The rolling gallery of Tabolisa, which is Oliva Cigar Co.’s primary factory in the heart of Estelí. It currently employs 300 pairs of rollers who make brands like the Oliva Serie V and Serie V Melanio.
The expansion of Oliva Cigar Co. in Nicaragua since it was acquired in 2016 sends a strong message to both consumers and to the cigar industry: they are heavily invested. Over the last few years, Oliva has been purchasing farm land, constructing more facilities for processing tobacco and increasing its capacity to produce cigars with larger rolling galleries and multiple factories.
While the growth appears to be continual it’s also controlled, as the consistency of Oliva’s products are reflected in its high scores. According to Oliva, it produced around 40 million cigars in 2022 by hand, and the company’s footprint in Nicaragua grows by the year. Cigar Aficionado is here in Nicaragua for the Puro Sabor festival and visited Oliva’s impressive operation.
In the sorting room, tobacco is arranged by size and color. Here, sorters are classifying filler tobacco grown in Nicaragua.
Tobacco handlers moisten wrapper leaf under the fine spray of these misters. The tobacco must be supple enough for rolling.
Like a bidder at an auction, a cigar roller raises a paddle signaling that he needs more tobacco.
A tray of Oliva Serie V Melanio Churchills after spending some time in the press, which gives the cigar its box-pressed appearance.
In the Condega region, a field of Corojo 2012 is on its way to maturity. This plot is called Preindustria, and is part of a trio of farms collectively known as the White Farm, which grows mostly filler tobacco.
High upon a perch at the Terra Nova farm, which is part of the White Farm collective, you get a sense for how vast the fields are. Notice the darkness of the soil in the unplanted areas.
Right on the PanAmerican highway, the new Las Mesitas facility is used to process, ferment and store tobacco. The large, beautifully landscaped building is 180,000 square feet.
A worker rotating a large pilon of Corojo 2012 tobacco from Somoto. Temperature is continuously monitored to ensure that the tobacco doesn’t get too hot. Fermentation relies on moisture, naturally occurring heat and pressure.