Cigars constitute tobacco leaves wrapped around a leaf filing called binder leaf, which holds all the leaves together. A wrapper leaf helps to keep them in order and provides a smooth exterior. The wrapper leaf used on top is called "wrapper" or "tobacco," which protects the cigar during manufacturing and strengthens it by developing its structural integrity; this leaf gives cheroots their alluring aroma. The tobacco leaves are rolled into shape, and are cut.
The filler is located at the cigar cap, which is the section that holds all of its leaves together. You must cut this part to allow air circulation to stay lit. Rolled cheroots are kept in their molds to adequately dry and then be removed without tearing or wrinkling.
A cigar is made depending on the rolling method, either by the machine or hand. A cigar rolled by the machine is tight, solid, and less expensive. The machines produce more consistent results without emphasizing flavor. In contrast, hand-rolled cheroots are soft yet costlier because of their superior quality and provide a better smoking experience to consumers.
The Art of Rolling a Cigar
Rolling a cigar is an art in itself. A person who rolls a cigar artfully is called a "torcedor" or roller. Generally, this job demands patience and time to roll the perfect stick every time. There are two main types of cigar rolling machines that use different methods to create their products:
The traditional way to roll a cigar into shape is by using molds, limiting the cigar diversity since it only allows cylindrical-shaped tobacco leaves to be rolled.
The other machine uses an auger system which creates one long column of tobacco leaves that is then cut into an individual cigar. This machine produces a more consistent product and results in a better flavor.
The rolling of tobacco leaves in the form of a cigar is a process in which the tobacco leaves are rolled into shape and bound tightly to hold their structure. The end product is then cut or clipped from this tightly bound bundle of leaves and garnished with the wrapper.
After the garnishing is complete, they get ready to be smoked by people who like their flavor and aroma. No matter how they are made, all cheroots go through a few standard processes to ensure that they are made with care and precision. Whenever tobacco is ready for rolling into a cigar, leaves are again sorted and categorized into three distinctive groups discussed below:
The filler is the main body of the cigar and is made up of the most delicate tobacco leaves. The center is filled with these leaves, and the cigars are tightly packed to ensure a good draw and even burning. The filler can be composed of different types of tobacco, and in some cases, it can be a combination of other leaves.
The binder is the leaf that secures the filler to the wrapper and also helps maintain its shape, much like insect-binding glue. There are different binders, such as Connecticut Broadleaf (the most popular type), Cameroon (thin and light), and Havana, which is thin and light. These leaves must be narrow, so as not to affect flavor or burn characteristics but remain strong enough to hold filler leaves tightly.
Sometimes a unique leaf called "Rosita" is used between binder and wrapper for boxes and bundles where appearance isn't necessary. The Rosita prevents damage from occurring due to continuous handling during the shipping process.
The wrapper is the most flavorful and highest-quality tobacco leaf on the cigar. It is also the most expensive to grow and produce. These leaves can be a different color such as brown, black, or a lighter color such as tan, depending on the tobacco used. The wrapper must be carefully selected because it is the first thing that people see, and it also has the most flavor. The wrapper is generally applied after the binder leaf and is usually very thin so that it doesn't affect the taste or burn of the cigar.
The three leaves (filler, binder, and wrapper) are essential in making a good cigar, and they all must work together to provide the consumer with the best possible smoking experience.
Once the tobacco is sorted, it is ready to be made into cheroots. The manufacturing process begins by filling a hopper with tobacco leaves and attaching it to a drill. The auger slowly turns and pulls the leaves through a series of rollers that form the cigar into a long, cylindrical stick. This stick is then cut into individual stogies and passed on to the next machine station.
The first machine station is where the cigar is clipped and shaped. A unique blade cuts off the top of the cigar and trims away any loose or uneven tobacco. Then, a spinning wheel forces the cigar into a cylindrical shape and polishes it to remove any burrs or inconsistencies.
Next, the cigar is put into a machine that rolls and crimps one end to seal it off. Here, the cigar is also tested for flavor and taste by the manufacturer.
After this process, the stogies are sorted according to their length, ring gauge (diameter), color, and type of leaf used in construction. The longer or thicker cheroots may be hand-rolled, while smaller or thinner ones will automatically roll. The manufacturers can ensure better consistency in their products by examining each cigar very closely before passing it through the automatic rolling machines.
If one cigar has an imperfection detected during previous quality control checks, it will not be run through the automatic rolling machine. Instead, it is salvaged for use in a different product. The rolled cheroots then undergo the following steps.
Curing is the process of drying and storing tobacco. During this time, more than half of all weight loss occurs as water evaporates from the leaf and more flavor and aroma become concentrated in the leaf.
Curing also triggers chemical changes within the leaf that improve burn characteristics and make the cigar less susceptible to damage caused by humidity or heat. Sun-cured (or Natural) cigars do not go through a curing process; they are dried indoors using controlled ventilation and temperature. Sun-cured leaves tend to be dark brown with some green mixed in; the taste is usually extreme at first but mellow out over time because they have not been cured.
At this point, the leaves have been sorted according to color and length. The more uniform a cigar's color is, the more valuable it will be on the market. Cheroots vary from very thin (like a cigarette) to thick and long like a giant cigar.
Wrappers are selected based on their color and the texture of their veins. Darker wrappers tend to burn slower than lighter-colored ones because people generally puff darker stogies less frequently than they do light-colored ones. This causes some dark tobacco to go out before reaching the smoker, making for a more robust flavor that can stand for extended periods between puffs without going out altogether.
Lighter-colored wrappers burn faster because they are often puffed more frequently. This causes the cigar's lighter wrapper to go out before it has time to release its flavor, which means that people who smoke light-colored cheroots must do so more frequently to keep the cigar lit. Wrappers are assessed for color, body, veins, and texture during this step of the manufacturing process.
The fermentation processes
This is the process of treating tobacco leaves to remove nicotine and other harsh, acidic substances that can cause a bitter taste (often called 'greenness'). Many cigar manufacturers add flavorings or spice extracts to the cigar at this stage. Souring also softens the texture of the smoke. There are two types of fermentation:
After fermentation and conditioning, they must be dried to be shipped without deteriorating. The most common way to dry the cigar is by putting them into large stacks kept in closed rooms with controlled temperature and humidity levels that promote slow drying over time. The less expensive cigar will often be air-dried instead of this closed room method. Air-dried cheroots tend to lose more flavor and aroma, but they are also cheaper to produce.
After being cut, rolled, and tied, the cigar must be aged or 'conditioned' before being ready for sale. Conditioning usually involves placing it in humidity-controlled units called 'cabinets.' Even after all of this work is done, they continue to age as they sit in storage within these cabinets. Over time, chemical reactions that dramatically affect flavor and aroma continue to occur.
After this process, the cigar is ready for aging and storage, either at the manufacturer's facilities or by retailers who sell handmade stogies. And although many manufacturers now sell their product right off the line (or close to it), most premium brands take anywhere from six months up to a year before they release their cigar for public consumption.
A cigar is a complex and expensive product to produce, and even the slightest mistake can render an entire batch unusable. That's why any high-quality cigar undergoes a final inspection before being packaged and shipped to retailers.
Manual and mechanical preparation
Manual and mechanical preparation of tobacco for cheroots is a skill that has been passed down through the years, and there are still some manufacturers who use only traditional methods to make theirs. But with the ever-growing demand for handmade cheroots, more and more cigar companies are turning to modern machines to speed up the process and produce a more consistent product. Regardless of the manufacturing process, they all go through the same basic steps to be turned into a finished product.
Rolling by hand:
There is a lot of hand labor involved in making a handmade cigar, and it takes years of experience to perfect the craft. The following is a brief overview of how this process works:
- The tobacco is sorted by leaf color and grade and then cut into small pieces.
- The tobacco is then placed in a leaf-rolling machine and formed into a tube.
- The cigar is trimmed, given a final inspection, and packaged for sale.
- It takes about 4 minutes to roll a handmade cigar, compared to 30 seconds for a machine-rolled cigar.
Mostly, a cigar for the mass market is rolled using machines. As cigar workers roll the cheroot, they add a thin band with their logo or trademark to distinguish it from the rest. The following is an overview of how they are made:
- The tobacco is cut into small pieces and put into a hopper, feeding it into the rolling machine.
- The tobacco is then rolled into a tube, and a wrapper is applied.
- The cigar is cut off from the main roll, trimmed, and given a final inspection.
- It is then packaged and shipped to retailers.
There are many differences between a machine-rolled and hand-rolled cigar, but the taste and texture are notable. A machine-rolled cigar tends to be milder and less flavorful than its handmade counterparts. They also tend to be more uniform in size and shape, while a hand-rolled cigar can vary significantly in thickness and density. This is due to the manual way the tobacco is rolled, and this variation makes the hand-rolled cigar so unique.
In conclusion, the cigar-making process is long and intricate, resulting in a product enjoyed by many. The flavor, aroma, and texture of cheroots can vary depending on the type of tobacco leaf used, how it is cured and fermented, and the methods used to prepare it for smoking. But no matter how they are made, all cigars share some common characteristics that make them unique and enjoyable to smoke.