Day two started off quite nicely. Not only were we blessed with the presence of Jonathan Drew but his dad, Gary AKA Baitfish, was with us for most of the day. After another outstanding meal and a few wary morning cigars we headed over to the Drew Estate Factory.
I can tell you that our tour guide Henry is outstanding, as is his predecessor Pedro, but there is something special about having Jonathan Drew as your leader. He certainly puts a unique perspective on everything and has an unrivaled passion for his cigars as well as his workers.
We toured their tobacco processing facility, tobacco storage warehouse, quality control room, and my favorite place, the rolling floor. It is hard for me to put in words the joy I feel when being amongst all of these great artisans plying their craft to absolute perfection. I also get a lot of pleasure from the faces of those in our group who are seeing this for the first time. The best analogy I can come up with is the joy on your kid’s face when you take them to Disney World for the first time. For a lover of cigars, the factory is a truly special place.
After a brief break for lunch we headed over to Joya de Nicaragua. For those not familiar with the brand, they were the first cigar company to produce cigars in Nicaragua. Their history is riddled with hard times and devastating loses. Having your factory located in the epicenter of a revolution, which ended up in a bloody civil war can put a hamper on business. But like the Nicaraguan people, they were able to rise from the ashes and continue their legacy of making amazing cigars.
The thing I love most about Nicaragua is the resiliency of their people. They have suffered so much but have never let it affect their friendly attitude towards us visitors. I am proud to report that because of the booming cigar trade things are rapidly changing for these tough northerners who call Esteli home. What once was one of the most poverty stricken areas of the country is now a boom town. The quality of life for everyone continues to grow.
As for me and the rest of my gringo brethren, our quality of life on this trip couldn’t be better. After being allowed to blend our own cigars we settled in for a nice dinner, a few refreshing cocktails, and of course more cigars.
Chris Gwaltney, ABC Fine Wine & Spirits TU Certified Tobacconist & Cicerone Server, Category Manager: Premium Cigars and Craft Beer
Follow me on Twitter @abccigarchris