• Image about Honduras

We trace a fine cigar’s journey from remote Honduran fields to your hands.

You are the 30th person to hold your cigar. Its previous handlers include the field workers who picked the tobacco leaves, the packers, the rollers, the testers, and the men who sat in cramped quarters in a factory, ridding the leaves of their foul ammonia odor. And all you have to do is smoke the thing.

Real cigar making -- the kind that takes place in high-yield factories in Central America -- is not quite as glamorous as the type that’s done at upscale parties, where cigar-rolling stations have become a sophisticated staple in recent years. But it’s no less impressive than the work of those party patrons. In fact, real cigar making is even more so considering that the same handcrafted quality must be produced in large quantities as well. For the workers at the Scandinavian Tobacco Group factory in Danlí, Honduras, where cigars for premium labels, including Gurkha, are produced, accomplishing quality in quantity requires having a sharp eye, quick hands, and a willingness to put in long hours.

Danlí is located in the hill country of Honduras, about 70 miles from the capital city of Tegucigalpa. Parts of the broken two-lane cliff-side road that leads into town have collapsed into a ravine below. The rusted old pickup trucks on the winding roads seem barely able to survive the roller-coaster commute. Burros, chickens, and cows graze along the sides of the streets. Thin, sun-kissed faces of locals stare out from shacks stocked with bananas or flowers, which are sold to people driving by. Honduras’s resort-lined coast might as well be light-years away or in another age.

This dusty town is home to about 60,000 souls, more than half of whom work at one of the 25 cigar factories in town. Related industries employ most of the remainder of the populace. The town doesn’t get many visitors, so the bellmen at the Hotel Granada, located in the center of town, offer beaming smiles to new arrivals, adjusting the revolvers they wear at their sides to pick up patrons’ bags and carry them to rooms.