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8305 Six Forks Road, Ste. 203, Raleigh, NC 27615

One of the best aspects of the Procigar Festival is getting to visit a different cigar factory every day. Some of the many choices include Arturo Fuente, La Flor Dominicana, De Los Reyes, PDR, EP Carrillo, and many more. We visited La Aurora, Davidoff, General Cigar, and Tabacalera de Garcia. Having the opportunity to see firsthand the making of your cigars from start to finish really puts the whole process into perspective and allows you to appreciate every single cigar you enjoy all the more.

I also didn’t realize the impact these tobacco manufacturers have on their communities. They offer schooling, daycare, health care, English lessons, extracurricular activities, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The employees love their jobs, and the benefit these companies have on the Dominican Republic is nothing short of beautiful. Here’s where we visited last year, and we’re excited to tour some new factories this year. Stay tuned for video tours and more!

La Aurora Factory Tour

guide to tobacco Tour la aurora

Back in our Fall 2018 issue, we did a full story on this factory because it was one of our favorites. Here’s a snippet from that story, and if you’d like to read the whole feature, head over here.

‘This isn’t a factory; it’s the Disney World of cigars,’ was all I kept thinking as I was guided through the sprawling, beautifully designed La Aurora manufacturing plant in Santiago, Dominican Republic. There is an area made to look like a curing barn, complete with tobacco leaves dangling from the ceilings. There are sections mimicking each process involved in manufacturing a cigar from seed to final product, much like a museum. There is a hallway right in the middle of the place the tobacco is being sorted where you can view relics, such as old cigar boxes and rum, from La Aurora’s lengthy history. On one wall you’ll find a massive mural of the world that features the La Aurora emblem over the tiny island of the Dominican Republic as well as the many countries the company ships to, showcasing its worldwide impact.”

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General Cigar Factory Tour

guide to tobacco Tour general

Unfortunately, you aren’t allowed to take photos during this tour, but that doesn’t stop it from being a memorable experience, and I think it allowed me to focus more on what I was seeing rather than on what I wanted the camera to see. One of the coolest parts of this tour is the “fuma” tasting where you get to try tobacco in various stages of the rolling process. It’s interesting to see how different parts, such as the filler, are essentially tasteless, but when you put them all together you have a flavorful, wonderful cigar.

You also get a private guided tour of the facilities and a delicious luncheon with the cigar making team during which you’re encouraged to ask as many questions as you’d like. Oh, and you’ll get all the cigars you can possibly smoke.

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Tabacalera de Garcia Factory Tour

guide to tobacco Tour tabacalera 2

Owned by Altadis U.S.A., this factory is a must-visit spot because of its sheer size alone. It’s the world’s largest factory for handmade cigars, and that size is definitely felt as you walk from sprawling room to sprawling room. This factory is one of the largest employers in the Dominican Republic and produces tens of millions of cigars a year. It’s truly mind-boggling. This is the home of such legendary labels as H. Upmann, Montecristo, and Romeo y Julieta, so missing this stop on the tour, as any cigar lover knows, would be a sin.

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Davidoff Tobacco Field Tour

guide to tobacco Tour davidoff

What a treat this tour was. It was fascinating to see the fields as opposed to the factories and the painstaking process that goes into maintaining the seeds and the fields. Davidoff’s master blender, Hendrik Kelner, led part of the tour, but the real rising star is his son, Klaas Kelner, who did a wonderful job showing us around and talking through each process.

Another special moment was a cigar and whiskey pairing after a smorgasbord of a lunch with an 18-year-old Glenfiddich single malt Scotch whisky. Hendrik Kelner also spent some time teaching us how to improve our smoking skills and palates. But the cherry on the top of it all was being gifted a box of Davidoff cigars. To say I was giddy receiving this gift is an understatement.

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Check out our full guide to ProCigar!

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