After the Cuban Revolution in 1959, many of Cuba’s best tobacco farmers and blenders emigrated to regions in Central America. According to historians, the Dominican tobacco production is credited to Carlos Toraño Sr. for introducing Cuban seed from Cuba’s Vuelta Abajo region to the Dominican Republic. The Cuban seed is commonly known as “Piloto Cubano.” Ever since, Dominican cigars have been really impressive over the years, and the country has offered a real competition with Cuba in terms of selling premium cigars.
Time, water, and the sun have established a valley in Central America where the fertile soils make the perfect condition to produce some of the best cigars in the world. Each village in the Dominican has its own unique climate and soil, and therefore its own quality of tobacco.
For example, the tobacco grown in the Northwest region Villa Gonzalez, usually called La Canela, there is a rich, full-bodied tobacco. However, the Southwest village of Jacagua has the most tropical climate and the richest, most bountiful soil. Most tobacco farmers here only grow two to three acres and work their land themselves.
Jacagua is more refined and elegant than La Canela. The Northwest Valley of Navarette has a much drier climate. The soil is much poorer than that of Jacagua. The farms in Navarette are much larger, some as large as 100 acres and are worked by hired help from the surrounding villages.
Most Dominican cigars produced in the Dominican cigar factories are a blend of tobaccos from nations including Nicaragua, Honduras, Ecuador, Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Cameroon, and the United States. The blenders mostly use Dominican tobacco as filler and occasionally binder too. The three key varieties of Dominican tobacco are Olor, Piloto Cubano and San Vicente.
Piloto is the best of the three, with the seed originating from Cuba's Vuelta Abajo. Due to the tobacco's rich and bold flavor, cigar manufacturers use it primarily as the filler to their blends. San Vicente is a hybrid of Piloto Cubano and originally developed on the farm of San Vicente in the Vuelta Abajo. San Vincente is slightly less powerful than Piloto. Olor has a dry and salty taste yet can be rather neutral in flavor. Cigar makers usually use varied amounts of all three in their blends, which are typically available in three levels of strength. In descending order of strength they are - ligero, seco, and volado.
The Dominican Republic, with its afternoon rain showers, breezes, and abundant sunshine, is home to infamous premium cigar makers such as Arturo Fuente, Cohiba, Macanudo, Partagas, and Montecristo. Released in 1995, Fuente Fuente Opus X was the first ultra-premium 100% Dominican cigar. Prior to Opus X’s release, few cigar makers believed the Dominican Republic could produce premium quality tobacco.
The Dominican Republic has soil very similar to Cuban soil. Although it is not exactly the same, the Dominican can produce tobaccos that are equally rich in depth, flavor, and strength. A true cigar aficionado would be a fool to dismiss the variety and richness of Dominican tobaccos.