Delve into the history of Nicaragua
THE SIXTH EDITION OF THE PURO SABOR FESTIVAL DEL TABACO GAVE GUESTS THE CHANCE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT NICARAGUA’S CIGAR INDUSTRY
FOR THE SIXTH YEAR running cigar enthusiasts from all over the world descended on Nicaragua for the popular Puro Sabor Festival del Tabaco, an event which celebrates the rich history of cigars in the Central American nation. Held between January 16-21 and organised by the Nicaraguan Tobacco Chamber (CNT), around 200 guests were able to learn more about the history of the country, the art of cultivating tobacco and the numerous cigars manufactured in Nicaragua.
For the first time those attending the festival were taken to two new destinations, the city of Granada which is well known for its colonial nostalgia, and Masaya which is largely considered the cradle of Nicaraguan folklore. The cigar connoisseurs were also treated to a series of cultural events, plantation visits, panel discussions, as well as tastings and pairings.
“The Puro Sabor Festival was a way of thanking our clients, distributors, friends and enthusiasts for opting for the taste, aroma and quality of Nicaraguan-made cigars,” explained Juan Ignacio Martínez, president of the CNT. “But we also showed them our culture, music, traditions and history, with typical Nicaraguan enthusiasm and warmth.”
Throughout the six-day event there was plenty to entertain the guests, with one highlight being dinner at La Pólvora Fortress, a medieval-style building that was an important part of the defences of the Province of Nicaragua before the country’s independence.
There were two days dedicated solely to visiting and learning more about plantations, curing barns and factories belonging to CNT members, while there was the opportunity to enjoy special “cigar
moments” while tasting some of the world’s best cigars.
Participants at the festival were also able to delight their senses with the traditional pairing of coffee and cigars. Also on the agenda was a panel discussion with tobacco industry experts on tobacco pre-industry and fermentation specifications, the packaging process and products, and the market trends for tobacco and cigars.
Another memorable addition to this year’s festival was the traditional “White Party” which was held at the stunning Estelí’s Plaza Domingo Gadea. The high point of the celebrations came when guests were able to enjoy traditional Nicaraguan music and food dressed in the official Puro Sabor white guayabera shirt.
“The sixth edition of the Puro Sabor festival has consolidated its position as one of the world’s best cigar festivals, not only thanks to the quality of the cigars but the quality of the services in our country,” added Martinez. “Most important it has allowed us to strengthen our ties between our members inside our industry and become a stronger collective than before, allowing us to communicate and work
“The countries main cigar factories were willing to open their doors to their knowledgeable guests.”
together for the improvement of the conditions in our sector and to protect the well-being of our workers and our companies.”
With Nicaragua having established itself as one of the world’s main tobacco and cigar producing countries over the last decade, ultimately the festival was out to showcase the world’s finest cigars.
Upon arriving in the country, each guest was presented with a box of 32 cigars which included an array of well-known Nicaraguan brands – some of which were created especially for the event and boasted a unique Paro Sabor footband.
On offer was the Padron Family Reserve 45 Years, a limited production cigar from Padron which comes in a Maduro and Natural wrappers and is made with tobacco aged for 10 years. Box-pressed and full bodied, the Family Reserve is firmly constructed and offers a subtle pre-light aroma that is also a little sweet.
Also robust, balanced and strong, the 45 will produce copious amounts of thick smoke that is tinged both blue and grey, showing the quality of the tobacco used in producing this cigar. Renowned for burning evenly and maintaining its flavour all the way to the nub, it has been a firm favourite ever since it launched in 2009. A re-blended version of the Padrón Family Reserve, Jorge Padron famously quipped that he had smoked 1,000 cigars in order to deliver the perfect balance and flavour that went into the 45.
Also available was the Joya de Nicaragua Cuatro which was created as a special offering to celebrate the brands 45th anniversary. A masterful creation the Cuatro contains a selection of specially cured fillers
that were aged in white oak barrels for over a year, a rare volado Dominican leaf binder, and a silky shade-grown Habano wrapper from the legendary Jalapa Valley.
Unlike the 45, it is medium bodied in strength but it still brimming with character and presents an array of flavours that include wood, pepper, oak and a creamy finish. Light-box pressed and impressively constructed, you can expect an even burn and a perfect draw. You will also find a rather sweet tobacco aroma that helps soothe the sense.
The Drew Estate Liga Privada No. 9 was also provided, a product that was initially blended to be the exclusive cigar for the company president. However, the company soon realised this was too good not to produce and the premium blend was soon a favourite among cigar aficionados. Even the presentation has been heralded, with the No. 9 featuring a jet-black oscuro leaf that’s toothy and has a smooth sheen. On the band you will find the lion logo and a script font with the simple Liga Privada No. 9 on it which appears almost handwritten.
Underneath you find aged long-fillers from seven different farms unite and the extra year’s worth of aging helps it take on a rich, meaty flavour which hits notes of coffee and chocolate. By the halfway mark the much of the spice disappears and you are left with hints of orange peel that leave you with sweetness on the lips.
Guests were also treated to the Enclave by AJ Fernandez that features a blend that simply demands attention. Famous for
its band, that became an instant classic, this cigar perfectly demonstrates the best Nicaragua has to offer. Boasting delicate notes of cider, cinnamon and sweet spices, it maintains the perfect balance and flavour right down to the nub.
The use of Cameroon binder provides the sweetness in the first third, while during the second you will begin to taste vanilla and the pepper. But it is in the final third that the pepper takes over the sweetness, giving it an earthy flavour that lasts long on the palette. With a razor-thin combustion line you receive a straight burn that will mean the Enclave remains lit from first light to last puff.
This year those attending the festival were – for the first time – given the chance to explore the beauty of Granada. There was a trip around the islets, which resulted form the last recorded eruption of Mombacho Volcano in 1570, and the opportunity to discover the Nature Reserve around the volcano. While in the city there was the opportunity to explore the Mombacho Cigar Factory and La Pólvora Fortress, one of the oldest and best preserved buildings in the city. Built in 1748 it is an important part of the city’s colonial history, having stored gunpowder due to the fact if was the main point of defence against pirates.
On the third day of the festival guests were handed the chance to meet the Plasencia family, who have produced the first cigar consisting of 100 per cent organic tobacco leaves. Then it was on to Estelí to visit numerous cigar factories – including the Joya de Nicaragua which was the first fully-owned factory in the country to manufacture handmade premium cigars.
Throughout the week the countries main cigar factories were willing to open their doors to their knowledgeable guests, as was the La Estrella plantation, which belongs to the García family, whose members have channelled all of their efforts and passion into tobacco and build one of the industry’s most recognized companies: My Father Cigars. There was also the opportunity to spend time in the tobacco curing barns that belong to the Padrón family and sample the many flavourful dishes that come from Nicaragua’s Pacific and northern regions.
A chance to delve into the business of cigar manufacturing was also provided to the guests in the form of a panel discussion from experts in various fields. President of the Nicaraguan Tobacco Chamber, Juan Ignacio Martínez, was on hand to discuss the current state of the tobacco industry and cigar manufacturing in Nicaragua, while Pedro Balgañón spoke on the evolution of packaging products.
All told the sixth year of the Puro Sabor Festival del Tabaco was a huge success and once again highlighted why Nicaragua is fast becoming a haven for cigar lovers around the world.
“The Drew Estate Liga Privada No. 9 was also provided, a product that was initially blended to be the exclusive cigar for the company president.”