On your shopping list when visiting the Dominican Republic has to be Rum, Coffee and Cigars. The sunshine, rich soil and cool temperature of the mountainous region around Tamboril and Santiago create and ideal climate for growing quality tobacco for cigars. You can visit some growers for a tour of the cigar process and even if some in your party are not enthusiasts the temperate mountain breezes and stunning landscape are more than enough reason to visit this area, sometimes known as the alps of the Caribbean.
You can find cigar producers in the Dominican Republic who have been producing tobacco for up to three generations, these master rollers are very proud of their hand crafted produce.
The tobacco leaf when harvested from the fields is first sent to the drying rooms. It is then deveined and bundled. The best leaves are bundled for the cigar makers own use, lower quality leaves are sold to other manufactures.
The leaves are inspected further and divided up for various uses, for example, leaves used for the 'wrapper' are preferably free from any sunspots, blemishes or other imperfections. It is also at this stage in the drying room that special techniques are used to produce the 'flavoured' cigars which have become popular.
When ready the leaves are then brought to rolling tables, you will find only the master rollers with suffiicient experience rolling cigars here. This is how the quality remains consistantly high. The fininshed hand rolled cigar then moves on to the banding room. Here they are checked for quality and size and then banded. This work is done almost entirely by women who are accustomed to the fine sewing and embrodery work required, they are generally faster at this as it requires delicate workmanship and good coordination.
Only when the cigars have been checked and banded are they packaged and shipped to the distributors and customers.