Five Reasons to Visit a Cigar Factory
My visit to Pepin Garcia's My Father Cigars factory was an eye-opening experience. I'd had no idea just how much work goes into manufacturing a cigar. My trip wasn't thrust of a media relationship or any other connection: cigar companies want their customers to visit. And these days, it's easier than ever to do so. Cigar trips are becoming increasingly common. Rocky Patel and Camacho, among others, have been hosting groups for a while, and the trend is gaining momentum. I was able to see Pepin's team in action because of a trip arranged by De La Concha and Uptown Cigar. If you're looking to take advantage of a cigar trip, talk to the manager of your local shop.
Why would you want to visit a cigar factory? If you enjoy cigars, your mind is probably flooded with reasons – curiosity alone is sufficient motivation. You'll see the entire process, which is eye-opening, and you'll get a feel for how each step affects your smoking experience.
Here a five reasons to take a cigar tour:
1. You'll see something that never occurred to you
I had no idea that Pepin Garcia keeps a wood shop on the grounds of his factory to create the boxes, and did not know just how secret the recipes are – only four people in his operation know the ingredients. Much of what I learned revealed aspects of the manufacturing process that I didn't know existed.
2. The scale is astounding
The sheer number of people involved in making a cigar is astounding. From the farm to the factory, there are countless specific roles, and to see them all come together is nothing short of incredible. At every step, you'll get a sense of how each person's job affects taste and structure.
3. The role of craftsmanship becomes apparent
It's something we all know ... as an abstraction. Craftsmanship becomes real when you hold a wrapper and feel just how flimsy it is – or when you try to cut a cap from the moist wrapper leaf. Rolling a cigar is an artistic endeavor, a fact that can be obscured by the amount produced by ever roller every day.
4. "Quality" comes alive
When I arrived at Pepin's farm, I saw people sweeping the ground. The master himself picked up what little trash he crossed in the factory, there was always at least one person wielding a broom on a mop. If Pepin or his son, Jaime, saw something askew at a rolling station, the remedy was swift. At the factory, you see first-hand what it means to take quality seriously.
5. You'll enjoy (at least) a few cigars
Of course, you'll have a great time. Dinner with your friends from the shop back home will feature the products you saw being created, and you'll have the chance to pepper the top minds in the cigar business with any questions that come to mind. The itineraries tend to be wide open, so you'll have plenty of time to enjoy what you smoke.