The Felipe Gregorio line of cigars is beloved the world over. Founder Philip Wynne was born and raised in Switzerland. After graduating from college and working a number of years in the Middle East selling helicopters, he decided to start his own cigar business in 1988. Because he grew up in Europe where Cuban cigars were legal, when he decided to get into the cigar business, the haunting flavors of all the Cuban cigars smoked in his youth were still vivid on his palate. He wanted to produce cigars similar to the many Cuban brands he grew up with; in other words, strong. Made in the Dominican Republic, the Felipe Dominicana series was the first Felipe Gregorio cigar made outside of his Nicaraguan factories. The Felipe Dominicana starts with a silky and golden brown natural wrapper leaf, has a Nicaraguan binder, and is packed with mellow Nicaraguan long-fillers then aged to perfection. On the palate, expect creamy flavors of tobacco, cedar, and pepper with a clean finish. Its sharp burn and excellent construction should be best enjoyed with a wheat beer.
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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