As was with my last trip to Santiago in the Dominican Republic I made sure to get up early each morning and be the first one on the deck. The views were just so incredibly scenic, that it was easy to get lost in the moment and bask in the serenity of the mountaintop resort that we would call home for the next couple of days. I sipped my coffee and looked out into the valley before me, for I feel at home in the Dominican Republic.Despite various levels of wealth and poverty everyone has a smile on their face and it is contagious.
As the rest of the cast and crew made it down from the late night before we all enjoyed the view together before boarding the bus that would take us to the La Aurora factory. The one thing that really stands out for me in the tours is how many people are employed and involved in the process of getting the tobacco into a cigar, to us the consumer.
As we toured the factory we saw the process of aging tobacco, aging sticks, hand made and machine made cigars. We saw the sorting of tobacco, and the factory was in over-drive. The amount of cigars being produced was amazing. The amount of people that are employed and the economy that is driven by it is incredible.
After the tour we began our tasting which was a bit different for me then the ones in the past. Instead of 4 different Puro cigars, we smoked one cigar with 4 different wrappers in a vertical tasting. It was amazing to see how after every 1/2″ the profile would change based upon the change of wrapper. It really proves the point the most important part of a cigar is the wrapper.
After the tasting we became guinea pigs for La Aurora as we tasted 4 different cigars with the same Cameroon wrapper. It was funny to see us all trying to figure out what the wrapper was but each and every time it was Cameroon. We answered questions about the cigar, and while #4 was my personal favorite we were left in the dark about what we were tasting.
On the way back to the hotel we stopped at one of the tobacco fields that La Aurora owns, which was a treat. Seeing all that tobacco brought a smile to my face. The stop almost was postponed as some heavy storms rolled through about an hour prior but thankfully we had the chance to stop. After some recovery time at the hotel we headed out to the Nanno’s which is Nestor Miranda’s favorite restaurant in the Dominican Republic where I dined on some churrasco and tostones.
As the day came to a close some of us decided to talk about some issues at hand, while some went to enjoy the nightlife. At this point of the game, no one knew what was about to unfold the following day…