The proprietor of one of the world's largest cigars factories, Nestor Plasencia's road to success has been anything but smooth sailing. Like most Cuban exiles of the mid 1960s era, Nestor has sharp, bitter memories of the island's post-Revolution period. The Plasencia family had two large fincas dedicated to growing wrapper leaf in Cuba when, on October 3, 1962, at 6 am, they were confiscated by the Castro government. It took nearly three years to get permission to leave the country, and when they finally did, they were allowed to take only a few dollars and two changes of clothes. When the family arrived in Nicaragua, they had nothing except the reputation of Sixto Plasencia, Nestor's father, to rely upon. After rebuilding the business over a decade, the Sandinistas expropriated their properties in 1979, of which included 1,000 acres of prime agricultural land. The 1980s put a stop to the Nicaraguan tobacco and cigar industries because there was blue mold in the fields, the U.S. imposed an embargo on the Sandinistas and the government was expropriating everything they could get their hands on anyway, so Nestor rebuilt his business once more, this time based in Honduras. Now, the 63-year-old Plasencia owns cigar operations that span two countries, with more than 4,500 employees producing 33 million premium hand-rolled cigars a year, all rolled from Cuban-seed tobacco. One of Plasencia's operations includes the El Paraiso factory, a small warehouse near the Nicaraguan border which was opened in 1994 to attract local workers that could not be persuaded to make the 12 mile trip to another nearby factory in Danli. The El Paraiso factory is home to 70 employees, all of which are either bunchers or rollers that work in one large room. The Plasencia factories produce a number of varied cigar brands including, but not limited to, V Centennial, Thomas Hinds, La Finca, Mocha, La Maya and Don Juan.
The Plasencia Reserva 1898 is hailed as one of best of Nestor’s creations as he used only the finest, smallest allotments of tobacco, all of which has been carefully aged and fermented. Inside, this gem has five-year-aged long-fillers from Honduras and Nicaragua secured by a Nicaraguan binder. This blend is then cloaked with a feisty and oily Nicaraguan Corojo wrapper from the famous Jalapa Valley. Ultra smooth, this medium bodied smoke will greet you with flavors of deep cedar, leather, and roasted nuts with a toasty core. The Reserva 1898 will pair well with an American IPA.
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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