Most cigar smokers have an affinity for specific brands or factories. And while we appreciate a wide variety of brands, one factory that has been on my mind lately is Manufactura Rivas, a small operation in the Dominican Republic that houses many boutique brands.
Brands like Camaleon, Campesino, Chogui, and Modern Tobacconist Art (amongst others).
Francisco "Chico" Rivas
Every time you speak to one of these brand owners, you’re filled with a sense of awe about their origin story. There’s no magical pile of cash that’s dropped on a table to secure a brand, no dialing it in from abroad, no short cuts. These guys put blood, sweat, and tears into Manufactura Rivas before being able to call shots from the production table. They earned a world-class education from the school of Hard Knocks to do what they do.
At the center of every story exists Francisco “Chico” Rivas. You may recognize Chico as Quesada’s Master Blender, but the work he does at the factory bearing his namesake is nothing short of extraordinary. Along with his son Steven Rivas, they play Micky to the Rocky Balboas of the cigar industry featured below.
Francisco "Chico" Rivas | Photo Credit: Camaleon Cigars
It’s not uncommon for factories to produce cigars for more than one brand, but this boutique factory produces cigars exclusively for other brands. At this time, I’m not aware of a single cigar brand with the name Rivas exclusively attached to it.
The story usually goes something like this: someone will approach Chico about launching a new cigar brand. Over the course of a couple years, they’ll undergo an arduous mentorship program where they’ll sweep floors, clean the shop, re-learn how to smoke, learn tobacco, learn how to blend, and eventually they’ll get to where they want to be. It’s never as simple as saying, “I launched ABC Cigar Company and we produce our cigars at Manufactura Rivas.” These guys worked their asses off to get where they are today.
If you haven’t sampled the brands that are coming out of this factory yet, here’s a quick primer as well as a sampler at the bottom.
Launching just over two years ago, Camaleon comes to us from Pedro Betances and Gabriel Beco. They’re most known for the Huevo de Oro in the U.S., translating to the Golden Egg. Huevo de Oro represents all the necessities for an excellent smoke: enjoyable flavors and immaculate construction.
Stay tuned for a Small Batch interview | Photo Credit: Camaleon Cigars
Translating to Farmer, Campesino was launched by Edgar Julian Sued to pay homage to the men and women that dedicate their lives to bringing us the world of tobacco. These cigars were available in the U.S. for a limited time in 2016 and have just recently returned, along with two limited editions. If you haven’t noticed, the return of Campesino has been a momentous occasion to those that remember their debut!
Victor Nicolas, founder of Chogui, is one of the most incredible personalities in the cigar industry. He can turn anything into a positive, such as losing a box of cigars and using that as inspiration to launch Dos 77 – the box that will never be forgotten. Chogui has their own name for this factory, deemed the Top Secret Nest. #FearTheF%&ingBird
Known for brands such as Flor y Nata and Noxio, Joan Manuel Rodriguez recently rebranded as Modern Tobacconist Art to better align with his global vision. Both lines carefully balance an impressive amount of strength and flavor to deliver an awesome experience.
Stay tuned for a Small Batch Interview! | Photo Credit: Noxio Cigars
Tell Us! Have you tried these brands? If so, what were your thoughts?