The Dominican Republic is famous not only for coffee, rum and fruit, but also for excellent cigars which are considered to be among the best in the world. Making cigars is a real art. We will explain the details of this process as well as how to choose the best Dominican cigars, where to buy them, and what they cost.
From time immemorial, the aborigines of Hispaniola were growing and using tobacco leaves. By the way, the word "tobacco" and the tradition of smoking itself were passed on to the Europeans from the "Dominican" Indian tribes who inhabited these territories long before the appearance of the Spanish colonizers.
Most often the Indians used tobacco leaves for ritual purposes: they burned them to fumigate rooms, thus banishing evil spirits. In addition they smoked tobacco in the usual sense of the word. Surely everyone has heard the expression "smoke a peace pipe". Having heard that, in the imagination immediately appears the image of Indians gathered around the fire and passing around the peace pipe.
One of the first Europeans to try tobacco was Christopher Columbus. It happened during one of his first trips. Columbus liked smoking a pipe and he brought back with him a few tobacco leaves and seeds to Europe. Thus the popularization of tobacco had begun in Europe. Because of this, the number of tobacco plantations on the island grew exponentially.
The Dominican Republic took a leading position in the production of cigars in the 20th century. After the revolutionary events in Cuba, the United States imposed an embargo on many Cuban goods including cigars. It made many Cuban producers move their production to the neighboring Dominican Republic. That is why, in the Dominican Republic, it is often possibleto find Cuban cigars, for example, Romeo and Juliet.
Read more: Coffee from the Dominican Republic
Tobacco plantations in the Dominican Republic are concentrated in the north of the country, in the mountains, as well as in the fertile Sibao valley, which provides optimal climatic conditions for the cultivation of tobacco plants As of now, three brands of tobacco are grown in the Dominican Republic:
Dominicans make cigars by hand, strictly observing the whole technology. First, the leaves are carefully collected, dried and sorted. Then they are placed in a special humidor where, at high humidity, the leaves acquire the necessary elasticity. In addition, each cigar consists of three types of tobacco leaves:
There is an opinion that the best cigar is the one that was rolled on the hips. It is doubtful that in modern factories the Dominican people use hips to roll cigars but the fact that everything is done by hand is a fact. It is also known that it is precisely women who are engaged in the process of sorting leaves as they are better able to distinguish the shades of leaves than men.
Cigars are rolled on a special table and wrapped in a binder sheet. Then the cigars are placed in a special form under the press. After this, the cigar is wrapped into a smooth and elastic cover sheet which gives it the final shape.
Sometimes these leaves can be flavored with vanilla, brandy, chocolate or some fruit juice if the manufacturer wants to give the cigar a special flavor. By the color of the wrapping paper, you can usually determine the strength of a cigar as well as the saturation of the fragrance. The lighter the cigar, the milder it is. The darker, the stronger
Sometimes these leaves can be flavored with vanilla, brandy, chocolate or some fruit juice if the manufacturer wants to give the cigar a special flavor. By the color of the wrapping paper, you can usually determine the strength of a cigar as well as the saturation of the fragrance. The lighter the cigar, the milder it is. The darker, the stronger.
Then the cigar is kept in a humidor - a special room with a certain level of humidity. Aging is needed to ensure that all layers of the cigar get the same moisture and balance properties.
Cigars differ in size and shape, as well as the duration of aging, which greatly affects the taste of the smoke. Most often, in the Dominican Republic, cigars are sold in the following forms:
Dominican cigars are sold everywhere: on the street, in supermarkets, in souvenir shops and, of course, in tobacco factories.
We do not recommend buying cigars on the street: There is a high risk of a fake, or a dubious product made from banana leaves and covered with beautiful packaging. Avoid such purchases, even if you are offered supposedly branded cigars at a good price
In supermarkets, real branded cigars are sold but the choice is usually very poor.
You can make a good choice of high quality cigars in souvenir shops or in stores at manufacturers’ factories. Here, the professional consultant will help you to make the right choice, tell and will even show the process of making cigars, as well as give you the chance to try one or more brands of cigars. In addition, in such stores, the conditions for storing cigars are always maintained which prevent what can be really called "capricious product". With any change in the humidity of the environment, the cigar quickly loses its properties.
The La Flor Dominicana cigar factory closest to Punta Cana is in the province of La Romana, an hour's drive from Bavaro..
Most of the Dominican tobacco factories are located in the province of Santiago, the capital of tobacco production. Let's name the most famous and popular brands:
The cigars of these producers are sold both individually and in sets - in special packages or humidors. If you are a completely new to the tobacco business, you can safely take any cigar of one of the abovementioned manufacturers that suits your taste. The product is guaranteed to be high quality.
The cost of cigars can vary greatly depending on the brand, form, features of production and aging. The average cost of 1 branded cigar of good quality is from 5 to 50 dollars. Premium cigars are more expensive since the process of their production is very long and laborious. For example, some brands of cigars are kept in the humidors for several years to get the perfect parameters of moisture and flavor.
True connoisseurs of cigars willingly spend several hundred dollars for a premium cigar. If you want to buy a cigar just as a souvenir, then the cigars of the average price category of one of the well-known manufacturers will work best for you.
Dominican Cigars are a great souvenir. Even reasonably priced cigars will surely please your smoking friends. It is curious that the Dominicans themselves are a non-smoking nation. At the same time, a significant part of the population is involved in the process of producing cigars. So, even if you are like the Dominicans and do not smoke, it's still worth visiting a tobacco factory and watching the fascinating manufacturing process of Dominican cigars.