Dominican Cigar Characteristics
Davidoff Tobacco Field, Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, which is just 80 km (50 miles) east of Cuba. The two islands are separated by the Atlantic strait called the Windward Passage in which lies the Septentrional-Oriente fault zone.
Given their geographical proximity to one another, it’s no surprise that Cuba and the Dominican Republic tobacco may share some characteristics. However, while they are similar, they are far from identical.
Indeed, the Dominican Republic’s short distance from Cuba was one of the reasons that many exiled settled there following the Revolution. Today, the Dominican Republic hosts its own versions of Montecristo, H. Upmann, Romeo y Julieta, Bolivar, and many others.
Similarly, Davidoff transferred its cigar production from Cuba to the Dominican Republic in 1990. However, this was a strategic decision made following a perceived decline in Cuban cigar quality. You can learn more about Davidoff’s transition in our interview with Dominican tobacco legend Henke Kelner as well as our Davidoff cigars documentary.
Because of these trends in migration during the second half of the 20th century, it’s often believed that the Dominican Republic only recently started producing cigars. However, it has been growing tobacco for the last 400 years.
La Aurora Tobacco Field, Dominican Republic
Although the Dominican Republic had been growing tobacco for centuries, it was often exported and assembled into cigars overseas. In the USA, New York and Tampa, Florida, hosted a plethora of workshops and factories while European manufacturing facilities were found in Spain and Holland.
La Aurora is often credited for having launched the first factory on Dominican soil. Founded in 1903, it initially hosted just six employees and the tobacco was transported from the family’s fields to the factory on the back of a donkey.
As the Dominican Republic’s infrastructure improve, the tobacco industry followed suit and became more established. As mentioned above, a major event was the Cuban Revolution and many of those who fled the country either settled in the USA or the Dominican Republic.
Some cigar manufacturers established new factories in Florida while others chose the Dominican Republic. In either case, the embargo prevented access to Cuban tobacco so they instead worked with Dominican varieties.
Dominican Tobacco Varieties
Klaas Kelner, Davidoff
If you read our guide to the best Nicaraguan cigars, you’ll notice that the country mostly focuses on its regions and the notion of terroir. Meanwhile, the Dominican Republic places an emphasis on its own tobacco varieties, which consist primarily of the following:
- Olor Dominicano: A native variety known for its light and sweet qualities.
- Piloto Cubano: A Cuban variety noted for its fuller body.
- San Vicente: A Piloto hybrid that is slightly milder.
While different regions are occasionally mentioned, it’s not quite as common.
This is because tobacco farming in the Dominican Republic tends to be concentrated in a comparatively small area that surrounds the Cibao River Valley near the city of Santiago de los Caballeros. Meanwhile, Nicaragua’s tobacco-growing regions are dotted around different parts of the country.
Finally, you can learn more about the Dominican varieties and how they’re incorporated into cigars with our video on how cigars are rolled that was filmed in the Davidoff factory.
It is often claimed that Dominican cigars are milder than those from Nicaragua. However, this belief isn’t quite true. Indeed, this reputation may have been due to the popularity of cigars from Davidoff and Macanudo.
Nevertheless, the Dominican Republic is a very diverse country. Furthermore, like Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic imports and exports tobacco between other countries with the exception of Cuba.
As mentioned in our guide to the best Cuban cigars, the island only makes puros and doesn’t export its tobacco.
As you will have noticed above, Dominican cigars can therefore include tobacco from different countries. While some can argue that it may dilute the Dominican Republic’s identity, it also offers a greater range of diversity to the cigars that it can produce.
Like Cuba, though, Dominican producers will use volado tobacco to make cigars. These large and thin leaves are found at the bottom of the plant and offer mild flavours.
In Nicaragua, these are discarded and only viso, seco, and ligero tobacco is harvested. You can learn more about these with our priming guide.
Consequently, the Dominican Republic has its own traditional and cultural practices, which differentiate it from other countries.
How Did We Rank These Cigars?
All the cigars listed above have been fully-reviewed or at least formally tested using the Bespoke Unit Cigar Formula. This quantifiable review matrix was developed in order to create a fair and balanced methodology.
We first tested this standardised model with our review of the Avo Nicaragua in August 2019. Since then, it has been carefully revised and optimised in order to improve its accuracy.
Therefore, rest assured that the cigars featured here were thoughtfully curated rather than chosen by random.
Firstly, did we miss anything out? Feel free to let us know in the comments below! Otherwise, now that you’ve seen the best Dominican cigars, why don’t you also check out our related guides below?