In our third episode of our trip with Davidoff Cigars to the master craft of cigar making in the Dominican Republic, we get to know more about and share with you the fermentation, rolling and packaging processes, along with the tasting of cigars.
With a very enriching visit to the fields and an introduction to the fermentation and tasting of cigars, the trip was getting more promising. Another spectacular morning on the Caribbean and the enlightening moment of how to make cigars finally arrived. It was time to pay a visit to the factory where the leaves make their final trip and the real work starts, before we receive the end product.
For many cigars fans, a look at the plantation would have been enough for one trip but Davidoff had more to show us. We took a one-hour drive to Cigar Davidoff at Villa Gonzalez. At the entrance, you can see three buildings, with the one in the middle sporting the Davidoff name over its entrance. It’s immediately obvious that this is THE location, just from the beauty of the outside façade.
The two buildings on either side of the main one are used for the different brands belonging to the Davidoff Oettinger group. Brands such as Avo, Zino, Griffins and Camacho are all produced there. The building to the left side is called Occidental, and it’s where custom-made cigars are produced. Any third party interested in producing their own cigar label can choose which tobacco they want for the filler, binder and wrapper, and Davidoff will make it happen, which is certainly a nifty service.
The leaves are cut on the ground floor of this building. We were told that women, dominating the work force on that floor, are considered more precise than men due to their patience. The leaves are selected based on their size and color, piled up in bundles of 25, folded and placed inside coolers. The process continues with placing the coolers in a freezer labelled with the date, size and colour of the leaves. At a temperature of 18C, the coolers stay in the fridge for a period of four to six weeks, which is according to what what we heard there, more than enough to kill any bug that might have been napping in there. Davidoff’s workers monitor the humidity and temperature, adjusting it according to the need. When its time, the leaves are removed and placed in a humidity-controlled room. Every week, the leaves are flipped upside down to maintain the same level of humidity on both sides.
On the first floor of this building is an army of rollers and wrappers/packagers. For each cigar that comes out, the roller collects the fillers and binds them. The wrappers are worked on during the final stage of the cigar creation process.
It was time for us to roll some cigars ourselves. With the help of the professional rollers, we had to collect the leaves, bind them and do the proper cutting to suit the size of each cigar. We actually chose the mix of blends to make a good cigar and it was not an easy process at all.
The professional wrappers dispatch the cigars to the quality control supervisor who checks that each cigar is built according to the Davidoff standards. The last process involves placing a ring around each cigar and then putting them in a cellophane bag.
This very informative and revealing trip was enough to make us starve, so we enjoyed a nice lunch in the villa’s garden, where a small restaurant had recently been built. Following lunch, Vincent Krembel, the global brand ambassador for Davidoff, gave a brief presentation about Davidoff’s strategy and vision for the next 10 years.
The steps and the enlightening moments have been revealed. To know the cigar world and how cigars are made was a one of a kind experience.
More magic to come…