Nick Perdomo: Cigars & Science
Estelí, Nicaragua, is home to some of the finest cigarmakers in the world. The ideal weather, enriched soil, and versatility of the region have led to it being considered the El Dorado of cigar tobacco. While many premium manufacturers are based in this area, it seems that one man in particular has truly mastered the science behind the craft. Nick Perdomo, founder and CEO of Tabacalera Perdomo, is one of the largest producers of premium cigars in the world, and is considered by many to be one of the most innovative minds in the industry. Nick has created high-end premium cigars in vast quantities while also ensuring that his products are of the utmost quality. He is able to accomplish this with an operations strategy that combines traditional methods with modern techniques and innovations.
I’ve personally been involved in this industry for about six years, and I thought I had a pretty solid understanding of the science involved with cultivating and mastering cigar tobacco; Nick Perdomo has taken the craft to an entirely different level. Upon visiting his fields and factories, I came to understand how complicated and involved the process is, and how it is a combination of several different scientific genres, all of which Perdomo incorporates into his production.
Starting from the selection of his farms, Nick makes sure his fields are rigorously tested before he makes a purchase and begins to plant. For the tobacco to be up to his standards, the soils need to have just the right amount of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. These elements are essential for growing strong, deep-rooted, and flavorful tobacco plants. He has engineered his own machines for sifting and filtering through the tobacco seeds in order to obtain the highest-quality plants, and he developed a system that works in concert with the natural dry and wet seasons of the area to ensure that his plants receive the perfect amount of water. However, his innovations in the fields are just the tip of the iceberg.
Nick’s factory, located on Perdomo Avenue in Estelí, is 88,000 square feet and nicknamed “El Monstro.” It is a thriving community unto itself and is almost completely self-reliant. This is not only the location for the processing and rolling of tobacco, but also the area where Perdomo crafts machine-made cigars, cuts and treats wood for the manufacturing of boxes, and even makes wood-based cellophane sleeves. Each one of these processes is performed with an intense amount of quality control to guarantee that the product is of the highest nature.
Before a blend is made, several taste-testing sessions occur with Nick and other high-ranking members of his company. They use coffee with milk, a natural palate cleanser, while tasting the different flavors in each variety of tobacco, and use their findings to create new blends. Even the science of physics is incorporated into the process during one of the most important quality-control steps: Each and every cigar rolled in that factory goes through a draw test during which it is placed on a machine that’s able to measure the draw of each cigar. If a cigar doesn’t pass this level, the roller must try again. While fanatical about cleanliness and quality control, Nick treats his employees very well and they, in turn, show fervent amount of loyalty.
I spent two whole days on this tour, and I feel as though I still haven’t even scratched the surface. The process of creating high-quality premium cigars involves both science and art, and takes a man possessing ingenuity and freethinking creativity. As a mathematical musician and an analytical author, Nick Perdomo is a combination of these qualities—the best of both worlds.