Many people were probably involved in making the cigars that you smoke. The myth of female virgins rolling cigars on their thighs is just that: a myth. The process of making a fine cigar is a laborious one. The rolling of cigars is done on wood or metal tables rather than thighs. The real work begins after the leaves leave the field and go to the factory. Here are the six essential steps involved in making cigars.
Cigar makers obtain the best wrappers, binders and fillers and sort them according to strength, color, texture, resiliency and size. Tobacco might go through three or four years of preparation before it goes into a cigar. Manufacturers prepare different tobacco blends for each cigar roller. Blends have a combination of leaves that correspond with a specific type of cigar. The flavor of the cigar comes from the choice in the types of leaves that are selected for the blend. Rollers need to use the same types of leaves for a specific brand of cigars.
When the blends of leaves are ready, they are prepared into large rolls called bunches. The leaves must be laid carefully in a straight line into these bunches to ensure that the texture of the cigars remains uniform throughout. If the texture is not consistent in the cigar, it will not burn at the right temperature and the right duration. Manufacturers use a method called the “Spanish Book Filler” that produces a layered structure similar to the pages of a book.
After the bunch is created, the manufacturers wrap the bunch with a coarse layer that is called a “binder.” This allows the cigars to retain their shape, structural integrity and moisture levels. When the bunch is bound, it is then placed into a wooden mold. This gives the cigars their unique shape and creates an opening at either end of the cigars.
The mold contains several cigars that are placed into a press along with other of the same types of molds. This step presses the cigars further along toward their ultimate shape. The top and bottom sections of the press leave a crease in the cigars. The press compresses the cigars smaller than their final size, but when it is released, the cigars expand slightly. The cigars are pressed and rotated several times so that the crease is not noticeable underneath the cigar wrapper of a finished product.
The skilled cigar rollers are ready to begin their craft after the cigars have been pressed. Their task involves wrapping fine, silky tobacco leaves around the molded cigar’s body to create an appealing finished look. This is a special technique of stretching and rolling the leaves. A skilled craftsman will leave a rectangular portion of the cigar attached to the head of the cigar that is called a flag. You can often tell that a cigar was machine-made or handled by an unskilled craftsman if the finished cigar has a circular cap rather than a flag. However, manufacturers are still allowed to refer to these inferior products as handmade.
After the wrapping is completed by the cigar rolling craftsman, they are inspected. The inspectors collect the cigars in bundles of fifty, and they affix labels that describe the size, cigar brand and date of completion. During the inspection process, the cigars are weighed to make sure the cigars were not rolled to loosely or too tightly. This is very important because cigars that are wrapped too tightly are difficult to smoke, and ones that are loosely rolled will burn at too high of a temperature.
Before cigars are sold to the public they are usually stored and aged. As the cigars sit together over time they absorb the flavor of other cigars that are adjacent to them. After the cigars age for three weeks to a year, they are taken out of storage and sorted according to colors of 32 shades. The cigars are sorted into groups of 25 that share a very similar color shade. When customers purchase a box of cigars, it is much more appealing if they have a uniform shade. However, the sorting is only done visually, so some of the cigars in the retail box may taste noticeably different than others.