Smoke Inn’s Cigar Shop University

Cigars being hand-rolled inside a cigar shop.

Welcome to Cigar Shop University

Welcome to the first installment of Smoke Inn’s new series. We’re calling it Cigar Shop University. As your favorite cigar shop and the best place around to buy cigars online, we saw an opportunity to entertain and inform while talking about our favorite subject. There will be a little something for everyone here. We’ll cover the history, science, cigar shop culture and much more. We will also tell the intriguing backstories of some of the most famous brands in the industry. Of course, our thoughts about how to choose cigars, how to store them and enjoy them is part of the package too. Finally, we will share our favorite tips to discover and define your personal tastes and which cigars suit you best. So, buckle up as we dive into Cigar Shop University.

Cigar Smoking is a Tradition to Savor and Enjoy

Cigar smoking has been a celebrated tradition for centuries. Whether you are new to the world of cigar appreciation or its old hat for you, there is always more to explore. One of the best parts of enjoying cigars is the rich and varied mosaic of flavor profiles and types of cigars. The level of complexity and nuance within rivals the objects of any other connoisseur’s affection, whether it be Scotch Whisky or vintage wine. Simply put, learning about cigars and discovering what you like best, is fun, because there’s so much there to experience.

Cigar Aficionados are a Family

Cigars are a great hobby and cigar smoking is one of the finer things in life and the beautiful part is – it’s for everyone! You don’t need to be wealthy or a cigar expert to savor a good smoke. Taking an interest in cigars is also a great way to meet people. More often than not, you will find your fellow smoke enthusiasts have other things in common with you. There’s a great community here. Whether you buy cigars online or visit a smoke shop weekly, get connected to others. We guarantee you’ll meet some interesting characters.


Exploring the World of Cigar Shop History

Cured tobacco was still somewhat of an exotic commodity when America was young. But once tobacco found its way to the western world, it didn’t take long for the new pastimes of pipe and cigar smoking to take root. Even if you were a farmer by trade or necessity, there is an art to growing tobacco properly and curing it to smoke. The first tobacco plantation in America was set up in Virginia in 1612. More and more people experienced the subtle joys of a fine cigar after a meal or accompanying bourbon or Scotch Whisky.

But, they needed reliable sources of good quality tobacco. Naturally, the demand for cigar shops and tobacco stores in America rose steadily. The first formal smoke shops and cigar shops in America appeared in the early 1700s, even before the signing of the Declaration of Independence. We’re proud to be a part of that long cigar shop tradition that began before the founding of our country. Cigar shops like Smoke Inn West Palm Beach are a part of American culture as much as apple pie. At Smoke Inn, we are cigar aficionados, so operating a cigar shop and selling cigars online is living the dream for us.

Where Did Cigars Come From?

Most historians believe the ancient Mayans made the first cigars when they wrapped cured tobacco in plantain leaves. Archaeologists even found a pot more than 1000 years old with the image of Mayan man puffing away on one of these ancient puros. Historians believe that tobacco didn’t enter the western world until after Columbus reached Cuba in 1492. The indigenous peoples of the New World saw tobacco as sacred and precious. The explorers soon understood why as they indulged in their favorite new habit.

Traders were sure the folks at home would love this piquant cured herb you could smoke for a little mood lift. So, they brought cured tobacco back with them to Europe where it was a huge hit. Cured tobacco, like coffee, chocolate and tea were luxury items from far off lands. This gave tobacco an instant mystique. Cigars specifically were to first appear in the west after a Revolutionary War general named Israel Putnam brought a large cache of Cuban cigars to his home in Connecticut in 1762. Little did he know this would begin a centuries-long love affair for the American cigar aficionado.

Tobacco and Trade

From the beginning, the source of most tobacco was the Caribbean, Central and South America. Journeys to the New World were expensive and dangerous. That was reflected in the price and scarcity of cured tobacco products. Because of its exotic nature, people lucky enough to enjoy tobacco evolved into connoisseurs. They learned how to cultivate this new crop and over time the science of modulating flavor and other attributes began to develop. Attempts to grow tobacco commercially in Europe in the 16th century would ultimately fail, but early plantations would soon appear in Central America and the Caribbean to provide for export.

About 50 years later, tobacco cultivation for export began in the Southern U.S. As the supply of tobacco grew, so did the demand. Before long it wasn’t unusual for a European city to have more than one cigar shop or tobacco store. Cigar smoking was here to stay. Now that meeting demand was handled, the next order of business was competition. Who could grow the finest tobacco? Where could the most fragrant and desirable cigars be found? This is the nexus where the art and science of cigar making really began to blossom

Quality and Craft

Now that tobacco and cigar smoking were a thriving trend and important people had millions of dollars invested in plantations and trade, quality began to matter more than ever. If people have choices when it comes to tobacco or cigars, how do you stand out? What makes your product more valuable than the rest? Most of the people who grew tobacco back then enjoyed smoking it too. You can be sure the man who oversees cigar production has opinions about what makes a great cigar. Israel Putnam helped put Cuba on the map as a source.

Within a few years of his trip, we had cigar factories appearing in Connecticut using imported Cuban tobacco. In less than a decade there were cigar factories in New York and Pennsylvania too. This was the period when fine-tuning tobacco cultivation for cigar production really began. Cigar makers realized that absolutely everything from strain to groundwater to climate affected flavor. They also began to understand how important the curing process was to bring out the most desired traits in a cigar. That was the beginning of what has since become a refined science built upon centuries of hard-earned experience. It’s why we have such a wide variety of superb cigars to enjoy today.

 Timeline of Tobacco History

Tobacco cultivation and trade is an inseparable part of the story of the colonial powers and American history. The value of tobacco has inspired exploration, alliances, power struggles and battles. This rich history and the simple pleasure of a fine cigar combined to create a worldwide industry that provides us with a bounty of marvelous cigars to choose from. Today, global cigar trade generates over $21 billion in revenue every year.

Here are some key milestones in tobacco and cigar history:

  • 6,000 BC– Indigenous Americans first start growing tobacco.
  • Around 1 BC– Indigenous American tribes start smoking tobacco in religious rituals.
  • 1492– Christopher Columbus receives dried tobacco by the Taíno peoples of Cuba.
  • 1531– Europeans start cultivation of the tobacco plant in Central America.
  • 1614– Tobacco shops open across England selling tobacco from the Virginia colony.
  • 1730– First American tobacco companies begin in Virginia.
  • 1762 – Israel Putnam brings the first cigars to America by way of Cuba.
  • Late 1700s – Cigar making begins in the U.S. in Connecticut.
  • 1821 – Spain first allows the Cuba to make cigars instead of just exporting tobacco.
  • Around 1860 – Cigars have become popular throughout the whole U.S.
  • 1962 – President Kennedy begins Cuban embargo, effectively banning Cuban cigar imports.
  • Around 1990 – Cigar smoking begins to surge in popularity again. Sales of premium cigars triple.


The 21st Century Cigar Shop

Tobacco has always been tied closely to trade. Today we live in a world where it’s possible to have even the most exotic of goods from the farthest corners of the map delivered to your front door. Brick and mortar cigar shops like Smoke Inn that also sell cigars online are where the adventure begins for many. Now no matter where you live, the dazzling spectrum of the world’s cigars are at your fingertips.

Whether you’re craving the rich coffee notes and subtle spice of an Arturo Fuente Hemingway or the sweet and indulgent nutty flavor of the Ashton Aged Maduro, you can enjoy them in the your personal sanctuary with the click of a button. It’s a great time to be alive, isn’t it? Maybe you’re just cutting your teeth in the world of cigars and still exploring. Wherever you find yourself in the family of cigar enthusiasts, consider Smoke Inn your companion and advisor.  All the centuries of cigar history before us brought us to what is arguably the best time in history to be a cigar smoker. We hope you’ll join us on this journey as we continue to explore what we love about cigar culture.

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