The León Jimenes brand is handcrafted at the La Aurora factory, one of the premier cigar factories in the world—and the Dominican Republic's oldest. The family of president Guillermo León Herbert has been cultivating tobacco for six generations. His grandfather, Don Eduardo León Jimenes, was the founder of La Aurora Cigars, situated on the outskirts of Santiago. The León family started farming tobacco in the late 1880s, and in 1903 Don Eduardo began producing a traditional Dominican cigar—smooth, sweet, and mild—for sale to the public. Fernando León, Guillermo's father, is the master tabaquero who developed the León Jimenes line in the 1970s. Note the wonderful pre-light aroma and flawless construction. The light Connecticut shade wrapper cloaks a well-aged recipe of Cuban-seed Dominican long leaf tobaccos. Look for a satisfying draw and nice creamy cocoa flavor right off the bat. The ash holds strong and, with a good amount of rotating, the burn is even. Look for a citrus flavor mingled with cocoa flavors, a nutty finish and a sweet aftertaste. Try pairing this stogie, rated 90 by Cigar Aficionado, with your favorite India pale ale.
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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