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Plasencia: Nicaraguan Cigars with Family Ties

Plasencia: Nicaraguan Cigars with Family Ties

One of the most endearing factors of Cuban cigars is their long and proud heritage. In any industry, as demonstrated by the ancient names of tailoring or whisky-making, the knowledge that a company has successfully honed its craft over hundreds of years and is still going strong is of comfort to both new clients and connoisseurs alike. Cuba may be renowned as the birthplace of the cigar, but many other Caribbean nations have rich histories in tobacco cultivation and cigar manufacture. Nicaragua is a fine example, and the Plasencia family are perhaps their most revered representatives in the fine tobacco world.

Plasencia cigars on EGM Cigars

The cigar industry in Nicaragua may not have the extensive history of the Cuban original, but it does have its roots there. Having grown tobacco for cigarettes for many years, the country opened its arms in the late 1950s to the Cuban cigar makers forced to flee by Castro’s revolution. Revolution forced many of them to relocate again only a few years later, with the Sandinistas of Nicaragua following Fidel’s model of seizure and redistribution. The Plasencia family were among those who left, finding refuge in Honduras, but only a short time later they were able to return to Nicaragua to continue that family work—work that had begun over 100 years previously, not in Cuba, but in the Canary Islands.

Plasencia on EGM Cigars

It was in 1865 that Don Eduardo Plasencia left his native Spain to seek opportunity and fortune in Cuba. Like so many young entrepreneurs of his generation, he headed to the Vuelta Abajo and began to grow tobacco. Still today this region is hailed as the best tobacco terroir in the world, and its land was immediately kind to Don Eduardo. Business flourished, leading his nephew to follow in his footsteps and expand the family interest in tobacco farming. In 1898 Sixto Plasencia Juares opened a second farm at Corojal; in 1920 he founded the company Hijos de Sixto Plasencia (Sons of Sixto Plasencia) and began to export his crops on a grand scale. The Plasencias prospered, building a reputation for quality and integrity, before it all came crashing down in 1963.

The seizure of private farms by the Cuban state caused many families to leave Cuba. The Plasencia family headed first for Mexico, then Honduras. Sixto Plasencia II (the third generation to enter the industry) found himself in high demand with local tobacco companies, due to his knowledge of the growing process and his honourable conduct as a businessman. After only a few months, he relocated his family once again, this time heading to Jalapa in Nicaragua to work the land while his son Nestor attended agricultural university. When Nestor graduated, the father-and-son team acquired their own farm, working side-by-side until revolution once again caused chaos for their endeavours.

Plasencia on EGM Cigars

The association between the ousted dictator who had nurtured the cigar industry and the growers themselves meant that, under the Sandinistas, it was not safe for Cuban immigrants to remain in Nicaragua. Nestor Plasencia Sr. moved himself, his family and his business to neighbouring Honduras to start again for the second time. Success was found once again, but once again, trouble followed—this time the ravages of blue mould took their toll on the crops. Times were tough, but hard work saw the business prevail, and in 1986 Nestor Sr. decided to begin making cigars to supplement the income from growing tobacco. Initial clients included Inter-American cigars, and the beginning of the next chapter in the family history began to be written.

“Persistence is in our blood,” Nestor Plasencia Jr.—the fifth generation and current custodian of Plasencia cigars—explained to Cigar Journal in 2020. Nestor Andrés, as he was known, joined the company after graduating university in 1998, working under the tutelage of his father. Having learned the farming side of the industry in his youth before studying the financial aspect at business school, he was excited to play his part and bring his own new ideas. Chief among them was a desire to create a completely organic cigar, today known as the Reserva Original.

Plasencia Cigars on EGM Cigars

“If you can grow tobacco in a sustainable way you will have a lot more generations of cigar makers to come.” This firm belief is what drove Nestor Andrés to develop the line, and his fascination with the process continues to this day. Techniques as simple as they are ancient—such as using garlic to keep pests at bay, such is their dislike of the smell, and planting velvet beans between the tobacco crops as they remove nitrogen from the air and place it in the soil—allow the line’s existence, and classic cigar shapes such as Churchills and Robustos allow smokers to enjoy the creamy flavours and light-to-medium strength blend. Most recently Nestor Junior has been joined by his younger brother José Luis, who brings with him concurrent dreams: to create his own blend to add to the Plasencia line and to inspire the ever-growing community of Plasencia employees to chase down their own goals.

Plasencia on EGM Cigars

Plasencia's Reserva Original Perfectico is easily recognisable due to its unique shape, displaying all of the talents of the factory's rollers.

For now, the fifth generation of this remarkable tobacco clan are content as a titan of the tobacco industry, selling tobacco and cigars to prestige brands like Davidoff and La Flor Dominicana at the same time as producing seven collections under their own name, with plans for more in the works. With cigars of such high quality and distinguished taste, one can be in no doubt that the name will continue to stand for excellence in tobacco for another five generations, and beyond.

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