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Cigar Factories Still in the USA

J. Bennett Alexander Alexander's picture

J. Bennett Alexander

A cigar’s origin is determined by where it’s made. Curiously, it doesn’t really matter how much tobacco, say, a cigar made in the Dominican Republic has in it from Nicaragua. It’s still a Dominican cigar. What you don’t find a lot of these days are premium, handmade cigars with the label “Made in the USA.” That wasn’t always the case.

Back in the Day

Just before the 20th century came around, it’s estimated that the U.S. supported about 42,000 cigar factories. Cleveland had 300 by itself! You could even find cigar factories in the Quad Cities along the Mississippi River. Today, according to Cigar Aficionado, there are about 50 factories in the U.S. “still sourcing tobacco and rolling their own smokes by hand, day in and day out.” And most of them, as you might have guessed, are in Florida. Many of the factories spread across the country are small, maybe having only one roller. So, the definition of “factory” could be very broadly inclusive. We chose some of our favorites to check out.

The Big Boys

J.C. Newman

Julius Caesar Newman founded the factory known as “El Reloj” (the clock) in 1910 in Tampa, Florida’s Ybor City. At this factory, a historic red-brick building, cigars continue to be made by hand and by machine. The latest project here is a cigar made to honor the “American cigar-making tradition.” Called “The American,” this cigar brand was first rolled when the factory opened. It is an American puro, using a Florida sun-grown wrapper, Connecticut Broadleaf binder, and Pennsylvania and Connecticut filler. It’s among the rarest cigars from J.C. Newman today.

El Rey de Los Habanos

This Miami cigar factory has a Cuban flag prominently placed in its window. That’s a nod to the Cuban roots of Jose “Pepin” Garcia, best known as the force behind My Father Cigars. The name of the factory translates into the “King of Cuban Cigars,” but since Garcia opened a larger factory in Nicaragua, this small factory in Doral now makes the Don Pepin Garcia Original line of cigars, about $7-$10, including Lanceros and Torpedos. The cigars have a Nicaraguan Corojo wrapper enveloping a blend of Nicaraguan fillers. This is a full-bodied cigar.

El Rey de Los Habanos also makes the Tatuaje 15th Anniversary Oscuro and Rosado, both full-bodied, about $17-$21. The Ecuador Rosado wrapper contains rich Nicaraguan filler and binder. It’s a pretty spicy flavor. The Oscuro wrapper is also from Ecuador, with an all-Nicaraguan inside and a bit more pepper and coffee bean notes than the Rosado.

Aganorsa Leaf

This factory, previously Casa Fernandez, is in Miami and makes cigars, like the Aganorsa Leaf Maduro Robusto Extra, with tobacco from Nicaragua and Mexico. This cigar was in Cigar Aficionado’s ‘Top 25 Cigars of the Year’ in 2016.

El Titan de Bronze

Named for a legendary Cuban military leader, this Little Havana cigar factory in Miami makes its own cigars and also rolls for La Palina, Drew Estate, Warped and others.

Some Smaller Operations Around the Nation

Bobalu Cigar Co., Austin, TX

This factory has been around since 1997 and makes its cigars with long-filler from the DR, Nicaragua, and Honduras. Wrappers used include Sumatra, Cameroon Maduro, Habana98, Criollo, Corojo, Brazilian Maduro, Connecticut Shade, and Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro. You have to deal directly with the factory.

Cigar Factory, New Orleans, LA

This factory caters to its own shops (in New Orleans; Destin and Pensacola, FL; and San Diego, CA) and also manufactures more than 60,000 cigars a month and is now selling them to retailers. One blend uses Connecticut Shade, Cameroon, and Connecticut Broadleaf wrappers, with Nicaraguan filler and binder. The other has Brazilian and Nicaraguan filler and a Brazilian binder contained in either an Ecuador Connecticut Shade or Brazilian Maduro wrapper.

Kentucky Gentlemen Cigar Co.

Yes, cigars are being made in Kentucky, in the capital, Frankfort. The promise here is that the cigars are “filled with flavorings from our own Kentucky heritage including Bourbon, Whiskey, Moonshine or even Mint Julep, therefore someone can experience cigars available from nowhere else.” So, if you’re ever in Kentucky….

Jimenez Tobacco

Run by a Cuban family that fled the Castro revolution, this Newark, NJ, cigar factory uses tobacco from “Brazil, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Indonesia, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico, and the fine state of Connecticut.” The master blender is Nelda Pozo-Jimenez, the matriarch of the family.

And in Florida…

Cuba Tobacco Cigar Co.

A family that was in the cigar business in Cuba for 100 years, the Bellos opened this factory in 1994. Their “Bello” cigar, a mild-medium blend, is made in Little Havana.

Moore & Bode Cigars

Born in Miami in 1990, this factory boasts a former master cigar-maker from the H. Upmann factory in Havana, Cuba. The operation produces various shapes and strengths with tobaccos sourced all over the globe.

The Original Key West Cigar Factory

This is the oldest cigar company in Key West, FL, opening in 1963. They use mainly Dominican and Nicaraguan tobaccos and Connecticut wrappers.

Rodriguez Fabrica de Tabacos

This Cuban family fled the island after the Castro Revolution and opened in Key West in 1971. They offer four proprietary lines of cigars.

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