History Channel Cigar Video
Unlike machine made cigars that may have short filler (shredded tobacco used as filler) premium cigar has made by hand using aged tobacco and long filler (whole tobacco leaf used as filler). A cigar is composed of three parts a wrapper – the outer most part of a cigar, the binder, and the filler – the inner most part of a cigar (LINK TO VIDEO ON FILLER BINDER AND WRAPPER OF A CIGAR).
The start of the cigar making process begins with creating a bunch (compiled filler tobacco) the the bunch is rolled with the binder around it. This is then placed in mold which is pressed for an hour and a half. After being pressed it then has a wrapper leaf applied by rolling by the hands of a torcedor (Professional cigar roller). After a cigar is crafted it is inspected for quality control. After passing quality inspection the cigar is aged in a temperature and humidity controlled room. After going through this process the cigar may have a paper band placed around it, put in cellophane, and either placed in a box or complied into a bundle of cigars.
In 1892 Rodrigo de Jerez and Luis de Torres became the first Europeans to smoke cigars in the New World with the Arawak tribe in Cuba. It is reported by Rodrigo de Jerez that they smoke a giant cigar about the size of his wrist.
Through the next 300 years Cuba gained a reputation as being a high quality cigar making region. But in October 1960 the United States imposed a trade embargo on Cuba. Many cigar producing families moved and took their business with them to regions with similar climates and soil such as Honduras, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Jamaica.
Carlos and Carlos Senior moved to the Dominican Republic in 1980 liked the quality of soil born of volcano activity. This soil type is very fertile. There tobacco is grown from November to February. After the Tobacco plants become about 24 inches off tall the plants are tied with strings to a tapado (Suspended cheesecloth which is placed over tobacco plants to produce wrapper leaves) to help stabilize the plants which have shallow root systems.
The wrapper are grown under a tapado which defuses between 15% – 20% of the sunlight the reaches the tobacco plant. This helps the leaves become more elastic and pliable. The tobacco is harvested three leaves per week as they become mature. The leaves are bundled into hands (Tobacco leaves that are tied to each other at the top of the leaf and then hung) and hung to dry for around fifty five days in special barns. During this time small fires are set below the hanging hands they dry and the chlorophyll in the leaves changes into starches. After the hands are dry they are taken down and placed into 4000 pound bulks (A large pile of tobacco leaves where the leaves can ferment) where the tobacco heats up to 103 – 105 degrees Fahrenheit all the way up to 140 degrees. When the bulk is heated to the desired temperature the bulk is broken apart to give the leaves air and with it nitrogen. This process lets the tobacco ferment. The longer the tobacco ferments the sweeter the tobacco becomes. During the six month fermentation up to one third of the harsh tasting nicotine breaks down. During this time the texture of the tobacco changes from sticky to powdery. When this happens the tobacco is placed in long term aging anywhere from five to ten years. After aging the tobacco is finished in sherry barrels.