How often do you get the chance to travel to an exotic location where the spectacular scenery and dramatic natural features provide you with an indulgence that can be savored and enjoyed for many years to come? To celebrate the launch of my company – Richard Crawford Luxury – I am giving away a trip of a lifetime. One winner and their guest will have the opportunity to join me in the land of lakes and volcanoes as we experience a Drew Estate Cigar Safari in Nicaragua. RichardCrawfordLuxury.com to enter, and read on to see what the winner will enjoy.
Ask the average guy on the street where to source the finest tobacco for cigars and you will most certainly get “Cuba” as an answer, but ask a couple of people who work in the cigar business and you may be surprised to find out that Nicaraguan tobacco leaf is regarded as the one of the best cigar smoking leafs in the industry.
Perched over lush tobacco fields in the central highland region of Nicaragua is a town called Estili. This is home to Drew Estate Cigars, one of the most innovative, courageous and perhaps even revolutionary producers of premium cigars in the world. I was recently invited to participate in one of their Cigar Safaris where they take cigar enthusiasts on an in-depth, hands on tour of their facility and highlight the evolution of the cigar from seed to smoke.
Before we start our extensive education on the actual production process, Drew Estate takes us on an exploration of Nicaragua’s natural beauties and cultural heritage. We get a sense of what Nicaragua is all about and how the combination of its magnificent landscape and traditional customs are the true starting point of its tobacco. The breathtaking active volcanoes which millennium ago produced the rich fertile soils and the rivers and lakes that swell due to the abundance of precipitation during the rainy season, are the real genesis of the tobacco leaf.
Our education begins in the field. Jonathan Drew, founder of Drew Estate explains the intricacies of the tobacco plant and how different parts of the plant produce varying properties of leafs which are used in producing premium cigars.
Once the leaf is chosen and harvested it is taken into huts to cure. During this process, the leaf is strung from narrow planks of wood known as laths to dry. The bright green leaf changes to a yellowish brown color and the tobacco begins to pick up distinct aromas.
The next step in the process is fermentation. The leaf is sorted by size and color and is tied into bundles of about 10-15 leaves each. The bundles are packed into boxes known as hogsheads and are left to ferment from six months to five years, depending on what the manufacturer needs. It is during fermentation that the tobacco develops its tastes and aromas.
After fermentation the leaves are taken to the stripper. I have to admit; I did get a little excited when I was told I was going to a room full of strippers. In this part of the process the main vein is removed from the leaf so that the cigar will burn evenly. This can be done mechanically but at Drew Estate everything is done entirely by hand.
The cigars are now ready to be hand rolled. Every employee at Drew Estate is highly skilled in the art of rolling and wrapping cigars. One of the unique aspects of Drew Estate is that their rollers work in teams of two – typically one male packs the filler and rolls the binder and one female performs the highly skilled job of rolling the wrapper and completing the cigar.
The final and most important stage of production at Drew Estate is quality control, and this shows in the final product.
The tour culminates in a classroom setting where guests get to choose several types of tobacco to include in our own style of cigar. The combination of tobacco is taken to the roller and at the end of our tour we are presented with our very own blend of cigars.
As with most good things in life, a little insight into the craft and the people involved in producing cigars goes a long a way to enhancing our enjoyment of them. My visit to Nicaragua has ensured that that every cigar I smoke from now on will let that feeling of satisfaction linger for just a few seconds more.
I’m confident that if you get the opportunity to join me on this trip of a lifetime, you will be forever appreciative of the finest things in life.
Author: Richard Crawford
About Richard Crawford: Crawford has a passion for living the good life. He believes luxury brands are part of a culturally rich experience, and he aspires to share the stories of heritage and the unique artistry that define them to his audience. After all, a brand’s story is its biggest asset. For additional information, visit RichardCrawfordLuxury.com and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.