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It's A Cigar World After All

Aug 26, 2008
Though the first country many of us think of when it comes to great cigars is, of course, Cuba, the fact is that great tobacco, skilled rollers and serious craftsmanship can be found all over the world. So here, whether you're a newer smoker ready to move on from the few you've tried or a cigar aficionado, who'd like to change it up a little, is a guide to the some of the best cigars in several cigar-producing regions, both well-known and lesser-known.

Of course, if you're like many smokers, you'll know that often the best smoking experiences come from scouring shops for yourself, looking for that gem of a cigar you've never read of in a cigar magazine, and never had recommended to you by a fellow enthusiast. As book-store browsers, record-store hangers-on, antique finders, and other collectors all attest, nothing's as fun as an original find - and you can make new discoveries by visiting your nearby cigar store or creating a choose-your-own-sampler online. Just follow your instincts. But sometimes, suggestions are helpful too - hence this piece.

Italy
"The principal glory of the Italian landscape is its extreme melancholy," wrote nineteenth-century polymath John Ruskin, whose life (like that of so many other artists and writers) was forever changed by his sojourn in that country. From Henry James (see his novel Roderick Hudson) to E.M. Forster (check out Where Angels Fear to Tread) to the innumerable college students or honeymooning couples who visit every year, everyone who visits this capital of world culture seems to find the experience captivating and unique. Its romantic and emotive associations are legion - from melancholy, as Ruskin points out, to splendor, celebration, and excess, as everyone who has ever seen an Italian opera already knows. And, of course, it's associated with sublime tastes: the finest wines, the most extravagant dishes.

Surprising, then, that this capital of food and wine is not better known for its cigars - especially when nearly twenty-five percent of Italians smoke. Two smaller companies, Toscano and Romano, are trying to rectify this oversight; they've earned a reputation among smokers as solid, everyday cigars if not yet world-class ones.

Nicaragua
Along with the Dominican Republic and Honduras, Nicaragua creates many of the highest-ranked non-Cuban cigars in the world - indeed, some observers say the best offerings of these countries have come to rival those of Cuba. There's a reason for that: the cigar industries of all three countries benefited mightily from the Cuban revolution of 1959. Fearing that their belongings would be "nationalized" (i.e. seized by the incoming Castro government, which did not look kindly on accumulations of wealth, however earned), many of the island's most prominent and knowledgeable cigar makers fled for nearby countries. Some came to the United States, some went further afield, but quite a few ended up in neighboring Latin American nations.

With the support of the economically shrewd but barbaric Somoza dictatorship, Nicaragua's cigar makers prospered. Then, in 1979, the Somozas' strongman tactics caught up with them, as over seventy-nine percent of voters rejected the ruling junta in Nicaragua's first free election in decades. The winning, socialist Sandinista party temporarily disabled the country's cigar industry, directing tobacco growers to concentrate on making inferior cigarette tobacco. After several years of civil conflict between the Sandinistas and the right-wing Contras, with the country's general population caught in the middle, tired Nicaraguans returned to the polls and elected Violeta Chamorro, who changed the government's tobacco policy. Hurricane Mitch, in 1998, wreaked further havoc on the country's economy. In addition to claiming thousands of lives, it destroyed nearly seventy percent of the country's infrastructure.

With a history so painful, it's all the more impressive that Nicaragua continues to grow the tobacco used in some of the most-loved cigars from around the world, while manufacturing cigars that rival even those of the Dominican Republic in popularity. Some of the best-regarded Nicaraguan cigar companies include CAO, Perdomo, Padron, and the various cigars of Don Pepin Garcia and of Drew Estate.
About the Author
CigarFox provides you the opportunity to build your own sampler of the finest cigars that include cigar brands like Montecristo, Romeo & Julieta, H Upmann, Macanudo, Cohiba, Partagas, Gurkha and many more. Choose from more than 1200 different cigars! Other cigar products include cigar humidors, cigar boxes, and cigar accessories like Zippo Lighters.
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