Any cigar aficionado appreciates the craftsmanship that goes into of cigar rolling. Its origins and traditions in Cuba are some of the most complex, as no other country has been able to replicate their unique practice. Cuban torcedors learn over 100 steps to preparing, processing, and rolling the cigar to make the finest end product. But most of the process goes into preparing the tobacco and ageing the fresh cigars. But the novice can learn the most basic steps to rolling the cigar with a these 5 simple supplies and a little practice:
Sorting the leaves. There are three different types of tobacco leaves that you’ll need to sort before you begin rolling. You have the filler at the center, which can be from any part of the plant. The binder holds the filler together, and should come from the smaller leaves at the bottom of the plant. Binders are usually made of capote leaves. Wrapper leaves are specially made and are the finest leaf in your batch. Be sure take special care of the wrapper leaf, as it has the greatest flavor of the cigar. You will need three to four fillers, one binder leaf, and one wrapper leaf per cigar.
Preparing the leaves. Before you begin rolling, you must moisten and prepare the leaves. Spray each leaf with a custom prepared water solution to keep them moist and to make rolling easier. You can set them in a humidor for a few days to prolong the leaf seasoning process. The wrapper need additional preparation. You will need to cut the central vein from the wrapper leaf and roll it flat so that it wraps around the binder leaf as smoothly as possible. You can use a rolling pin to flatten the wrapper. The you can begin rolling the filler leaves.
Molding and binding the filler. Take your filler leaves and loosely roll them in a bunch. You want them to resemble the shape of a cigar. Once it’s compacted into a solid cylinder, you lay the filler leaves on the binder at a 45° angle. You roll the binder tightly around the filler until it forms the shape of a cigar. Make sure the binder overlaps itself to create a tight seal. Then you’ll roll it on the table to smooth any wrinkles. Choose the side end you want to be the head, and twist that end slightly to create a point. Then apply cigar glue to the for to make sure the binder doesn’t unravel.
Applying the wrapper and sealing the cap. You can use the same technique to wrap the cigar as you did binding the filler. Roll it with great care, as the wrapper is the finest part of the cigar. Once you’ve rolled it tightly, you can cut the leaves and apply a cap to the head. You can also use a vegetable based adhesive to seal the cap. Add a band to the other end. You can use adhesive paper, or use cigar bands from ones you’ve smoked before.
This technique takes some time to master, which is why an experienced cigar roller is such a rare craftsman. If you would like to see a Cuban cigar roller go through this process, please visit our Cigar Rolling Shows page.