In 2008—just when reasonably-priced quality handmade cigars were going the way of the dodo bird and beehive hairdo—Pioneer Valley Cigars debuted. This mild-bodied stick is made in Nicaragua. It’s named to celebrate its Connecticut Shade wrapper, grown in Pioneer Valley which, since the mid-nineteenth century, has been famed for producing the finest tobacco available for cigar wrappers. The Connecticut River Valley runs from Middletown, Connecticut, north to the Massachusetts/Vermont border. Pioneer Valley happens to be in Massachusetts’s, dead center in that valley. Beneath this silky, natural, gorgeous leaf is a hand-selected Connecticut Valley Broadleaf binder and a blend of mellow, well-aged Cuban-seed long-fillers from the Dominican Republic. Look for an even burn, salt/pepper ash, a creamy core of toast and cedar, and crisp tobacco notes. Rest this puppy in your humidor for a month and you’ll get a nutty, spicy, more complex stick. A witbier complements this cigar beautifully.
The Nicaraguan cigar industry originated when Cuban cigar makers escaped the revolution and re-established their livelihood in Nicaragua with Cuban-seed tobacco. Blessed with dark, rich soil, their new home was ideal for tobacco cultivation and Nicaragua quickly became known for cigars that rivaled Cuban quality. Unfortunately, revolution and war came to Nicaragua in the 1980s and devastated the industry, but it’s rebounded dramatically and is once again producing tobacco considered by many to be the finest in the world.
The Esteli Valley is in many ways the heart of Nicaraguan production and is known for its very powerful and spicy tobacco. The Jalapa Valley produces arguably the finest tobacco in the country: somewhat sweeter and less intense than Esteli, but extremely complex. The tobacco of the Condega Valley is often described as a blend of the other two regions.
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