A Nicaraguan Journey
Over the last several years, the popularity of Nicaraguan tobacco has risen dramatically, in part due to the country’s soil, which is similar to that of Cuba’s Vuelta Abajo district. Because of this, Nicaragua has been labeled the “new Cuba,” at least in some cigar-smoking circles. In many ways, however, Nicaragua now exceeds Cuba thanks to the consistency of rich and earthy undertones present in the medium- to full-bodied smokes that feature the country’s tobacco. The following five cigars are among our favorites for showcasing the merits of Nicaragua’s fertile soil.
To celebrate the 10th anniversary of his company in 2013, Don Jose “Pepin” Garcia released a slightly cranked-up version of his original Blue Label blend. Available in only one size—a 6½ × 52 toro—it features a vintage Nicaraguan binder and filler and a vintage Ecuadoran Habano rasado-oscuro wrapper. This is a muscular cigar, bench-pressing to the max yet smokable down to its ultrawide band. Only 2,500 individually numbered boxes of 14 cigars each are available worldwide. Fortunately, most are reserved for the United States. ($29.05 each/$308 per box)
The culebra is a twisted, three-cigar style that originated in 19th-century Cuba. It is extremely labor intensive and can only be fashioned when the cigars are wet, so that they can be intertwined without cracking the wrapper. The filler blend is the same in all three of the 5¾ × 39 petite lanceros, but the wrapper of each is different: a Cuban-seed Criollo 98, a shade-grown Connecticut, and a Cuban-seed oscuro, allowing smokers to discover how dramatically the wrapper affects flavor. Yes, you take these cigars apart and smoke each separately. ($24 each/$72 for a box of three)
The year 2013 marked the 10th anniversary of Tatuaje, a highly respected brand started by Pete Johnson and made by Don Jose “Pepin” Garcia. In celebration, Johnson introduced two cigars from the My Father Cigars factory, the 5⅜ × 52 Bon Chasseur and the 5⅜ × 48 Belle Encre perfecto with a clipped foot, our uncontested favorite for a full-flavored smoke in a deceptively small package. ($10)
This solid, medium- to full-bodied smoke delivers smooth walnut notes and is available in three sizes—salomone, toro, and robusto—each of which boast a Nicaraguan filler, binder, and Corojo wrapper. Kumar, the cigar’s creator, constructs each of its products around the brand’s tag line “the infinite flavor,” and considering the savory characteristics of this smoke, which linger long after the final puff of the robusto, it seems there is evident truth to that claim. ($8 to $13, depending on the size)
Light in body but heavy on flavor, the HHB 56 is a silky smoke from start to finish. Nicaraguan tobacco is used in the binder and filler, then handsomely wrapped in Ecuadoran-grown Connecticut Shade leaf with a closed foot and a pigtail cap. Such exquisite construction produces a cigar that burns evenly all the way through. A black-lacquered, gold-embossed Spanish-cedar box elegantly stores 10 of these smokes. ($12.60 each/$126 for a box of 10)