Ultimate Cigar Fantasy Day 2

Today we learned all about the cigar-creation process, from the blending stage all the way through the packaging stage. We even got to create our own blends!

First, we were shown a table laid out with all the different types of tobacco leaf, and were taught what the flavors of each were. We used our newfound knowledge to mix the tobaccos and make small cigars for ourselves.

Different types of tobacco leaves

Different types of tobacco leaves

The next step was the stemming of the leaves. The machine that does this has two pedals: a brake and a clutch. It seemed to be a lot like driving a stick-shift car but much, much harder.

The third step in the process is bunching our blends together. After we watched this done for a few minutes, we felt we could jump right in; it didn’t look too hard. Boy, were we wrong! This process is not only a skilled job but is also an art form to master.

While we waited for our new-formed bunches to be pressed, we took a tour of the box factory. Just like the cigarmaking process, the boxes are crafted in a similar type of assembly line with every step representing a very specific job.

After our cigars were done being pressed, it was time to apply the wrapper. This was the most difficult job of all and involves numerous steps. If it weren’t for the master instructors by our sides, this would have been impossible.

Working on our cigars

Working on our cigars

Finally it was time for us to package our cigars. While not as hard as the bunching or wrapping, this is a skill that needs to be mastered as well. So much thought is put into making sure the bands are lined up and the cellophane is perfect. We were happily surprised when we saw that General had printed our names on the cello that we were going to use on our cigars.

Seeing the creation process from start to finish was amazing, and really gives you a sense of how immensely skilled these workers are. It is astounding that each team of one buncher and one roller can produce about 300 cigars a day.

The day ended with a wonderful dinner at Camp David Ranch. The restaurant offered views overlooking the city of Santiago and it was just as wonderful as all the activities we had participated in earlier.

Check out the rest of the pictures here.

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