The La Aurora Factory Tour guide, Eugenio Polanco, invites cigar lovers to come to visit the factory to learn all about the processes related to the manufacture of a good cigar. “We show from the beginning to the end everything that has to do with a good cigar,” he says in this video in which he is excited to belong to the great family of La Aurora.
“When people speak to me about La Aurora, my eyes light up. This has been the job of a lifetime, allowing me to provide for my family and give us a great lifestyle”, explains proudly Eugenio Polanco.
“To the cigar enthusiasts in the US, I’d like to recommend to you a way to learn more of the process, come and take the seminar here at the Cigar Institute at La Aurora, where we show you everything about cigars from beginning to end”, he underlines.
“You really have to come to the factory to see everything that’s involved in producing a world class cigar”, Polanco concludes.
In order to appreciate the notes and qualities of a cigar, it’s important to know the factors that influence the features of the tobaccos that compose it. The Master Blender of La Aurora, Manuel Inoa, speaks of eight basic factors that influence the making of a quality cigar, with plenty of body and flavor.
According to Manuel Inoa, they are as follows:
The land: the nutrients contained in the land offer distinct features, different aromas and varied flavors to tobacco. “Cuban, Dominican and Nicaraguan land are not the same”, he says.
The variety of seeds: depending on the seed, there will be different sensations in the mouth and distinct emotions when smoking. “There will be very strong seeds, like the Cuban seeds, including Piloto Cubano, San Vicente, Criollo 98; and there will be very aromatic seeds, like the ones from the Dominican Republic”, he details.
The climate: it is a relevant factor, since the tobacco is only planted in the soil in the Dominican Republic, Cuba and Nicaragua in November, December and January because of the sunlight. If there’s plenty of sunlight, the tobacco will be very thick, i.e., it will have lots of flavor, a lot of good properties, but it won’t burn well. If there’s a lot of rain, the tobacco will come out very thin, which is very good for combustion, but lacks flavor. “Climate is very important. Tobacco plants need the perfect amount of sun and rain”, says Inoa.
The leaf level: depending on the position of the leaf in the plant, the flavor will be more or less intense. From the bottom upwards, we have the volado, seco, visoand ligeroleaf levels, with ligero(light) providing the strongest leaves, and seco(dry) the weakest. “Leaves from voladolevel are used for the picadura(short filler) and to be infused with artificial flavors to make flavored cigars (the flavored Príncipe cigars)”, Inoa explains. On the other hand, dry level leaves have a lot of wooden and earthy notes. In the visolevel, combustion is much better, and notes like nuts and tropical fruits stand out; while in the ligerolevel, there is much more strength, and darker and bitter notes, with flavors like chocolate, coffee or honey.
The curing: it is the process undergone by leaves when they go from green to yellow and then brown. If it’s not done well, there will be problems in the smoke.
The fermentation: on average, lasts between 1 year to 1,5 years, or even as much as two years. According to Inoa, on this stage “there’s a lot going on”, so, if anything fails, the smoke will fail to.
The aging: lasts a minimum of two years if you want to use the tobacco quickly, but La Aurora takes its time and dedicates tobacco four to five years of aging in bales. Then, the tobacco is kept for another year in oak barrels, which provide notes of molasses or caramel, for example, and also of smoked wood, since these barrels are burned inside for their prior use in rum manufacture.
The harvester: is of great importance. Depending on how he handles the land, we can have a problem four years later. For example, if plants are affected by fungi, worms or pests, if you make a mistake when applying antifungal treatments or pest prevention mechanisms, there will be metallic flavors in the smoke. “There are many bad flavors that can, in part, be blamed on the harvester”, he concludes.
For those who are now starting in the world of cigars or those who are used to smoking cigarettes, it may be useful to know the parts that make up a cigar in order to better appreciate its characteristics or to understand the differences between cigars and cigarettes.
Cigars are divided into three main parts: the filler, the binder and the wrapper. Let’s see what these are made of and how they contribute to the cigar:
The filler is the most relevant and most distinctive part of a cigar, where we can find the mixture or blend of tobaccos, which offer a cigar its characteristic flavors and aromas. This is the most inner part of the cigar. In higher quality cigars, which are usually handmade, this area consists of large tobacco leaves ranging from one end of the cigar to the other, to allow for maintaining a uniform taste throughout the whole smoke. These cigars made of whole leaves are called Premium cigars.
The binder is the first layer wrapped around the filler and its purpose is precisely to bind the filler, so it must be resistant. It is also used to give a cigar its shape, to make it straight and easy to smoke. However, this tobacco also brings flavor and aroma, thus, it must be in harmony with the type of tobacco used both in the filler and the wrapper. This binder, that helps the cigar combustion, is glued with a bit of natural resin diluted in water. After applying the capote, the cigar is pressed for at least two hours, in order to acquire a cylindrical shape.
The wrapper is the final coating, one tobacco leaf with oils, that is smooth and uniform. This is like a cigar’s visiting card, since it’s the part a smoker can see better. It’s made from higher quality tobacco leaves to make it look more attractive: smooth, marbled and even, with a nice color and a soft texture.
In the following video, our master cigar roller Luis López demonstrates the three basic pillars of a cigar.
Once composed of its three main parts, we can discuss other areas of the cigar:
Head: the part of the cigar that is smoked, which is topped with a cap—a piece of the same leaf used in the wrapper to complete the cigar. It’s graded according to the size of the cigar.
Body or barrel: this is simply the body of the cigar. We can say it is parejo when it has a symmetrical size, with straight and parallel lines. And we can call it figurado whenever it is not straight, but rather having a curved or oval area on either end, or both (doble figurado).
Foot: this is the open part of the cigar, where we light it for smoking and where we can see the tobaccos that it contains.
To find out how to enjoy smoking a cigar, learning is the best way. Just like in wine or rum tastings, for example, there are tastings meant for savoring and tastings meant to turn you into an expert when it comes to defining the characteristics of a cigar. They serve to learn how to the detect the types of tobacco, the aromas and flavors it releases, or even if it has been rolled properly or there’s a manufacturing fault.
But attending a training class is not always easy, due to lack of time or because it’s not easy to access this type of training course. La Aurora Cigars has design a Training kit, a tool –used in tasting events or in cigar presentations, for example– that allows you to have your own tasting without traveling to a special location, and to understand how the blends are prepared, in order to become an expert.
At first, this training tool for new consumers was created for the tasting of La Aurora 1903 Doble Figurado Emerald (Preferidos). This first model of the Training kit consisted of four pure grade cigars, a multiwrapper cigar, one La Aurora 1903 Doble Figurado Emerald, an instruction booklet and a DVD with tips to optimize smoking, a lighter and a cutter “to allow smokers to perform their own cigar tasting event, without the presence of a brand representative”, as summed up by the President of La Aurora himself, Guillermo León.
La Aurora 1903 Doble Figurado Emerald is a cigar with a tobacco wrapper from Sumatra seed harvested in Ecuador and binding leaf from Valle del Cibao (Dominican Republic) and filler also from Valle del Cibao, with tobacco from Brazil and Ecuador. Later editions of this tool have been released with La Aurora 107 and La Aurora ADN Dominicano cigars. The first one is a cigar with a wrapper of tobacco from Sumatra harvested in Ecuador, binding leaf from Valle del Cibao (Dominican Republic) and filler from Valle del Cibao (Dominican Republic), Brazil, Nicaragua and Peru.
Finally, La Aurora ADN Dominicano has a tobacco wrapper from Valle del Cibao (Dominican Republic), binding leaf from Cameroon (Africa) and filler from Valle del Cibao (Dominican Republic), Pennsylvania (United States), Nicaragua and tobacco originated in the Andullo process. The most interesting aspect in this case is being able to taste a pure grade from the Andullo, given the aroma and the strength provided by this method.
The latest edition of the Procigar Festival, held from 18 to 23 February, was once again a wonderful experience for both organizers and attendees, perfectly combining, again, training activities and entertainment. Cigar manufacturers, retailers and consumers enjoyed the opportunity to talk, smoke and spend time together in this annual meeting of the tobacco sector held in the Dominican Republic.
In the festival agenda, along with the gala dinners and the auction in which funds for a nonprofit organization have been collected, attendees were able to visit the most important tobacco plantations and cigar factories in the country. In the case of La Aurora Cigars, the visits to our factory were made on 22 and 23 February, where, besides explaining the whole process of making cigars, there was also a blending seminar.
In these tours around the La Aurora Cigars factory, we must highlight the presence of the former American basketball player Karl Malone, who played 19 seasons in the NBA and won two gold medals in the Olympic Games, among other sports milestones. La Aurora Cigars offered him a basketball signed by over 200 workers of the company involved in his personal project.
“It is for the whole La Aurora team, that will be involved in your personal project, a pleasure to offer you this acknowledgement that symbolizes the passion and joy we all feel for being able to share one of your many hobbies with you”, said the President of La Aurora, Guillermo León, during the basketball award ceremony to Karl Malone.
In the following video, we can see a summary of the factory tours held during the Procigar Festival, where attendees had the opportunity to, among other things, learn at first-hand the manufacturing process of our latest cigar, La Aurora ADN Dominicano—from working the tobacco born of the Andullo process to the rolling of the cigar by torcedores (cigar rollers). You can also see how the basketball award ceremony to Karl Malone went.
La Aurora Training Kit is a unique product and absolutely innovative in the tobacco world, which consists of a simple and portable cigar tasting seminar. The box contains four “grado puro” cigars, one La Aurora 1903 Edition Emerald Doble Figurado #3, a multiwrapper cigar, a cutter, a lighter, a booklet of instructions and a DVD of Guillermo Leon, president of the Aurora, with tips to optimize the smoke. La Aurora Training Kit is not a seminar design exclusively to novice smokers, but to all those who want to go deeper into the world of sensory tasting of cigars. Enjoy it!
La Aurora Cigar Factory has created the first tobacco institute worldwide: La Aurora Cigar Institute.
This institution is part of La Aurora Cigar World, a new concept in the world of tobacco whose primary objective is to create real experts in the field of Premium Cigars. This aim is to be achieved with the creation of La Aurora Cigar Institute, the first institution in the world to educate and teach about the world of cigars in a didactic manner, through a group of recognized professionals who will communicate and disseminate the Dominican tobacco culture.
Said institution, that will open its doors next February, is endorsed by the Tobacco Institute of Dominican Republic. Its courses have been meticulously designed in terms of level and duration in accordance with the needs of the learner; on the initial stages, important representative figures of the tobacco industry will be present in order to impart their knowledge and expertise on the subject. We refer to Ángel Daniel Núñez, ex President of General Cigar Co, Benjamín Menéndez, an emblematic figure who has been linked to the world of tobacco for 62 years, holding the position of Senior Vice President at General Cigar, until his retirement in 2013, and Guillermo León, current President of La Aurora, among other major personalities of the tobacco sector.