Brazilian Cigar History

Brazil is a classic tobacco country. In the south, in the states Parana, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul, very good Virginia and Burley tobacco is grown and used for cigarettes.

Cigar tobacco is known to prosper only in relatively small, narrowly defined regions of this earth, with a favourable climate and land blessed with good soil.

One such region can be found in north east Brazil in the states Bahia and Alagoas.

São Salvador da Bahia de Todos of Santos is the official name of Salvador, the capital city of Bahia on the Bay of all Saints. This is where the black heart of Brazil beats; this is also where Hans Leusen lives – President of Companhia Brazileira de Charutos Dannemann founded in the 19th century by businessman Geraldo Dannemann still resolutely looks out from all ages of Dannemann cigars and cigarillos. Brazilan tobacco is older than the discovery of the Americas. For centuries now, the natives have planted, chewed, and snuffed it.

In the mid 18th century it was cross bred with Maryland tobacco – the answer to the Virginia tobacco so successfully at the time. This hybrid is the origin of today’s Bahia Brazil cigar tobacco.

Even the green in the Brazilian flag is supposed to symbolise the green floods of fluctuating tobacco fields, and also in Brazil’s original coat of arms there is a flowering tobacco plant.

Here in the Bahia province Gerardo Dannemann found what he was looking for: the fecund, sandy earth of the Roconcavo; an ideal climate for tobacco cultivation. All not too far from the Salvador harbour, where ships from all over the world docked.

A factory with a total of six women was the basic unit of a tobacco empire, which he left to his successors – his wife Alleluja gave him 13 children – when he died in 1921. Today there are around 6000 people working directly for Dannemnn in Brazil which specialises in dark-fired tobaccos mainly for cigars worldwide.

The growing regions in Bahia are divided into the Mata Fine, Mata Norte, Mata Sul.

The differences regarding rainfall and sunny days are not that big, but it varies from one harvest to the next. In general, Bahia has a rather moderate climate, while Arapiraca has slightly lower temperatures and stronger winds, due to its geographical position on a plateau. The ideal conditions for good growth are sunny and intermittent rainy days. There are naturally also genetic differences between the various tobacco varieties.

Is All Tobacco From Bahia Dark?

There are several varieties of Brazilian DAC ( dark air cured) tobacco. Bahia has the Bahia leaf Mata Fine tobaccos and the Bahia leaf Mata Norte. But there are also the light wrapper tobaccos Bahia Sumatra wrapper and the Bahiano wrapper (Havana style).

Coming from the Alagoas state are the Arapiraca leaf and the Arapiraca wrapper tobacco. Mata Fine and the Mata Norte are then further divided into sub districts: in Mata Fine there’s firstly the district Cruz Das Albas with the towns Cruz Das Almas and here there are. Again there are slight regional differences. This is where the tastier, full aromatic Mata Fine grows. The leaf in general is round and broad; the colour of the fermented tobacco is a deep brown.

Particular characteristics of this tobacco are the fine mid-ribs and the fine side veins. The colour of the tobaccos is a lighter brown. Qualitatively fine Mata Norte tobaccos from Berimbau. This dark brown, strong tobacco is of excellent quality. This cigar filler even has a stronger taste than the Mata Fine. The thorough Swiss and German buyers of Villiger cigars. From March to mid July the seedbeds for the tiny seeds are laid.

The small seedlings are then sewn into the free field from the end of April to mid August. June to the end of November is already harvest time, and shortly before Christmas the tobacco dries in the barns. From October to the end of February of the next year the tobacco sellers and packers buy from the farmers. The fermentation generally takes from October to the end of August of the following year.

Tobacco isn’t a marketable article. That’s why the buyers carefully buy batch by batch. If the deal is perfect, the tobaccos are packed between March and October and then the new tobacco and trading year starts. The best time to visit Bahia is in April and May. So, in far north-eastern Brazil the farmers have their rules. Jose’ Raimundo Silva Sacramento, one of the chosen growers that deliver tobacco for the Mata Fine cigars, prefers to plant the tobacco seeds given to him by Dannemann in the beds on Good Friday. Bahia and Arapicara seedlings are usually sown during the rainy season, between the months of May, June and July. The earth in Bahia tends to be a bit heavier than in Arapicara, which has a more sandy side. The growers in Bahia cultivate smaller plots – about 0.5 to 1.5 hectares.

What Is So Special About Brazilian Tobacco?

What makes Bahia tobacco so special is the fact that the regions of Mata, with Mata Fine as the best region, are less than 100 miles from the ocean. This is at 250 to 300 metres above the sea level and is rather barren ground, which is particularly appropriate for tobacco growing. The roots of the tobacco plants really have to work hard here to draw water. To get about three kilos of tobacco from one plant you need about 900 litres of water. The nice dark colours and lightly sweet taste of the Brazil don’t come out until after the drying process in one of the 60 drying houses and months of fermentation. The aroma can have tendencies of Chocolate, fresh bread or ripe apples.

Cultivation happens in harmony with nature. We don’t use heavy tractors but ox carts to plough the sensitive ground. Cocoa shells are a biological fertiliser. Sunflowers planted between the tobacco rows keep vermin and pests away. During their heavy work, the people are cheerful and in a good mood. That can surely be felt by the smiling consumer on the other side of the Atlantic. Another thing specific about Brazil tobaccos – aside from its burn – is its beautiful, solid, white ash.

Bahia fillers are used by almost all European manufacturers but also by many producers in Central America and the Dominican Republic. The sweet gentle aroma is appreciated. In a good cigar they are referred to as pepper and salt.

Today Brazil is being talked about everywhere. A prime example of a smoker was once the chancellor of Germany’s economic miracle Ludwig Erhard, for whom Zino Davidoff procured his favourite brand of Cigars as Brazil wrapper harmoniously connects a strong Nicaraguan filler.

A classic is the Alonso Melendez, the most sold Brazil on a somewhat small cigar market in Brazil.

When Thomas Klaphake, from De Olifant cigars, gets hold of some of the best Mata Fine wrappers, he puts out a limited Brazil edition of his small, fine De Olifant, which most often sells out instantly. Due to its nice, brown dark colour many think that Brazil is particularly strong, but actually the opposite is true. It is a pleasant cigar to smoke. An increasing number of friends of the racy, dark-brown Brazil beauties enjoy the “samba on the palate”.

To find out more about these magnificent cigars, please contact us today at Taylors Tobacconists.


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