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This is Aficionado, Don Leon
...on Premium Costa Rican Cigars


Costa Rican cigars - now this is an interesting subject.

One time - just outside the nation's capitol of San Jose... a friend introduced me to Don Leon...

Costa Rica Cigars Who is Don Leon
The Aficionado

...brain behind Conquistador, the company specializing in a premium selection, here on the Rich Coast.

Aficionado - ten years+ in the business...

It was sitting down for lunch, followed by a tour of the goings on at Conquistador...

...when he shared his knowledge *a wealth!* on the subject, followed by an on-site look at the entire process, of how they're made...

Seed to ash.

Something straight out of a movie - yet another interesting happening, here in Costa Rica...

Please read on to learn more!








Aficionado, Don Leon: Costa Rican Cigars

Only moments into a talk with Don Leon over lunch - and there was no question...

Costa Rica Cigars Conquistador
Premium Costa Rican Cigars

The man knows cigars.

A wealth of knowledge on the subject - one I didn't know a whole lot about, prior to our meetup...

...it was a great opportunity to learn.

As Don Leon put it - selecting, lighting, and smoking a cigar - is an art form in itself.

And both demonstrating and describing the process, he offered a few tips.

Like, for example...

  • Always use a cigar cutter, making a nice clean cut *just above* the line - where the cap meets the wrapper.

  • When lighting the cigar, it's important to hold the foot (the end that you light), 90 degrees to the flame. And while doing so, you've got to carefully rotate the cigar - making for a nice and even burn.

    Done correctly...

    Costa Rica Cigars Lighting
    The Art of Lighting a Cigar

    ...it should take about a minute to complete.

    Couple more things...

  • Once you think it's lit, gently blow on the foot - you should see a nice even, red glow.

  • And as for the smoking part - of course - don't inhale! Slowly draw on the end - and just like a fine wine... savor its flavor and aroma.

Costa Rica Cigars Humidor
Costa Rican Cigars in a Humidor

Speaking of fine wine...

Similar to how wine is stored in a cellar, getting better with age...

It's similar with cigars.

Kept in something called a humidor - The Treasury, as Don Leon likes to refer to it as...

...they're preserved at temperatures between 60 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit (16 and 18 degrees Celsius) - with a relative humidity of 65 to 70 percent.

And yes - the longer, that cigars are kept in a humidor... the better the quality - flavors and aromas enhancing over time.

...

Moving along - quite literally now, to the very roots of a cigar...

Costa Rica Cigars Tobacco Plant
Leaves at the Tip are Called Ligero

Don Leon described how the leaves of tobacco plants - depending on where and how they're grown...

*and also - just how high up on the plant, they are harvested from*...

...play a very large role in a cigar's quality, taste, aroma - and eventual classification.

First then, with respect to location - and this is very important!...

Cuban tobacco - is the best.

Knowing this, Don Leon mentioned how he imports tobacco - that which composes the long-leaf filler and binder (inner portion of the cigar) - directly from Semivuelta...

Costa Rica Cigars Cuba
Marked in Green - Semivuelta, Cuba

...one of the 5 major cigar tobacco growing regions in the country.

Something else...

A factor which makes Conquistador Costa Rican cigars all the more unique in blend... is that the outer portion (the wrapper - 'capa' as it's known in Spanish)... is imported from a very special place, in Ecuador.

On to the actual tobacco plants themselves now...

Much can be said about a cigar - with respect to the location on the plant itself - from which its binder, filler and wrapper leaves, originate.

Costa Rica Cigars Corona
The Corona

For example...

  • Ligero leaves - those at the very top of the plant, yield darker, fuller cigars - much like the El Gordo style at Conquistador.

  • Seco leaves - those growing in the middle of the plant, are seen in medium-color cigars, and will help to define the aroma.

  • And also...

  • Volado leaves - those closer to the bottom of the plant, are used to create lighter colored and tasting cigars - those like the Corona... another one of the seven Conquistador varieties - this one, ideal for a first-time smoker.

Another fact that's interesting to know, is that wrapper leaves - those like Connecticut Shade, to be used on the outermost part of the cigar...

...are taken from plants that grow underneath a muslin cloth - something that provides shade, filtering sunlight and trapping heat.

Plants to yield binder and filler leaves (inside of the cigar), are grown in open sunlight.

...

OK - switching gears now...

Let's let's move on to the goings on at Conquistador, and see first-hand - what goes into making the perfect, Costa Rican cigars!




Making the Perfect, Costa Rican Cigars

So how do they do it... how do they make the perfect, Costa Rican cigar?

Costa Rica Cigars Tobacco Plants
Tobacco Plants, Ready for Harvest

From the very roots of the tobacco plants...

...grown and harvested with great care in Semivuelta, Cuba, and also - in Ecuador...

...to the delicate creation procedure - rolling, cutting, measuring, etc. - performed by skilled Torcedors and Torcedoras, in San Jose...

And yes - right down to the final ashes...

Not a single stone is left unturned.

...

More from the man himself...

Don Leon went on to point out - *just how much effort* goes in - to the harvest of one single tobacco plant - a process that can take an entire 30 days!

Once picked - leaves are paired and hung, left to cure in the air...

Costa Rica Cigars Leaves
Air Drying Tobacco Leaves, Soon to Be Costa Rican Cigars

...eventually leaving them without moisture, and dark brown in color.

On site at Conquistador - he went on to show and describe, how they're able to make such high quality Costa Rican cigars.

Sorting the tobacco leaves for example - is quite the important step.

Costa Rica Cigars Sorting Leaves
Sorting Tobacco Leaves

Again - depending where on the plant, the leaves are harvested from...

The separation, sorting and classification of leaves - a task completed by only the master blenders...

...is something that must be done - to perfection.

And it all takes place in "The Pack of Cards", or in Spanish... Barajita - the department where leaves are shuffled and stacked - according to the specific kinds of Costa Rican cigars, that are to be made.

Walking around now...

Employees at Conquistador - officially known as Torcedors (male) and Torcedoras (female), we're busy working away, performing the essential steps in the cigar-making process.

Each positioned at his or her own Galera...

Costa Rica Cigars Making
The Galera - It's Where Cigars are Born!

...a workshop with all the various tools of the trade - things like a wooden board, a chaveta, a guillotine, and a template for measuring the length and girth of each cigar...

...it was impressive to see the amount of precision and care, taken with every single creation.

Costa Rica Cigars Control
Cigar Quality Control

...

Over in the Control area...

Even more steps were taken - ensuring that each an every Costa Rican cigar, made at Conquistador...

Was to the absolute highest of standards.

Checking each one - for things like weight, length, girth, consistency, construction, appearance, tightness - and even for suction, a test to see how easily they may be drawn upon...

It became much clearer...

Costa Rica Cigars Conquistador Logo
Close-Up of a Conquistador Cigar, Contrasting a Banana Leaf

...just what makes Conquistador Costa Rican cigars - as great as they are.

...

Well no doubt, this page could easily keep right on going.

It's quite the interesting subject - Don Leon, if you're reading this... thank you again!

Costa Rica Cigars Brandy
Costa Rican Cigars

And yes - to yourself... I really hope you enjoyed this page.

Pura Vida!