The second edition of Didier Houvenaghel’s “The Cigar, From Soil to Soul” is now available, and it now has a second book.
For this second edition, Houvenaghel expanded the title to include a second volume. The original book, first published in English in 2008, is now the first volume of a two-part collection that includes 11 total chapters. Those first six chapters focus on the production of cigars from soil to rolling. Houvenaghel is an agricultural engineer who received a master’s degree at the University of Pinar del Río and has gone on to launch his own cigar brands (Nicaro, La Ley, La Preferida, Furia) in addition to writing multiple books about cigars. That background helps in explaining some of the more overlooked parts of the details of cigar production; for example, on page 65, Houvenaghel writes that the ideal soil to grow tobacco in should have a pH between 5.5-75 and an arable layer of 30-40cm. There is also more rudimentary information such as the different types of seeds, the different parts of a cigar and the various techniques used to bunch a cigar. But then there’s detailed, technical information about how long a specific priming of tobacco should be able to burn for (page 113) as well as explaining what “rosette development” is (page 86).
While the first volume details the production of cigars, the new second volume contains 142 pages of how to store, cut, light, taste and even rate a cigar. While much of the second part is subjective—opinions will vary about how to age cigars and the benefits of the process—Houvenaghel infuses science into the writing such as when he spends four paragraphs going over the microbial activity that may take place during the aging of a cigar.
All of this is done with more than 100 illustrations throughout the book which help to explain various processes and techniques. The second volume also includes illustrations of famous cigar smokers.
The new volume is available as part of a hardcover collection that includes both volumes (more than 300 pages) in a slipcase for $180. There’s also a limited edition version that is made of bamboo, slightly larger and includes 11 unique drawings. It’s priced at $480 and limited to 499 numbered copies. Houvenaghel is selling the books directly through his website www.editionsdumyosotis.com.
Update (July 7, 2022) — Changed the list of brands that Houvenaghel is associated with.