Cigar 101 – Cigar Rolling Techniques
Construction is arguably the most important factor in the quality of a cigar. No matter how great the tobacco in a blend is, the fact of the matter is that if it’s rolled like crap, it’s going to smoke like crap. Here we’ll tell you about the four major methods of cigar rolling; booking, accordion, entubar/entubado, and the Lieberman bunch; and how each one may affect the way a cigar smokes.
Booking is the most common method used in cigar rolling. This method involves layering the filler leaves flat on the rolling table and folding them like the pages of a book. This is by far the quickest method, but it unfortunately can lead to draw and burn problems due to the uneven distribution of tobacco leaves throughout the width of the cigar.
Next, we have the accordion method, which involves folding individual leaves and layering them so that the cross section of the cigar resembles an accordion. This creates better air passages between leaves, allowing for a much better draw than the booking method, though it is more time consuming.
Better still is the entubar or entubado method, which involves carefully rolling individual filler leaves into scroll-like tubes and placing them next to each other in the bunch. This allows for maximum airflow and a sharp burn, though it is much more time consuming than both the booking and accordion methods. In the entubar/entubado method, the ligero tobacco, which is the strongest part of the tobacco leaf, is always placed directly in the center of the cigar. An excellent example of this technique is the Berger & Argenti Entubar line, which features a ¼-inch protrusion of ligero tobacco from the center of the foot of each cigar.
Finally, we have the Lieberman bunch, which involves laying the filler leaves on a canvas so they can be mechanically bunched. Because the majority of the rolling process is done by hand, cigars that are made using the Lieberman bunch can still be called handmade. Determining what cigars use the Lieberman bunch is tricky; some cigars that are labeled “hecho a mano” could have been rolled either completley by hand or with mechanical assistance. Any cigar that is labeled “totalmente a mano,” however, is by definition rolled exclusively by hand.
It’s important to consider that the method isn’t as important as how the roller applies it. In any of these methods, cigars can be over- or under-filled, which will cause burn and draw problems either way; conversely, if a cigar is rolled by a master roller, chances are it will turn out fine regardless of what technique he or she used. Anyway, I hope this has been informative—if you want to see how each technique is performed, check out Tobacconist University’s page on the subject. If you’re interested, take a look at your cigar collection, examine the foot of each cigar, and try to figure out how your stogies were rolled!