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Cigar 101

Ometepe Tobacco

J. Bennett Alexander Alexander's picture

J. Bennett Alexander

If you’ve been smoking premium cigars for even a couple of years, you know that Nicaragua produces some of the finest. Superb tobacco has been grown there ever since Cuban tobacco growers and cigar-makers fled their own country after their businesses had been nationalized by the Castro regime in 1959 and the early 1960s. There are four main tobacco growing regions in Nicaragua. Jalapa, Estelí, and Condega are in the north. The small, volcanic island of Ometepe is the fourth.


Ometepe Tobacco

The island of Ometepe – the name comes from the Aztec word for two peaks – from a bird’s-eye view, looks like an imbalanced dumbbell or an abstract fried chicken leg or an hourglass. (Okay, maybe I got a buzz from that last cigar.) The island sits in Lake Nicaragua, towards the south of the country. The southern shore of the lake comes close to bordering Costa Rica. On the northern part of the island, the active Volcán Concepción, or Conception Volcano, sits right in the middle. On the southern part of the island is the dormant Volcán Maderas. The tobacco grown near the volcanos is fairly strong, generally sweet, and earthy, and nutrified by the rich volcanic soil. The crops are usually relatively small compared with Nicaragua’s other growing regions.

Volcanic Soil

Volcanic soil is valued for its richness and is very fertile. Some of the most important minerals in fertilizers such as iron, magnesium and potassium, are found abundantly in volcanic soil. Some of the world’s top tobacco growing regions are found near volcanoes. That includes the San Andrés Valley in Mexico, Ecuador, and Sumatra (in Indonesia).

Our Favorite Ometepe Cigar

Among the better cigars made using the Ometepe tobacco are the Plasencia Alma de Fuego. This is a medium-full cigar that blends long-fillers from Jalapa with the volcanic Ometepe strain. Plasencia ages the Ometepe tobacco for seven years to get it to be supremely smooth. The Alma de Fuego (Soul of Fire) is wrapped in a reddish-brown leaf from Jalapa. You’ll find significant notes of coffee, clove, and pepper and a sweet, nutty finish. This is a cigar for the experienced smoker who can handle the power. The Candente, a Robusto, 5-by-50, sells for about $15. The Concepción, named for the volcano, is a Toro, 6-by-54, about $16 apiece.

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