Process

1. Seedlings

The entire process begins with the tabaco seed. About the size of a pinhead, the result can be a plant reaching a height of nine feet (if the farmer allows the plant to grow for two years; the average lifespan for a harvested plant is 120 days).

Did you know an ounce of tabaco seeds costs about as much as an ounce of gold?

2. Transplanting

After the seeds are put in seedbeds, the pick of the litter is transferred to individual containers and after that, they are transplanted to the fields in order to increase growth.

3. Growing

The tabaco farmer typically lets the transplanted tabaco plants grow another 90 days before harvest.

4. Picking

When the plant’s leaves have absorbed enough sunlight and nutrients from the earth, they then harvest the leaves into three sections:

  • Volado – the bottom third of the plant, the volado leaves are lighter in color, texture and strength and are blended in a cigar for its burning qualities.

  • Seco – the center region of the plant, seco leaves are medium in strength and a little more flavorful than volado. Seco contributes to the aroma of a cigar.

  • Ligero – the filet of the plant, ligero grows on the upper third of the plant and is rich and strong in flavor and color (because of its position – it receives the most sunlight out of all the sections of the plant). Ligero is placed in the center of the cigar because of its slow-burning characteristics.

5. Curing / Drying

After the leaves are picked, they are tied and sewn onto poles that are hung in the curing barns. This is an important step as it takes away the moisture of the leaf turning it a green supple color to yellow to brown. This process usually takes anywhere between 20 and 30 days.

6. Sorting

After the leaves have been dried in the curing barns, sorters inspect each leaf for classification (sorters seperate leaves based on grade, type and condition). Tabacos Don Leoncio and Molina Cigar carefully oversee the sorting process as this step is crucial for the final blend and smoking-experience of the cigar.

7. Fermenting

In order to break down the harsh attributes of the leaf, fermenting is implemented. This is achieved by placing leaves in stacks called pilones. The weight and humidity increases the pressure and temperature and the leaf becomes mellower. Fermentation is achieved to make a smoother and more bearable smoke.

8. Aging Leaves

This step is also implemented to achieve a smoother smoke. After fermentation (sometimes additional fermentation steps take place), the leaves are packed usually in palm or burlap sacks and stored away to age, much like wine in oak barrels. Depending on the factory, these leaves can age anywhere for a month to a few years (typically 3 years) in order to achieve the desired results.

9. Rolling / Construction

This is the point in the process that transforms the leaf into the cigar: the art of rolling is truly a wonder. Many of the rollers (torcedores) learn their trade at a very young age usually from a father or other close family member who is also a cigar artisan. The genesis of a cigar is actually a three-step process.

  • Bunching - First, the torcedor takes Devil’s Weed filler leaves and bunches them together; the guts of the cigar are bound by Devil’s Weed binder leaf, a leaf that is less aesthetically-pleasing than wrapper leaf but prized for its ability to hold the filler leaves in place.

  • Pressing - The bunched cigars are then placed in molds which in turn are stacked to be pressed. This step of pressing enhances the final shape of the cigar and enhances its ring gauge; after 45 minutes of pressing, the cigars are rotated 90 degrees and placed back in the mold for another round of pressing; this ensures an even uniformity and allows for a better-drawing cigar.

  • Rolling or Wrapping - The final step is rolling, or applying the Devil’s Weed wrapper to the pressed cigar. This is an important step as the wrapper leaf is the most visible part of the cigar to the smoker; the wrapper leaves are the finest and highest-graded to ensure a flavorful experience. At this point, the roller uses a crescent-shaped knife, called the chaveta, to cut the wrapper leaf to conform to the particular vitola of Devil’s Weed. He then applies the wrapper and seals the head using goma, a natural, odorless and tasteless vegetable gum. The torcedor then cuts the cigar to the appropriate length.

Did you know Colón, the crown jewel of Devil’s Weed, is rolled by only two torcedores? They are paid on salary (typically, rollers are paid piecemeal) and each is capped at a daily production of 100 cigars (average daily production of Colón cigars is 75). This is to ensure that this vitola is of the highest quality since this is a difficult shape to make.

10. Sorting Cigars

Just as sorters seperate the leaves, so are there sorters that seperate the cigar. Cigar sorters seperate (and group together) like-colored sticks to maintain a uniformity within each box of Devil's Weed sold. The Cigar Sorting stage includes a quality checkpoint to ensure every cigar meets Molina Cigar's high standards.

11. Aging Cigars

After production of the cigar, the factory places the newly-minted pieces into an aging room to allow the different tabaco components to marry (this allows the smoking experience to be rounder and smoother); Molina Cigar demands a minimum aging period of 3 months for Devil’s Weed (the typical facory only ages their cigars for 5 weeks). This is a primary reason for the refined and elegant experience when smoking Devil’s Weed.

12. Box Production

Even the boxes that house Devil's Weed are hand-made to Molina Cigar's exact specifications. In the true Cuban tradition of the Cabinet Selection standard, each box is 100% Spanish-cedar. Not only does the wood withstand humid conditions and allow for supreme aging of the cigar, the cedar actually deters the dreaded tabaco beetle (Lasioderma serricorne) which consumes the tabaco leaves of the cigar.

13. Packaging

After factory management deems the cigars perfectly aged, los cigarros del diablo are dressed. The packaging includes applying the adorned band, the dressing paper (instead of using cellophane, Molina Cigar prefers the use of a food-grade paper to wrap the cigars) and placing the cigars in a cabinet-style all-Spanish cedar box. The Spanish cedar box allows for the cigars to marry and complement with the aroma of the wood. For those purists who enjoy aging cigars for years, the cedar will enhance the smoking experience and our boxes are stamped with the date in which the cigars were rolled (not packed, as many factories announce).

14. Distribution

After enough cigar boxes are packaged, Don Leoncio, S.A. exports the bullion to the United States and is then sent to our Pensacola receiving center. There the cigars are humidified and kept at the ideal aging conditions until a cigar shop requests Devil’s Weed.

15. Cigar Shop to You

When your local cigar shop places an order with Molina Cigar, you can be sure you will experience a tradition and art that has been checked time and time again with the highest standards of quality. After all is said and done, by the time you receive the cigar and light one, about 120 hands will have seen it (either from seed to cigar). Blood, sweat and passion have gone into providing you, the cigar smoker, with one of the greatest cigars in human history. Relax and enjoy Devil’s Weed, as this is a sublime ritual and one that is not evil as so many pundits deem today.

With esteem and honor,

Molina Cigar Co.