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

Virtuozity - - Event -

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.”

THE CIGARS

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.

THE FES­TI­VAL

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.”

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