Cohiba has a 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. 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. 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. Legendary brands often come with unrealistic expectations, but this one shouldn’t disappoint on any level.
The Cohiba Puro Dominicana is exactly what its namesake suggests – a 100% puro from the Dominican Republic. This zesty stogie consists of an oily, super toothy, natural Dominican Habano wrapper, a Dominican binder, and a robust blend of Dominican long-fillers. But this stogie isn’t done yet; to maximize the flavors, each tobacco leaf is patiently aged ‘en tercio’ (an airtight bale of tightly wrapped palm leaves) within charcoaled wooden barrels to give the cigar a distinctive oaky flavor. Once constructed, this medium to full-bodied stogie is then additionally aged which allows all the unique flavors to meld together. The result is a powerful yet refined mix of chewy leather and spice. Flavorful to the nub, try it with a dark rum.
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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