Peruvian cigars are almost exclusively produced in the central coastal region of the country. This not only makes for an ideal climate for growing tobacco but also allows Peruvian manufacturers to tap into production capacities and economies of scale from one main hub. Because of this, a lot of Peruvian manufacturers have taken to calling their product ‘Ecuadoran’ instead. Peru is Latin America’s largest producer of tobacco and home to some of the world’s most renowned cigar companies. The majority of these manufacturers are based in Lima, with other factories located throughout central Peru including Arequipa, Ayacucho, Puno, and Tacna. Cigars are mostly made in the north and east regions of the country but there is a growing concentration closer to the capital. Here you will find facilities belonging to both famous brands as well as small boutique operations producing limited runs under their own name.
Peruvian Cigars 101: Everything You Need To Know Table of Contents
What Are Peruvian Cigars?
Peruvian cigars are a type of puro (short for pure) that is produced entirely within the borders of Peru. They often feature an Ecuadoran wrapper, but because the country boasts excellent tobacco growing conditions, many cigar manufacturers have taken to calling their product 'Ecuadoran' instead. While production of Peruvian cigars is dominated by one company in particular, there are more than a dozen other smaller companies producing unique blends under their own name. These smaller operations can be found throughout central Peru, including Lima, Arequipa, and Puno. When it comes to flavors and blends, you will find a number of different options in the market with some offering Cuban inspiration as well as others being classic tobacco-based smokes.
Here you will also find brands that offer a range of tastes from mild to strong with some even going so far as to combine two types of tobacco into one blend. The most popular varieties among the general public include Coronas or Creme de Menthe which are typically light bodied and milder in flavor while Habanos or Maduros which tend to be stronger with richer flavors and darker leaf wrappers. Some are even mixed with herbal or fruit additives like mint, apple, peach, cherry, and almond.
What Is The History of Peruvian Cigars?
Peruvian cigars have been around since the 1700s, when they were first produced in tobacco plantations throughout the country. The first documented mention of Peruvian cigars was in 1747, when Spaniard Don Antonio de Ulloa wrote about the Spanish settlers' “very good quality” tobacco from La Libertad. However, there is some evidence that suggests this tradition might date back even further to the time of Inca rule. The modern history of Peruvian cigars begins with cigar maker Juan Lopez-Lopez Sr., who opened his factory in 1879 and began producing a smaller version of Dominican cigars known as ‘panatelas’. Lopez-Lopez Sr.'s success led to a boom in cigar manufacturing in Peru, which became one of the most important players on the world market by the early 20th century. By then, some Cuban immigrants had made their way to Peru, where they were able to take advantage of cheap labor and tobacco production capabilities.
Why Are Peruvian Cigars So Popular?
The popularity of Peruvian cigars is largely due to their quality and abundance. A variety of factors account for this, chief among them being the perfect climate that they are grown in. The humid tropical climate means cigars are never too dry or too moist, allowing for a constant temperature to grow in. This allows manufacturers to produce a high-quality product from one location without it being difficult or expensive. There is also plenty of tobacco available. Peru produces more tobacco than any other country in South America, meaning there is low-cost raw material for manufacturers to work with. Like its competitors, the Peruvian government does not tax tobacco production like it does many other goods making it an attractive proposition for investors looking to invest in the industry. Finally, you don’t have to wait long for your cigar order. Unlike many countries where cigar orders can take weeks or even months before they arrive, Peruvians appreciate fast delivery so they can enjoy these new products as soon as possible.
How Are Peruvian Cigars Made?
Peruvian cigars are made using a two-step process. For the first step, tobacco is fermented in a temperature controlled barn. This provides the necessary maturity and allows the leaves to ferment in their own natural juices. Once fermented, tobacco is left to rest for about a month before it can be rolled into cigars. The second step of production involves rolling the cigar around paper called capa or binder and then wrapping it with either a pigtail or leaf wrapper of tobacco leaves. The cigar makers then use their own hands for the final part of the process, which entails capping off each individual cigar and applying protective oil or casing onto them.
Who Are The Top Peruvian Cigar Brands?
Peru is not the most renowned country in the cigar industry, but it produces unique tobacco with distinctive qualities. Peruvian tobacco is often used as a component in blends for its spicy and sweet notes, adding complexity and depth to the cigar's flavor profile. Though the country may not have a large number of cigar brands, there are notable producers creating high-quality cigars that offer something different for enthusiasts looking to explore tobacco from different regions.
Inca - Secret Blend
Inca - Secret Blend is one of the top Peruvian cigar brands and is notable for being made entirely of Peruvian tobaccos, a rarity in the industry. This puro approach showcases the full potential of Peruvian tobacco. The brand was developed by Gennaro Lettieri and has been appreciated for offering a unique and flavorful smoking experience.
Tabacos del Pacífico Norte S.A.C.
Tabacos del Pacífico Norte S.A.C. is a lesser-known brand but significant as a local Peruvian producer. While they may not have a wide international reach, their cigars are handcrafted and provide an authentic Peruvian smoking experience, highlighting the distinctive qualities of the local tobacco.
Barbarian Cigars is a brand that offers hand-rolled cigars incorporating Peruvian tobacco. Although information about this brand might be limited, they are part of a niche market of artisanal producers within Peru, catering to a local and regional clientele who seek the nuanced flavors of Peruvian tobacco.
What Are The Tasting Notes of Peruvian Cigars?
Peruvian cigars are known for their high quality and superior tobacco. The aging process of these cigars is also well developed, making them some of the best-tasting cigars in the world. For a cigar to be considered a true Peruvian, it must be made in Peru using tobacco from Peru. Often times, Peruvian cigars will have an earthy flavor with a hint of pepper and spice notes that give them a unique taste. There are also some brands that will have a mulberry or other fruit flavors on their wrappers. Peru has been exporting their tobacco production since the time of the Incas, who used tobacco leaves as currency. This practice continued for quite some time until finally stopped during the 1800s because the country was too poor to meet its own needs for tobacco production.
How Much Do Peruvian Cigars Cost?
Peruvian cigars are generally affordable, with most in the $10-30 range. Within this budget, you may be able to find a high-quality cigar in either the robusto or toro size. There are some exceptions such as the Cohiba Maduro, which typically sells for around 150 USD. A box of 20 can also cost nearly 1,500 USD or more when it is on sale.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Sets Peruvian Cigars Apart from Other Cigars?
Peruvian cigars are unique due to the distinct flavor profile of Peruvian tobacco, which is often described as being robust with a slightly sweet undertone. The combination of rich soil and favorable climate contributes to a tobacco that is both aromatic and flavorful.
Are Peruvian Cigars Handmade or Machine-Made?
Most premium Peruvian cigars are handmade, following traditional cigar-making techniques. This ensures each cigar is a product of craftsmanship and quality.
What Flavor Characteristics Can I Expect from Peruvian Cigars?
Expect a complex flavor profile from Peruvian cigars, ranging from earthy and woody to hints of spice and sweetness. The diverse geography of Peru allows for a variety of tobacco flavors.
How Does the Peruvian Climate Affect Tobacco Cultivation?
Peru's climate, particularly in the regions where tobacco is grown, offers a perfect balance of sun, rain, and humidity, which is ideal for cultivating rich and aromatic tobacco.
Can You Recommend a Peruvian Cigar for a Novice Smoker?
For novice smokers, a Peruvian cigar with a milder blend would be a good start. Ask for brands that offer a balanced and smoother smoke to ease into the experience.
What is the History of Cigar Production in Peru?
Cigar production in Peru dates back to pre-Colombian times, but it was in the 1960s that Peru started to gain recognition for producing high-quality cigars that could compete on an international level.
How Should I Store Peruvian Cigars?
Store your Peruvian cigars in a humidor at 65-70% humidity to maintain their optimal condition. This prevents them from drying out and preserves the essential oils that give the cigars their flavor.
What Is the Proper Way to Light a Peruvian Cigar?
Light a Peruvian cigar with a torch lighter or wooden match, toasting the foot evenly before taking smooth and consistent draws. This will help to avoid an uneven burn.
Do Peruvian Cigars Come Pre-Cut?
Peruvian cigars typically do not come pre-cut. You will need a sharp cigar cutter to make a clean cut across the cap before you light it.
What Are Some Popular Peruvian Cigar Brands?
While Peruvian cigars may be less known than other regions, brands like Inca, Tabacalera del Oriente, and Peruvian Secret are gaining international acclaim for their quality.
What Size and Shape Options Are Available in Peruvian Cigars?
Peruvian cigars are available in various sizes and shapes, from robustos to churchills, catering to personal preferences in length and ring gauge.
Are Peruvian Cigars Suitable for Pairing with Spirits?
Absolutely, Peruvian cigars pair wonderfully with a range of spirits. Try them with a pisco, Peru's national liquor, for an authentic Peruvian experience.
How Long Should I Expect a Peruvian Cigar to Last When Smoked?
The smoking time for a Peruvian cigar depends on its size, but a standard robusto size should provide you with about an hour of smoking pleasure.
Are There Any Organic Options for Peruvian Cigars?
Organic tobacco farming is a growing trend, and while they are still somewhat rare, there are producers in Peru who are dedicated to organic cigar production.
What Is the Price Range for Peruvian Cigars?
Peruvian cigars can vary in price, but they generally offer a range from affordable to premium, allowing for a wide array of choices for consumers.
What Pairs Well with a Peruvian Cigar?
A dark-roasted coffee or a sweet dessert wine can complement the flavor profile of a Peruvian cigar quite nicely.
How Do I Choose the Right Peruvian Cigar?
Your choice should be based on personal taste preferences in strength and flavor, as well as the occasion for smoking. Sampling different cigars is the best way to find your preferred profile.
Can Peruvian Cigars Be Enjoyed by Both Experienced and New Smokers?
Yes, Peruvian cigars offer a spectrum of flavor profiles and strengths that cater to both the seasoned aficionado and the new smoker.
What Makes Peruvian Tobacco Different from Other South American Tobaccos?
Peruvian tobacco is often characterized by its robust flavor and rich aroma, distinguishing it from other South American tobaccos which may have milder characteristics.
How Are Peruvian Cigars Viewed in the International Cigar Community?
In the international community, Peruvian cigars are viewed as a niche product that provides a unique and exotic smoking experience, with a growing reputation for quality.
Are Peruvian Cigars Available Worldwide?
While not as widely distributed as some other international brands, Peruvian cigars are becoming more available globally as their reputation grows, particularly in specialty cigar shops.
Embracing the essence of Peru's vibrant culture and rich tobacco heritage, Peruvian cigars are an indulgence that promises a delightful journey for the palate. With each puff, you're not just smoking a cigar; you're partaking in a tradition that’s as old as the mountains that cradle the tobacco fields. Whether you're a seasoned smoker or just starting, a Peruvian cigar is sure to intrigue and satisfy.