Updated 11 April 2019
Just like our Regional Highlight: Dominican Republic article, today we’re sharing with you our Top 5 Nicaraguan puros! In this sense, puro means that the entire cigar is comprised of tobacco from Nicaragua: the wrapper, binder, and filler. If any one of these components were sourced from outside of Nicaragua, it would no longer be considered a puro.
And you’re in luck! Nicaragua is the most versatile region in the world for producing tobacco. The main growing regions of Nicaragua are Esteli, the Ometepe island, Condega, and the Jalapa Valley. Each of these has very distinct aromas, strength, and characteristics, giving Nicaraguan puros the greatest range of flavor and strength of any other country in the world.
Sandwiched between Honduras and Costa Rica, Nicaragua is home to 19 volcanoes between the Carribean and Pacific seas. Volcanic ash greatly aids in plant growth because of the dense concentration of minerals that come up from the earth’s mantle, replenishing the soil with nutrients that might otherwise be leeched out over time. And any residual lava in the soil acts like a sponge, benefitting tobacco especially as the crop doesn’t like to be waterlogged.
Speaking of volcanoes, the island of Ometepe contains two volcanoes on either side of the growing region. The northern volcano is still active, making the tobacco grown on this island very special. James Brown of Black Label Trading Company says that he likes to use a little Ometepe in most of his blends, but just a small piece in each cigar. Anything more and he feels that it overpowers the blend.
Nicaragua is traditionally known for producing strong, spicy cigars that are mostly enjoyed in the United States. Other countries are slowly catching on to our secret, but for the most part Nicaraguan blends have been too strong for cigar enthusiasts around the world.
But that’s not to say that they every Nicaraguan Puro is a full-bodied, full strength cigar! While this region excels at high-octane tobacco, the Nicaraguan puros that we’ve selected for you today showcase very different flavor profiles so that you can experience the best of Nicaragua. The different regions, primings, and tobaccos can come together to create a near infinite source of combinations. While we just picked five today, we could’ve easily picked 15 and each cigar would be different.
Note: The sampler below may change due to availability but will only and always feature Nicaraguan puros. If you'd like to try one of the Nicaraguan puros below, click on the image to view the product and set an in-stock notification if they're currently unavailable.
1. Tatuaje La Verite 2013
Pete Johnson conceptualized a project for Tatuaje Cigars that is common to the wine world, another passion of his. The idea was simple: grow an exceptional crop from a single farm, sell this crop in advance at a discount, and then release it to the public when it’s ready.
Not only is La Verite a Nicaraguan puro, it goes one step further and is blended from just one farm in Nicaragua. This limited edition cigar was released last year with a vintage crop from 2013. As Pete says, “One Farm. One Vintage. One Release. One Truth.”
Expect a bold marriage of power and finesse in La Verite 2013, taking you on a journey that’s just as fascinating as the story behind it.
2. Illusione Epernay
Dion Giolito of Illusione is regarded by many as a blending genius, kickstarting the boutique cigar craze and paving the way for many of your favorite small batch cigars. His packaging is historically nondescript, letting the cigars speak for themselves in an old school way. He’s known for creating very complex blends with distinct transitions.
"I start from the dirt," Dion told Cigar Aficionado. "If I find a great tobacco that has what I'm looking for in terms of palate and olfactory, that's what inspires me. I want it to be multidimensional. Sometimes, single tobaccos will smoke like a complete cigar and I'm impressed. And then I want to put together a blend that enhances these characteristics."
This particular Epernay was the first box-pressed cigar by Illusione, as well as the first collector friendly cigar by the brand to come in 25-ct boxes instead of 50-cabs. It also utilizes different filler tobaccos than the rest of the Epernay line, blended to match the ~ECCJ~ 15th anniversary.
No Nicaraguan selection would be complete without Illusione, and the Epernay Le Matin is an excellent introduction to the brand in general if you haven’t sampled their wares before. Expect a very complex experience from start to finish that only Dion can deliver!
3. EPC Short Run 2016 Edicion Nicaragua
E.P. Carrillo started making cigars in the 70s under his father’s tutelage and got his start conceptualizing and building the La Gloria Cubana brand to fame in the early 90’s. With decades of experience, it’s no wonder that many of today’s boutique brands seek to collaborate with EPC each year.
In 2010, E.P. Carrillo began producing small batch, annual releases of Short Run cigars. The Short Run 2016, however, was the first release to be put into regular production. Edicion Nicaragua is a special treat, utilizing only Nicaraguan tobaccos that showcase E.P. Carrillo’s blending talent.
"I smoke because I want to feel not just the senses around the palate, but the whole body. When I tasted a Cuban Davidoff cigar in 1982, that's what I felt. And that experience is what I try to replicate in my cigars - a total sensuous smoke." - Ernesto Perez-Carrillo
The Short Run 2016 Edicion Nicaragua features thick, chewy smoke that is so iconic to Nicaraguan tobacco that we knew this article wouldn’t be complete without it. Expect a very layered experience of cream, mild spice, and delicate sweetness.
4. Warped La Hacienda
Kyle Gellis took the cigar world by storm in 2014 when he rebranded Warped Cigars after a hiatus while finishing school. He’s known throughout the industry for creating very unique cigars that offer an unparalleled smoking experience. Exclusively Different, if you will.
"I put a massive emphasis on quality, consistency, and very importantly customer service," Kyle told CigarNoise. "When you have all those traits firing at once, customers take notice."
La Hacienda is not only a Nicaraguan puro, it’s also an Agricola Ganadera Nortena S.A. (AGANORSA) puro – one that many consider to be the standard. The Fernandez family exclusively grows AGANORSA tobacco on their farm in Nicaragua, and the name is virtually synonymous with excellence.
La Hacienda illustrates the flexibility of Nicaraguan puros as it’s a medium-bodied blend that is unlike any other cigar on this list. Expect a very pleasant experience that’s characterized by fruit, cream, cedar, and mild spice.
5. My Father Flor de las Antillas
Jose “Pepin” Garcia began rolling cigars in Cuba at the age of 11, before most of us even knew what a cigar was. Departing Cuba, he slowly began amassing the critically acclaimed My Father Cigars S.A. in Nicaragua where the Garcia family now produces cigars from seed to shelf.
Flor de las Antillas is a Nicaraguan Puro that pays homage to Cuba, sometimes called the flower of the Antilles islands:
"It is about a lifelong passion! It is not just about a cigar, it is a dream – the Garcia's dream!"
Pepin is known for three things: peppery cigars, double binders, and peppery cigars. While the Flor de las Antillas does contain that signature spice, it’s also very nuanced and pleasant, easily outpacing the price point. Expect immaculate construction and a highly enjoyable flavor profile.
Each of the cigars on this are here to highlight one of many aspects of Nicaraguan tobacco. If you have other favorite Nicaraguan puros, please drop a comment below and share with the group!
Note: The sampler may change based on availability but will always include Nicaraguan puros