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The Montecristo War

James Suckling
From the Print Edition:
cigar case, Summer 93

(continued from page 3)

By comparison, the No. 2 and "A" are more difficult to produce than the Especial range and require only the most skilled hands to roll. Molina says that these two vitolas are exclusively produced at his factory. "We only use grade seven rollers for those two cigars," Molina says, which is the highest skill rating that a cigar roller can attain and may take five to seven years to achieve. "We have 200 rollers in total in this factory and only 40 can make the No. 2. Even fewer can make the 'A.'"

In all, Molina estimates that the production of the No. 2 equals about 1.2 million cigars while the "A," a mere 15,000. Most of the Montecristo "A"s are made by one man: Jesus Ortiz Dionisio Gonzales. He is said to be able to make 200 "A"s a day, which is superhuman considering the average roller does about half that with much smaller cigars. He is to cigar rolling what Babe Ruth was to baseball. Walking up the stairs of the Fabrica José Martí with Molina, one can see Ortiz sitting at his workbench with the warm afternoon sun shining on his lanky figure. He works quickly and proficiently, all alone without any interruptions. Molina catches a glimpse of him. "I spent 15 years rolling cigars myself," Molina muses, still admiring the superstar. "I was never a grade seven. I was a very small roller, only grade five."

With the opportunity to smoke dozens of different types of cigars, Molina is puffing away on a No. 3, the standard Montecristo corona. "The only problem with the 'A' is that it takes almost two hours to smoke," he complains, blowing smoke from his corona. "It would be a crime to smoke an 'A' and not finish it. That is why I prefer the 3. It is the perfect size and the perfect smoke."

--J.S.


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