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Fine Cigars from Bahamas, Brazil, Dominican Republic and Greece

Feb 27, 2008
Cigars come from all over the world. Why, then, do cigar aficionados so often limit themselves to a handful (literally) of well-regarded smokes from a few highly-regarded companies or regions? Perhaps like a passionate music fan visiting the "International" section of a CD store for the first time - they're confused, stymied by the very breadth of their options. How do you know what's good? What cigars are the mainstays of each region?

If you're in this situation, you're in luck. Herein, we look at some of the best-known cigars from countries all over the world.

Of course, a resource guide like this one - or even a book-length work - can only supplement, not substitute for, your own personal taste and experience. Sometimes there's nothing like simply visiting a top-shelf cigar emporium and following your instincts. But for those times when you don't feel like flying blind, here are some suggestions.

Bahamas
Smokers looking to sample the cigar craftsmanship of this former British protectorate should start with Graycliff cigars. According to Smoke Magazine's Laurence Foreman, this unique company is known not only among smokers for its small, well-crafted line of handrolled luxury cigars, but among travelers as well, for its Graycliff resort hotel (located in a sprawling eighteenth-century colonial house) and restaurant, which sports a world-famous 250,000-bottle wine cellar.

The Garzaroli family, which purchased the property in 1973, entered the cigar business in 1997 with Avelino Lara, a Cuban cigar legend who once rolled cigars for Fidel Castro himself, on hand to collaborate in the creation of a line of six cigars that, say aficionados, vary in taste but not in excellent. The red-banded Graycliff and blue-banded Graycliff Professionale are recommended for new smokers, while the Graycliff Crystal, Graycliff Emerald, Graycliff Espresso, and Graycliff Chateau Grand (all identifiable by corresponding-colored bands; the Chateau Grand is purple-banded) are recommended for those who prefer a fuller taste and more aged tobacco.

Brazil
Brazillian tobacco has long been used to make popular cigars elsewhere - so why not try a Brazillian-made cigar? Among the several Brazillian brands competing with cigars from better-known regions that fans say are underrated, Dona Flor is one of the best-known, and easily obtained in America. Named for the classic Brazillian novel by Jorge Amado, Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands' the bawdy tale of a woman in love with both her respectable second husband and with the randy ghost of her dead first husband - the Dona Flor is, say fans, an appropriately memorable smoke. And it should be.

As writer Victoria Shorr points out, it's the creation of Felix Menendez, son of Alonso Menendez, the famous one-time Cuban Montecristo cigar maker who, after the revolution of 1959, headed to the Canary Islands and invented the equally well-loved Montecruz. This is a family that knows cigars (Felix's brother Benjamin is also a captain of the industry). And with the Dona Flor line, Felix's first attempt to reconquer America, they seem to have struck gold - or at least consistent ratings in the high eighties from Cigar Aficionado.

Other Brazillian-made cigars include Angelina, Dannemann and Dannemann, Le Cigar, Aquarius, Augustua, DaMatta, Dom Porfirio, Don Pepe, Quiteria, Siboney, Caravelas, Delectados, Suerdieck, and MR.

Dominican Republic
For many cigar smokers, this country's cigar industry already needs little introduction. As such recent hits as the FuenteFuente Opus X remind us, tobacco has been cultivated in the Dominican Republic for many centuries (chiefly in the fertile Cibao Valley), though its in-country cigars were for many years overshadowed by the worldwide dominance of the Cuban cigar.

But then came 1959. Between the US embargo on trade with Cuba and the mass exodus of some of Cuba's best cigar makers (who were not on friendly terms with the new regime), the cigars of the Dominican Republic had a chance to shine. Some of the best-known cigar makers here include La Aurora (the oldest continuously-operating factory in the DR), Arturo Fuente, Davidoff, La Flor Dominicana, and La Gloria Cubana.

Three strains of tobacco are used by most Dominican cigar makers - the native Olor Domicano, a mild salty leaf seen most recently as the wrapper for Davidoff's Dominican puro; Piloto Cubano, a strong strain derived from Cuban seeds stolen by Carlos Torano on his way out of that country in 1959, and used now often as filler; and light, slightly acidic San Vicente, used for both binder and filler.

Greece
The tobacco of the Middle and Near East is world-famous - anyone who's been to Turkey knows the smell of Turkish tobacco smoked outdoors from one of the region's elaborate hookahs. But until recently, nearby Greece had no cigar company to call its own. This changed in 2000, when Potamia mayor Yiannis Tsoutsos led a group of interested industrialists to Cuba to observe the art of cigar-making firsthand from the masters.

With this invaluable education in cigar-making, the Domenico Cigar and Tobacco Growers' Cooperative - a venture led by Tsoutsos - began producing the fine handmade Domenico cigar, in corona, robusto, Churchill and cigarillo sizes, in 2004.
About the Author
CigarFox provides the finest cigars that include cigar brands like cohiba, gurkha and many more. Other cigar products include cigar humidors, cigar boxes, and cigar accessories like Zippo Lighters.
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