When I came back from Lima, Peru, I noted that it’s not exactly a cigar-friendly place. That’s not to say that tobacco isn’t a thing in the whole country — in fact, there’s at least one cigar manufacturer who grows their own tobacco, ages it in their own warehouses, and fabricates cigars locally all within the country of Peru. Today we’re looking at one of their creations, the San Martin by Tabacalera del Oriente
Tobacco cultivation was something primarily done by North American natives prior to the landing of the European colonists, but there are some pre-Columbian pictures of Incan and Myan native people smoking as well. But it never seemed to take off as a cash crop in South America the same way as it did in the southern United States and later the countries of the Caribbean and Central America.
Which is a very long-winded way of saying that growing tobacco in Peru isn’t common and doesn’t have a long history.
The Tabacalera del Oriente was founded in 1997 and started life by importing tobacco seeds, finished tobacco leaves, and experienced craftsmen from Cuba to start their fledgling industry in the country. By 2004, they were successful and expanded their operation to start producing their own home-grown cigars using their own product. The factory is located in Tarapoto in the San Martin region, in whose honor this particular cigar is named.
The cigar is constructed from 100% Peruvian tobacco for the binder, filler, and wrapper.
As for the cigar itself, it’s about a 52 ring gauge body and roughly Corona sized at six inches in length. The cap is rounded on this version, but also comes in a torpedo version for those who prefer that style.
Overall the construction is very good, enabling an easy straight cut to start off and sticking together with little to no issue throughout the smoke. The draw is just right, not too tight and not too lose in my opinion.
At first sniff the cigar has some tea flavors, similar to my favorite Montecristo Cuban variety. Which would make sense, given the provenance of the seeds for these plants. But unlike the Earl Grey that I get from the Montecristo, this is darker and richer.
Once lit, the cigar has a medium to heavy flavor profile — not quite as thick as a typical maduro cigar but definitely well outside the “Connecticut shade” department. I’d put it a couple notches below a standard Cohiba, which works for me since Cohibas are a little too heavy for my palate anyway.
The flavor is mostly straight tobacco with a bit of cedar, but mixed in are some nutty notes. Almost like I’ve got some Nutella stuck in my mouth that’s tainting the flavor. It’s a pleasant combination in my opinion, but on the other hand there’s not a whole lot else going on.
It’s a clean and smooth cigar that smokes well for a fair price, and the unique Peruvian provenance isn’t something you’ll find very often in the States. Definitely worth picking up if you run across them in your travels.