Cigars in Santiago

I've left behind the ice and snow in New York for the tropical heat of Santiago, Dominican Republic. The ProCigar Festival is in full swing, and many of the nation's cigar companies are showing some 300 visitors all there is to know about Dominican cigars.

Last night was the annual white party, a grand affair held at the Santiago monument where everyone dresses in white, typically guayaberas for the men (watch those cigar ashes) and the drinks and cigars flow freely. This year many of the makers chose to unveil new smokes in a fine sampler box handed out at dinner. Litto Gomez had a maduro version of his La Flor Dominicana Air Bender, the Quesadas, who are celebrating 40 years of making cigars in the Dominican Republic in 2014, handed out their 40th anniversary smoke, and Davidoff handed out a special perfecto I'll tell you more about in a later blog. It was quite the evening.

While the nights in Santiago are centered around celebratory dinners, the days involve tours to cigar factories and tobacco fields. New for this year are visits to the operations of (relatively) new ProCigar members Fuente, La Flor Dominicana and Tabacalera Alianza.

The people here at the Festival include many retailers from the United States and abroad, and cigar enthusiasts from various countries. Everyone here is in the cigar spirit—big time. After the dinner, I ended up with a large group staying at the Camp David Resort, and despite having smoked cigars all day and night, no one wanted to call it quits. A little rum came out, more cigars were clipped, and we puffed away into the night, looking down upon the twinkling lights of the city of Santiago.

The cigar spirit is quite strong here in the Dominican Republic.