If you enjoy a cigar, you know that some of the best come from Nicaragua in Central America. The capital of Nicaragua’s cigar industry is a northern region called Esteli. It is the home of Tabacalera Perdomo which grows its tobacco in the nutritious volcanic soil unique to the valleys of Esteli. The unique soil and climate of this spot on Earth make it ideal for the tobacco with the distinct flavors of these valley areas.
After Fidel Castro came to power in Cuba in the 1950s, the tobacco industry was seized by the Communist dictatorship. As you know, an American trade embargo on Cuba stopped the flow of goods between the United States and the Castro dictatorship. Many in the tobacco industry fled the island nation, taking their tobacco-growing expertise and seeds with them. Nicaragua’s warm, predictable weather patterns made it ideal for tobacco growers and resulted in over 50 brands being produced there, some tracing their history to Cuba.
Nick Perdomo Sr. grew up in the toabacco fields of Cuba. Like many, he was a target of the Castro regime, as was his father Silvio who was arrested and cruelly mistreated (http://perdomocigars.com/about.html). Nick Sr. eventually escaped Castro’s Cuba and fled to freedom in America. His son, Nick Jr. was born in the United States and served in the U.S. Navy, then worked as an Air Traffic Controller. Nick Jr. decided to leave that career and follow in the footsteps of his father and grandfather as a cigar maker. What began as a side-job out of his garage is now a business with over 2000 employees including the massive Tabacalera Perdomo operation in Esteli. As promised at the outset of our tour, “once you see this, smoking a cigar will never be the same again.” And it’s not! Making these cigars – as well as the boxes they come in – is the work of thousands of hands and the vision and planning of artists who organize and execute production that results in some of the finest cigars in the world.
The tour offered an education on Growing (seeds, green-houses, transplanted to fields); Pre-Industry (curing barns, fermentation, selecting, sorting, baling); Production (making the cigars, draw-testing); Box Factory; Aging Rooms; and Packaging.
Over the coming weeks we’ll share some pictures and videos of how much goes into every Perdomo Cigar on the menu at Smoke Rings or in the humidor at the Cigar Box stores! Here’s a quick video overview of the Production Room – notice the size of the operation, the teams of cigar makers, and the level of activity in rolling the filler, binder and wrapper into a finished cigar (https://youtu.be/a9nTJO5tDco).