SS February 2016

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38 SMOKESHOP February 2016 T he Festival del Tabaco Puro Sabor Nicaragua, the ever-maturing pre- mium cigar festival hosted by the Central American country's leading tobac- co and cigar producers, has come a long way in its first few years, emerging from its earliest novice efforts of bringing togeth- er fans of Nicaraguan cigars at the farms and factories where they are produced, to growing into an increasingly well-tuned, multi-dimensional festival that includes cultural events, visits to plantations and factories, seminars, and tastings. While a number of events on Puro Sa- bor's itinerary are reminiscent of those at the other two origin-based festivals—Pro- cigar in the Dominican Republic, which just marked its 11th edition, and Festival del Habano in Cuba, which recently held its 18th—Puro Sabor fully embraces Nic- aragua's unique personality and geogra- phy, while adapting to the challenges of a decidedly less developed cigar producing epicenter, the remote city of Estelí. With a total reported participation of 197 attendees, Puro Sabor 2016 drew con- sumer cigar enthusiasts (43 percent), re- tailers (21 percent), industry supplies (12 percent), media (12 percent), and others (12 percent) from 27 different countries. Puro Sabor's organizer, La Cámara Nicaragüense de Tabacaleros or Nicaraguan Chamber of Tobacco (CNT)—which was previously known as the Asociación Nicaragüense de Tabacaleros (ANT)— encompasses the 24 leading tobacco and cigar producers in Nicaragua, a majori- ty of which participate in at least some aspect of the festival. The festival has grown into a celebration intended to not only strengthen the quality, image, and reputation of Nicaraguan cigars, but also an opportunity to pay tribute to "one of the most complex and elegant modern rituals," enjoying unlimited cigars in a variety of social settings. The 2016 festival was held from Jan- uary 12 through January 14, and like pre- vious years, was based in the country's capital city of Managua, where attendees were hosted at either the Crowne Plaza or Holiday Inn Hotel. Upon check in, registrants received the official gift pack, a safari-themed knapsack with a limited edition humidor, official festival t-shirt, guayabera, and more. A cocktail recep- tion on a ferry navigating Lake Nicara- gua with a view of the city kicked off the festivities. Day two was focused on two cultur- al experiences: a tour of the Flor de Caña Rum aging facility in the city of Chichi- galpa, a two-hour drive from Managua in the morning, followed by a cigar and rum pairing session at Cortijo el Rosario, one of the country's most important eques- > PRODUCING REGIONS As Nicaragua's cigar production and stature continue to grow, so too does its annual festival, celebrating its own unique approach to the craft and culture of premium cigars. >STAFF REPORT Nicaraguan Cigar Festival: Puro Sabor Turns Five > Clockwise, from top left: Master blender José "Pepin" Garcia leads a tour at his fami- ly's factory, My Father Cigars; > An attendee at the festival's "Puro Humo" opening cock- tail social in Managua; > A worker sorting tobacco leaves at Plasencia Cigars.

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