If there is one thing that characterizes a premium cigar, it’s the fact that it is hand rolled. The painstaking care and attention that goes into each cigar is a source of pride for the individuals who roll them just as much as it is for the brand itself. This process of rolling a cigar by hand can take months or even years to perfect. Let’s break it down step by step to give you an idea of what it’s like to be a roller on the factory floor.
Although this step is often done by someone other than the roller, it is essential in giving the roller a “bunch” to roll. The bunch refers to the filler tobacco at the cigar’s core and the binder that keeps it all together. First, three or four filler leaves are folded together to give the cigar uniform body and the perfect amount of airflow. Then, after these tobacco leaves are rolled into a binder by hand, the bunch is completed by pressing it in a mold for 30 to 45 minutes.
The cigar roller then takes a wrapper leaf and cuts it with a chaveta—an extremely sharp knife—to create the perfectly shaped cigar wrapper. The bunch is then rolled into the delicate wrapper with precision and speed. Still, the roller checks for soft or hard spots as they roll to ensure the finished product is of the highest quality. To keep the wrapper in its final place, an adhesive mixture of plant extracts and starch (known as roller’s glue) is used.
Finally, a small piece of tobacco leaf is used to cover the head of the cigar. This piece, known as the cap, is applied using the same “roller’s glue” that’s used on the wrapper. You may know the cap as that little piece you cut (or bite) off before smoking the cigar.
There are many ways that a cigar may be rolled, from standard shapes known as parejos to unique shapes that tapper at the head or both ends. Regardless of the vitola, all cigars are rolled with the utmost care. Take some time to appreciate the roller who crafted your premium stick the next time you light up!