La Flor Dominicana, makers of the Andalusian Bull, Cigar Aficionado's 2016 Cigar of the Year, is expanding its factory in Tamboril, Dominican Republic, after a year of record cigar sales.
"We had the best year ever," said Litto Gomez, who owns La Flor Dominicana with his wife, Ines Lorenzo-Gomez. "We worked [the equivalent] of three-and-a-half months of overtime. I'm remodeling."
Gomez is adding 24 cigarmakers, which would put his factory at 90 rollers. He made around 3.7 million cigars in 2016 and expects the expansion to increase his factory's annual production to more than 4.5 million cigars.
"I had to do it," he told Cigar Aficionado during a phone interview. "I cannot be working that much overtime."
The expansion was planned even before his La Flor Dominicana Andalusian Bull was named Cigar of the Year. That smoke, which rated 96 points and retails for $15 before taxes, is on back order.
Gomez intends to begin the expansion after the ProCigar Festival, which concludes on February 24. He said the work should take about one month.
Gomez has been making cigars in the Dominican Republic since 1994, but never dreamed his business would become so large.
"That's way more than I ever planned. More than I ever dreamed of," he said. "You have to remember—during the cigar boom we had 14 rollers here." In the mid-1990s, he was making fewer than 1 million cigars a year. "There was no tobacco here, there was no tobacco available."
Gomez, who also grows his own tobacco on a farm in La Canela, Dominican Republic, says he will not expand operations any further. "That's it," he said. "No more."
This article first appeared in the January 10 edition of Cigar Insider.