Known for its extraordinary ecosystems, volcanoes, and tropical forests, Costa Rica has emerged over the last decade as a boutique grower of premium cigar leaf. While the country produces some premium filler and binder tobacco, dark and maduro wrapper leaf from Costa Rica is becoming a popular substitute for Brazilian, Mexican, and Broadleaf varietals.
While Honduras is home to its own variety of wild Nicotiana, Copaneco, it is also regarded as an ideal place to grow Cuban and Connecticut seed varietals for premium cigars. In the southeastern part of Honduras, just north of the Nicaraguan border, lies the most significant premium cigar tobacco producing region in the country; the town of Danli and the Jamastran Valley, both in the province of El Paraiso. These areas are the epicenter of cigar production as well as a primary growing region for the country’s best tobacco. Since the 1960s cigar makers have been likening the Jamastran Valley to Pinar Del Rio, and judging from the full-bodied tobacco they grow, there are many similarities. Today, Connecticut shade-grown and corojo shade-grown tobaccos are cultivated extensively throughout the region. In addition, Honduras also produces very large amounts of Cuban seed sun-grown filler tobaccos which are found in hundreds of brands today. Honduran premium cigar tobacco production is of high quality, dynamic, and consistently improving.
In the San Andres Valley, southeast of the port city of Veracruz, and nestled between volcanoes and a large lake, is the heart of Mexican cigar country. While some Mexican cigars have had a less than spectacular reputation, it belies the fact that many premium and famous brands use Mexican fillers and wrappers in their blends. Soil in the San Andres Valley is extraordinarily rich and produces a distinctive tasting tobacco. Until 1996, when tobacco import duties were dropped, Mexico produced primarily Puros, which consumers either loved or hated. Regardless of personal preference, Mexican tobaccos are distinctive and satisfy a special niche in the marketplace. The most famous of Mexican cigar tobaccos is San Andres Negro. Like Connecticut Broadleaf, San Andres Negro is Stalk-Cut and lends itself to binder and maduro wrapper production. This varietal is a tough leaf that can withstand the extra fermentation required to produce a maduro. Other varietals such as Mexican-Sumatra are also successfully grown in the San Andres Valley.
Since the 1960s, Nicaragua has had many political difficulties which have disrupted and inhibited cigar tobacco production. But, over the last decade it has proven itself capable of producing some of the most rich, spicy, aromatic, and complex tobacco in the world. In the northern part of the country, not far from the Honduran border, are the towns of Esteli and Condega. Esteli is home to the majority of Nicaraguan cigar production, but both towns are surrounded by volcanic soil and fertile land that produces lush fields of Cuban seed tobacco. Northeast of Esteli and Condega, lies the Jalapa Valley. Like so many locations in the world of cigars, Jalapa is remote and difficult to get to. But the land is fertile and produces tobacco of extraordinary quality. If the last decade is any indication of the potential for Nicaraguan cigar tobacco, then our palates have a lot to be excited for.