SS February 2016

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40 SMOKESHOP February 2016 trian facilities. The pairing included the most aged expression in Flor de Caña's Centenario Collection, the rich and com- plex Flor de Caña 18 Year Centenario Gold. A Spanish horse show entertained visitors during the pairing and lunch. Unlike earlier years, the daily agendas allowed for increased "down time" back at the hotels prior to the evening's social activities, which on day two consisted of Puro Humo, something of a "festival within a festival"—a cigar tasting event that featured nearly all of the Nicaraguan cigar brands as well as hosting an addi- tional 500 attendees consisting of local Nicaraguan cigar enthusiasts. Day three marked the head-long dive into cigar territory, starting with a three- hour drive to Estelí, Nigaragua's cigar making capital, and a tour of Rocky Pa- tel's Tabacalera Villa Cuba S.A. (Tavicusa) tobacco farms. Here, lunch was staged in a novel setting for a second year: inside a working curing barn partially filled with harvested tobacco. In the afternoon, tours broke down into groups to visit selected factories: A.J. Fernández, Drew Estate To- bacco Company S.A., Garcia Family In- dustrial Park (My Father Cigars), Plasen- cia, or Puros de Estelí Nicaragua S.A. (Pensa), the factory of J.C. Newman Cigar Company. A "white" dinner party, where everyone dresses in white (aided by the official festival guayabera shirt), was held at the Plaza Domingo Gadea and featured music and traditional dances. Participants were spread out among a number of ho- tels for the night in Estelí. Day four featured a choice of planta- tion and factory tours from among A.J. Fernández, Padrón, My Father Cigars, Plasencia, Procenicsa (Oliva Tobacco Co.), and Nicaragua American Cigars S.A. (Nacsa), Joya de Nicaragua, Scandinavian Tobacco Group, and Tavicusa. After lunch, a panel of Nicaraguan to- bacco experts, including the directors of the Nicaraguan Tobacco Chamber, pre- sented a Q&A session sharing insights about the history of the Nicaraguan in- dustry, market trends, and the economy of the industry. Among the speakers was Dr. Alejandro Martínez Cuenca, owner, and chairman of Joya de Nicaragua, the oldest cigar factory in Nicaragua. "Nicaragua is for cigars, as Napa Valley is for wine in the world," Cuenca said, kicking off his discussion. He noted that each region flourished following the removal of their respective prohibitions, both ironically in 1933. The repeal of the 18th Amendment in the U.S. prohibiting alcohol, and in Nicaragua the repeal of a U.S.-instituted ban on tobacco production following the country's occupation by U.S. forces, led each region on a long jour- ney to international prominence. Framed by that history, Cuenca called upon cigar enthusiasts throughout the world to fight back against the unprece- dented waves of government restrictions aimed at the cigar industry, which exist to purely to provide pleasure, Cuenca noted. The industry is not at risk, Cuenca con- tended, "because we are going to fight, as we have done in the past, to avoid any restrictions to cigar smoking. Regarding the eventual repeal of the U.S. embar- go against Cuba, Cuenca noted that the U.S. market will face a big transition and manufacturers in all of the major produc- ing regions will face new challenges. But with true choice available to American consumers, Nicaraguan cigars will have no trouble standing on their own, a theme echoed by Jorge Padrón of Padrón Cigars. Other speakers included Jonathan Drew of Drew Estate, Gustavo Cura of Oliva To- bacco, Nestor Andrés Plasencia of Plasen- cia Cigars, José Pepín García of My Fami- ly Cigars, Pete Johnson of Tatuaje Cigars, Christian Eiroa of C.L.E. Cigar Co., and Nicholas Melillo of Foundation Cigar Co. The closing gala dinner, hosted on the grounds of Drew Estate's tobacco facili- ty, DE II, capped off both the fourth day and the festival at large with a glamorous evening of fine food and a charity auction by CNT of exclusive, one-of-a-kind prod- ucts, the proceeds of which will benefit the most needy of Estelí's population. Puro Sabor 2017 will take place in Nicaragua the third week of January 2017, with full details to follow at www. PRODUCING REGIONS > > Above: Lunch at Rocky Patel's Tavacusa farm. Oppostite page: Welcome ferry cocktail reception on Lake Nicaragua; Juan Ignacio Martínez and Dr. Alejandro Martínez Cuenca, Joya de Nicaragua; Nicholas Melilo, Foundation Cigar Co.; and Pete Johnson, Tatuaje Cigars.

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