Posted: Dec 22, 2007 11:26am ET
I’m flying out of Miami early this afternoon, but I had time to fit one last meeting into my schedule before I left. This morning I had breakfast with Litto Gomez, maker of La Flor Dominicana, LG Diez and Coronado by La Flor cigars.
I’ve known Litto for more than 12 years now, and he’s making his best cigars ever. His Coronado by La Flor Double Corona was named our No. 2 Cigar of 2006. As Litto asked the waiter for “an emergency espresso,” he took a pressed corona from his Ziplok bag. It was a La Flor 2000 Series No. 3, his first cigar of this and every day.
Did I mention how much I love Miami? When we walked up to the maitre d' station at the Biltmore, we asked for a table where we could smoke cigars. We were seated in the midst of several other tables full of diners, and when the aroma of cigar smoke began to waft from our group no one blinked or said a word. A large cigar ashtray appeared promptly, and all was right with the world.
Litto flew in from Santiago last night, and he showed me photos of his new tobacco field. He recently acquired 45 acres adjacent to his existing farm in La Canela. Unlike the first property, which he shares with Jochi Blanco, this one is all his own.
The Dominican Republic was recently slammed by a freak December tropical storm. “To have a storm like we had the other day is just crazy,” said Litto. “It’s just not supposed to happen.”
His farm weathered the rains just fine, and he showed me photos of vibrant, green plans in various stages of planting. Since the 2004/05 crop, when the weather was absolutely dismal for growing tobacco, Litto has staggered his plantings to minimize the threat of damage from one weather event. “The weather has become unpredictable in the last four years, so we don’t plant the farm all at once [anymore]. We plant in three stages.” In 2004/05, he lost 70 percent of his crop, and the remainder wasn’t anything to brag about. “The 30 percent we picked, I know I’ll never use it,” he said.
We had a long breakfast, talking about tobacco, cigars, and SCHIP, as well as friends and family. After the plates had been cleared, Litto ordered a second espresso and pulled out his second cigar of the day, a La Flor Dominicana Double Ligero Chisel.
“You’re smoking a Chisel at 10 in the morning?” I asked, incredulous.
Litto shook his head, explaining that this was a three-year old Chisel, which had mellowed the strong cigar somewhat. He laughed. “I would not attempt to have a fresh Chisel after breakfast.”
I think a Chisel, whether fresh, three years old or even 10-years old, is probably too much cigar for most smokers before lunchtime, but don’t worry—Litto’s a professional. He can handle it.
It’s time to pack up my bags, check out of the lovely Biltmore and leave this great warm weather behind. I wish I had more time to meet the rest of Miami’s cigarmakers, and maybe just a day or two to hit the golf course right behind the hotel. Hopefully next time.
It’s been a great trip, but I miss my family and it’s time to join up with them to celebrate. Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all.
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