Joya de Nicaragua Factory Tour
Recently while visiting Drew Estate in Esteli, Nicaragua, we had an opportunity to visit a few of the numerous factories located within just a few miles of each other. One such factory was Joya de Nicaragua, the oldest family operated cigar company in Nicaragua. While many cigar manufacturers are on an inexorable pace to expand and update their facilities, Joya de Nicaragua prefers to do things the same way they’ve done things for the last 50 years. You won’t see any Lieberman machines or automatic draw testing equipment here. Critical of draw testing equipment, Jose Blanco believes that a cigars draw is paramount and draw machines are difficult to keep calibrated and often result in a less than consistent product.
Once the tobacco is separated into groups of similar colors it is then bundled into bails of 50 and distributed by the bodega to the torcedors (cigar rollers) working in the salon.
The torcedors work in teams of two with one typically rolling the binder and filler and another affixing the wrapper. If it looks hot in there to you, it is!! Occasionally, the humidity and heat are so high during the rainy season the factories are forced to shut down for days at a time due to the effect the humidty has on the tobacco rolling process.
Once the cigars are rolled, the bundles make their way down to the quality control room. Here, teams of two rifle through dozens upon dozens of single cigars checking the wrapper for inconsistencies, measuring ring gauges, and rooting out the cigars that otherwise don’t meet Joya de Nicaragua’s standards. Next, it’s off to the cooling room where the cigars will rest in bundles until its time for them to be packaged and shipped. Finally, the bundles are separated and packaged for retail shelves.
We would like to thank Jose Blanco, Mario, and Steve Saka for an excellent tour and the comprehensive blending session that followed. More about that coming soon!