What Are Custom Rolled Cigars
Strictly speaking, custom rolled cigars are those that are made to the specifications of the buyer. This practice does occur to some degree in all the cigar producing countries but in this blog post we are going to focus on cigars made in the countryside and in cigar stores across Cuba.
Let’s start with the most accessible cigars. Those rollers are supplied with tobacco from the state tobacco monopoly. During the store’s opening hours, the roller will demonstrate cigar rolling to visitors and the cigars made will be sold by the store.
When rollers first started demonstrations in specialist tobacconist stores they gave the cigars that they rolled away. In fact, this was the policy of the program for rollers. When the popularity of these freshly rolled cigars started to increase, the stores began charging for them.
You may recognise some of the names of these rollers. At the Melia Havana Hotel, a wonderful roller named “Yolanda” is known as an expert with difficult vitals. Her most popular cigar is the Salomon.
At the Hotel Conde Villanueva in Old Havana sits another well-known roller named “Reinaldo”. His speciality is in cigars that are much larger than typical production sizes.
Stores located in factories also feature this program. Two highly sought-after rollers are “La China” at Partagas and “Hamlet” from Romeo y Julieta. Both of these rollers are known to modify the stock blends that they are given to create stronger or lighter cigars, depending on the buyer’s preference.
Chinchales & Tobacco
A Chinchale is a small factory, usually located in someone’s house that illegally produces cigars for sale. In order to acquire tobacco, they employ tactics that are outside the normal chain of premium cigar production.
In the worst cases, non tobacco leaves are used to roll cigars.
It becomes very difficult to control the taste of cigars when tobacco can’t always be supplied. Chinchales utilise tobacco that is not fully fermented, fermented at farms or stolen. It is illegal for tourists to purchase these cigars and consequences can be severe if you are caught.
Farmies are the affectionate term for cigars purchased in tobacco growing regions. Farmers traditionally save more of their tobacco production to smoke themselves in small rough cigars called “fumas”.
It was once possible to visit farmers and while chatting with them, smoke one of their fumas to better understand the taste and quality of the tobaccos they are growing. Unfortunately those days are in the past, most cigars bought in tobacco regions now come from Chinchales.
What To Do?
Is it possible to buy a special cigar from a roller or farm today? It is, but if you are a casual tourist then your chances are slim. This is because the locals or returning tourists that have established relationships with farmers and rollers will likely take them all.
If you want to try one of these cigars that is not from a Chinchale, the best tactic is to spend time with the creator of the cigar. If that is a roller, watch them roll the cigars and talk with them about their skills. Then offer to purchase the cigars that they have just rolled.
At the farms, you will likely not have this opportunity and even if you are able to watch the roller make a cigar, you do not know where the tobacco has come from.
As rollers go on tour to display their skills at tobacconists around the world, they are sent pre-selected tobaccos that are very nice to smoke. There is no connection to Chinchales with these cigars and it is very enjoyable to visit a Cuban roller at your local tobacconist.
Rollers from Nicaragua, Honduras and the Dominican Republic are touring more and more these days. When these rollers visit your local tobacconist they also bring authentic tobacco with them. They are often the best rollers in their factories and highly recommend smoking these types of cigars.
We hope you found this blog post an enjoyable read and that you now know more about custom rolled cigars. For any further information, please do contact us today at Taylors Tobacconists and one of our team members will get back to you shortly.