Life has changed so much in the last week or ten days, is that all it’s been? It happened so fast, like a nightmare unfolding day after day as businesses close and the lives we used to live interrupted. This isn’t what spring in is supposed to be – it’s supposed to be March Madness, The Masters, baseball beginning to slowly unwind over another summer, vacations, plans for 2020.
Instead it’s closing schools, an economy cut off in mid-stride, jarring orders to stay at home, precautions against a global pandemic unleashed from books or movies – now reality, a battle in our time. In the rush to react, the sense of normal gone – flashes of what’s lost for now break through from time to time – break through the rush of getting through the day, anxious about tomorrow, heartbreak for people across the country facing sickness, and fear and loss.
Many of us have a niche, things we do and share – something that our friends just ‘know’ – a culture, a language, a feeling. It’s odd – many often go through our toughest times alone – others pick us up, console us, lend an ear if not a hand. But all of us at the same time? Not a person among us to say they’ve been through this before.
For those of us gathered here together reading these words, be safe – may we get through this – each of us alone but also together. For now, we might light a cigar, feel the relaxation that comes with the first draw – take a short time out – not an escape but a time to take it all in – remember other times, look an unknown future in the eye. We’re here, we’ll take it as it comes, and we’ll meet again in time. We’ll arrive back where we started and we’ll know each like we never have before. We’ll roll up our sleeves and get it done. We look forward to being here to serve you again in our shops – and while relaxing with a cigar in years to come, appreciate it even more.
Premium Cigars are among the few items that truly are “all natural”. There is no chemical treating, they are free of dyes, and no ripening accelerants are used. Those sweet and spicy flavors occur naturally in the tobacco leaves. Premium Cigar Manufacturers let nature take it’s course to produce the tobacco that will be expertly handled and rolled into a fine cigar. However, as we all know, Mother Nature can throw some curve balls. The master blender must be able to adjust and work effectively with crop variations. Each cigar maker will strive to produce a consistent product with the possibility of slight fluctuations created by weather.
Curious about what it takes before you are able to sit back and enjoy that premium cigar? On recent trips to renowned cigar facilities, we saw the entire production first hand. From start to finish, the components of a cigar will involve well over 200 pairs of hands throughout the process in order to deliver this exceptional handmade product to your humidor. Beginning with the planting of the seeds, to having the leaves harvested and hung in the curing barn, and then piled up for fermentation, each worker skillfully handles the tobacco.
After harvesting, tobacco is hung in Curing Barns where the leaves are transformed from green to brown.
Fully grown tobacco leaves are harvested by hand before being moved to the curing barns.
Tobacco seeds are nurtured in a green house until the plant and root structure become viable enough to be transplanted into the fields.
Tobacco in the field. Note the spacing of the rows is wide enough to enable each plant to be tended to by hand daily.
The piles are separated onto drying racks, are then repacked, and are stored for aging. The aged tobacco is unpacked after a few years, rehydrated and separated by color.
Tom in the LFD fields near Santiago, Dominican Republic.
Dave checks out tobacco in the LFD curing barn. Here tobacco changes from green to brown over a few weeks.
LFD tobacco samples in the rolling factory.
The condition of leaves is continually evaluated as the tobacco continues its long journey from the field to the finished product.
Notice the pits dug into the ground inside the curing barn. Temperature and humidity are monitored and charcoal fires are burned when needed.
Tobacco plants are “primed” several times while growing, meaning that lower leaves are removed so that the upper leaves get enough nutrients from the soil, sunlight and water.
The outer leaves used for the wrapper go through a de-stemming process and the filler leaves will have part of the stem removed. The proper proportions of the tobacco are distributed to the rollers where they will bunch and roll each cigar by hand according to the cigarmaker’s blend. The art of rolling the perfect cigar is one that takes years to master.
Cigars are hand-crafted and go through many quality-control checks before being boxed and shipped.
Fermentation occurs for up to 6 months after removal from the curing barns. Leaves are piled into bulks that need to be monitored and rotated. The pressure from the weight generates heat that needs to be carefully monitored as the tobacco continues to ripen.
LFD cigar makers use a scalpel to shape signature designs for specially-made cigars like those with a football sold in the weeks before the Super Bowl.
The finished product is sorted for color consistency and sent back to the aging room. Finally, the cigars are banded, boxed, and sent out.
Along the way, the cigars have also gone through numerous quality control steps, all completed by hand. This entire journey has been a hands-on process with dozens and dozens of skilled labor taking the proper care to ensure a consistent and satisfying smoke. So the next time you enjoy a cigar among friends, remember all the expertise that went into your hand-rolled premium cigar, from start to finish.