Anyone who knows anything about cigars probably knows about Cohiba and has probably had one or two, as Cohiba has a long and rich history in the cigar industry. Developed in 1968, Cohiba quickly became the flagship brand of the Cuban cigar industry. Quite a few myths surround the brand, including one that relates directly to its name which was said to be the aboriginal Taino Indian word for "tobacco," but is now understood to have meant "cigar." The truth about Cohiba's origin is offered by Emilia Tamayo, the Director at El Laguito, Cuba’s most exclusive cigar factory. This charming woman confirms that it all began in the mid-1960s when one of President Fidel Castro's bodyguards enjoyed a private supply of cigars from a local roller, Eduardo Rivera. They so pleased the president that Rivera was asked to make the blend exclusively for Castro. He worked under strict security in an Italianate mansion in the Havana suburb of El Laguito. Developed initially as a medium-bodied protocol cigar for presentation only by officials of the Cuban government, in 1982 Castro decided to release his Cohiba Red Dots (as they’re usually called) to the public. Thankfully, many cigar manufacturers fled to other countries to avoid the suppressive Cuban government and now both Cuban and non-Cuban varieties of the same cigar brand exist. The Cohiba brand is also produced in the Dominican Republic by two separate manufacturers: General Cigar, who owns the trademark for the name in the U.S., and by Monecristi de Tabacos, who holds trademark for Cohiba in the Dominican Republic.
A part of the Modern Luxury line, the Macassar gets it name from the rich and rare ebony Indonesian wood of the same name. This stunning smoke starts with a Connecticut habano wrapper leaf that is grown in a ‘microclimate’ in Northeast Connecticut. According to some of their press releases, this particular microclimate helps produce a richer and more flavorful tobacco in exchange for a lower yielding plant. Underneath the wrapper is a Connecticut Broadleaf binder and a bold mixture of Nicaraguan and Dominican long-fillers. As if that weren’t enough, both the binder and the long-fillers are aged for a total of six years, and some of that time in rum barrels. Rolled to pure perfection, once lit you will find gobs of flavors including wood and black pepper with a creamy and earthy core. Medium to full-bodied, this smoke will pair wonderfully with a Scotch or Bourbon.
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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