Updated: Jan 25
Cigars are one of the Dominican Republic’s primary craftsmanship products and are world-renowned for their wide variety of flavors from bold to earthy and creamy sweetness. The country is home to some of the most prestigious cigar brands, and cigar aficionados prize Dominican cigars for their unparallelled construction and distinctive flavor unique among other cigars of the world.
The Dominican Republic and cigars
Today, the Dominican Republic is considered the world's leader in premium, long-filler cigar production. But the history of cigars in the Dominican Republic is not recent; in fact, it started centuries ago, even before the Spanish conquest.
After the Cuban Revolution in 1959, all cigar companies on the island were nationalized, and the United States embargo banned the importation of Cuban cigars. This opened the gates to the Caribbean market and many family-owned Cuban cigar factory owners moved from Cuba to the Dominican Republic to share their know-how and reestablish their businesses. The oldest-running Dominican brand is La Aurora, which started in the early 20th century.
According to Statista, tobacco production in the country surpasses 740 Million Dollars per year.
Tobacco is grown in many different Dominican provinces. Although production is predominantly based in the northern region, the entire country has exceptionally fertile soil and an ideal tobacco-growing climate. As a result of this perfect marriage between soil and climate, Dominican tobacco is renowned for its flavor, combustibility, elasticity, aroma, color, and texture. It also contains an ideal balance of nicotine and oils, making it one of the best cigar manufacturers in the world.
Some of the most iconic cigars crafted in the Dominican Republic are Arturo Fuente, Ashton, La Flor Dominicana, Davidoff, Macanudo, Montecristo, PDR, La Galera, VegaFina, Romeo y Julieta, La Habanera, Chateau Diadem, Quesada, to name a few.
Dominican Cigar Manufacturing Process
Aside from the climate and soil, craftsmanship and fermentation techniques are quintessential to the success of these hand-rolled cigars. The process involved in making one cigar is long and complex involving over 120 manipulations and months of patience and hand labor. Chateau Diadem’s founder walked us through the process that we will briefly explain to you next.
Once the tobacco field is harvested, a process that usually takes around a month to complete, the leaves are tied together at their base and hung to dry by different categories or layers of the stalk. We explain this thoroughly in our article on the anatomy of cigars.
The leaves are hung and closely monitored in “la casa del tabaco,” for around 6 weeks, allowing an even progression in colors from green to yellow, and yellow to brown.
After the curing, the leaves are sorted by color and size before being paired by 5-10 and positioned in a “pilon” or for the first fermentation. This natural process occurs as the tobacco leaves heat up under the pressure of their own weight and is crucial to the organoleptic development of a cigar's aromas. The process in itself is a true art form and is when large amounts of ammonia are released into the air, purifying the cigar, and giving way to its true essence. Throughout the month, the temperature is monitored and controlled regularly with a thermometer inserted in the middle of the pile of leaves; when the temperature reaches around 35°C, which takes around 45 days, it's time to turn the leaves around.
Once again, the leaves are shaken ten by ten and positioned in a second “pilon.” This process is done by hand, and it takes a tremendous amount of time and human force. The leaves fermenting in the center of the pilon will now be positioned in the outer part of it and vice-versa, so as to ensure every part of the leaf can undergo the same process.
The next step is to remove the center vein of the leaves cutting the stem at two-thirds from the leaf before being classified again and set to further dry.
Once the leaves are dry, around two years have passed from seed to this point.
Now the cleaning phase. The specialists spray them with water steam and clean them up.
The chef of la Galera now will select the leaves for each part of the cigar: wrapper, binder, and filler. Learn more about the types of tobacco used in the cigar industry.
Once the selection is made, the roller professionals arrive and work in pairs of two. The ‘bonchero’ is specialized in liaising the chosen filler into tubular shafts and wrapping them with a binder leaf, before pressing them into molds and placing them under pressure.
The wrapper expert then takes over and through his dexterous fingers wraps the binder with one delicate leaf that must be silky smooth and void of any imperfections.
Once the cigars are rolled, they will rest for at least six months allowing the flavors to combine and mature together.
They will finally be placed in individual vegetable cellophane allowing the cigar to breathe after being boxed for transport.
Since the Cuban revolution in the 50s, the Dominican Republic has emerged as the premium cigar powerhouse it is today. Cigar lovers and newcomers know that the Dominican Republic is the place to be when it comes to cigars!
The Dominican Republic not only boasts a perfect climate and soil but the Dominicans have their own savoir-faire that has been passed down from generation to generation over the centuries, allowing us to enjoy the perfect premium Dominican cigar that took almost three years to produce.
EP Carrillo premium cigar was crowned cigar of the year for the third year in a row, according to Cigar Aficionado.
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