A word about Blenders. Not just anyone can be a blender. Ask many of those that have taken "Cigar Expeditions" to the farms in Nicaragua or Dominican Republic. Ask yourself, can you taste the differences in the tobaccos that you smoke? I am sure that I cannot. But blenders can, and they also have a large job in the cigar manufacturing business. Not only do they have to select tobacco leaves from different countries, or fields, but have to insure, as best they can, the supply of the required amount of tobacco for a cigar release. And, it is in the millions of cigars (they all hope). They deal with the entire cigar company, marketing, procurement, sales, advertising, everything. Most of the best blenders in the world are, or were, awesome rollers in their early days. Many could roll as many as a couple of thousand cigars in a day. There are some great names out there: Pepin Garcia, AJ Fernandez, Hamlet Paredies, Michael Gianinni, Pete Thompson, and Robert Caldwell just to name a few.
A word about Cuban Cigars. My information about the Cuban product is limited as I don't very much deal with those cigars, or the companies that make them. Most of the following is just what I have picked up over the years and I would be glad to be corrected about it at any time. Cuban cigars, before 1962 or so, were the only cigars to be smoked in the world. Just like today in all countries of the world excluding the United States. The reasons for this 'monopoly' are many, but its mainly because the best cigar tobacco was grown in the best place in the world, in Cuba. Cigar tobacco is like wine grapes; it grows best in the best environment of soil, rain, sun, and a host of other conditions. As the raw material for fine cigars was in Cuba, nearly all of the major cigar tobacco growers and factories for those cigars were located in Cuba. Prior to Fidel's "liberation" of the island, these fields and factories were owned by generations of Cuban families. Those families were ejected from Cuba, their property confiscated by the new Socialist government and cigar production was taken over by that same government. As the workers couldn't immigrate to other countries, even those in the Caribbean area, they stayed and became the bulk of people in charge of making cigars for the world.
Those families, and their companies, that were evicted, discovered other places on Caribbean islands and in Central American countries where cigar tobacco not only grew, but flourished. And, those families are the ones that now manufacture most of the cigars that the American market consumes (that's me and you). Not only the Caribbean area, either. With experimentation and development, many other areas of available tobacco cultivation have been located, including most equatorial areas in the world, such as Africa (Cameroon), SE Asia (Sumatra) and especially S. America (Equador, Brazil), and even the Mexican government has removed itself from the middle of the business and now Mexican product is not only available but sought after.
So, the world is a wonderful place, and there are too many cigars and too little time. For more of my personal opinion on the Cuban Situation, check out my page at the back of this site.
Blenders and Cubans
Sizes and Shapes