One of the highlights of our entire trip to Nicaragua, in addition to our stay at Gran Pacifica Resort, was the amazing tour of the Spanish colonial city of Granada.
Specifically knocking off our proverbial socks was the Mombacho Cigar boutique factory, named after the massive nearby extinct volcano. MombachoÂs courtyard-style facility has received acclaim from TripAdvisor.com with a 2012 Certificate of Excellence. Master blender and director of operations Claudio, a Sicily native who speaks immaculate English, spent quite a bit of time with us, explaining the steps of the process of cigar-making from soil and seed to finished product.
He showed us maps where the best tobacco is grown in the northern mountains of Nicaragua, a bowl of dark rich volcanic soil that is perfectly suited for growth, and the miniscule-sized tobacco seed grains. We saw example plants in bloom where the lower, middle and top leaves all will have a different consistency and taste.
Claudio also took us behind-the-scenes at the fermentation and storage areas used for aging cigars to just the right blend, taste and consistency. All of the steps are patiently calculated, executed and tested for just the right combination that produces just the right result. My traveling companion, who is a student of all aspects of the cigar experience, inhaled deeply into a fermented leaf, and said if it smells like horse manure (which it did), it will result in a great smoke.
Mingling with Cigar Aficionados
In the outdoor, shaded Mombacho lounge, next to an aqua-blue swimming pool, we met the company president Marco and enjoyed an absolutely delicious handmade cigar. The Mombacho entrepreneurs are based in Toronto, Canada, where they are affiliated with Steam Whistle Brewing. My traveling companion was going to be a better judge of this all than me. He subscribes to Cigar Aficionado Magazine and many catalogues, and regularly enjoys the best of the best Central America brands of PadrÃ³n, Perdomo, CAO and Oliva, among many others.
Upon trying a Mombacho for the first time, my friend smiled that truly pleased smile, and said that it was right at the top, just a superb taste that rivaled anything else he ever had tried. We later walked into an amazing humidor where box upon box of Mombachos are for sale on the shelves, and made purchases to take home.
We also learned that MombachoÂs only U.S. distributor (to date) is right in our back yard - the Leaf and Bean Shop in PittsburghÂs Strip District. For more information, visit www.mombachocigars.com.