines' rich history in tobacco cultivation and cigar manufacturing dating back to the Spanish colonial era.
How Do Filipino Cigars Compare to Cuban Cigars?
While Cuban cigars are famed for their complexity and full-bodied profiles, Filipino cigars tend to be milder with a distinctive sweetness. They are an excellent choice for those who appreciate a gentler, yet flavorful, smoking experience.
What Is the History of Cigar Making in the Philippines?
The Philippines has a centuries-old tradition of cigar making that began during the Spanish colonial period in the 16th century. The industry flourished as the tropical climate proved ideal for growing tobacco of exceptional quality.
Can Beginners Enjoy Filipino Cigars?
Absolutely! Filipino cigars are perfect for beginners due to their generally mild nature and approachable flavor profiles. They serve as an excellent introduction to the broader world of cigars.
What Types of Tobacco Are Used in Filipino Cigars?
Filipino cigars typically use native tobacco varieties, with the most prominent being Isabela. This tobacco is known for its sweet undertones and mild strength, making it the cornerstone of Filipino cigar production.
Are Filipino Cigars Hand-rolled or Machine-rolled?
The Philippines boasts a tradition of hand-rolling cigars. Many Filipino cigars are meticulously crafted by hand, ensuring quality and a personal touch in every smoke.
What Are the Notable Regions for Cigar Production in the Philippines?
The Cagayan Valley, particularly Isabela province, is the most notable region for tobacco cultivation and cigar production in the Philippines, largely due to its fertile soil and favorable climate.
How Should Filipino Cigars Be Stored?
Like all premium cigars, Filipino cigars should be stored in a humidor at around 68-70% humidity to maintain their freshness and flavor profile.
What Is the Signature Flavor Profile of Filipino Cigars?
Filipino cigars are known for their sweetness, accompanied by earthy and woody notes. Some blends may also offer hints of spice, cacao, or coffee, depending on the tobacco's fermentation and aging processes.
What Makes the Isabela Tobacco So Special?
Isabela tobacco is celebrated for its natural sweetness and smooth smoke. The tobacco leaves from this region are cured and fermented with care to bring out these signature flavors.
Are There Any Famous Filipino Cigar Brands?
Yes, brands like Tabacalera Incorporada and Antonio Gimenez have established a reputation for producing quality Filipino cigars that are enjoyed both locally and internationally.
How Does One Properly Light a Filipino Cigar?
To properly light a Filipino cigar, use a butane lighter or wooden match, avoiding petrol-based lighters. Toast the foot of the cigar evenly before taking gentle puffs as you light it to ensure a consistent burn.
What Drinks Pair Well With Filipino Cigars?
A sweet and smooth Filipino cigar pairs wonderfully with a variety of beverages, from coffee to rum, and even some whiskies, complementing the mild and sweet tobacco flavors.
How Long Does a Typical Filipino Cigar Last?
The duration of a Filipino cigar depends on its size and how it's smoked. On average, you can expect a standard-sized cigar to last anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour.
What Are the Health Implications of Smoking Filipino Cigars?
Smoking Filipino cigars, as with all cigars, poses health risks such as heart disease, lung diseases, and various forms of cancer. It's important to smoke responsibly and in moderation.
How Are Filipino Cigars Rated in the Global Market?
Filipino cigars are gaining a reputation on the global stage for their quality and unique flavor. While they may not be as widely recognized as Cuban or Dominican cigars, connoisseurs around the world are beginning to appreciate the distinct characteristics of Filipino cigars.
What Is the Best Time of Day to Smoke a Filipino Cigar?
Filipino cigars are versatile; a lighter cigar can be enjoyed in the morning or afternoon, while fuller-bodied variants can be a delightful after-dinner smoke.
How Does Climate Impact the Flavor of Filipino Cigars?
The tropical climate of the Philippines contributes to the high sugar content and natural sweetness of the tobacco, which in turn influences the mild yet flavorful profile of the cigars.
Can Filipino Cigars Be Aged?
Yes, like many premium cigars, Filipino cigars can be aged. With proper storage, aging can enhance their mild sweetness and develop more refined flavors.
How Do I Choose a Good Filipino Cigar?
When selecting a Filipino cigar, look for those with a smooth, lustrous wrapper and a firm feel. The aroma should be pleasant, and the cigar should be free from cracks or blemishes.
What Are the Characteristics of a High-quality Filipino Cigar?
A high-quality Filipino cigar will have a consistent burn, draw easily, and produce a firm ash. It should deliver a harmonious blend of flavors and leave a clean finish on the palate.
How Can I Tell if a Filipino Cigar Is Fresh?
A fresh Filipino cigar will have a slight oily sheen to the wrapper, be supple to the touch, and should emit a rich tobacco aroma. If it's brittle or dry, it may not have been stored correctly.
Filipino cigars offer a journey into a world where traditional methods meet a tropical terroir, resulting in smokes that are as rich in history as they are in flavor. Whether you're a seasoned aficionado or a curious newcomer, the world of Filipino cigars is filled with discovery and enjoyment. Each cigar rolled is not just a product; it's a narrative of culture, skill, and passion, waiting to be unfurled in plumes of aromatic smoke. Enjoy the exploration!