“There are no bad cigars … only better ones.” There are many clichéd adjectives to describe the flavor of a fine cigar. Such worn out jargon as “full-bodied,” “mild,” “tart” or “woody” is often bandied about in smoking lounges. I keep it simple with, “Wow, this is nice.”
While recently making a visit to the Bodden Town Post Office, I noticed a new sign right next to the Beach Bubbles gift shop: Cayman Cigars – Hand Rolled. I was puffing on a Cuban Montecristo #2 at the time. Did my eyes deceive me? Hand rolled Cayman Cigars? It couldn’t be, yet there it was – a little shop with several torcedors rolling Cayman cigars. Torcedors (official hand-rollers) are highly respected in the Cuban society and culture, so to watch rollers in Bodden Town (of all places) displaying their art was not only a surprise but also a delight for this stogie-puffing aficionado.
After further investigation, I hooked up with Bud Volinsky, Granger Haugh and Derik Feher of Beacon Farms, the brains behind Cayman Cigars. They invited me out to their vast plantation in the heart of North Side. During the tour, I was enlightened with a bit of Cayman History that even this 40 year resident was unaware of.
The enjoyment of tobacco in the Cayman Islands dates to the mid-17th century when settlers, voyagers and explorers landed on our beaches – beaches devoid of condos, Jet Skis and high-rises. At the time, Cayman became a critical provisioning site for seafarers, pirates and early residents. Archaeological excavations have unearthed ceramic and clay tobacco pipes, most likely brought from Jamaica or Spain. Descendants of Cayman’s pioneering families share stories of early settlers of the island enjoying Cayman-grown tobacco for both personal use and as a bartering staple. Many of Cayman’s original residents came from throughout the Caribbean, including Jamaica and Cuba, bringing their knowledge of tobacco farming techniques with them.
To understand the agriculture behind growing tobacco leaves, one must understand the end product. There are three parts to a fine cigar: the filler, the binder and the wrapper. The filler is folded together and then wrapped by the binder. Then, one end of the cigar is cut clean and the cigar is placed into a wooden mold. The cigar sits in the mold for 30 minutes, at which point the second end is cut clean, the cigar is rotated 180 degrees, and left to sit for another 30 minutes in the mold. This all can be further explained and understood when touring Beacon Farms and its shop in Bodden Town.
The tobaccos and cigar blends at Cayman Cigar Company are hand selected for quality and superiority and fashioned into premium cigars, while remaining true to traditional artisanal blending and rolling methods. This is all under the direction of torcedor Barbara Garcia, a master level cigar roller. Cayman Cigar Company is introducing handcrafted, locally rolled and packaged premium cigars to the local, U.S., and overseas marketplace.
Cayman Cigar Company is the only cigar company in the world that donates 100 percent of its net profits to charity. Its Beacon Farms production facility is part of the Beacon Hope Foundation Cayman. While planting “seeds of change,” the organization is “growing” jobs for native Caymanians who work and live at Beacon Farms.
I waited for a special occasion to try my first Sovereign #2 Cayman cigar; it was New Year’s Eve. After a wonderful dinner, my wife booted me out of the house (I’m not allowed to smoke cigars inside). I sat by the poolside with some local rum and lit up. The flash of the lighter became a glimmer and the tobacco turned into a red hot ember. I put away distractions and problems and allowed myself to do what I do best – relax, recuperate, regenerate and enjoy a full-bodied cigar with a touch of creaminess and a smooth draw that appeals to my palate.
I just contradicted my opening paragraph. What I meant to say was, “Wow, this is nice.”
For more information on Beacon Farms, visit www.beaconfarms.ky. To learn about the Cayman Cigar Company, see www.caymancigars.com.