When it comes to cigars, like any other hobby people are extremely passionate about, everyone has a bucket list. For a wine aficionado, it may be visiting the vineyards in Southern France. For a golfer, it might be playing 18 holes at St. Andrew’s. For a cigar enthusiast, the ultimate experience is to take a trip to cigar country to witness firsthand the slow and patient process of cigar making, from seed to finished product. While a visit to Miami’s famed 8th Street neighborhood may be as close as most cigar lovers get, nothing can match an excursion to the lush fields and numerous factories in the Dominican Republic or Honduras. But for this author, Nicaragua is the Mecca of premium cigars and tobacco. With four unique growing regions, each producing tobaccos of distinct quality and taste combined with factories which manufacture some of the highest rated and most sought after brands, there is simply no substitute. So how do you get there?
Despite economic growth, Nicaragua is still very much “third world,” and navigating the roads, language, and culture is difficult. We recommend booking with a dedicated operator that specializes in cigar tourism. We get many inquiries made through our expert staff tobacconists, and the operators we most often recommend are www.cigarsafari.com and www.cigartourism.com. Cigar Safari is operated by Drew Estate, while Cigar Tourism is operated by Cigar Journal Magazine. Both provide a behind the scenes tour of the farms, cigar production, and even box making, with ample time to relax with some of your favorite smokes. Many can be sampled fresh off the table. For those that wish to brave the journey on their own, many factories in northern Nicaragua regularly welcome guests for tours, including Tabacalera Fernandez, Plasencia, Drew Estate and a host of others. I have shepherded many groups of cigar enthusiasts through Nicaragua and the takeaway for folks is always the same: utter amazement at how much work goes into making a single cigar. For over one hundred years, the process has been largely the same, and the romance and care of the art of cigar making is awe inspiring, like watching a painter with a canvas. Seeing the process first hand changes the way you look at and enjoy cigars- permanently.
Be it with a structured operator and itinerary or a trip of your own creation, Nicaragua has a great deal to offer in addition to cigars. Stops in historic Granada or San Juan del Sur (one of the world’s top surfing destinations) are a must for added days either before or after your cigar adventure!