Tabacalera La Alianza.
When time came to choose a location for the E.P. Carrillo factory, Ernesto knew exactly where it needed to be located. In April 2009, he signed a lease on a 40,000 square foot, stand-alone building in Santiago’s Zona Franca, and immediately began the construction of his dream factory, which he named Tabacalera La Alianza.
Here is where the tobacco is fermented, aged, hand-made, and packaged under the supervision of Ernesto. Spread across many rolling tables, experienced cigar-rollers are in essence re-learning their craft as they are trained to roll cigars the “Cuban way” – the cigars are beautifully finished with a triple-cap method.
Not every manufacturer has its own farm or factory. Some farmers sell crops to cigar makers and some crops have fermentation involved. We buy our tobacco from suppliers and restart the fermentation process again at our factory to take out humidity, control temperature and darken the color. Leaves are tied into bundles of 10 to 15 leaves during the fermentation process. It can take 6 months to 5 years to achieve desired outcomes. The purpose of fermentation is to develop the aroma and flavor of the leaves. Once this process is over, the leaves are sorted by hand again..
The sorting process is the classification of tobacco between the wrappers and the binders specifically by color and sizes. Next, the leaves enter the stripping area where the long vein (or stem) that runs down the middle of the leaf is removed. This can be done by hand or machine. Next, the leaves are stacked into books so they can be stored for final production.
Our rollers work in pairs. First, they choose the number of filler leaves needed for a particular cigar blend. Filler leaves come in different sizes, shapes, colors, and even can be from different countries. From here, they are bunched together by hand so the roller can feel the balance and weight of the leaves. You don’t want to put anything in the filler that affects the draw. Once this is done, the roller wraps the binder leaf around the filler in a cylindrical motion by hand. The binder is the finishing touch in a cigar’s recipe. The wrapper is then used to keep the cigar uniform. Wrapping the cigar is probably the hardest part, requiring firm yet delicate patience so it does not break. Strong eyesight is needed to ensure the wrapping is done to visual perfection. A chaveta is then used to cut the cigar. The ends of the cigar are cut so a cap can be added. This is the circular piece of tobacco that prepares the cigar for being packed. Some of the finest cigars have a triple-cap, swallowing the whole wrapper leaf and appearing like three seams.
At this point, the cigar goes into a special room to age. The Aging Room lets the cigar rest and allows oils to marinate and takes out the humidity from the cigars in a controlled process. It is important to remember that the cigars themselves do not age but the tobacco inside is what ages. It usually takes a minimum of 45 days or more for this process to proceed.
From the aging room, the cigar enters quality control. Cigars are examined by color, for construction consistency and presentation before moving on. If it passes, a band is applied by hand, and it is moved into a box. We utilize some form of inner packaging for extra safety. These are now ready for consumers to smoke.