How are cigars box-pressed?
There are two styles of box-pressed cigars, each with its own unique method of attaining the squared-off appearance.
Box-pressing originated in Cuba and is still practiced there, but over the past several years, non-Cuban brands have adopted the technique. The two methods used for box-pressing—standard box-pressing and trunk-pressing—yield different results.
In standard box-pressing, round cigars are packed tightly into dress boxes, which are stacked into piles, and then are compacted in a hand-controlled press to apply pressure. Check out this video senior editor David Savona shot while recently touring the Partagás Cigar Factory in Havana for further explanation:
By the time the box reaches the retailer, the cigars have been pressed into a shape somewhere between a circle and a square. Standard box-pressing is more common than trunk-pressing.
Trunk-pressing involves a series of wooden slats placed between the cigars as they are compacted. This is a very delicate process. It must be performed with great care to avoid splitting or damaging the wrappers. After anywhere from 30 minutes to 12 hours, the clamps are released and each cigar is turned. Pressure is then applied to the other side for an equal amount of time. Trunk-pressing produces a more highly pronounced boxy shape.
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