El Artista is a cigar manufacturer in Tamboril, Dominican Republic known for producing a variety of eclectic boutique offerings as well as a dedication to farming and blending only the best tobaccos. Buffalo TEN is one of their newest offerings, an attractively box-pressed cigar offering a tremendous level of quality for the price. The rare and well-aged tobaccos which make up the blend would be expected in a cigar triple the price, but as El Artista puts it, ‘We make cigars, not money’. Well, hopefully they can make both because we want them to stick around and continue offering this insane value.
Buffalo TEN’s blend starts with a mix of tobaccos from the US, Colombia, and Nicaragua, along with an exclusive Dominican leaf known as T-13, which El Artista has aged in excess of seven years. A rare Dominican Negrito binder leaf holds it together, and then it is topped off by a rich and toothy Mexican San Andrés wrapper and given a soft box-press. The result is a well-constructed, medium-bodied smoke filled with notes of leather, cedar, cocoa, exotic spices, toastiness, and some floral sweetness. Enjoy this stogie with a nice Kentucky straight whiskey, like Buffalo Trace.
Though tobacco is indigenous to Hispaniola, the tobacco industry in the Dominican Republic existed in the shadow of Cuba’s dominance through the 1960s. When the exodus of Cuban cigar makers began in the wake of the revolution, many decided the Dominican Republic would be ideal for the resumption of their livelihoods. Unrest in Nicaragua in the 1980s fueled the Dominican cigar industry further. The country now makes more than half of the premium cigars imported into the U.S.
The Cibao Valley and the nearby city of Santiago are the center of cigar production in the Dominican Republic. Three main varieties are grown here: the mild and native Olor Dominicano; the intense Piloto Cubano, brought from the Vuelta Abajo of Cuba; and San Vicente, a milder and more acidic Piloto hybrid. Dominican puros were once unheard of as it was widely thought impossible to grow quality wrapper leaf on the island, but new growing techniques are now allowing some exceptional puros to be produced.
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