Nicaragua has been known as ‘La Tierra de Lagos y volcanes” – the land of lakes and volcanoes. And rightly so, considering the 28 monuments, volcanic structures, and gargantuan bodies of sweet water that mild the dramatic geography, lush nature and way of life.

Today, I can confidently affirm with the most profound level of pride that Nicaragua is also the land of premium cigars. Nicaragua’s momentum is a result of a historical process that had its genesis long before the Spanish arrived in 1502, this has accelerated over the past 20 years and reached unprecedented heights in the last decade.

A testament to this are the 300 million cigars that Nicaragua exported in 2021, far more than any other country. As well as the astonishing fact that at least five of every ten cigars smoked in the United States – which consumes over 80% of the world’s cigars – are Nicaraguan. In the last decade, our cigars have consistently received the highest rankings, including over 65% of the top spots in cigar media awards across the globe.

In conversations with Nicaraguan Juan Martinez, CEO of Joya de Nicaragua, we asserted the fact that , up until the late 1700s the origin and epicentre of tobacco cultivation for cigars at an industrial and transatlantic scale was Central America, not the Caribbean.

Simon Camacho and Francisco Bermejo brought the Cuban seeds from Cuba and the knowhow of premium tobacco cultivation and cigar making, an art form developed and perfected in the country. What they found in Nicaragua was not only land with tremendously rich, fertile volcanic soil and the perfect environmental conditions, but also Nicaraguans who had profound agricultural knowledge, and a great  meticulously artistic ability in their hardworking hands.

By 1971, the cigars of Nicaragua cigar company ( Now Joya de Nicaragua) had become the White house’s official cigar, as Nicaragua was building a reputation for making some of the world’s finest cigars.

By the mid 1970s, Joya de Nicaragua had over 600 workers who were rolling nine million cigars a year.  Men like Sixto Plasentia and Gilberto Oliva in the late 1960s and others in the early 1970s such as Jose Orlando Padron, were some of the pioneers who found the best conditions for restarting their businesses in Nicaragua.

Over a sinuously long period since, then Padron has become the epitome of the highest quality of cigarmaking and a deep source of pride for all Nicaraguans.


The rising Nicaraguan cigar industry was firmly halted in the lead up to the triumph of the Sandinista Revolution of 1979, which liberated our people from 50 years of dictatorship. The cruel civil war of the 1980s between brothers and sisters makes a terribly sad episode in our history.

With the war behind us and filled with a ferocious appetite to build a better life and future, for us in Nicaragua the cigar boom came at the perfect time.

When it started in 1992, there were only a handful of companies operating, but new-comers arrived very quickly. It is estimated that there were 40 companies making cigars in Nicaragua by 1995.

Just over 2% of cigar importers in the US were Nicaraguan. One of those few companies was Perdomo. What impresses me the most about Perdomo, alongside their inspiring story, company culture and dedication, is their unwavering passion for our country. Nicaragua is the best land for producing the finest tobacco and cigars in the world, bar-none! Was one of the first statements I ever heard from Nick Perdomo.

Jonathan Drew arrived in Esteli at a time when most were leaving, following the end of the cigar boom. He didn’t come with wealth or bulletproof business plans; he came with a dream and a burning passion.

“Drew estate’s rebirth movement happened organically on the concrete and dirt streets of Nicaragua, as we connected to different segments of society, tobacco and graffiti.

Jonathan tells me. Scouring the streets of Managua, to find the best graffiti artists  and bringing them to Esteli and Merging them together with the culture at the cigar factory level, this opened everyone’s eyes as to what’s possible in this world.

It was like using FaceTime for the first time! For me Drew Estate Cigars and other companies as AJ Fernandez are more than a symbol of the rebirth of our cigar industry.

The legacy of all these companies goes far beyond socioeconomics!It is that of a  paradigm shift in the minds and attitude of my people.

They helped  us realise that we can create something special and admired all over the world, and it was okay to feel proud about this. A change in the way we see ourselves, a transformational shift in our confidence and mentality.

Evidently, Nicaraguan cigar makers have capitalised on the current new boom, which started with the lockdowns to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sales are soaring at numbers not seen since the late Nineties, growing at yearly rates of well over 50%. We are Importers in the United Kingdom and supply chain issues and increased global demand are taking their toll on our industry, forcing us to increase stocks and continuously adjust our forecast, paired with Brexit and upcoming business critical legislative challenges in the form of the new track and trace regulations.

On the flip side, the boom has accelerated the trend of New World Cigars increasing market share over Cuban cigars. I know that most people in America struggle with the concept of “New World Cigars” as unlike the UK and the rest of the world, Cuban cigars are, unlike the UK and the rest of the world, Cuban cigars sales are forbidden in the US. Also the term is not historically or geographically accurate.

However, in 2007 when I first moved to the UK they were barely any cigars from Nicaragua , just a few Dominicans, most were dismissed as cheap and poor quality, and the way they were referred to was “Non-Cuban”. Imagine how it feels to be called a non something in relation to your country.

A Scotsman had the brilliant idea of bringing these “Non- Cuban” cigars under the New World Umbrella, a strategy that worked for wines. That man Scott Vines, one of the pioneers responsible for the hard-earned success of our cigars in the UK. We don’t call Japanese or Irish whisky, non-Scottish whisky, he tells me. And that is precisely where we are committed to taking our cigars, to a time where we call them by their name, when the term New World Cigars is no longer needed.

If the trend continues, that may be sooner than later, as major cigar retailers in the UK forecast that before the end of this year, New World Cigars will own a larger proportion of the market than Cubans.


Something that has always fascinated me about New World Cigars is the exponentially richer options available for master blenders to conjure their masterpieces. They can choose to express themselves by making a pure. Or they can reach all the corners of Latin America and the Caribbean, to create the desired cigar experience. So we asked some of the major New world cigar makers about their motivation and experience working with Nicaragua or Esteli in some of their iconic brands.

Davidoff was among the first and the one that most recently launched Nicaraguan named lines. In 2013 when we used Nicaraguan tobacco  for the first time, it was a challenge for our master blenders. Why? We had never really blended Dominican with Nicaraguan tobacco, because at that time, our master blenders thought that Dominican tobacco was the best in the world. So it was even more challenging when I told them that we needed to craft a Nicaraguan pure without any Dominican tobacco. When we were all satisfied with the final blend and received all the numerous outstanding ratings and rewards, our master blenders finally accepted tobacco from Nicaragua and a new love story began. This was a game changer for us.

Another big player in the country is Alec Bradley, a company that has had experience here with the brands Tempus Nicaragua, Black Esteli, Nica Puro, and others. The motivation to work in Nicaragua has more to do with relationships than anything else. The highlights that consumers have come to expect cigars with excellent quality and consistency from this beautiful country and using these names have become a guarantee seal.

Another leading Dominican cigar maker is Vegafina. Vegafina clearly saw the opportunity to expand its portfolio with a line of more intense tobaccos made with 100% Nicaraguan blend, and Vegafina Nicaragua was launched in 2014. He also emphasises that throughout his almost 25 year career in the handmade cigar industry, he has had the opportunity to work in the creation of many blends using Nicaraguan Tobacco as part of their components.

He stresses the diversity that exists in Nicaragua which has practically four tobacco regions , all with different characteristics. “ Starting with Ometepe and its unique Characteristics due to the volcanic soil, Esteliu with the intensity of flavour and strength, COntega with its good combustion characteristics and Jalapa that offers a tobacco with very good aroma and flavour, has allowed us to create blends that have been very well received. In addition these tobaccos combine very well with Dominican and tobacco from other origins, which allows VegaFina to have a wide range of possible combinations to satisfy the palate of the most demanding consumers.

On the use of Nicaraguan tobaccos and the naming of La Aurora 107 Nicaragua, Guillermo Leon, president of La Aurora Cigars, the Dominican Republic most historic factory says, we have great respect and appreciation for the quality of Nicaraguan tobacco and the country tobacco growers.La Aurora 107 Nicaragua is made exclusively with Nicaragua tobacco rolled with the experience and craftsmanship of our people La Aurora Cigars.

This is a cigar from the Tobaccos of the New World collection and is the third to be part of the company’s most international line, La Aurora 107. For many years , we have worked with tobacco from diverse origins like Brazil, Africa, Ecuador, Nicaragua and of course the Dominican Republic. We have chosen to create this collection for consumers to enrich the predominant tobaccos in each blend.

Mexicans and Nicaraguans tend to get along very well. The Master in the production of the negro San Andres is Alejandro Current, a man who possesses  an unparalleled level of knowledge, as his family have been growing tobacco since 1980.

Alejandro was categorical when he told me that Nicaraguan tobaccos are one of the most distinctive and unique flavours in the world. They are so unique that it’s impossible not to distinguish them when tasted in a blend containing other origins.

Other countries like Mexico, Cuban and Dominican Republic have one major tobacco region producing a highly distinctive flavour. The case of Nicaragua is extraordinary, Torrent says because it’s the only country that has not one but actually four regions producing unmistakably unique flavours.


When I asked Fred Vandermarliere, owner of Oliva, about the future of our cigars, he said it’s fantastic to witness after all these years since we had the unique opportunity to invest, how great it is to work together with the people and with the country of Nicaragua.

Every country has opportunities and challenges. But the soil and the people of Nicaragua bring to us something that in my opinion will stay on for many years. Since our cigars have a truly global appeal and knowing the level of quality that we make in Nicaragua thanks to everybody working there, I am confident that the Nicaraguan cigar industry is here to last!

Nobody from my generation could have predicted that Esteli would become the Silicon Valley of the cigar world that it is today, and the only city of all Latin America where. Unemployment is virtually non-existent.

Or that its number of cigar factories would have doubled over the past 10 years from 40 to 80 operations, generating almost 4% of our GDP, providing more than 40,000 direct jobs and 85,000ancillary jobs. The Nicaraguan cigar Industry directly or indirectly supports over a million people.

For more information on Nicaragua, please feel free to contact us today at Taylors Tobacconists.


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