The Origin Story of Honduran Cigars
Technically, Honduran cigars are far older that most people would ever imagine. It’s true that cigars first reached the western world after Columbus was introduced to them by the indigenous Taíno peoples of Hispaniola (Cuba) in the 15th century, but Honduran cigars are far older than that.
Archeologists and anthropologists tell us that the ancient Mayans made the first cigars by wrapping cured tobacco in plantain leaves. An earthenware bowl more than 1200 years old with the image of Mayan man smoking one of these ancient Honduran cigars was found at an archeological dig site in Copán, Honduras. Along with it were remnants of a small corona-style Honduran cigar and other clear signs of ancient, pre-Columbian cigar smoking. The Spanish crown would establish a royal tobacco trading post in right there in Copan about 1,000 years later in 1765.
That’s right, tobacco cultivation in Honduras has been going on for at almost 3,000 years and it began exports to the Old World and colonies 11 years before the Declaration of Independence was signed. Cigars from Honduras have been a thing for far longer than anyone imagined. Much like the other Caribbean nations known for cigars, the modern-day Honduran cigar industry we know today was due in large part to Cuban immigrants fleeing their countries revolution. Several prominent Cuban families with centuries of combined cigar making acumen set up shop in Honduras, thanks to its tobacco-friendly tropical climate and desirable soil.
The Plasencia Family: Honduran Cigar Royalty
Among the Cuban emigrees who landed in Honduras was Nestor Plasencia Sr. who made his home there after first emigrating from Cuba to Nicaragua. Plasencia would go on to establish his respected namesake brand which today crafts some of the finest Honduran cigars the world has ever seen. The Plasencia brand itself may be less familiar to you still, but if you know Rocky Patel, Romeo y Julieta and Alec Bradley, then you have experienced the Plascencia family’s passion. This legendary family has been in the cigar trade for five generations, beginning in Cuba’s Pinar del Rio region in 1865. Today their 3,020 acres of prime land grows about 5 million pounds of tobacco a year for the finest Honduran cigars. About 70% of the tobacco they grow goes to make the most flavorful wrapper leaves, which says something about the quality they are producing.
Honduran Cigars We Love
Honduran cigars have a history that reaches back into the ancient world. It’s not inaccurate to call Honduras the birthplace of the cigar in many ways, in fact. Much of the tobacco grown in Honduras today is of the Connecticut Shade and Corojo Shade variety, for those luscious wrappers we talked about. But a significant amount of sun-grown filler tobacco is grown from Cuban seed there as well along with a few other types. The Jamastran Valley of southern Honduras is the epicenter of Honduran cigar tobacco cultivation these days, but it’s not the only region where growers are found. The reasons for favoring the Jamastran area are simple. One is, Cubans relocating there were looking for similar soils and conditions to their homeland’s Pinar del Rio. Another is its proximity to the Nicaragua’s northern border, where a lot of excellent tobacco is also grown. Danli, which is the main cigar rolling town in Honduras is also nearby, but it’s difficult to say which led the charge, Danli production or the Jamastran Valley cultivation. What we do know is that this particular part of the world has some kind of magic because it turns out some of the most magnificent sticks you’ll ever enjoy. With that said, here are some Honduran cigars we love:
The Plasenscia family have been in the cigar business in Cuba, Nicaragua and Honduras spanning five generations now. But the family name didn’t really appear as it’s own brand until 2016. After many decades of crafting some of the best cigars out of Cuba and Central America, the family decided the time had come to put their own storied name on the band. Here is one of our favorites from this noble cigar making dynasty.
The very first cigar they created under the family’s brand in 2016. That should give you a sense of the amount of attention that went into it. The 1865 Alma Fuerte is a cigar you set aside some time to enjoy. It will command your attention, but rewards it handsomely with a rich, oily, reddish-brown Criollo wrapper surrounding a diverse blend of Nicaraguan tobaccos from Estelí, Condega, Jalapa, and Ometepe. The Plasencia 1865 Alma Fuerte exhibits medium-plus strength and a full flavor and body profile. Anticipate deep and complex transitions led by long-lasting flavors of creamy coffee, zesty spices, fresh mountain pine, loads of mineral, chocolate, and decadent Nutella.
Raised under the tutelage of his father and famed tobacco farmer and blender, Julio Eiroa, Christian Eiroa made his mark in the cigar industry building the renowned Camacho brand. Christian continues to produces top premium quality cigars under the CLE Brand in his home country of Honduras.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t include at least one puro Honduran Cigar on the list and this is a great one. The CLE Corojo is a Honduran puro with medium-full strength. It has enough kick to satisfy those who enjoy a muscular cigar, but not so much that it will turn off smokers who lean towards more moderate smokes. It is exquisitely wrapped in Eiroa’s signature Authentic Corojo leaf with select aged Cuban seed Honduran long filler tobaccos. The result is a fuller bodied complex smoke with rich natural tobacco sweetness and a hint of caramel. Zesty notes of oak, black pepper, baker’s spice, and espresso fill it out as it closes with smooth, sweet finish. Like we said, it has strength and presence, but not too much. It’s a well-balanced puro that’s a fine representative of the Honduran cigar genre.
Alec Bradley was stablished in 1996 by importer and aficionado, Alan Rubin. After some early experimentation and exploration, the brand really found it’s groove and made a name for itself. In no small part, due to the influence of illustrious cigar whisperers like Nestor Plasencia and Henke Kelner, Alec Bradley has earned its place among the most influential of the Honduran cigar houses. They made their biggest mark with their Tempus line perhaps, but they’ve got more than a few worth sampling.
Rated 96 points, by Cigar Aficionado, the box pressed Alec Bradley Prensado Churchill uses it’s dark and oily Trojes-sourced Corojo wrapper to maximum effect. It’s a beautiful cigar to look at and the flavor experience absolutely lives up to its gorgeous appearance. It’s Central American tobacco from cap to foot. Here, Honduran and Nicaraguan tobaccos create beautiful music for the smokers palate in the form of full flavored leather, chocolate and spice notes with a long and luxuriant finish that’s sure to leave a satisfied grin behind.
One more cigar brand formed by an aficionado who made his living in a different trade. The brands namesake, Los Angeles attorney, Rocky Patel turned the Indian Tabac Cigar Company into something truly exceptional. Rocky is still deeply involved in the day to day operations of the brand that bears his names and his diligent pursuit of excellence is evident in the magnificent Honduran cigars they create.
This is another seriously debonair looking cigar. The Rocky Patel Number 6 is as dashing as a tuxedoed James Bond (the Connery version) playing baccarat in a Monte Carlo casino. Rolled in Honduras, and named for its original factory code. The Number 6 features a Honduran Corojo wrapper, Jamastran Valley binder, and fillers from Jamastran and Jalapa.. Like the Prensado Churchill, Rocky Patel’s Number 6 backs up its sexy appearance with a lovely medium strength and body with rich and resonant natural sweetness. This is one smooth Honduran cigar that’s sure to satisfy even the most discriminating aficionado with decadent flavors of sweet coffee, clean cedar, cream, candied nuts, and brown sugar. You will quickly understand how it earned Best Honduran Cigar of 2020 from Cigar Journal. You’re going to want to add this one to your cart right now. Go ahead, we’ll wait.
JRE Tobacco Co. Honduran Cigars
JRE is a newer brand, but the company is the creation of famed Honduran tobacco grower Julio R. Eiroa, father of Christian Eiroa, owner of the CLE Cigar Company. Together they were the former owners of the renowned Camacho Cigars brand. Their Aladino line features an old school “Authentic Corojo” puro blend, using Honduran Corojo tobaccos grown on Julio’s Eiroa Tobacco Farm in the Jamastran Valley of Honduras. The Aladino Honduran puros are handcrafted in a vintage, classic style that puts all of the attention on the flavor and smoking experience. We think they are an important addition to any thorough exploration of Honduran cigars.
We figured adding one more puro Honduran cigar to the list was a good idea and the Aldino Robusto is one that’s earned high praise from many of our most trusted reviewer friends. This is a traditional smoke that resurrects the Cubanesque profile of the Habanos of Cuba’s peak 1940s-60s period. This is considered an “Authentic Corojo” puro blend. It features Honduran Corojo tobaccos grown on Julio’s Eiroa Tobacco Farm in the Jamastran Expect a medium-plus body and a tantalizing hit of black pepper and cayenne in the retrohale, joined by notes of medium-roast coffee, pretzel dough, cedar, cashews, and a lush buttery finish.
Founded by native Honduran, Dr. Gaby Kafie in 2013 when he decided to explore his passion for both cigars and coffee. Dr. Kafie’s family have been in Honduras since 1901, hence the company name, but he spent the first half of his life and career in the United States. A fortuitous sequence of events led to him leaving medicine to pursue his passions full-time. “Cigars have played a critical role in my entire life. It seems that no matter what I was going through in life, cigars always gave me the ability to disconnect and find peace in that moment. That moment of solitude and reflection. It became clear to me that cigars were a very important part of my life and my person.”, says Dr. Kafie.
While it doesn’t have as much Honduran content as some of the others on the list, this tasty stick will surprise and delight you with the character it delivers for such a surprisingly affordable price. Kafie 1901 is as Honduran a brand as any and the Liga de la Casa brand is superb evidence that you don’t need to be independently wealthy to savor some aficionado-worthy Honduran cigars. Originally rolled as a “house blend” for factory workers, the Kafie 1901 Liga de la Casa Maduro turned out to be so good that Dr. Kafie felt it would be a sin not to share it with the rest of us. The Liga de la Casa is cloaked in a Mexican San Andrés wrapper, with a Honduran double binder from the Jamastran Valley. It is carefully finished with filler tobaccos from Nicaragua, Honduras, and The D.R. This artful blend is sure to satiate your desire for a rich and decadent smoke. Rich notes of hearty earth, leather, and almonds will please your palate leave you wondering how in the world this cigar is so affordable.
Smoke Inn is Your Cigar Place
Your local cigar place is more than just a spot to grab some cigars and go. If they’re doing it right, and we believe we are, then there is a sense of atmosphere there. Your cigar place should have a vibe that makes you happy to be there and want to spend some time. We enjoyed exploring some examples of great Honduran cigars and we hope it gave you some ideas. Stay tuned for an upcoming feature on The Great Smoke that you are not going to want to miss, tickets for 2023 go on sale November 1st so set yourself a reminder in your phone now if you haven’t already. Smoke Inn has some very cool stuff in store for you all in the second half of 2022, so stick around and we’ll see you at the bar.
As always, if you’re local or happen to be visiting South Florida, be sure to reward yourself with a visit to one of the country’s best cigar shops in person. We’d love to see you.