Cigar Rolling and Rum Tasting at Graycliff Cigar Company
This was likely the Christmas present that I have been most excited about. I won't say that I am a cigar aficionado but I enjoy the occasional cigar and learning how to roll one by hand struck me as a very cool and very unique experience!
By now we feel like experts at navigating Graycliff, having gotten so lost here for the chocolate and drink pairing yesterday. We worked out way back to the Cigar factory and met with Adam, lead man in all things cigars. He gave us a short tour and history lesson in how a cigar is made and where all of the components come from. Not everyone enjoys a tour BUT I tend to enjoy a product more if I have an idea where it came from and how complicated it was to make.
After the tour we met we our instructors, who would assist us in actually rolling the cigars. We did not know until today, but apparently Graycliff employs only Cuban cigar rollers and only level 9 experts. Nice little fun fact for ya.
Rolling cigar only takes a few short steps AFTER you've identified and prepared your filler, wrapper, and binder leaves.
Step One: Bunch the leaves into the palm of your hand, the more leaves the thicker the cigar. You typically want thickest leaves in the center, surrounded by thinner leaves. You also want to make sure to not bunch too tight as the air and smoke will need to travel length-wise through this bunch to be smoked.
Step Two: After you bunch the leaves you lay them on the binder at a roughly 45 degree angle and roooollllll em up. When you get to the end of the cigar, seal it up with egg white or cigar glue. This gives you a smokable bundle but an ugly bundle at that.
Step Three: The Wrapper. The leaf that makes it all look so nice. Depending on the size and type of cigar you intend to make, you will need to cut sharp the leaf to suit. After the cuts have been mad, you lay the binder down, again at a 45 degree angle, and wrap it up just like you did with the bindle. Though this time around, you should give a little more care to a tight and uniformed roll as this is what everyone is going to see when finished!
There is obviously a lot more to the process than just that. Properly storing and aging the leaves, selecting and deveining, and all the cuts and shaping required to make sure your end product looks as it should. However, these are the basics for assembling a cigar.
I would have assumed rolling cigars could get old but I honestly don't see how anymore. Even if you take the variety of cigars out of the equation, each one you roll feels like a work of art. Every little imperfection is a signature and something you hope to repair in the next one. The satisfaction you get when you mold the perfect torpedo tip is hard to match in the everyday life of a computer nerd.
This would have been a great day had it ended here but it was just the beginning!
Today is the day we met Paulo. Paulo is the son of Mr. G, who opened Graycliff in the 1970s and the reason the Graycliff Cigar Company exists at all. Now in a typical year I don't know that we would have ever crossed paths with Paulo. The Bahamas shut down to all tourists for almost the entirety of 2020, they are only just now beginning to reopen and they are doing it cautiously. A standard cigar rolling class and rum tasting would contain about 8-10 people and would be led by one of the employees. Our class was Stephanie and myself and our teacher was the current owner.
He laid out an assortment of rums, light to dark and in general, least expensive to most expensive. The light colored chocolates pair best with the white rums, the dark chocolates best with the dark rums.
What followed was to date, our best experience in The Bahamas. We spent hours just talking and drinking with this fascinating man. Learning about business, family, cigars, and obviously rums. We shared some stories and some laughs and made a new friend :-).