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Photo Tour: Behind the Scenes at La Aurora Cigars

27 May 2010

It’s hard to appreciate the cigar making process unless you’ve seen it firsthand. This past weekend I had the opportunity to visit La Aurora’s factory in Santiago, Dominican Republic.

After a tasting seminar with José Blanco, La Aurora’s marketing director, he gave Patrick M, a handful of other cigar writers, and me a tour of La Aurora’s operation. Hopefully the following photos give you some idea of just how much care and attention goes into every premium handmade cigar that we often take for granted:

Tobacco from all around the world arrives at the La Aurora factory

Tobacco from all around the world arrives at the La Aurora factory where it is aged until it is ready.

fermenting

José Blanco examines Ecuadorian Sumatra leaf in the fermentation room, where tobacco is exposed to 120-degree temperatures for days at a time to bring out the flavors we’ve come to appreciate in cigars.

leafprep

Before being sorted for rolling, tobacco goes into a special room where moisture is added to the leaf. La Aurora uses this special machine (which is also used in Cuba) to moisten tobacco in just over an hour. In most factories this process takes two days.

sorting

In preparation for being rolled into cigars, tobacco is sorted. Note the rum barrels in the background where tobacco for La Aurora Barrel Aged cigars are aging.

Stem

Stems are removed from the leaf using a machine. Machines are used regularly now but originally this was done by hand.

bunchmachine

Filler tobacco is carefully bunched before the binder is applied. Some cigars are made using the Lieberman Machine (shown above) but the best cigars made by the most talented cigar makers don’t use it.

press

After the binder is applied, cigars go in a press before the wrapper is applied. The cigars above look inconsistent because I bunched them instead of a professional roller.

Rolling

Rollers carefully apply the wrapper using a chaveta (traditional rounded cigar knife).

rollingstation

Here is a wrapper station where wrapper is applied with a bit of natural glue. After the wrapper and cap are applied, excess leaf at the foot is cut with the guillotine cutter.

agingcigars2

After cigars are rolled, they go in the aging room until they are ready. There is a strong  smell in the aging room because the cigars are continuously releasing ammonia as they age.

agingroom

Different rows in the aging room are used for different cigars. Here you can see such well-known La Aurora brands as the Serie 1495 and Preferidos Maduro. Some cigars in this room have many years of age, such as a Preferidos Corojo that I was given from 2003.

testing

At La Aurora, cigars are extensively tested to ensure they will draw properly. Extensive statistics are kept to make sure that every roller is meeting quality benchmarks.

sortingcigars

When they are finally ready to leave the factory, cigars are sorted, put in cellophane, and boxed.

While I’m sure these 13 photos can’t do the factory justice, hopefully they give you an idea of just how much time and talent goes into every cigar from seed to leaf to box. If you ever get the opportunity to visit a cigar factory yourself, I highly recommend taking advantage of the invitation. Just as I did with La Aurora, I’m sure you’ll gain a greater appreciation of the fantastic cigars we so regularly take for granted.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Drew Estate

9 Responses to “Photo Tour: Behind the Scenes at La Aurora Cigars”

  1. DeadGuy Thursday, May 27, 2010 at 1:05 am #

    I'm struck by three things in particular – one, how clean everything appears – was it? Two, how relatively young the rollers appeared and three, the size of the storage facilities – were they as large as they appear – especially in photo #10?

  2. Jason McDonald Thursday, May 27, 2010 at 4:02 am #

    I wonder what the overall percentage of the process employs machinery? It seems that most is done by hand, but with the aid of machines, but how much do the machines actually help?

    Wow, all that work and to think one of these sticks only costs somewhere between $5-$15.

  3. Patrick S Thursday, May 27, 2010 at 5:52 am #

    DG- It is hard to capture the size of the factory but if anything it is far bigger than the photos show.

  4. mighty Thursday, May 27, 2010 at 7:33 am #

    Great photos! Thanks for sharing.

  5. Wham I Am The Man Sunday, May 30, 2010 at 6:33 am #

    Great Photos!!!!! Really love seeing photos showing how and where cigars are made…… Thanks for posting them………!!!

  6. adam Wednesday, May 14, 2014 at 5:32 am #

    Photography Australia
    I was looking for something like this ,Thank you for posting the great content……I found it quiet interesting, hopefully you will keep posting such blogs…

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