Cigar lifestyleIn less than 20 years, Nicaragua has become the top producer of premium cigars in the world, beating out smokes from not only Honduras but the Dominican Republic as well.

Tobacco growers say the region’s rich black soil and perfect climate make for the best tobacco, along with a close connection to their Cuban cousins. Nicaragua traces its cigar history back to the 1950s, when some of the best Cuban seeds were brought to the region by some of the best Cuban farmers. They settled first in Nicaragua’s Estelí region, then expanded into the prized Jalapa Valley and beyond.

The last 50 years or so have led to a perfecting of tobacco cultivation in the country, which despite being only slightly larger than the state of New York, now is known worldwide for producing a full-bodied, rich tobacco that has shifted the views of tobacco purists throughout the industry.

To further cement their position as a tobacco powerhouse, Nicaragua is home to what is known affectionately known as Cigar University, a factory where Nicaraguan farmers continue to learn their craft, taking newfound knowledge home with them to their fields where lush green tobacco plants stretch toward the sun.

Growers operate in one of four different regions – and the tobaccos from each offer vastly different smoking experiences.

Estelí, the nation’s cigar-making capital, has rich soil that results in full-flavored, aromatic cigars with body that compares to a rich red wine. Jalapa, in northern Nicaragua, offers soil tinted copper by a predominance of red clay that produces smooth, rich tobacco with complexity in both aroma and taste.

Ometepe, a volcanic island in Lake Nicaragua (and the name of one of the tribes during the “Redemption Island” season of the reality show “Survivor”) offers rich volcanic soil that produces distinctive, completely unique tobacco with an earthy, sweet flavor, while in Condega, the tobacco is grown in rocky soil, which often results in richly-colored, oily leaves that are traditionally used as wrappers.

The nation’s political upheaval – including the fall of the Somoza dictatorship to the Sandinista National Liberation Front in the 1970s, leading to the redistribution of property under a socialist regime – did have a negative impact on Nicaragua’s tobacco industry for a time.

Spelling additional disaster for tobacco farmers, that political strife was followed by flood-worthy rainfall that caused the destruction of infrastructure and erosion of topsoil. But in the 1990s, when the socialist party left office, the tobacco and cigar industry rallied, and has been growing ever since.

Tobacco is big business beyond cigars, as well. Tobacco tourism makes up a good portion of the country’s entire tourism industry, which ranks as the second largest industry behind tobacco production.

And as attention grows, so has the reputation of the hearty, luxurious cigars from Nicaragua, often blended from tobaccos grown in several – or all four – of the nation’s agricultural regions.

Producers allow tobacco to age before rolling it, and many cigar varieties from this region are produced in smaller quantities in order to maintain a sense of quality control.

“If the last decade is any indication of the potential for Nicaraguan cigar tobacco, then our palates have a lot to be excited for,” say the experts at Tobacconist University.

Introducing Nicaraguan Bespoke Robusto

One of those cigars, the hand-crafted Nicaraguan Bespoke Robusto, is made from tobacco plants grown in both Nicaragua and Ecuador from seeds with a Cuban origin.

The cigar’s filler and tobacco are grown in Nicaragua, while the wrappers are from Ecuador, a country where tobacco is grown amid volcanoes and cloud cover.

Quality and construction make these distinctive cigars special. They offer rich, earthy flavors that honor the diverse soils, mountainous terrain and lush beauty of the regions where they are crafted and grown.

Spicy with pronounced flavors, these are cigars meant to pair with that perfect glass of whiskey, enjoyed at a leisurely pace that mirrors and echoes not only the tobacco’s aging process, but also the time spent crafting the premium offering.

A fat cigar that follows the trend over the past few years toward larger ring gauges, the thickness and length of the Nicaraguan Bespoke Robusto celebrates and enhances the tobacco’s deep, rich flavors, while offering a more generous weight and feel along with a smoother smoke that will last longer, enhancing the entire smoking experience.