When it comes to quality, few nations can rival the world-renowned production skills of Nicaragua. Costa Rica is no exception and has its fair share of top-notch cigar manufacturers. One of these companies is Tabacalera San Agustín (TSA). Located in Heredia, Costa Rica, this Tabacalera de A. Fuente y Cía is a subsidiary of Grupo Alfredo Fuente Jr., one of the most important cigar manufacturers in the country. Before we go any further, it’s essential that you know what a Costa Rican cigar is and isn’t. There are three main types of cigars produced in the country: Natural or “factory-made” cigars, “artisanal” or “handmade” cigars, and “natural-processed” cigars. These terms refer to how raw materials are used in the final product; they have nothing to do with where the manufacturer is located or its authenticity.
Costa Rican Cigars 101: Everything You Need To Know Table of Contents
What Are Costa Rican Cigars?
A Costa Rican cigar is a handmade cigar made from tobaccos that are grown in the country. They are rolled by hand, not machine-made and are often aged for several years. This aging process gives them an earthy, rich taste and makes them more flavorful than other cigars. The quality of a Costa Rican cigar depends on where they come from. The best ones come from San Agustín, Heredia’s Tabacalera de A. Fuente y Cía factory. These cigars are made entirely of tobacco grown in Costa Rica and have a smooth, toasty flavor with hints of coffee, chocolate, plum, caramel and spicy pepper notes.
What Is The History of Costa Rican Cigars?
The first documented cigar rollers in Costa Rica were Cuban and Spanish immigrants who started making cigars in the country around 1846. They would then sell them to locals and eventually export them. Today, approximately 70 percent of Costa Rican cigars are exported to the United States and only about 30 percent remain for domestic consumption.
Why Are Costa Rican Cigars So Popular?
An important reason why Costa Rican cigars are so popular is because they offer a great value for the money. You can get high-quality cigars from Costa Rica that are comparable to any other country’s smokes, but you won’t have to pay an arm and a leg for them. But this isn’t the only reason why these cigars are so popular. They also taste great and offer a variety of flavors that cater to most anyone’s preferences. So now that you know what makes Costa Rican cigars so good and what they're made of, let's take a look at some of the best brands on the market today: La Aurora Famosa Cuesta-Rey
How Are Costa Rican Cigars Made?
While Costa Rican cigars are made using a natural-processed process, they are not considered “handmade” cigars because they're mass-produced. They are made in the same way as any other cigars, which is by rolling tobacco leaves around a cigar tube and then filling it with an oily mixture of tobacco and leaves. Next, the cigar is wrapped in the distinctive Costa Rican banding before being given a final coat of light brown sugar. Costa Rican cigars can be found in three different formats: Boxes, bundles, or jars. To make boxes, tubes are first halved lengthwise before being rolled up and encased in paper with the label on top. Bundles and jars have no lid or label because there is nothing to seal them shut.
Who Are The Top Costa Rican Cigar Brands?
Costa Rica may not be the first country that comes to mind when thinking of cigars, but it has a growing reputation for producing high-quality, handcrafted cigars. The country's volcanic soil and tropical climate create an ideal environment for growing robust and flavorful tobacco. While Costa Rica's cigar industry is relatively small compared to other Central American countries, several brands stand out for their exceptional products.
Vegas de Santiago
Vegas de Santiago is one of Costa Rica's most well-known cigar manufacturers. This brand is celebrated for its use of high-quality tobaccos and its commitment to traditional cigar-making methods. Their range includes a variety of blends that cater to different tastes, but they're especially recognized for their Puros line, which uses 100% Costa Rican tobacco, offering a pure taste of what the country's soil has to offer.
Brun del Ré
Brun del Ré is another notable Costa Rican cigar company, which has gained international recognition for its premium cigars. They offer a diverse lineup, including the Colonial and Premium series, showcasing the brand's versatility. Brun del Ré uses a combination of local and imported tobaccos, and their cigars are known for their meticulous construction and balanced flavors.
Although MBombay cigars are crafted by Costa Rican hands, it's worth noting that the brand is actually based in the United States. The brand has gained a reputation for its complex and flavorful blends that often incorporate Costa Rican tobacco. Their Mbombay Classic series is a testament to the rich, nuanced profiles that can be achieved with Costa Rican leaves.
Marrero Cigar Co.
Marrero Cigar Co. is a boutique cigar brand that produces its cigars in Costa Rica. The brand focuses on small batch production and high-quality ingredients, which resonates with cigar enthusiasts looking for an artisanal smoking experience. The Tico cigar line is one of their signature products, emphasizing the company's Costa Rican roots.
The Atabey brand, while not exclusively Costa Rican, is produced by the Selected Tobacco company which crafts its cigars in Costa Rica. The brand is known for its ultra-premium cigars made from tobaccos that have undergone extensive aging processes. Atabey cigars are recognized for their smoothness and complexity, often commanding a higher price point for their quality.
What Are The Tasting Notes of Costa Rican Cigars?
A Costa Rican cigar is a naturally-grown bundle of leaves, which are carefully fermented and rolled before being hand-made with the most suitable leaves for each type of tobacco. The cigar itself is made from two types of tobacco: the filler and binder (which come from different places). While many Costa Rican cigars are mild to medium in flavor, there are also some that are very full and robust. With their unique taste profiles, you might notice some similarities among the three main types of cigars produced in Costa Rica. These similarities may be due to the fact that they’re all natural or “handmade” products. All three varieties have a similar taste profile and use tobaccos that are fermented only once before being pressed into shape by hand. Another similarity among this trio is their size; they’re all fairly small in diameter.
How Much Do Costa Rican Cigars Cost?
The cost of a Costa Rican cigar can vary depending on the brand. For example, a box of Tatuaje cigars from Nicaragua can range in price from $25-$60. However, a box of Tatuaje branded cigars from Costa Rica will only come at around $20-30. A more affordable option is to purchase a box of 10 RAW Natural Cigars by Tatuaje, which are handmade and natural-processed, and goes for about $50. If you’re looking for something more expensive, try some Tatuaje bands that have been aged in bourbon barrels and go for around $60 per stick.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Makes Costa Rican Cigars Unique?
Costa Rican cigars are distinguished by their rich volcanic soil, which imparts a unique taste and aroma to the tobacco. Grown in a tropical climate with a strong tradition in craftsmanship, these cigars offer a distinctive smoking experience with a flair of exotic charm.
How Does the Climate in Costa Rica Affect Cigar Quality?
The warm, humid climate of Costa Rica is ideal for growing tobacco, as it encourages a slow maturation process. This leads to a tobacco leaf that is full of complex flavors, with a smoothness that is hard to find elsewhere.
Are Costa Rican Cigars Hand-Rolled?
Yes, many Costa Rican cigars are meticulously hand-rolled by skilled artisans. This traditional method of production ensures the highest quality and preserves the art of cigar making that has been passed down through generations.
Can You Describe the Flavor Profile of Costa Rican Cigars?
Costa Rican cigars often present a medium to full-bodied flavor profile with earthy, woody notes, and a hint of natural sweetness. Some may also detect subtle undertones of coffee or cocoa, thanks to the rich soil in which the tobacco is cultivated.
What Are Some Renowned Costa Rican Cigar Brands?
Costa Rica boasts several esteemed brands like Brun del Ré, Vegas de Santiago, and Purisco, all of which are celebrated for their exceptional quality and flavor.
Is Costa Rica Known for Any Specific Type of Cigar?
Costa Rica is known for producing puros, cigars that are made entirely from tobacco grown within the country, allowing for a pure expression of the local terroir.
How Should I Store My Costa Rican Cigars to Maintain Freshness?
The ideal way to store your Costa Rican cigars is in a humidor set at 68-72% humidity. This will maintain the cigars’ moisture level and keep the flavors intact.
What Is the Best Way to Light a Costa Rican Cigar?
To properly light a Costa Rican cigar, use a butane lighter or wooden match, taking care to toast the foot evenly before taking slow and steady puffs. This ensures a consistent burn and optimal flavor.
How Does Costa Rican Tobacco Compare to Cuban Tobacco?
While Cuban tobacco is legendary, Costa Rican tobacco is making a name for itself with its unique characteristics. It's less about comparison and more about appreciating the different qualities each brings to the table, such as Costa Rica's nuanced flavors versus Cuba's boldness.
What Types of Tobacco Are Grown in Costa Rica?
Costa Rica is known for growing several varieties of tobacco, including Habano, Connecticut, and Criollo, each offering a unique flavor profile to cater to a variety of preferences.
Do Costa Rican Cigars Require a Special Type of Cut?
No special cut is required for Costa Rican cigars; a straight or guillotine cut is generally recommended for a clean and even draw.
Are There Any Limited Edition Costa Rican Cigars Available?
Yes, some Costa Rican cigar manufacturers produce limited edition cigars, often featuring rare blends and unique aging processes for a distinctive and luxurious smoking experience.
What Pairs Well with a Costa Rican Cigar?
Coffee, especially Costa Rican coffee, is an excellent pairing for these cigars, as it complements the earthy and sweet notes in the tobacco. Dark spirits like rum or whiskey also enhance the smoking experience.
How Does the Soil Composition in Costa Rica Influence Cigar Flavors?
The volcanic soils of Costa Rica are rich in minerals, contributing to a tobacco that has a depth of flavor and a certain minerality that can't be found in other regions.
What Is the Price Range of Costa Rican Cigars?
Costa Rican cigars range from moderately priced to premium. This ensures both casual enthusiasts and serious aficionados can enjoy what Costa Rican tobaccos have to offer.
How Long Does a Typical Costa Rican Cigar Last When Smoked?
The smoking time can vary depending on the size of the cigar, but a robusto-sized Costa Rican cigar will typically provide about an hour of smoking time.
Can Beginners Enjoy Costa Rican Cigars?
Absolutely, Costa Rican cigars come in a variety of strengths and flavor profiles that are suitable for beginners as well as seasoned smokers.
Are Costa Rican Cigars Well-Received in International Markets?
Costa Rican cigars are highly regarded in international markets, known for their quality and distinctive flavor profile. They are especially appreciated by connoisseurs looking for a unique smoking experience.
How Has the Cigar Industry in Costa Rica Evolved Over the Years?
The Costa Rican cigar industry has grown from small-scale operations to a respected player on the global stage, with an emphasis on quality and sustainable farming practices.
Is It Easy to Find Costa Rican Cigars Outside of Costa Rica?
While not as ubiquitous as some other international brands, Costa Rican cigars are available in many cigar shops around the world and can be purchased online from various retailers.
What Should a First-Time Smoker Know Before Trying a Costa Rican Cigar?
A first-time smoker should start with a milder cigar to accustom their palate to the flavors. It's also important to smoke slowly and evenly to avoid overheating the cigar, which can alter the intended flavor profile.