PuroExpress.com built their business on delivering the best cigars from Cuba and beyond to customers around the world since 1997. They recently took their service a step further by creating their own brand of premium cigars based on decades of feedback from their customers who were increasingly frustrated by the inconsistent quality of Cuban cigars. They’re calling Merchant Cigars the ultimate premium cigars, born in Cuba and handcrafted to perfection in Nicaragua with premium tobacco leaves from the fields of Esteli.
“We’ve always listened intently to feedback and paid close attention to the cigars our customers were coming back for year after year. That was the basis of our search for the perfect smoke that would take us around the world and end up in a tiny town in Nicaragua more than two decades later,” says Rolf Bjork the General Manager of Merchant Cigars.
Rumours of a Cuban Cigar Renaissance happening in Nicaragua has been building since Castro’s revolution started pushing the best cigar makers out of Cuba in 1959. Nicaragua’s part in the history of cigars is a fascinating story of rebirth, passion, devotion to preserving a craft and ultimately the resilience required to persevere against tremendous odds. Despite Nicaragua’s own political struggles and weather disasters over the years, the local cigar industry has a long-held tradition of crafting luxury cigars with admirable consistency.
“Naturally we were intrigued and eventually we made our way to Esteli to see for ourselves if the goods could live up to the hype,” said Bjork. What they found were ideal growing conditions that were very similar to those that initially drew tobacco growers to Cuba in the early 1900s.
As much attention is paid to “terroir” in wine making, the soil and general growing conditions also has a profound impact on the characteristics of tobacco. The tobacco grown in Esteli, Nicaragua, is prized for its bold flavours accompanied by an unmatched smoothness, which lends it its premium status.
“It was love at first puff,” says Bjork, but says he knew they had found the home of their new venture when he met the passionate craftsmen who would be making each cigar by hand. Since the subtleties of the craft of cigar making is still very much kept in families and passed down from one generation to the next, what excited Bjork was the craftsmen’s strong Cuban roots and ties to the great cigar dynasties. “In their bones, they already knew how to make cigars that had the same attributes people loved in Cuban cigars, and they quickly understood what we were trying to achieve,” says Bjork.
“This select range of cigars is a tribute to following your curiosity wherever it may lead you. They’re elegant and modern with a dose of rebellion, just like those who smoke them,” says Bjork. Merchant Cigars are currently available in three sizes (Belicosos, Big Robusto, and Double Corona).