Here are some of the top Cigar factoids we learnt on our tour of the famous Partagas Factory in Havana.
- The Cuban tobacco industry was nationalized by Fidel Castro’s communist government in 1962. As a result all cigar brands of Cuba became the property of the government and each factory makes a number of different cigar brands.
- The Partagas factory in Havana produces 25,000-27,000 cigars per day, and has 400 workers.
- It takes 9 months to train as a ‘torcedor’ (cigar roller), attending five days a week, and six days a week bi-monthly.
- It takes 2 years of working to specialise. Only then can you make Cuba’s premium cigar brand, ‘Cohiba’.
- Each worker has to produce between 80-150 cigars per day, and are paid a bonus for each cigar they produce in addition to this.
- Their working hours are 7am to 5pm, with a 15 minute break in the morning and afternoon and a 30 minute break for lunch.
- A ‘lector’ or reader is employed to entertain cigar factory workers. He reads the newspaper in the mornings until 10am. The workers listen to audiobooks and music in the afternoon.
- Workers are paid between 400-600 Cuban Pesos (16-24 Cuban Convertibles) per month. This is a ‘medium’ wage in Cuba.
- Each worker is given 5 cigars per day that they can sell to increase their salary.
- Cigars are composed of three elements; filler, binder and wrapper. The filler and binder are rolled and stored in a press for twenty minutes before the wrapper is applied. The wrapper is made of the highest quality leaves, free of impurities, blemishes and holes, and are grown under nets to protect them from the sun.
- All cigars are composed of four different types of leaves, which come from different parts of the plant. Cohiba Behike cigars are composed of five different types of leaves and are the most expensive and prestigious Cuban cigars.
- Different brands of cigars use these four different types of leaves in different proportions to create different flavours and aromas.
- Cigars are measured in length and ring gauge (diameter in 1/64ths) and have numerous different shapes, each with different names such as corona, torpedo, pyramid and the Churchill, named after Winston.
- There are 64 different colourations of cigar. The Cohiba Madera, a very dark variety, uses a wrapper that has been aged for five years.
- On February 7, 1962, United States President John F. Kennedy imposed a trade embargo on Cuba to sanction Fidel Castro’s communist government. According to Pierre Salinger, then Kennedy’s press secretary, the president ordered him on the evening of February 6 to obtain 1,200 H. Upmann brand petit corona Cuban cigars. Upon Salinger’s arrival with the cigars the following morning, Kennedy signed the executive order which put the embargo into effect.
- Cigars are not rolled on the thighs of virgins.