In the saga of my latest trip to Nicaragua and Cigar Safari, we are up to Tuesday afternoon. First, I want to take care of the current contest business. It seems that I don’t read my own posts and inadvertently changed the rules in the middle of the contest. As I commented on the last post when this error was pointed out, I’ve decided to attempt to make this right by awarding two prizes, the initial prize of two 5-packs of My Uzi Weighs a Ton Baitfish, a cap and cutter and assorted goodies to the person who guessed the exact number of banded cigars I smoked (the first to guess that number), and a 5-pack of Baitfish, a cap and cutter and assorted goodies to the person who came closest as of Sunday, May 11 prior to the last post. I apologize for the misstep on my part and it won’t happen again. The winning number was 14. Lloyd L. had guessed 13 in the first round and should have been the winner, all I can say is that he should be happy with the consolation prize. smoke770 was the first to guess 14, so he is the winner of the original prize. These gentlemen need to send (or re-send to verify) their addresses so I can mail this stuff out. Thanks to all who participated and to Brian for pointing out my blunder in a gentlemanly way.
When we got back from our tour of the tobacco bodegas and the new construction at Drew Estate, we had a nice lunch and I enjoyed a Liga Privada No.9. We then started our tour of the Drew Estate factory. Much of this I missed, along with the pre-industry portion of the tour, two years prior. The rolling galleries are expansive. Every wall has tremendous artwork on the walls and on various items throughout It’s a very clean and pleasant place to work. I do admit it was a little surreal hearing a Barry Manilow song piped into the main gallery. Hundreds of pairs are rolling thousands of cigars. We were all given the opportunity to apply wrappers to bunches under the tutelage of experienced rollers and I can do OK up until it’s time to finish the cap, which I can’t get the hang of cutting the flag and finishing it off, and I might as well have hooves when it comes to cutting out the cap and applying it. It’s very humbling and gives one a renewed appreciation for the art. In another area we each had to remove the center vein from a leaf. The women working there do hundreds of leaves a day without even blinking. I managed to do it cleanly on my first try, but chalk that up to beginners luck and a cooperative leaf.
We wandered through packaging areas, cold storage rooms and more tobacco storage on our way to the blending session. Last time my son and I worked off of a menu in the Esteli emergency room and my cigars turned out to be very good in my estimation. I was going for a certain taste and strength and I was very happy with the results. I went into this thinking of recreating my blend in a larger size, but there were many more varieties of tobacco to choose from, and I had the benefit of seeing, feeling and smelling the leaves. I ended up with a similar, but different blend that I hope will be just as good. In a few weeks I’ll let you know. Of course, I used my favorite San Andreas wrapper again, but with a Cameroon binder. I used a similar proportion of Brazilian Mata Fina in the filler, some Ometepe and Jalapa Ligero that smelled really good. Instead of the 5″ x44 corona I made last time, I went with a 6″ x 54 toro for reasons I’m not completely sure of, it just seemed right at the time. It was great fun and will be really interesting to compare the two.
After we finished there we took a short tour of Jessi Flores’ Subculture Studios. This is where all of the art happens. The were secretive about the current project, which was the booth for the upcoming trade show, but they silk screen all of the boxes there, as well as t-shirts, stickers and other goodies. Again, the walls are painted with various scenes and designs. It’s quite a unique and amazing department that is very different from other factories.
The evening was spent dining and enjoying fine cigars with Jonathan, Steve, José, Nicholas, Johnny Brooke and Pedro, who had been generous and gracious hosts to us on the trip. I constantly marvel at the great friendships I’ve made in the cigar industry, just because I decided to talk about cigars on the internet. The group of bloggers and media folks I consider friends and look forward to seeing them all again. You will find some great posts about this trip at CasasFumando.com, Cigar-Coop.com, and StogieGuys.com and I imagine several other outlets, many more detailed and informative than mine. Thanks to everyone at Drew Estate for including me in this adventure, I learned many things and will always treasure the memories and friendships.
Here’s the slideshow from the factory tour and the final evening:
That concludes my recap of the trip for the most part. I will, no doubt, throw in pictures and videos and commentary where I think it may be relevant to the content of the day. Now I have to go back to paying attention to the cigars I smoke so I can get back to my normal routine (for instance, tonight I smoked a Gurkha Seduction Toro that was outstanding, I really love that cigar!)!
Until the next time,