Posted by Sam Brammer on 29th Mar 2023
Have you ever dreamt of embarking on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the heart of New World Cigars? Well, that dream came true for me a couple of weeks ago, as my father and I were invited to Nicaragua by Tor Imports for the #tortour2023. Tor Imports are the leading UK importers of New World cigars, boasts an impressive portfolio of brands such as Drew Estate, Padron, Charatan, Joya De Nicaragua, and many more.
We kicked off our journey with a quick pit stop in Managua for a cigar, where I had the pleasure of trying the AJ Fernandez Dorado for the first time. The cigar was nothing short of fantastic, providing a smooth and balanced smoking experience. As a bonus, we engaged in a fun cigar trivia quiz, and I was lucky enough to win a Les Fines Lames Cigar Punch bracelet, an ideal tool for getting a cutter through airport security. After a brief plan of the trip given to us by the world-famous Ricardo Carioni and Scott Vines of Tor Imports, we all jumped aboard the minibus, where unlike the UK, we were allowed to smoke plenty of cigars and drink copious amounts of beer.
We headed up to Estelli, the heart of the Nicaraguan cigar industry, where our first stop was a local primary school to present them with a cheque for funds kindly raised by the UK cigar industry. Afterward, we visited the most authentic factory in Nicaragua, Joya De Nicaragua, where Juan Martinez welcomed us and gave us a tour of the factory while sharing its rich history. I was lucky enough to smoke quite a few different Joyas, including the Quatro Cinco, Clasico, and my favourite of the line up, the Numero Uno, an absolutely fantastic cigar. Later in the day, we tested many different components of cigars and created our blend, which would be rolled for us later in the week. I cannot wait to smoke mine in a few months' time. The Joya factory was traditional, and it looked after its employees phenomenally. Dubbed as the cigar university of Nicaragua, the factory has produced many top rollers who learned their skills here.
Day 2 of our Nicaraguan journey led us to the AJ Fernandez factory and farms. The sight of endless acres of tobacco plants, dotted with numerous curing barns, was truly breath-taking. It was here that we met the legendary A J Fernandez, who shared with us his vast knowledge of farming and tobacco. His passion for his Cuban heritage and love for his products was evident as he walked us through the colossal setup of his factory. We were treated to a traditional Cuban feast at AJ’s ranch, located on the El Dorado farm.
On Day 3, our next stop was the Oliva factory, a personal favourite for many of us. The Series O Robusto and the Series V Melanio Range are just two of their outstanding products. The factory itself felt like a tech hub in Silicon Valley, with its spotless and precise operations. Oliva's focus on knowledge and attention to detail was apparent, as they strive to perfect their products every time. We even had a chance to try our hand at rolling our own cigars, but quickly learned that it's not as easy as it seems.
On Day 4 of our journey, we had the pleasure of meeting the larger-than-life character, Nick Perdomo. As a serial entrepreneur and cigar genius, he captivated our attention with his vast knowledge and entertaining personality. Nick's family has been in the tobacco business for decades, originating from Cuba. He has adapted and improved upon their knowledge, building a vast business in Nicaragua.
We expect to see the Perdomo brand continue to grow and expand in the UK, thanks to its exceptional quality and taste. In particular, the Perdomo Connecticut cigar stood out as a real gem. When we saw the level of thought and skill that went into every stage of the process, from seed to finish, it was easy to see why. One of the highlights of our journey was visiting the incredible farm located in the crater of an old volcano. The soil there is truly remarkable, and we had never seen tobacco plants quite like this.
Our journey concluded on Day 5 with a quick visit to the Padron factory. In many people's opinions, Padron cigars are the finest Nicaraguan cigars around, and the brand has won Cigar of the Year more than any other. The factory is truly a family affair, and although not as large as others, everything is done in a very traditional way. The cigar blends produced by the team of experts are among the best in the world, and their humble approach to the craft was inspiring.
Our Nicaraguan journey with TOR Imports was an unforgettable experience. We feel incredibly lucky to have been invited to take part in this adventure, which gave us the opportunity to learn more about New World cigars and indulge in at least five cigars a day! From the fascinating personalities we met to the incredible farms and factories we visited, it was a journey we'll never forget. We look forward to seeing what the future holds for the world of Nicaraguan cigars, and we have no doubt that TOR Imports will continue to lead the way in bringing the best of the best to cigar enthusiasts around the globe.