Our partners at Voyage.TV visited Graycliff Cigar Co.
in Nassau, Bahamas and were given a behind-the-scenes tour of all that is involved in making cigars. Watch the above video and you will learn how to make a cigar and all about the three leaves that are used in making a cigar--one for the flavor, another that makes it burn and a third which gives it firmness.
The Graycliff Cigar Co., which began production in 1997, offers tours and cigar rolling lessons. For more information, visit Graycliff's website.
You cut your cigar, put a flame to the other end and experience a collection of tastes that is unique and fulfilling. But, have you ever thought about what makes it all possible? I'm not talking about the broad strokes. Sure, there's a guy who picks the leaves, another who roles them and so on. It doesn't take much to figure that out. Rather, I'm talking about the real details ... such as knowing to look for a leaf that may not be as long as the others, which can alter the flavor at the foot (or lead to intensity toward the end).
Blending and rolling is both art and science – we all know that – but the detail and care required likely exceeds your imagination. I've sat at a rolling table (briefly, on two occasions) and have a new appreciation for what goes into this task. When I sat in a conference room at the La Aurora factory in Santiago, Dominican Republic, though, I got a feel for the role of choice in constructing a cigar. And, to be honest, I was terrified. Making a great cigar doesn't start with the rollers: it begins with the arbiters of taste.
How do they do it? Here are five steps that may look easy on your screen, but they are terribly difficult in practice (especially with my palate).
Even with a full, detailed tour of everything from leaf to ash, much of what occurs in Jose "Pepin" Garcia's My Father Cigars operation will remain a mystery. Of course, you'll never master the details involved in farming the tobacco (unless you're in that business already) ... and have a willingness to guide oxen through the fields in lieu of heavy machinery. As you walk through nearly every building in every room in the factory, you will still be constrained by the act that key details are hidden, even if in plain sight. Watch every step in the process used to manufacture My Father, 601, Tatuaje and several other cigar lines, and you'll never have a chance to appreciate the operation as a whole ... and there's a good reason for this.
The creation of any premium cigar always involves a dose of "secret sauce," and Pepin's business is no different. From the farm to the factory, only four people in My Father Cigars know exactly what goes into each stick. Trade secrets are portable, and this knowledge is maintained only by those who have both proven themselves worthy and have a clear business need for the information.
Yet, even if you won't be able to replicate in your basement what Pepin has created, it's still a fascinating process to watch. From La Finca Estrella to the nearby factory and out the door, Pepin's cigar business is a local affair, involving mostly the staff from Esteli, Nicaragua.