Manufacturing High Quality Cigars And Cigarillos 

With an enormous range of models, sizes, brands, types of packages and prices, cigars and cigarillos require a wholly different manufacturing approach than standardised mass-market tobacco products. While most cigars are today manufactured in small-batch machine-production runs, premium cigars continue to be rolled by hand to ensure their highest quality. 

Whether made by hand or by machine, the manufacturing of cigars and cigarillos requires intricate attention to detail, with this exact process varying slightly between different manufacturers for these natural products. These slight variations further add to the distinctiveness of each cigar and cigarillo brand. 

Differentiating The Manufacturing Process

Irrespective of whether a cigar or cigarillo is manufactured by hand or machine, its manufacturing process differs significantly from that of factory-made cigarettes in both quantity and length of production, 

To manufacture a single premium cigar, which is exclusively made by hand, it may take a highly trained and efficient roller up to 10 minutes to complete the process. 

Meanwhile, while half of all marketed cigars and all cigarillos are manufactured using highly specialised machinery, the complex manufacturing process and enormous range of cigar and cigarillos significantly limit the output of even the most productive machinery. A fully mechanised machine may manufacture only as many as 28 cigars, or maximum 160 cigarillos per minute. 

How A Cigar Is Made - ECMA

 A single rolling machine may also be used for the production of different ranges of cigars and cigarillos regardless of their shape or size. Consequently, cigars and cigarillos are commonly manufactured in low-volume production runs. This can limit the full utilisation of rolling machines, as they require a careful recalibration to specific weights and measurement characteristics in between the production of different products.

In contrast to the relatively slow and low-volume batch production in the cigar and cigarillo industry, the speed and manufacturing quantities involved in the making of factory-made cigarettes match underlines its status as a mass-market product. To satisfy the demand for cigarettes, modern double rod cigarette-making machines are capable of manufacturing more than 20.000 cigarettes per minute without interruption, more than 400 times the output of machine-made cigars. 

In the context of automated production, it is important to remind that also the smaller cigarillos can only be manufactured at much lower volumes than cigarettes due to their smaller volume production involving a number of the time-intensive processes very much comparable to the manufacturing of cigars. 


Almost all exclusively premium cigars are hand-rolled by expert cigar rollers. 

Production Of Cigars - ECMA

On average, it takes a minimum of nine months of extensive training to acquire the necessary skills to manufacture hand-rolled premium cigars, although it may take rollers years to develop the expertise and intricate craftsmanship to manufacture cigars of the highest quality.

Fitted with their own spacious workspaces and a selection of leaves, the expert roller must be able to leverage their experience and knowledge to identify the perfect combination of leaves to ensure the premium status of the final product, thus satisfying their demanding consumers’ expectations.

Using a specialist “chaveta” knife the roller ensures, without mechanical assistance, all natural irregularities are removed before finishing the final cigar by wrapping the outer leaf tightly around the binder three and a half times, cutting a small round piece out of a different wrapper leaf and attaching it to the end of the cigar using natural vegetable paste. 

Production Of Cigars - ECMA


Despite the importance of hand rolled cigars for the premium market, today half of all cigars manufactured use specialist machines, while most of the cigarillos are machine- rolled. 

Production Of Cigars - ECMA

Although a machine-rolled process allows the industry to manufacture at a considerably higher rate than traditional rolling by hand, there are inherent complexities of processing products made with natural tobacco.  In this regard, the vast majority of machine-made cigars are done with a natural filler, bunched with a homogenised tobacco leaf before being wrapped in a natural tobacco leaf.

Not surprisingly, also the mechanised processes employed in cigar and cigarillo manufacturing are significantly more complex, much different and slower than those used in the mass volume manufacturing of cigarettes. Automated cigar and cigarillo manufacturing requires specific machines for bobbinising, bunch making, over-rolling, cutting, packaging, and box finishing at much smaller numbers.

Despite using mechanised processes, several operators are necessary to manage the production of machine-rolled cigars. Once approved, the cigars will be passed on for mechanised binding, wrapping and final packaging either as individually sold, exclusive cigars or in one of many different, particular packages. 

As packaging also has to communicate regulatory obligations, a final step applies labelling on country-specific elements such as public health or taxation information, often through the use of stickers. 

Production Of Cigars - ECMA