The city itself is a fantastic place, teeming with wonderful people and incredible food. Despite being a developing country, there is considerable wealth there. While not everyone can indulge in the best restaurants, the local food scene surpasses expectations. I got to spend a day in the capital, and what it has to offer rivals most major cities anywhere in the world.
Cigar manufacturers in the Dominican Republic exhibit better camaraderie than in some other cigar-making countries. I'm not suggesting strained relationships in other places; they just seem to collaborate more seamlessly here. Whether it's a cultural influence or another factor, my best guess is that the largest tobacco growers are not also manufacturers here (in most cases).
Surprisingly, a significant amount of Dominican tobacco finds its way to Nicaragua, a fact not openly admitted. For some reason, Nicaraguan cigar makers prefer not to disclose their use of other tobaccos, while Dominican manufacturers take pride in discussing their incorporation of Nicaraguan tobacco.
Despite a devastating fire at the William Ventura cigar factory, they are making a triumphant return. I had the opportunity to preview the new factory opening in just a couple of weeks, and it's truly impressive.
The current growing season has been favorable, with a balanced climate—not too hot and not too much rain. While abundant rain might seem beneficial, farmers prefer to control the water their plants receive. This should result in some truly special cigars in three or more years.
The price of raw tobacco remains expensive each year, and there's no sign of it decreasing anytime soon. This will ultimately result in higher priced cigars.
While manufacturers such as La Aurora, Davidoff, and many others cigars are enjoyed here, Fuente seems to be the brand of choice amongst the well-to-do. And for those who are wondering, the cost of cigars is slightly higher here.
It's not a new thought, but I can't help but think it every time I show someone around for the first time. If you love cigars, you owe it to yourself to visit a cigar-making country and take a tour.