To the true cigar aficionado, a cigar is not just something you unwrap, cut, light up and inhale just for fun. Cigar-making is an art form, perfected over years and years of toiling under the sun to coax the soil to nourish the seeds and create… well, a work of art.
Ask any self-respecting torcedor (the guy/gal who rolls those glorious sticks) and you’ll find that to know cigars, you have to get out of your comfort zone. We’re talking travel here and it’s time to pack your bags. Here are 3 cigar countries that should definitely be in your itinerary:
Geographically diverse and stunningly lovely, the Dominican Republic has produced some of the world’s most beautiful and best-tasting cigars. It is economically stable and people are known for their openness, so you will feel right at home. The most famous premium cigars are produced here, making it the country to beat when it comes to tobacco growing and cigar production.
The best Dominican tobaccos are produced in two valleys: the Real (Spanish for royal) and the Cibao. Long-leaf, rich and luxurious tobacco fillers are rolled here, producing cigars from Olor Dominicano and Piloto Cubano. The latter is Cuban tobacco seed but the type and quality of the soil in the Dominican Republic has nurtured leaves to produce that distinct, unique taste that – while not as strong as Cuba’s – is full-bodied and satisfying.
Nicaragua was not always the place to be if you wanted a fulfilling smoke, but with its rich, nutritious volcanic soil it was only a matter of time before the country began producing cigars that could rival some of the world’s best. The Cuban Revolution brought some of the established cigar-growing families to Nicaragua’s Jalapa Valley, with many building facilities in Esteli. What happened after is probably something we ought to thank the revolution for.
Even with Cuban seeds, the tobacco leaves produced in Nicaragua developed a spicy taste, thanks to the unique characteristics of its soil and climate. Although Cuban cigars will probably remain the standard upon which other cigars will be judged, we have much to thank Nicaragua for producing tobacco that is taking our palate to an expanded universe, the kind that is built on unexplored flavor profiles and intensities.
Cuban cigars are revered, loved and sought-after. Others may even call them the archetype, although cigars may not have originated from this island country. Regardless, in a list of cigar countries, this is the place you want to be in if you only had one plane ticket to book. Tobacco is so important to Cuba that their histories are entwined, which is probably why Cuban cigars are held with such regard.
Cuba’s humid climate, along with its rich soil helps produce the large, luscious leaves ideal for those longed-for stogies. Cuban torcedors have been rolling cigars for so long that they have attained the perfect rhythm for planting and harvesting – critical for obtaining the best leaves. Although Cuba is the largest Caribbean island, soil found in the western region is considered the best for growing tobacco. The soil, along with the microclimate enjoyed in that area contribute to that distinctly rich, supple, flavorful Cuban taste – so good that some people would even break the law just to smuggle them into the country.
With cigars, you never really know until you’ve been there. Expand your horizon and go on a trip to experience first hand how these stogies are made. Who knows the kind of surprises you might just be glad to discover along the way?
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