||Nicaragua is fast becoming a top resource for premium cigars in the U.S. One Nicaraguan tobacco grower told Cigar Aficionado magazine that Nicaragua and Cuba “have the most fertile dirt in the world for tobacco. It’s almost like God said, ‘I’m going to pick these two countries and I’m going to use them for tobacco!’”
As you light a Nica puro in your hand and watch it turn into ash and smoke, take a sip of Nica’s famous Flor de Caña rum and ponder the legacy of the Estelí cigar industry. It all began with the 1959 Cuban revolution, when capitalist Cuban cigar lords found their businesses liquidated. These artisans of the finest cigars in the world quickly gathered illicit caches of the precious tobacco seeds their families had been cultivating for centuries and fled to Miami. From there, it was only a couple of years before they discovered Nicaragua.
The top three regions in Nicaragua that produce the best cigars are Estli, Condega and Jalapa. Touring a cigar factory (or two) can be an enlightening experience. Estelí Cigarros, one of the more noteworthy cigar factories, is a great place to start. The factory is just a short, 10-minute drive away from Estelí and features not only the factory where the cigars are made, but also the fields where the tobacco is harvested.
Upon arriving, ask for a tour from any of the locals and they will be happy to show you around. You will discover how the tobacco plants are grown and harvested, and see how everything is put together. Both men and woman are involved in the selecting, cutting, rolling, ordering and packing process involved in making cigars and Estelí Cigarros makes thin, thick, mild, strong, dark and light Cuban-quality cigars.
According to Cigar Aficionado’s roundup of the Top 25 Cigars for 2012, the following Nicaraguan cigars were included in the top 10:
- Cigar of the Year: “Flor de las Antillas Toro” by My Father Cigars S.A. factory based in Estelí, ranked number one. “Flavor notes of nutmeg and white pepper add just enough strength to the cigar without being overpowering.”
- Number 4: “Padron Family Reserve 85 Years” by the Padron family – a recent creation, made in honor of company patriarch Jose Orlando’s 85th birthday in June 2011. “The flavors are complex and earthy, with a touch of herbal flavors and black cherry/black truffle notes. The Padron cigars tend to score in the top rankings on a regular basis. The family has won “Cigar of the Year” three times in this list.
- Number 8: “Rocky Patel Fifty Robusto” by Rocky Patel. “It is full of complex flavors that range from coffee and coconut to blackberry and licorice.” This cigar is produced in Estelí at Patel’s Tabacalera Villa Cuba factory, known as Tavicusa.
- Number 9: “Tatuaje Cojonu 2012 Sumatra” by Pete Johnson. Its flavors have an interplay of black pepper, espresso and cocoa powder.
Travelers to Nicaragua can visit a tobacco farm and cigar factory in Estelí on their own, or join a multi-day tour that includes a stop in Estelí.
- Masaya Volcano National Park
- Colonial city of Granada
- Cruise on Lake Nicaragua, hot springs
- Hike through cloud forest
- Esteli cigar tour
- Colonial city of Leon
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