Nicaraguan Cigar Festival Day 3
As the sun rose on Day 3, it was time for us to bid farewell to Managua and head 90 miles north to Estelí, the cigar capital of the world. It was an epic journey along the Pan-American Highway, a stretch of road that connects the southern tip of Central America to Canada. We stopped for a quick break and another Cigar Moment, this time courtesy of Roma Craft, before continuing our journey.
Before long, we arrived at the Tavicusa, the tobacco farm responsible for all of the Rocky Patels, including our private-label Rocky Patel Fire. We were welcomed into one of the curing barns, where a magnificent lunch was ready for us. As we enjoyed our next Cigar Moment—a Rocky Patel Royale—the aroma of the fresh tobacco hanging right above our heads overtook the smell of our smoke. For a cigar smoker, there is nothing like it in the world.
We then boarded the bus and headed to our first factory, N.A.C.S.A., which stands for Nicaraguan American Cigars S.A. While this name may be unfamiliar to a few of you, N.A.C.S.A. is responsible for over 30% of all cigars exported from Nicaragua, including national brands such as Christian Eiroa’s Asylum as well as some of JR’s own finest private labels and bundles like the La Finca Ammo Box, Easy Eddie’s, Boneshaker, and several of our JR Alternatives.
The tour took us from the bales of tobacco to the fermenting, bunching, and rolling stages, and finally to the box stage. Along the way we ran into Christian Eiroa, who told us how happy he has been with N.A.C.S.A.’s performance with his Asylum brand. It was a brilliant tour that gave us insight to a factory that doesn’t have the glamour of Drew Estate or the size of Perdomo, but does have a true passion for its work.
Next, it was back to the hotel to shower and change into our official Puro Sabor guayaberas to attend the annual White Party, a gathering of the Festival’s manufacturers and guests, all donning their signature white shirts. The Cigar Girls were there yet again to hand out two special Cigar Moments, a Pepín García Blue Label and a Drew Estate Liga Privada No. 9.
Here I had the opportunity to talk to some of the biggest names in the industry including Pete Johnson, Christian Eiroa, and Willy Herrera. I even had “George,” a member of my group, translate for me as I talked to Pepín García about his recent number-one rating in Cigar Aficionado. We were treated to some spectacular music and native dance routines, followed by a very funny duet with Pepín García and a member of the Plasencia team. The White Party, up to that point, was the highlight of my trip. However, we still had one more day ahead of us…