After a day of traveling and getting settled it was finally time for us to do what we came here to do and that is immerse ourselves in cigar culture. It never gets old visiting a factory or tobacco farm and there is always something new to learn, no matter how many times you have done it. I had a teacher in middle school tell me something that I remember to his day, “The day you stop learning is the day they put you in the ground.” That is a heavy statement to lay on a sixth grader but she was so right.
We began our day by visiting a box factory. It is amazing at just how much craftsmanship and hard work go into making a cigar box. I wish everyone could come visit and see this. It would certainly make you pause before ripping the lid off a cigar box.
Our second destination was a trip to one of Nestor Plasencia tobacco farms. For those not familiar with Nestor, no one in the world grows more cigar tobacco than him. In the cigar world he is “a big deal.” An added bonus to this visit was getting to meet Nestor along with his son. He just happened to be at the farm overseeing things and everyone flocked to him for pictures. We didn’t know it at the time but we would actually bump into him two more times that day.
After the farm visit we headed back to our villa for lunch then it was off to the processing facility and later Rocky Patel’s cigar factory. The processing facility is where the tobacco is fermented and prepared to be aged and readied to become a cigar. One of my favorite parts of any cigar trip is seeing the expressions on all the first-timers faces when they walk into a room full of almost fully fermented leaves. The ammonia can be overwhelming to say the least.
Our final stop of the day was the one that requires the most work from us. At the cigar factory we were tasked with blending our own cigars. The analogy of a kid in a candy store just doesn’t do this justice. We picked our tobacco then turned them over to our hosts. After a quick tour of the facilities our cigar recipes were ready to be crafted. We each were set up with a buncher and roller and were given the opportunity to “supervise” our special cigars production.
It was a great day for cigars and I can’t wait to give my new creation its first test. Check back tomorrow to see how our adventure into Nicaragua turned out.
Chris Gwaltney, ABC Fine Wine & Spirits Category Manager: Craft Beer and Premium Cigars
Follow my Honduras trip on Twitter @abccigarChris