Today we want to talk a little bit about cigar rolling, and how the process of rolling cigar filler into a cigar binder and wrapper makes all the difference in the world between a cigar that is average and acceptable, and a cigar that is premium and highly coveted by connoisseurs.
When it comes to the best of the best cigars, rolling is still done by hand. Machines will never catch up with human beings in this domain. This is because cigar rolling by hand is just as much an art as much as it is a science, and you are never going to teach a machine how to create a work of art.
In fact, the word Torcedor, which means cigar roller, has always been considered a term that refers to an artist on staff, not an employee for hire.
You might liken such a position to something akin to those days in the ancient world when the master of a craft learned a trade under a master, then passed that trade down to an apprentice until the apprentice one day became a master.
This does not happen much in our modern world any more. However, in the world of cigars, it not only happens, it actually HAS to happen for cigar rolling to be done correction.
Like any form of apprenticeship has ever taken in this world, it takes years to become a Master, and there are no shortcuts, and excellence is its own reward beyond financial returns or fleeting moments of fame.
The Torcedor is the embodiment of patience, humility, and productivity than all aspire to be, but few ever can be.
In the meantime, the new roller in training takes at least a year to learn the basics of cigar rolling. These basics always appear simple to the touristic, the curious, and the glibly naïve.
They are not.
Every step in cigar rolling requires painstaking accuracy and has to be done correctly in order for every brand of cigar to offer its own unique flavor, burn, aroma, and true quality appeal.
The roller first has to learn to pack the filler evenly for the cigar to burn smoothly. The wrapper has to wind about the cigar in a spiral. Each of these attributes of cigar rolling requires insight, intuition, and skill with the hands that does not come overnight.
Hand cigar rolling like this sit occurs at small tables in cigar factories. The roller has a tray with sorted cigar tobacco leaves on it. Leaves are chosen for the filler and rolled in a bunch. The binder then goes around this bunch cylindrically, and the half-rolled cigars are placed in wooden molds that retain their shape until they can be wrapped.
After the partially finished cigars are placed in a wooden mold, the press is turned by hand until the roller feels that enough pressure has been placed on the tobacco leaves. This gives the cigars their shape.
After this, the rollers in training carefully take the cigars from the molds and pass them to the Master roller, who finishes rolling the cigar and puts the head on the end that is to be smoked.
A Master will produce hundreds of cigars a day that look almost identical.
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