The process of hand-rolled cigars is very specific and delicate. It also requires a lot of skill and experience. To make hand-rolled cigars, the bales of cigar tobacco are brought into the rolling factory and placed in a temperature and humidity controlled area. The tobacco for the cigars is unpacked on an as needed basis and classified once again by the color, the size and the texture of the fully fermented and aged leaf.
After carefully selecting the cured leaves, they are then transferred and organized in the blending room based on the cigars to be made and their blend. The hand-rolled cigar process requires precision. The cigar blender prepares the tobacco leaves for the cigar roller and master roller teams. The teams work together as a pair to make the hand-rolled cigars. The blender normally mixes enough tobacco for the daily production needed to make premium cigars. The cigar rollers are highly trained and only reach the master level after many years of on-the-job training. Hand-rolled cigars goes through various stages before completion. First, the roller bunches the tobacco leaves and forms the cigars. This is done by taking a measured handful of leaves for the filler and then forming it into the desired shape. Then they wrap a binder leaf around the filler tobaccos to hold them together.
The partially finished cigars are pressed in a wooden mold. The press is turned by hand until the roller feels that there is enough pressure on the tobacco leaves to properly form the cigars into perfect, predetermined shapes. After the press is released, each cigar is removed from the mold by hand and passed on to the master roller. The master roller, who is the most experienced member of the pair, carefully finishes the forming of the hand-rolled cigar and delicately puts on the wrapper leaf. Both hands are used in this process, a chaveta (hand cutter for tobacco leaves), and an all-natural tree sap glue. The master roller puts on the head of the cigar and looks it over for any possible flaw or imperfection. After adding the finishing touches and details to the hand-rolled cigar, it is now ready for the aging process, which requires patience and time.
It is said that some of the more expensive Havana hand-rolled cigars go through at least 222 different stages before it is ready to smoke. Each one is made by hand with meticulous care creating what is recognized as the finest cigars in the world. There is a philosophy behind the ability to select the right hand-rolled cigars for a given moment. And, like any philosophy, it is subject to interpretation - even debate. Some believe in certain strengths and/or shapes of cigars depending on the time of day the cigar is smoked. Others feel that only particular shapes go with certain body or facial types. And yet others suggest that a hand-rolled cigar should be smoked only when one has the time to savor it to the fullest.
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