Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Dona Elba (Verdadero Organic)
Size: 6.5 x 50
Tobacco: Nicaragua (with Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper)
Eleanor Herron gifted me a unique cigar when she returned from her vacation to Nicaragua, where she told me she toured an organic tobacco factory between Grenada and Managua. The cigar featured a light brown wrapper with a sharp, but faint pre-light aroma. It had a pink band with yellow lettering and a somewhat fuzzy picture of a lady that looked like it had come off someone's home printer.
I found two small beetle holes underneath the band when I peeled it back. (Fortunately, the cigar was sheaved in cellophane, so hopefully nothing in my humidor was affected). This weakened the draw a little, but I found I could restore it by holding my finger over the holes when I puffed.
The taste was very interesting. Not at all like what I've come to expect from a Nicaraguan cigar. It was smooth and crisp, brimming with a sort of lemon-grass flavor. A couple online reviews noted the taste of raisins, but to me it was definitely more of a citrus nuance. Despite the Connecticut wrapper, it almost reminded me of a Cameroon. No spice. Medium body and strength. It had a noticeable tartness on the tongue, but with an airy finish and virtually no aftertaste. Paired well with a Yuengling lager, late in the afternoon, while grilling burgers over open charcoal.
A little internet research yielded a few interesting facts:
1. The Dona Elba Cigar Factory is owned by a man named Silvio Reyes. (He ran for mayer of Granada last year; I don't know if he won.)
2. Dona Elba cigars are sold in the United States under the brand name Verdadero Organic.
3. Organic cigars are grown with no pesticides, chemicals, or flavor enhancers. The soil that produces this organic tobacco has never been utilized to grow any other vegetation.
I think the concept of an organic cigar is strange. After all, aren't all cigars 100% organic? I can understand the use of pesticides (to get rid of the beetles, perhaps), but aren't most cigars free of chemicals and flavor enhancers?
But there's no denying this Dona Elba/Verdadero Organic is a different animal. It's fun to think that when the European settlers discovered tobacco in the New World, this is what it must have tasted like.