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Why Cigars Backorder

Why Sometimes the Cigars You Smoke Are Back Ordered

The process of making a cigar is very labor intensive. From seed to cigar over 100 hands will be involved in the creation of a single stick. Most cigars, maybe even the one you are smoking now, take an average of 4 years to make and sometimes longer. Some cigars are using tobacco that was set-aside in the early 90’s. Why does it take so long? I will try to explain in a limited space the birth of a cigar.

In March I was able to visit the Camacho factory in Honduras and for the second time in my life the awe and wonder of watching the skill a time it takes to create a cigar was increased. At the farm, cigar seeds are planted in tiny individual starting pots. After the plant has reached roughly 2-3 inching in height they are taken to the fields and planted. After planting, the tobacco grows for a period of 3-5 months and is harvested at various times during the growth cycle. These separate harvests are called primings. The tobacco leaves are primed from the bottom of the plant to the top. After being primed by hand the tobacco is taken to curing barns. The tobacco is strung on long wooden poles that hang in levels from the top of the barn to about 6 feet from the floor. Here the tobacco sits for around 45-60 days. This is where the leaves turn from green to brown. After the tobacco has been fully cured it is then taken down and placed into “hands” of tobacco. Hands look like a horse’s tail made of tobacco leaves; this makes the tobacco easier to handle and ready for bulk fermentation.

The fermentation process is my favorite. At this stage the tobacco is “bulked”. Imagine a huge bed made of hands of tobacco. In this bed the temperatures rises and the tobacco begins to ferment. The fermentation process leaks out the ammonia in the tobacco and gives the tobacco a uniform color. Fermentation is vital to a cigar’s flavor, without proper fermentation tobacco will taste horrible. When the temperature reaches a level that the cigar maker is looking for it is un-bulked and re-bulked – the leaves that were in the bottom go to the top the leaves that were in the middle go to the outside and vise versa. This bulking and re-bulking process takes anywhere from a year to year and a half. As I have heard it said, “Tobacco will let the maker know when it is done fermenting” so in reality it’s the tobaccos choice as to how long it ferments. After being properly fermented the tobacco is sorted by hand for grade (filler, binder, or wrapper) and color. From there the tobacco is de-stemmed, bunched and rolled. After being rolled the cigars are placed in aging closets for at least 45 days and at times they are in the aging closets for three months before being banded and packaged in boxes and shipped out to tobacco retailers. That is a lot of work, and I glossed over every part of it. There is so much that goes into making a cigar sometimes it is hard to keep up with demand, and when you take into account that at times there is low yield, and the farmers have to let a field rest for at least a year so the soil can regenerate nutrients, it is easy to see why sometimes a cigar may be on back-order for a few weeks or even a month. But this is a good thing, actually, the last thing we want as smokers is for a company to overproduce a cigar, for then it will lose its quality and flavor. Next time you light up consider the journey your cigar has been through and then give it an honorable death by incineration.
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