Cigar Aficionado

La Aurora Cigar Institute To Open At ProCigar Festival

La Aurora Cigar Institute To Open At ProCigar Festival

Tobacco school is almost in session. La Aurora, one of the oldest cigar manufacturers in the Dominican Republic, is preparing to officially open its Cigar Institute, a tobacco education facility located on the second floor of the company's cigar factory in Santiago de los Caballeros, in the Dominican Republic.

"Construction on the Institute finished a few weeks ago. We've done a couple of test runs of the classes and the Institute is officially opening at ProCigar," said Jason Wood, vice president of Miami Cigar & Co., which distributes La Aurora cigars to the United States.

The Institute will offer classroom-style courses in all aspects of cigars and tobacco education, including lessons on tobacco plant varietals, soils and cultivation—to more theoretical topics such as the history of tobacco and its social and economic role in the Dominican Republic. Practical coursework will include lessons on rolling, blending, cigar tasting and food-and-drink pairing.

"People who take the courses will be learning from the pros," Wood said. "Benji Menéndez, Ángel Daniel Núñez...and of course, Guillermo León and Manuel Inoa will be on hand to assist."

Wood is referring to the teachers at Cigar Institute, which include cigar industry veterans Ángel Daniel Núñez (former president of General Cigar Co.), Benjamín Menéndez, (former senior vice president at General), La Aurora president Guillermo León and La Aurora master blender Manuel Inoa. Typical courses run three days, with students eligible to receive a certificate of accreditation upon successful completion of the coursework and a final knowledge assessment. However, shorter courses have also been developed for students, and will be offered for those with only a few hours to spare.

The courses offered at the ProCigar fest will be shorter than standard courses due to the time constraints of the festival, which runs February 21 to 26. The first block of full-day courses will run February 29 to March 2. More will be scheduled throughout the year.

La Aurora's Cigar Institute is the most recent construction project to come to fruition at the La Aurora cigar factory. Last year, the company completed a cigar and tobacco museum as part of its factory tour program. The museum showcases not only the history and milestones of the La Aurora Cigar Co., but also the Dominican cigar industry as a whole.

"The idea with the factory tour is once again education any time of the year, and to show the consumer the cigarmaking process from seed to final crop," Wood said.

The tour includes an interactive video, a walk through the tobacco museum, a walk through the rolling gallery to see the cigarmakers at work, and finally a stop upstairs to visit the La Aurora lounge.

This article first appeared in the February 16, 2016 issue of Cigar Insider.