June 5, 2010
WHAT ARE THEY?
Those of you that speak Spanish already know that the word culebra translates to snake. In cigar terms, a Culebra is a combination of three panetela-shaped cigars twisted together and tied at each end. While these cigars don’t have much of a market presence today, there are a couple manufacturers that are currently producing them; Davidoff, Illusione, Drew Estate, and Pinar Del Rio. The Culebra has much more of a historical significance than practical use.
The Culebra is said to come from Cuba in the early 1800s. In Cuban cigar factories, the rollers were allowed to take three cigars home each day to smoke after work. Inevitably, many of those cigars ended up for sale on the black market. This led to the factories’ management to decide to twist or bend them in a way that would make it very difficult for the factory rollers to sell to the public because of their unappealing snake-like appearance. The management estimated that if the cigars were twisted together properly, it would remain possible for the cigar rollers to take them home and enjoy them, but they would not have much value on the black market. Other schools of thought believe that Culebras were created to ensure that cigar rollers weren’t smoking the profits away. They were allowed to smoke certain cigars only, and factory managers decided that by rolling them into Culebras they would see and account for exactly what the workers were smoking.
HOW ARE THEY MADE?
The tobacco used in Culebras must be very moist so it doesn’t break during the rolling process. Culebra cigars are braided at the table, obviously by hand, using (just like any size) specific amounts of tobacco that are inserted while the cigar is still extremely moist and ample. If done properly, the cigar will smoke just as well as any other cigar.
HOW SHOULD YOU SMOKE THEM?
Culebras can look a little awkward to those who aren’t familiar with them. One might assume that because they are bound together that you are supposed to smoke all three cigars at once. This is not the case. A Culebra is simply three cigars twisted together that are meant to be smoked individually. To separate them, carefully remove the ribbons or strings that bind them together and guide them apart. The cigars should naturally come apart without much resistance, just be sure to handle them as delicately as possible. These fun shapes make nice additions to cigar collections and are great conversation pieces. Bring one into the right setting and you may even hear a new theory as to their