Rocky Patel Cigar Factory Tour – Day Two

Day Two of our Rocky Patel cigar factory tour began with breakfast at Villa Rocky Patel including scrambled eggs, ham, toast, and rice. We boarded the magic bus at 9:00 am and headed to the tobacco fields about an hour away. We survived the hour-long trip by smoking our first cigar of the day from the Rocky Patel cigar box of fun. I grabbed another Rocky Patel Decade, a wonderful cigar, that I somehow overlooked over the years.

RP Box of Cigars

Rocky Patel Cigar Box of Fun
(Click on photo for a larger view.)

RP Box of Cigars

Rocky Patel Cigar Box of Fun
(Click on photo for a larger view.)

We arrived at the field no worse for the wear and ready to learn. Our first stop was a building covered with cheesecloth where seeds are planted and the seedlings are grown before transplanting them into the fields. Tobacco seeds are incredibly small. A single seed is very hard to see, much smaller than a grain of rice..

Tobacco Seeds

Tobacco Seeds
(Click on photo for a larger view.)

Prior to planting the tobacco plants in a field, five seeds are planted in a container in a nursery that is covered with cheesecloth. The cheesecloth protects the seedlings from the harsh sun while allowing the optimal amount of light in for maximum growth. The nursery is covered with cheesecloth to filter out some of the ultraviolet rays. As the seeds grow into seedlings, the four weakest of the five seedlings are removed and discarded. The strongest seedling then grows for 45 days. After 45 days, the seedling is hand planted in the tobacco field with thousands of other seedlings.

Seedlings

Seedlings
(Click on photo for a larger view.)

Before the seedlings are planted in the tobacco fields, workers “shock” the plant to increase the likelihood the plant will survive transplantation. The workers do this by cutting off an inch or so off the top of the plant. How they do this is bizarre and an amazing feat of ingenuity. The seedlings are in flats that are pushed underneath a lawn mower that is mounted to a table. You have to see it to believe it so watch this video:


After the seedlings are shocked, aka mowed, they are planted in the field. The field we toured was specifically for growing shade grown tobacco. After the seedling grows into a full sized tobacco plant, workers cut the leaves off from bottom to top at seven-day intervals. The bottom leaves, also known as sand leaves, are cut and discarded. The sand leaves are not suitable for cigars. The lower leaves are larger and hardier than the upper leaves. They are larger because they must grow larger to absorb the sun. As the leaves are cut from lowest to highest, the lower leaves grow larger to continue to absorb the sun.


After touring the shade grown tobacco field, we headed back towards Danli and made a stop at a cigar box factory. The factory manufactures cigar boxes for many different companies, including Rocky Patel Premium Cigars and Drew Estate. The production is all done by hand using saws, sanders, and painting equipment, as well as a few industrial sized machines, but human hands are involved in each step of the manufacturing process.











After touring the box factory, we returned to Villa Rocky Patel for a fine lunch of chicken, cheesy potatoes, rice, salad, and pico. I truly love the traditional Honduran food. We departed Villa Rocky Patel after lunch, lit another Rocky Patel cigar, and headed to the Rocky Patel cigar factory.

At the factory, we learned about all phases of the cigar production process, including fermenting, sorting, bunching, rolling, quality control, packaging, and aging. Hundreds of hands touch each cigar as the leaves are turned into the works of art we destroy through burning. It is amazing to watch and provides hundreds of jobs for the locals. Here are a few videos of the factory tour.



















While at the factory, we had an opportunity to blend our own cigars. Under the tutelage of one of Rocky Patel’s experts, we selected our own blend from a number of different types of leaves. Some of us were better at this than others. I was a failure and my blend was rejected twice as being too mild. I made a few adjustments and received the seal of approval. Next, we were each taken to a pair of rollers, one to bunch the cigar and another to roll the cigar. We watched as our personalized blend was created from the selections we made.

After a great day of immersion in the cigar manufacturing process, we returned to Villa Rocky Patel and spent the night smoking, drinking, playing poker, swimming, and enjoying dinner. For dinner, it was taco night and we each had tacos, tostados, and fresh made salsa. The meal was authentic and the best tacos and tostados I’ve ever had. They tasted nothing like the food we get in the U.S. After enjoying time with everyone, we all hit the sack.

Part Three of C.Gar and Smokey Butts’ cigar escapade coming soon. . .

c.gar

c.gar

c.gar loves all things cigar-related. He typically falls in love with cigars that are discontinued shortly thereafter. His first cigar was a Swisher Sweet with a wood tip. Sadly, these are still in production.

One thought on “Rocky Patel Cigar Factory Tour – Day Two

  • September 14, 2014 at 11:54 am
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    excellence and premium cigars

    Reply

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