Once you have a final product, it’s hard to imagine its humble beginnings. For instance, it’s hard to imagine that what is now a finely-crafted cigar was once a small tobacco seed. Let us take you on a tiny seed’s journey to becoming the luxurious cigar it is today.
Cigar tobacco seeds are extremely tiny—about the size of a small sprinkle—but about two tablespoons of those seeds can produce ten acres of tobacco.
The tobacco plant is fairly hardy and can survive in most conditions; however, it grows best in climates that are warm and dry.
The seeds are planted and then grown into seedlings within 60 days, which are a few inches tall. From there, the seedlings are transferred to the proper field to grow into full tobacco plants. Once planted, the seedlings grow rapidly, taking about two months to grow into mature cigar tobacco plants. This time can vary depending on the weather and soil.
The tobacco that we know and utilize comes from the leaves of the tobacco plant. Thus, the leaves are harvested very carefully and thoughtfully. There are three layers of tobacco leaves, and each layers results with a stronger or weaker flavor. In sun-grown tobacco, the leaves from the bottom of the plant have the most mild flavor and are called Valdo leaves. The leaves from the middle have the largest leaves (and some say best-tasting flavor) and are called Seco leaves. The top leaves, called Corona leaves, have the most exposure to the sun and, thus, have the most flavor.
After the leaves are harvested, they are cured to bring about their characteristic aroma. Curing is the process in which the chlorophyll in the leaves breaks down and is replaced by carotene. To cure, the leaves are strung on narrow strips of wood called laths and hung in a well-ventilated curing barn. In dry weather, these could be air-cured. In more humid weather, though, the barn is heated between 90 and 170 degrees Fahrenheit.
The cured leaves are then sorted by size and color. The small or broken leaves are usually used for cigar filler; the large leaves are used for the inner wrapper; and the large, fine leaves are saved for the outer wrapper. In these groups, 10 to 15 leaves are tied into bundles called “hands,” which are then packed into boxes where they ferment for a period of six months to five years. After this fermentation period, the leaves are again sorted and ready for stripping.
The filler leaves’ veins or stems are then removed to allow the future cigar to burn evenly. This can either be done manually by a trained employee or by a machine. Then, the cigar in the making is again wrapped in bales and sometimes fermented even longer.
The (sometimes 200+ pound) bales are then shipped to their destination, where they are often steamed to restore any and all lost humidity. Often tobacco is left packaged with their bales for years to continue the fermentation and maturation even further.
Premium cigars are shaped and rolled by hand. The first step is to take the filler leaves—usually from two to four leaves—and bunch them into the classic cylindrical shape. The binder or inner wrapper leaf comes next and is wrapped around the filler cylinder.
This cylinder is then placed into a mold and formed into the perfect shape for a cigar, and the outer wrapper is rolled around the cigar.
Finally, the cigar is often placed in what’s called a “marrying room,” where it can mature (once again) with other cigars in a highly-controlled heat and humidity on their “honeymoon” for a period of a couple weeks.
Though the process of making a quality cigar seems long and perhaps complicated, the finished product is truly a work of art and worth the time and effort. As the only appointed merchant for Davidoff cigars in Indiana, let us explain the fine craftsmanship used to create our favorite brand of cigars in a previous post. If you join BLEND in Indianapolis or Nashville, we would be happy to continue this conversation.
BLEND Bar • Cigar with Davidoff Cigars® is Indianapolis and Nashville’s premier cocktail lounge and cigar bar. BLEND’s selection of premium cigars is second to none, and our walk-in humidor is one of the largest in the US. BLEND is the only appointed merchant for Davidoff cigars in Indiana, so cigar aficionados are sure to find what they are looking for.