How to Hand-Roll a Cigar with Video from a Master Roller

Have you ever looked at a fine cigar and wondered how the hell they get them to come out so nice? Well, if your high school joints are anything to go by, your cigars would be an absolute disaster (maybe that’s how chewing tobacco was born?) Anyway, wonder no more – here are the key steps in basic cigar construction: First, get a capote leaf to bind the filler. At this point, you’re preparing to receive the inside leaves of your cigar. To get it ready, take out the stem and tear the leaf into two parts. Lay out one and set the other aside. Ok. Now, master blender, pick your fillers. Cigars generally use a blend of (1) a ligero leaf to give the cigar some nicotine strength, (2) a volado leaf to help the cigar burn properly, and (3) a seco leaf to impart that delicious aroma to the cigar. Roll each one up individually, then bunch them together. Now it’s time to roll them up in your capote. As you get to the end, use a dab of vegetable paste or natural resin to get the last edge of wrapping to adhere to itself and stay tight. Then, trim both ends straight and remove any excess tobacco. Filler – check. Binder – check. Now it’s time to wrap. Lift your damp towel that you keep over your wrapper leaves (yep, this keeps them moist!) and pull out a fresh one. These leaves are grown under the protection of a cheesecloth, so they get larger and stay more flexible for rolling. They also have to be pretty because they’re going to control the cigar’s appearance. You’ll probably have to use a rolling pin of some kind just to get it nice and smooth. Okay, now wrap up your inner leaves and get the roll tight (not too tight! You need a bit of space for drawn air to pass through). Now, shape a perfect cap and foot, using extra leaf and adhesive if needed. There’s some real art to that, so take your time. Over the next few days, keep rolling your baby cigar occasionally as it dries out. After a week or two, it should be in usable condition. Congrats, you’ve got something worth smoking, gringo! See the making of a torpedo cigar here.