Producing Puros – Plasencia Cigar Factory, Danlí, Honduras

2019-01-28T13:19:13+00:00May 29, 2012   ||   Posted in: Honduras 21 Comments

Some of the most famous tobacco in the world is grown in southern Honduras, all of it from tobacco seeds originally brought from Cuba. Here, cigars, called puros in Spanish, are made by hand and there are a number of cigar factories near the town of Danli that you can tour, including the Plasencia Cigar Factory in Danlí.

Tobacco sorting - Plasencia Cigars Factory Tour - Danli, Honduras

Sorting tobacco at the Plasencia Cigar Factory in Honduras.

Touring the Plasencia Cigar Factory in Honduras

We pulled into the Plasencia Cigar Factory, which was started by Cuban immigrant Nestor Plasencia, and within moments a man named Hector, who appeared to be the head of the entire operations, emerged from his office, popped a cigar into his mouth and lead us to the factory. Hector enthusiastically showed us around the whole facility explaining the process from seed to cigar.

Step 1: sorting and bundling

Picked tobacco leaves arrive at the Plasencia factory and are sorted into various quality categories. Sorted leaves are then tied into small, neat bundles.

Tobacco Plasenca Cigar Factory Honduras

Bundled tobacco at the Plasenca Cigar Factory in Honduras.

Tobacco sorting - Plasencia Cigars Factory Tour - Danli, Honduras

Women sorting tobacco into different grades.

Green Tobacco - Plasencia Cigars Factory Tour - Danli, Honduras

Green tobacco being hung to dry.

Step 2: stacking and fermenting

The tied bundles of sorted tobacco leaves are tightly stacked in vast warehouses and allowed to naturally ferment for up to a year. Fermentation enhances and polishes the taste and aroma of the tobacco, but the process produces an overwhelming amount of ammonia inside the warehouses where ventilation and even face masks are important safety measures. At times it really was hard to breathe.

Tobacco fermentation - Plasencia Cigars Factory Tour - Danli, Honduras

Stacked tobacco begins the fermentation process at Plasencia Cigar Factory in Honduras.

Tobacco grading - Plasencia Cigars Factory Tour - Danli, Honduras

Tobacco grading at Plasencia Cigar Factory in Honduras.

Step 3: stripping

Once the tobacco leaves have fermented women expertly strip out the central vein so the tobacco burns evenly.

Tobacco stripping - Plasencia Cigars Factory Tour - Danli, Honduras

After fermenting, the central vein of each leaf of tobacco must be removed by hand.

Step 4: rolling

A finished cigar is made up of three different types of tobacco leaves which are rolled together in three different stages.

Cigar filler & binder leaf - Plasencia Cigars Factory Tour - Danli, Honduras

Getting ready to roll.

The main part of the cigar is called the filler. This is bundled together and placed inside a tobacco leaf called a binder because it holds all of the filler together. These rough tubes of tobacco are placed into wooden cigar-shaped molds which press them together, forcing the tubes to hold their shape.

Cigar ready for rolling - Plasencia Cigars Factory Tour - Danli, Honduras

Part of the complicated cigar rolling process.

The pressed and molded tobacco tubes are then neatly rolled into a tobacco leaf called a wrapper.

Cigar rolling - Plasencia Cigars Factory Tour - Danli, Honduras

The outermost tobacco layer of a cigar is called a wrapper and is rolled last.

Cigar rolling - Plasencia Cigars Factory Tour - Danli, Honduras

Nearly finished cigars.

Voila! Finished cigars.

Cigar rolling - Plasencia Cigars Factory Tour - Danli, Honduras

Cigars ready to be boxed and stored.

Step 5: warehousing

The Plasencia factory can produce tens of thousands of cigars per day in all shapes, sizes, strengths, flavors, and brands. We’re still not sure how they keep them all straight.

Cigar - Plasencia Cigars Factory Tour - Danli, Honduras

Cigars in all shapes and sizes.

Cigar sorting - Plasencia Cigars Factory Tour - Danli, Honduras

Sorting finished cigars.

Rectangular Cigars - Plasencia Cigars Factory Tour - Danli, Honduras

These rectangular cigars seemed odd to us.

Step 6: labeling and packaging

The Plasencia factory makes cigars on contract for more than 30 different brands (their only in-house brand is called Flor de Honduras). Each brand has its own label which has to be applied by hand before they’re packaged and shipped.

Rocky Patel Cigars - Plasencia Cigars Factory Tour - Danli, Honduras

Freshly labeled cigars.

Cigar packaging - Plasencia Cigars Factory Tour - Danli, Honduras

Every finished cigar must be labeled by hand.

Rocky Patel Cigars - Plasencia Cigars Factory Tour - Danli, Honduras

Rocky Patel cigars elegantly packaged.

Cigar facts

2 years: length of time it takes for a tobacco seed to be transformed into a cigar

120: number of hands that touch every single cigar from farming to finished product

4,000: number of people employed by Plasencia

30 million: estimated number of cigars produced by Plasencia factories each year, mostly on contract for more than 30 different brands including world-famous names like Rocky Patel cigars

90: percentage of those cigars that are exported to the United States

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21 Comments

  1. The Travel Fool May 29, 2012 at 12:04 pm - Reply

    Being a cigar lover I am truly jealous. Of all my travels I have yet to make it to a cigar factory.Dominicans, Nicaraguans and Hondurans are as good if not better than most of the Cuban cigars I have smoked. The factory you went to puts out some fine sticks and I have tried more than a few from there. Great story on the making of some fine cigars and what goes into it. Great photos also. I’ll get a factory one day I am just afraid I won’t want to leave.

  2. Bret May 29, 2012 at 11:09 am - Reply

    Great photos as always, guys! I had no idea that Honduras was such a significant cigar manufacturer/exporter, but I do love these sorts of tours and always try to do them. Coffee mills and candy factories in Hawaii, rum distilleries in Barbados… seeing how this stuff is put together is fascinating to me.

  3. Lindsey May 29, 2012 at 5:41 pm - Reply

    This was such an interesting post! I love doing these sorts of tours. Did you try any of the cigars they made?

  4. Caz Makepeace May 29, 2012 at 10:24 pm - Reply

    Wow. This was really fascinating to see how it is produced. I had no idea it took 2 years!! No wonder it hurts your lung and head so much. I can see how 90% are exported to the States, My friends always pulled one out after a few beers on a night out!

  5. Cole May 31, 2012 at 12:29 am - Reply

    Whoa those things are MASSIVE! Never been a smoker myself but can appreciate why some people love them considering the effort that goes into making them.

  6. Wandering Educators May 31, 2012 at 1:09 pm - Reply

    how amazing – i had no idea the amount of work that goes into them.

  7. Don Faust May 31, 2012 at 3:46 pm - Reply

    Very cool – I would have loved to be on that tour! I’ll bet the place smelled great… if you like tobacco smell. Did you get an opportunity to smoke a freshly rolled one?

  8. Sandra Foyt May 31, 2012 at 8:54 pm - Reply

    Love how you documented the process of producing cigars, but now I’m curious. Can you get a nicotine buzz touring the factory?

  9. Ava Apollo May 31, 2012 at 9:07 pm - Reply

    I’m really not a cigar fan but it iiiiis rather interesting to see how they’re made. Nice photos!

  10. Angela June 1, 2012 at 2:11 am - Reply

    Very fascinating production process. It shows a natural angle on cigars!

  11. Ali June 1, 2012 at 9:37 am - Reply

    Wow, that’s a really long and intricate process! I guess it makes sense why cigars are so expensive. Sounds like a really interesting tour!

  12. Matthew Karsten June 2, 2012 at 1:25 pm - Reply

    Excellent overview and images guys! If you were on a mission to get me smoking a cigar this weekend, you succeeded.

    This post should have a surgeon general’s warning label… 😀

  13. cheryl June 3, 2012 at 4:19 am - Reply

    I never knew such work went into crafting cigars! Amazing, the manufacturers have my utmost respect.

  14. Raymond June 3, 2012 at 5:37 am - Reply

    I never realized how much work went into making something that stinks so badly. 🙂

  15. Plasencia Cigar Factory Tour June 4, 2012 at 10:39 pm - Reply

    […] Producing Puros – Plasencia Cigar Factory, Danlí, Honduras (author unknown) "Our guided tour of the Plasencia cigar factory in Danli, Honduras where they make 30 different brands of cigars, including Rocky Patel.trans-americas.com/2012/05/plasencia-cigar-factory/" https://trans-americas.com/2012/05/plasencia-cigar-factory/ ← Blanco Cigars NINE Lancero Review […]

  16. Jade Johnston - OurOyster.com June 22, 2012 at 3:02 am - Reply

    Wow what a process! Did you buy any cigars? I used to smoke them every now and then, but I don’t anymore

  17. Brooke vs. the World June 22, 2012 at 8:38 am - Reply

    Very interesting! Love getting to see how those things are made — very hands on!

  18. Jonathan Bentz August 3, 2012 at 9:07 am - Reply

    Outstanding photography and very interesting statistics. As an American, I personally am particularly surprised by the fact that 90% of sales happen in the US. If that’s true, I wonder how much $ Americans spend on cigars OUTSIDE of our home country that then result in cigars coming back to our country.

  19. Marina K. Villatoro June 19, 2013 at 9:36 am - Reply

    I had always dreamed of going to a cigar factory. I actually didn’t know there was one in Honduras.

    When we arrived to Cuba, the week we were there, all the factories were closed!

    • Arlesmaradiaga June 15, 2017 at 1:53 am - Reply

      One of the best

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