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Where Do The Best Cigars Come From? A Country-By-Country Look

Sep 5, 2008
Though the first word that comes to many minds in reference to "cigars" is, of course, "Cuba," great cigars come from all over the world. And, in fact, the expertise that went into making Cuba such a cigar powerhouse for so long (as it remains today) has been dispersed to other countries - as a result of some of the same historical upheavals that have made Cuban cigars an embargoed forbidden treat to cigar fans in the United States. So whether you're a new smoker ready to move on from five-dollar-a-box cheapies, or a longtime smoker who'd like to diversify your humidor, here is a guide to some cigar-producing regions - both the well-established and the up-and-coming - as well as to their best-known cigars.

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. Nothing compares to the thrill of an accidental discovery, as book-store browsers, record-store visitants, antique hunters, and other collectors can also attest. Sometimes there's nothing like simply visiting a fine cigar store, or a choose-your-own-sampler online store, and following your instincts. But sometimes, suggestions are nice too - so here are a few.

Honduras
The country now known as Honduras was once home to part of the mighty and fascinating Mayan Empire. Unfortunately, like so many Latin American countries, it remains desperately poor after centuries of colonial and postcolonial exploitation. In addition to being the home of some great tobacco, it is a major source of the world's banana crop, which has led to resource wars, power struggles, and intervention in military and civil affairs by international fruit corporations. (This is why you sometimes read about activists leading banana boycotts.) Like nearby Nicaragua, it was also devastated by Hurricane Mitch in 1998. But for all these setbacks, the country boasts a near-seventy-five percent rate of adult literacy (nearly ten points higher than nearby Guatemala).

In terms of its cigar industry, Honduras was most strongly affected, perhaps, by the 1959 Cuban revolution, which drove many of that country's best-established cigar makers to find new countries of residence. Among the countries to which many of them relocated was Honduras. After the Castro government aided the Hondurans in learning tobacco cultivation from the experts, Honduran cigars reached a peak of excellence. The country's cigar-making status garners a #2 ranking in the U.S. for highest selling cigars (by nationality), after the Dominican Republic. At a tasting panel, the European Cigar Cult Journal recently reconfirmed this reputation for excellence. La Fontana Mona Lisa, La Libertad Lonsdale, and cigars by Camacho and Carlos Torano were among those given high ratings by the panel. Carlos Torano cigars are, more generally, regarded as among the world's best.

Greece
Everyone who has visited the Middle or Near East will remember the smell of Turkish tobacco that sweetens the air at restaurants, outdoor markets (known as soukhs), and, well, pretty much anywhere you go. It's no surprise, then, that in Greece, bordering and in many ways a part of this region, thirty-eight percent of adults smoke tobacco in some form. But what is surprising, perhaps, is that until four years ago, this tobacco-loving country produced no cigars of its own. In 2000, one Greek city major - Yiannis Tsoutsos - decided it was time for the home of Homer, Aristotle, the three-act tragedy and - some would say - world democracy to have its own regional cigar company. He went to the best possible teachers, gathering interested industrialists for a trip to Cuba to learn the craft of cigar making. In 2004, following this visit, Domenico Cigar and the Tsoutsos-led Tobacco Growers' Cooperative rolled out their first line of handmade Domenico cigars, in Corona, Robusto, Churchill and Cigarillo sizes.
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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