On January 29, 2017, General Cigar hosted a number of cigar media personnel at their General Cigar Dominicana facilities in Santiago, DR. The practice of giving cigar media an in-depth look at their operations had been experimented with in years past and was phased out in recent years.
In November, 2015, General made big changes in its leadership roles, promoting Regis Broersma to President of General Cigar Company, among others. Among strategic moves to bring General’s brands into the modern era, Regis has implemented personnel changes, a new approach for this summer’s IPCPR, and the reinstatement of General’s tours to their multiple operations across the globe—beginning with General Cigar Dominicana.
The tour was hosted from Jan. 29 – Feb 1, 2017 and featured prominent members of the General team, including Jhonys Diaz, Francisco Rodriguez, Francisco “Don Quico” Hernandez, Yuri Guillen, and Ernest Gocaj.
General Cigar Dominicana benefits from a complete vertical integration, with the tour encompassing every minute step of the process. This process began at General’s Farm 1 and Farm 4, displaying tobacco flowers, seed pods, and General’s ambitious process of pelletizing seeds (more info in our video) for more precise yields. The tour was easily the most thorough and chronological we’ve seen, with the process concluding in a blending session—where sorruyos (cigars rolled from a single leaf variety) were provided from General’s massive inventory—making for a very accessible approach to the blending process. This was a breeze compared to the bunching and rolling process, where each tour attendee was paired with a torcedor—bunching, rolling, banding, cello-ing, and boxing a full box of cigars.
Other interesting tidbits included:
- General sends harvested seeds to US for pelletization—which are returned to DR for planting.
- General’s seed-laying machine: essentially a Shop-Vac attached to a grid of hoses, evenly distributing pelletized seeds from a top-mounted tray.
- Culbro & C.T.P. Dominicana (storage warehouse) holds a 7-digit number in dollar value for aging tobacco bales.
- Uses Drawmaster cigar draw testing machines (some factories use only factory managers to hand-inspect for this step).
- Uses machines to de-stem tobacco leaves (most factories do this by hand).
- Houses La Gloria Cubana Rolling Galleria within factory (i.e. “factory within a factory”) to retain the brand’s boutique feel.
- Includes barrel-aging room for tobaccos aged in rum barrels.
- One of a small number of factories that includes a fully-functioning box factory. Raw blocks of wood are milled down to plywood and further cut, sanded, painted, and more—ending with the finished product—all within General’s facility.
- Uses multiple freezing rooms that are capable of bringing temps far below what most home freezers can accomplish (-40° F) to destroy beetle eggs.
- Showcased two upcoming releases: Cohiba Blue Label (new entry-level Cohiba) and Partagas Heritage.
- Includes “museum” room to showcase General’s vast collection of innovations in packaging and presentations.
- Negotiates the sale of exotic tobaccos (such as Cameroon) themselves, venturing into often dangerous territories—rather than dealing with brokers (as with most other manufacturers).
Then browse the gallery below for high resolution images of the tour.