I recently had the opportunity to go on Drew Estate’s Cigar Safari experience in Nicaragua. While on the trip, we took a tour of the Joya de Nicaragua factory where we got to see and learn about the cigar making process first hand. Afterwards, they let us try it out for ourselves. That’s right, they let us create our own cigar blend.

My first thought was, “This is amazing!” but also, secretly, “How hard could it be?” Turns out, very hard. You’re bombarded with decisions. What type of wrapper, filler and binder do you want? What do you want the strength of your cigar to be? How will the countries where the tobacco is grown impact the cigar’s flavor? It was a lot to process.

Joya de Nicaragua blending session roadmap.png

Joya de Nicaragua blending session roadmap

Before making any of these decisions though, you must have a basic understanding of the tobacco plant itself (lucky we had that tour beforehand, right?) Without that knowledge, it’s impossible to make any of the other decisions (outside of blindly guessing, which, honestly I did a bit of myself, so no judgement).

In case you ever have the chance to make your own cigar blend, or to just better understand what goes into your favorite cigar, below is a quick tobacco plant 101.


  • These are the leaves highest up on the tobacco plant.
  • Receive the most sunlight.
  • Thickest leaves on the plant.
  • Determines the strength of the cigar blend.


  • These are the leaves in the middle portion of the plant.
  • Because of their position on the plant, they’re a balance of Ligero and Seco characteristics.


  • The lowest leaves on the plant.
  • Receive the least amount of sun exposure.
  • Thinnest leaves on the plant.
  • This is the leaf that is largely responsible for the combustion of a cigar because of how easily it burns

Chelsea Mueller, Marketing Coordinator and Cigar Enthusiastt


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