“This isn’t about image or flash. It’s about making the best cigars we can make. We do this to share our finest creations with all of our customers.” -The Garcia Family
Owned, operated, and headquartered in Miami, Florida with agricultural and manufacturing facilities in Estelí, Nicaragua, Perdomo Cigars has proven to be one hell of a profitable operation. The backstory behind this legacy cigar brand is pretty wild too, as is the company’s strict dedication to controlling the entire operation.
From seed to cellophane, Perdomo Cigars handles it all, including the manufacturing of its bespoke line of cigar boxes, and remains the only cigar manufacturer to absorb the United States SCHIP federal excise tax. This means that every cigar within Perdomo’s portfolio is more affordable courtesy of the owners viewing these fees as a “business expense.”
Quality control and value are the name of the game for this legacy cigar brand too, as Perdomo remains one of the only vertically integrated cigar manufacturers on the planet. Outdoor agricultural operations for the brand are located in the lush valleys of the Estelí, Condega, and Jalapa regions of Nicaragua, with the aging, fermenting, and rolling side of things being near the downtown capital of Esteli.
Everything from picking the plant seedlings and controlling cultivation, to curing, fermentation, selecting premium cigar blends, rolling, and distribution–this cigar brand does it all. By exerting the additional effort, and doing things the ”Perdomo Way,” every step of the cigar production process can be carefully monitored, controlled, and if needs be, augmented to taste.
Oh, and let’s not overlook the fact that while Nick Perdomo Jr. remains in charge of Perdomo Cigars brand as founder and CEO, the blends and operations themselves are overseen by one of the greatest cigar makers of all time: Aristides Garcia.
So what else makes the Perdomo legacy cigar brand so special? A ton. An entire metric ton…
The Perdomo Story
Many people believe that Perdomo Cigars started just a couple of decades ago, but the truth is that the company’s roots go much farther back than one would assume. It all started with Silvio Perdomo, who was born and raised just outside of Havana. In the 1930s, Silvio was an apprentice for Cuesta y Cia, and that’s where he learned about the cigar industry and developed his love for the craftsmanship behind cigars.
Throughout the 1930s and 40s, Silvio worked his way up the ladder, as did his son Nick, who eventually found himself employed by the largest tobacco company in Cuba. But, in 1959, Silvio was arrested due to conflicts of the Cuban Revolution. It wasn’t until 1974 when he was finally granted permission to immigrate to the United States, but it would take another two years before he could hitch a ride to the United States, with his family in tow, including son Nick, and grandson, Nick Perdomo Jr.
After living in Miami and seeing firsthand how Americans perceived and purchased long-filler premium cigar blends, Nick Perdomo Jr. decided that it was time to get into the cigar business with his old man. So with a meager budget in place, and high expectations in mind, the 26-year-old entrepreneur opened Nick's Cigar Co. in Miami.
It was 1992, and the Great American Cigar Boom was just getting torch lit, and while it looked like the right time to get your long-filler premium cigar blend roll on. But due to market oversaturation, and Nick Jr.’s inability to work on the cigar side full-time due to his sporadic air traffic controller gig, things were tough for Nick's Cigar Co.
Having never been a fan of Dominican tobacco, Nick Perdomo found himself turning toward a variety of locales for long-filler, binder, and cigar wrapper leaf options. Favoring robust, darker Ecuadorian Sumatran tobacco for his earlier cigar wrapper offerings, Perdomo quickly found himself earning widespread praise for his small batch, stronger smokes.
By 1995, the first Perdomo Nicaraguan factory opened its doors in the capital of Estelí. But within four short years, this space proved to be entirely too restrictive in size, and so a second, far larger factory was put into effect. Over the past two decades, this expansion has spawned the creation of multiple other production facilities, with the Perdomo operations of today being one of the largest in all of Nicaragua.
New Meets Old: The Perdomo Process Explained
Call it “quality control overload” if you like, but Perdomo really does run a tight ship and has what many consider to be the strictest prerequisites in the biz. But this isn’t just modern-day legacy brand cigar manufacturing at its finest either.
Environmental stewardship, sustainable tobacco crop propagation, and an unwavering dedication to keeping family at the forefront are just as much a part of it as getting the next big premium cigar blend to market.
Finca Natalie is Perdomo’s top-producing tobacco cultivation operation. There, amid bustling Estelí, Nicaragua, a series of barns can be found, where within each a collection of over 9,720,000 baby tobacco leaves can be found.
Relying upon a specialized roof that blocks 25% of sunlight (and all of the different rays and risks that come with it), these greenhouses remain filled with activity year-round. With their unique cloth walls allowing encouraging airflow, all while keeping foreign contaminants at bay, these nurseries arguably remain the most crucial part of the entire operation.
Out Into the Open
But whereas these tailor-made greenhouses utilize many modern methodologies and Perdomo-exclusive ingenuity, the open fields of tobacco outside of these nurseries favor a far more rustic approach.
For centuries, tobacco farmers have used oxen as a means of churning up the compact, and often clay-rich soils of Nicaragua. Perdomo strives to keep this tradition alive with every row planted and employs oxen and the hired farm hands that feed and care for the animals to plow and aerate the soil.
Not only does this slow yet extremely effective method encourage the freshly transplanted tobacco plants to develop a stronger root system, but it also fertilizes the field with manure, and ensures that the farm plot is slowly and meticulously inspected on a ground level.
Getting Picky About Primings
Located in Estelí Nicaragua, Finca Natalie has four curing barns, each holding 9,720,000 tobacco leaves in a growing season, all of which are handpicked, or primed, the old-fashioned way. Furthermore, Perdomo prefers to strip away or neglect any leaves toward the bottom of the plant, including certain sections within the seco parts of the tobacco plant.
Such a strict view of what is deemed usable on the tobacco plant is done so for a few different reasons. Nick Perdomo Jr. remains adamant that even the lower seco primings from a tobacco plant tend to be more susceptible to damage, rot, and contact with both soil and fertilizers. This dedication to only using the very best that the tobacco plant has to offer means that merely 15 of the plant’s original leaves end up being used.
Prime Time for Some Aging and Fermentation
And while stringing tobacco leaves by hand is nothing special, Perdomo’s insistence on utilizing eucalyptus staves as support beams within the curing barn is an ingenious idea. Not only does the wood’s aroma repulse insects, but it is also very resilient, relatively lightweight, and, therefore, easy to handle. And due to the Eucalyptus tree’s rapid rate of growth, it remains environmentally sustainable.
After hanging from these poles, the cured tobacco is transferred to a separate warehouse, where it is layered into stacked bales called pilóns. There, the cigar wrapper tobacco leaves sit, ferment, and slowly evolve in complexity for a minimum of at least three years.
Intentionally soaked with freshwater, and internally monitored as its temperatures begin to climb during the subsequent fermentation process, these pilóns stand in neatly lined rows, each one weighing around nearly two tons on average once wet.
Once the desired temp is obtained for a specified amount of time, the numbered and labeled pilón is broken down and reconstructed to allow even bacterial decomposition rates across the board. This process will be repeated multiple times throughout the fermentation process, which, for a darker maduro cigar wrapper, can span well over 6-years in certain cases.
Bring On the Bourbon Barrels
Perdomo is widely recognized for being one of the first cigar manufacturers to play around with bourbon barrels during both fermentation and aging phases.
By stuffing its best premium cigar blends in bourbon barrels, Perdomo has developed a way to encourage tobacco primings to evolve exponentially in color, texture, aroma, and flavor. The layers of char in the American white oak bourbon barrels help to caramelize the colors and flavors of these special tobaccos allowing Perdomo’s employees to control the exact placement of seco, viso, and ligero leaves.
Bourbon barrel-aged Habano cigars, hulking 70 ring gauge cigars, and Double Aged 12-year vintage cigars from Perdomo are but a few of the many options one can enjoy from this legacy brand.
Rockin’ and Rollin’
Perdomo Cigars is one of the few cigar manufacturers to use stainless steel cutting boards in lieu of wooden bench tables. This is done for cleanliness and accuracy purposes, after which each stick is aged in temperature and humidity-controlled aging rooms for no fewer than six-to-eight months, depending upon the type of cigar wrapper and blend contained therein.
It is here that tobacco legend Aristides Garcia and his crew of master blenders and cultivation experts kick the quality control side of things into overdrive. As he oversees everything from the fermentation process forward, including the draw testing of every single cigar to guarantee a perfect puff every time, the 75+ years of experience Senior Garcia provides shows his dedication to the craft.
Tobacco Nerd Note: Perdomo Cigar’s modest beginnings may have begun Nick's Cigar Co., but its break-up paved the way for far larger aspirations. What began with no more than three cigar rollers and a duo of packers, who happened to be Nick Perdomo and his wife, has since evolved into an operation with approximately 4,800 people turning no fewer than 38,880,000 tobacco leaves per year, each of which is harvested by hand the old fashioned way.
Regardless as to whether or not you adore, dislike, or remain indifferent over Perdomo’s cigars, it is impossible to overlook the company’s obsession with quality control.
Dedicated, diligent, and immeasurably creative when it comes to fermentation methods and formulating premium cigar blends, Perdomo remains a top contender in an increasingly competitive market.
Throughout the duration of the rolling and production process, each cigar produced by the Perdomo Family is inspected a whopping 17 times before being deemed worthy of distribution.
So next time you plan on packing some cigars for a trip, remember what Nick Perdomo said about blowing smoke rings while sitting around the campfire. Cigars are meant to be a celebratory experience. A chance to set time aside for friends and family, and enjoy the camaraderie and nuances that only a premium cigar blend can offer.That’s why we reach for the Perdomo Reserve Champagne 10th Anniversary when milder nuances are needed, and the Perdomo Estate Seleccion Connecticut Imperio for medium-bodied celebratory experiences.