The Cigar Manufacturing Process: The making of a premium hand-rolled cigar is a complicated, time consuming and highly skilled process. In some factories, human hands may touch a cigar leaf more than 40 times by the time the process is completed!
Creating the Cigar Blend: A cigar blend consists of tobaccos of different strengths and flavors (or tastes) to create a particular blend. Depending upon the size of the cigar (ring gauge), a blend may consist of a mixture of between two and four tobaccos. Master blenders create the recipes for cigar blends and supply the roller with the appropriate tobaccos and the formula as the first step in the manufacturing process.
Making the Cigar: The roller takes the leaves and presses them together in his hand; he then places the leaves on a binder leaf, a flat, somewhat elastic leaf of tobacco. He rolls them together into a bunch, cuts them to the appropriate length and then places them in a wooden mold. The mold is then placed into a screw press. The bunch is turned once and repressed; total pressing time is approximately one hour.
Once the cigar is pressed, the molds go to the rolling tables and wrapped with the wrapper leaf, a supple and visually beautiful leaf that has been cut in half. Keeping constant pressure on the bunch and the wrapper, the cigar maker rolls the leaf around the bunch and applies a bit of vegetable glue to bond the wrapper leaf together at the head so the cigar won't unravel.
Supervisors inspect each cigar by hand. They feel it for weight and for any hard spots or soft spots which could affect the feel and burn of a cigar, rejecting any defects.
The cigars are then weighed, usually in bunches of 50. Bunches which vary in weight by more than 1 gram are returned to the roller to be reprocessed.
Aging the Cigar: Aging times can vary from factory to factory from a minimum of 21 days to anywhere between 3 and 6 months. The aging process allows the different cigar tobaccos in the blend to "marry" and create a more balanced smoke.
Once aged, the cigars are selected for each box, checked again for fine gradations in wrapper leaf color, and packed for shipping.