I’m back in the Dominican Republic, land of cigars. I’m always amazed when I realize how much time has passed since my last visit here because it always feel like I should come here all the time. At the same time, I always remember my first visit here back in 1992. You’ll find a story in the Premier Issue of Cigar Aficionado. The title? CigarLand.
Within minutes of walking into the hub of the ProCigar Festival, which is taking place here this week, I started seeing old friends, people I met on that first trip 18 years ago. Henke Kelner, the mastermind behind Davidoff and Avo cigars, was in the hotel lobby; there are very few people on the planet who understand tobacco better than he does. We chatted about old times, and he introduced me to one of his sons.
The next person I ran into was Manuel Quesada, of Casa Magna and Fonseca cigars, as well as a new brand being developed by his daughters called Quesada. Manuel is one of my favorite people in the cigar business and, in recent years, has been pushing the envelope of his cigars, especially with the Casa Magna brand. He’s one of the main spokespeople for ProCigar and one of the biggest believers in cigars from the Dominican Republic. And, he’s launched a new size of Quesada this week at the festival.
Guillermo Leon of La Aurora, Dan Carr of General Cigar. I’ve seen them, too. It’s already old home week here, and I’ve only been in the country three and a half hours.
I’ll be blogging over the next few days with some thoughts and observations about cigars from the Dominican Republic. One hot tip: Kelner told a press conference that while total acreage of tobacco planted is down significantly this year, due to the general economic climate around the world and the big inventories of tobacco here in the Dominican Republic, he says this year’s crop is going to be one of the most flavorful he’s seen in 10 years. That’s good news for cigar smokers everywhere.