Most cigar lovers know the rich cigar history that is a big part of the state of Florida. Whether it is modern Miami or historic Tampa, Florida has always played a major role in the production and distribution of premium cigars in this country. But did you know that Florida also once produced some world class tobacco itself? Not a lot of folks do remember and that is something that Jeff Borysiewicz owner of Corona Cigars wants to change. Jeff wants to preserve this Florida history so much that he is betting his money on it by creating the Florida Sun Grown cigar (FSG), the first premium cigar to contain Florida tobacco in many years.
Before we discuss Jeff’s little tobacco farm in Clermont, Florida, let’s travel northwest into the panhandle and visit Gadsen County. Located just west of Tallahassee is the small town of Havana. The city didn’t get its name by accident. There was so much tobacco being grown in that area that the name Havana was adopted so cigar boxes could claim to have “Havana” tobacco. I actually grew up in Grady County, Georgia, which borders Gadsen County to the north and shares the same rich soil characteristics that made growing top shelf wrapper leaf possible. You can still see the remnants of the old tobacco days when you drive through Calvary, Georgia, as some of the old curing barns still stand. Today these crumbling structures serve as little more than monuments to a soon to be forgotten time and practice.
Fortunately Jeff is working to preserve this history, albeit a little more centrally located in the state. I recently had the chance to visit the farm along with many others as Drew Estate threw a launch party for FSG. It was nice getting to see a tobacco operation in full swing right here in my backyard. Normally I have to travel to the Caribbean or Central America to witness such a thing. The farm is small but has everything you see at the bigger operations.
When we visited they were priming tobacco and had quite a bit of the green stuff already hanging in the barn. All of this tobacco will mostly be destined for filler, though one day perhaps the farm will produce some wrapper.
So how does the cigar taste. I haven’t done an official review because the cigars we received at the event were fairly new. I did enjoy the ones I smoked and look forward to puffing on one again after it has spent some time in my humidor. I detect a bit of unique earthiness in the cigar and I hope it only increases as the cigar ages a bit.
So now the million dollar question, can you get this cigar at ABC? Not yet, though that should be changing in the near future. Jeff did a soft launch in just his shops but hopes to take it national soon. Before that happens we will definitely have it in our stores, how can we not? ABC and FSG, seems like a natural fit.
Chris Gwaltney, Category Manager: Premium Cigars & Craft Beer
Follow me on Twitter @abccigarchris