The joy of something handmade

Working with cigars is upholding an art that has lasted for centuries. The craft is a mix of tradition, knowledge and new consumer demands.

Planting and caring

Tiny seedlings turn into big plants under the close inspection of meticulous workers.

Boxed with care

Presentation means everything. A premium handmade cigar deserves a box produced with the same skill and care as the cigar itself.

Machine-made cigars also need hands

Machine-made cigars are produced on a large scale at Scandinavian Tobacco Group. The machines are adapted to suit our production, but the process still requires human interaction.

Meet our Artisans

JhonYs Dias

Joined General Cigar in 1998

“Tobacco is a living material. As a tobacco person, I'm always trying to find ways to control the tobacco. Yet in the end, the "tobacco always wins". This relationship is very complicated, yet at the same time, it is fun.”

Today, as Vice President of the General Cigar handmade business, Jhonys oversees all tobacco operations, from growing and procurement to processing and manufacturing. Bringing innovation to the premium cigar category, he modestly refers to himself as a “cook”.

anatomy of cigars

HandMade Machine-Made
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  • Filler

    The mixture of leaves constituting the inside of the cigar.

  • Binder

    The cigar leaves wrapped around the filler and keeping it together.

  • Wrapper

    The outer leaf of the cigar which gives the cigar its appearance and colour.

  • Filler

    The mixture of leaves constituting the inside of the cigar. Most often machine-made cigars are called short-fillers – i.e. they are made from cut leaves, whereas most often, handmade cigars, so-called long-fillers, are made from whole leaves. Sometimes, tips, filters and flavours are added to machine-made cigars, especially in the cigarillo category.

  • Binder

    The cigar leaf wrapped around the filler and keeping it together. The binder can also be HTL (Homogenised Tobacco Leaf). This is typically used on smaller formats.

  • Wrapper

    Some machine-made cigars have natural wrappers whereas others have HTL (Homogenised Tobacco Leaf) wrappers.

HANDMADE CIGARS VS. MACHINE-MADE CIGARS

Handmade cigars take longer to make than machine-made cigars and they are more labour-intensive.

Another difference is that handmade cigars are most often, but not always, made with so-called long-fillers that are tobacco leaves that run the length of the cigar. They can, however, also be made with half tobacco leaves. Handmade cigars are a humidified product.

Learn More

Another difference is that handmade cigars are most often, but not always, made with so-called long-fillers that are tobacco leaves that run the length of the cigar. They can, however, also be made with half tobacco leaves. Handmade cigars are a humidified product.

Our Tobacco

From seed to cigar

1. planting

Tiny, coated seeds are planted into a sterilised growing medium where they germinate.  The seeds are monitored closely and grown under strict humidity and controlled temperature.  Seedlings are planted in the field – either by hand or by machine.  After six weeks in the field, the plants are ready for harvesting. Tobacco leaves mature from the bottom of the plant upward.

2. harvesting

Priming: Leaves are picked two or three at a time, starting from the bottom of the plant. Priming takes place on a weekly basis. The positioning of the leaf on the tobacco plant determines its aroma and strength. The bottom leaves create the mildest tobacco. The stems of the leaves are put together and they are taken to curing sheds where they are hung under the roof.

3. Curing

Curing means managed drying of leaves. The tobacco leaves change from green to brown in the curing process. After approximately six weeks, the tobacco is packed in cartons, ready for fermentation. A leaf can go through different kinds of curing – e.g. sun drying, air-drying, drying above a fire or at a high temperature – depending on what taste profile the cigar should have.

4. Fermentation

The tobacco’s characteristics are improved to ensure that it delivers a smooth taste. During fermentation, the tobacco is piled into bunks of 1600-1800 kg. The pressure of the pile generates heat, which transforms the properties of the leaf. Ammonia comes out of the piles during fermentation. The fermented tobacco is packed into storage for a number of months. When the tobacco is ready for sorting, it will be taken out of storage and taken to the conditioning rooms.

5. Conditioning, Sorting and Grading

Moisture is applied to the leaves. The moisture makes the leaves easier to handle and reduces the risk of broken leaves. The leaves are ready to be sorted according to their colour, quality and size.

6. Mulling

The mulling process is similar to an aging process. The water applied prior to sorting is released from the leaf before being stored again. The tobacco is placed in wooden cases for about six weeks. After the mulling process, the tobacco is ready for baling.

7. Stripping Process

The central vein of the tobacco is removed completely with wrapper tobacco and binder, and partially removed for filler tobacco. Stripping can be done either by hand or machine.

8. Rolling

The bulk of the cigar, a blend of leaves called the filler, is held in place by a binder that is wrapped around the filler. The filler and binder together are called a bunch. Once the bunch is made, the very important wrapper is wrapped around it. Cigars are rolled in teams of three: a buncher with two rollers.

9. Inspection and ageing

Every cigar is meticulously inspected. Cigars with imperfections are rejected. Cigars that pass inspection are stored in cedar-lined ageing rooms for at least three weeks. Here, they lose 3-4% of their moisture. The ageing process allows the different aromas and flavours of the selected tobaccos in the cigar to form an exquisite balance. When the cigars are done with the ageing process, they are ready to be packed.

10. Packing

The cigars are sorted according to colour shading – ensuring a homogenous assortment in each box of cigars. Placing bands on each cigar. Each cigar is tubed in cellophane. Once packed in boxes, the cigars are sent to the final inspection

11. Storage

Storage needs to take place in optimal humidity (between 72 and 75%). If the cigar is too humid, it burns unevenly. If it is too dry, the combustion is too quick and the taste will be unpleasant.

Types of cigar tobacco and where it originates

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  • North America (1)
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  • Europa & Africa (1)
  • Asia(1)

Connecticut Valley leaf

Grown in Connecticut under thin sheets of cloth, is a thin, elastic leaf that cures to a light, even colour. Grown in direct sunlight, the leaf would be coarse and tough. But by shading it, the sunlight is filtered. Today, shade-grown Connecticut wrapper leaf is one of the world's most expensive agricultural commodities. Connecticut in the US has historically been the source for these wrapper leaves. A combination of good soil, adequate rainfall and abundant sunshine has made it one of the world's premium tobacco-growing regions. Although experiments have been done transplanting wrapper leaf seed varieties from Connecticut to grow in other regions such as Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Mexico, Panama and others, no one has yet been able to duplicate the colour, flavour and texture of the Connecticut Valley leaf. Typically, this leaf is mild in flavour, offering a unique tobacco flavour. 

Besuki NOTA

Is grown and picked in the dry season. Besuki Nota refers to the early Na_Oogst, compared to the real Na_Oogst, due to the fact that it is grown earlier during the season. Besuki Nota is grown in the more southern parts of the Jember area. The tobacco is air-cured, fermented and for wrappers sorted in the same way as traditional NO. Besuki Nota is a wrapper, binder and filler crop. Taste wise it has a slightly sweet taste. 

Ecuadorian Connecticut leaf

Grown in Ecuador, this leaf is thicker by nature and darker in colour. The tobacco-growing regions of Ecuador are misty, eliminating the need for cloth under which the tobacco would be grown. These natural valley mists produce a tobacco leaf that is silky in appearance, oily to the touch, and a slight step up in flavour and strength. Ecuador Connecticut wrappers tend to be richer, with a creamy, slightly nutty element. These characteristics make it the perfect fit for a bold filler blend - thus, it is very possible to produce a medium or full-bodied cigar with an Ecuador Connecticut wrapper.

Dark Fire-Cured (DFC)

This tobacco type is special in its way that the drying is done by using fire, resulting in a typical smoky flavour, taste and aroma. It can be delivered in Loose Leaf or Butted. 

Type of cigars

Cigars Format Text

  • Churchill

    7 inches. Ring gauge: 48-50. Parejo.

  • Gigante

    6 inches. Ring gauge: 60. Parejo.

  • Perfecto

    Sizes vary. Figurado.

Wrapper Colours

Cigar wrappers
Oscuro
Maduro
Colorado maduro
Claro claro
Claro
Colorado Claro
Colorado

Oscuro

The cigars have a stronger and richer flavour. Oscuro, also known as double Maduro, is the darkest maduro wrapper and is almost black. The leaf is left on the plant – and fermented – the longest of all the wrappers and gives it its deep sweetness.

Maduro

Means “mature” or “ripe” in Spanish. The leaf is very dark brown, aromatic, sweet and strong- flavoured. The leaves used for Maduro wrappers must be significantly thicker than others as they undergo a longer fermentation process.

Colorado maduro

The wrapper is aromatic, dark brown and has a rich medium flavour. The colour is in between that of Colorado and Maduro.

Claro claro

The lightest-coloured wrapper; light green also called Candela. Candela has a fresh leafy flavour. The colour is achieved by picking the tobacco leaves before the plant has fully matured and by a heat-assisted quick-drying process.

Claro

Claro is a light tan wrapper picked before full maturity. Claro cigars are smooth-tasting and usually shade-grown. Shade-grown refers to the process of being grown under giant sheets of cheesecloth, which keeps the leaves from being exposed to too much sunlight; this ensures a smooth flavour.

Colorado Claro

Light brown to brown colour. Colorado Claro is often a sun-grown wrapper and it has a full-bodied flavour. 

Colorado

The wrapper is reddish or dark brown, robust and rich in flavour.

Cigar facts

The United States is by far the top cigar-consuming country, followed by France, Germany and Spain

Scandinavian Tobacco Group is a world leading manufacturer of cigars

The English word “cigar” is derived from the Spanish “cigarro”, which is an adaptation of the Mayan word for tobacco: “siyar”. 

Handmade cigars need to be stored in humidors at a relative humidity of approximately 70-72% and at a temperature of 18 °C (64 °F).