From the 2005 RTDA show floor: Interview with Nestor Plasencia, Jr.
As a fan of the "P.R.O." myself, I asked Nestor how they came up with the idea of creating an 100% organically-grown cigar.
"Well, I have a degree in Agricultural Engineering and among the courses taught is one in organic agriculture," said Plasencia. "So, I started experimenting with organic growing techniques, began improving upon them, and eventually we ended up with a very good crop.
As you know, when the Europeans first came to the Americas, they discovered tobacco. At that time, of course, tobacco was only grown organically. So we thought if we can grow tobacco the way the native people did at that time, we could provide cigar smokers with the same taste as when the modern world first fell in love with tobacco. Plus, the other advantage is, it's environmentally friendly, which is better for the land. What goes on in the field is a very, very interesting process."
Is the process more expensive?
"Yes, it's more expensive and much harder labor-wise, but we welcome this as a challenge. Being a tobacco grower for so many years, the logic is that if we can make a great organically-grown cigar, we can do just about anything," said Mr. Plasencia. We're very proud that we are the only ones in the world that produce this kind of cigar and we have been certified by the Organic Certification Agency."
How does that happen?
"They come and inspect to see if we are growing and fertilizing the tobacco to their standards, which are very strict."
So you're doing the right thing.
"Yes, we guarantee our customers that they are getting a very good cigar. And it truly is organic in every way."
Plus it's all Nicaraguan tobacco, so you could say it's a pure puro.
"Yes, we have two farms in Nicaragua where we grow organically. In Jalapa and Esteli. This helps give the blend its unique flavor and complexity."
What are the three most important things that make a good cigar?
"One, the quality of the tobacco itself. Two, the blending, and finally, the construction. In our case, we also make sure that the consistency in the quality of the tobacco is carefully controlled on all our farms in each country we grow.
Why is wrapper so important in the making of the cigar?
"It depends on the size of the cigar. For me, wrapper affects for 40 to 60% of the taste of the cigar. Say, you have a ring gauge of 42, the percentage of wrapper influence in the taste is much higher than in a cigar that is a 56 ring gauge."
What is the biggest change you've seen in the cigar industry over the years?
"I'm surprised at how many young people are getting into cigars. I like this because it's one of the good things in life, like good wine. I like the enthusiasm, and for us as a tobacco family, that's very good. We're also looking forward to the next generation, our own children, to come into the business."
Let's talk about La Floridita. This cigar is a smash hit with our customers. A couple of years ago, you were given the task of having to remake it from a blend that originally came from another factory in another country. So how were you able to follow their act with such huge success?
"You have to taste the cigar. Keep in mind that flavor, where the tobacco came from, etc. It's not easy, but you keep experimenting until you get it right."
I like when a cigar is smooth and creamy. What, if anything, helps produced those characteristics?
"The blend, the kind of tobacco, and of course, the aging."
What makes "the perfect cigar"?
"What it really comes down to for me is, I think when you put your heart into the process, then you have a perfect cigar. There are a lot of good cigars on the market made by people who are passionate about cigars, which is something that's very good for all of us, that is both the manufacturers and the consumers."
Gary Korb has been writing and editing content for CigarAdvisor.com since its debut in 2008. An avid cigar smoker for over 30 years, during the past 12 years he has worked on the marketing side of the premium cigar business as a Sr. Copywriter, blogger, and cigar reviewer. A graduate of the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, prior to his career in the cigar business, Gary worked in the music and video industry as a marketer and a publicist.Show all Gary Korb's Articles