Once the growing and curing processes have been completed, it is time for the work to begin in making a Habano. There are certain parts that need to be prepared properly before the cigars can begin to be rolled. This preparation is done with great care and by those with vast experience in working with tobacco.
First, the layers must be prepared. All the leaves have already been properly aged, so the first process to be done is a de-stemming of the leaves. Once this has been completed, the sheaves of forty or fifty sheets are finely sprayed with just pure water. The leaves are hung on racks while this is done to be sure that it is all done evenly and absorbed properly.
After this process, a sorting is done by those with very soft hands and a fine feel for the process. The mid-rib of the leaf is completely removed with a special movement, separating the leaf into two leaves.
The leaves are then sorted by size and shade to be sure that they are going to be used for the appropriate parts of the cigar. There are very large piles of these leaves that are worked from on the laps of the workers, which gave rise to the long held saying of the leaves being “twisted on the thighs of virgins.”
At this point, the gut also needs to be prepared for the cigar. The sheets to be used for the binder and the filler are carefully removed from their bales and inspected for quality and then tested.
Sometimes a flash-off process is necessary to help removed any excess moisture that may be present on the sheets. The sheets are then placed into barrels and are stored there until they are ready to be used for the cigars.
The selection of the mixtures of each blend of cigar occurs before the bales of all these tobacco sheets and leaves even reach the factory. A Master List is created based on what types of sizes and production are going to be performed. This insures that all the proper tobacco leaves needed will be in place in order to start production.
The central storage area holds a huge selection of bales with all types of leaves. Each bale is labeled and classified specifically so it is known what is contained, making it easier to determine what it can be used for. Different tobacco leaves come from different areas in Cuba, so to create the right blends for each specific brand, recipes are followed and maintained consistently.
There is also a special mixing department that is used to make sure everything is blended properly for each specific cigar. After more than three months from the initial collection of leaves, a Habano can now be made.