Don Duarte Cigars’
Dr. Roger Duarte-Rodriguez founder of the Don Duarte cigars met Cuban born Evelio Oviedo during one of the RTDA shows. At the time, Dr. Duarte –Rodriguez was a Consultant to one of the Tobacco Industries biggest companies.
Dr. Duarte-Rodriguez was fascinated with what he saw in the Tobacco Industry and wanted to create his own brand, following the footsteps of his family ancestors. However, he wanted to be sure to select the best Master Cigar Blender in the Industry, and that’s were Evelio appears.
The expertise and knowledge of Evelio are world-known in the cigar world, but it is worth telling a little bit about his life.
Evelio comes from a Cuban cigar making family. He gained his expertise while working at the H. Upmann factory in Havana, for 23 years. In 1961 he moved to Grand Canary Island where he partnered with the owners of the Montecristo and H.Upmann brand, the Mendez and Garcia family, and opened a factory. Afterwards he moved to Brazil to open a new factory partnering with the Mendez family.
He later moved to Miami with the intention of retiring, but Cuban-born Mr. Plasencia the owner of Segovia Cigars, one of the biggest vertically integrated Tobacco Agro Industrial Factory owners in Nicaragua and Honduras, had different plans for him.
He joined Mr. Plasencia with the promise that he would be given full control of the entire tobacco process, to make cigars “the old fashion Cuban way”.
It is after Dr. Duarte-Rodriguez placed his first orders with Mr. Plasencia that he was able to convince Evelio to create unique blends that would combine the traditional Cuban experience, the Cuban-seed Habano Tobacco, and the Nicaraguan soil that offers the perfect climate.
And thus, a new brand was born, by the name of “Don Duarte” with the Cuban-born Evelio Oviedo as the Master Cigar Blender behind this premium Nicaraguan cigar line.
It was when Gil Gonzalez Davila, the Spaniard that discovered Nicaragua, arrived to the place near present day Ometepe Island in 1523 and met Chief Nicarao, and proceeded to smoke the famous black tobacco cigars that came from that region, that the first European tasted the mouthwatering tobaccos of this region.
Spain maintained a monopoly during the 300 years of the Royal Colonization, not permitting the commercialization of tobacco outside the borders of its Royal Empire, which was centralized in Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Seville. This is where the curing, aging and manufacturing of Tobacco and Cigars took place.
However, the seeds of the black tobacco remained and the Indians continued to smoke their cigars as they had been doing so for centuries. It was after Independence from Spain was achieved in 1821 that Nicaragua began a massive cultivation and an export process that sent the Nicaraguan black tobacco leaves to different parts of the world.
Dr. Duarte-Rodriguez family was one of the original founders of Esteli, in northern Nicaragua, where his great grandfather, Don Rafael Rodriguez, a wealthy patriarch, avid smoker, tobacco grower and one of the first exporters of Nicaragua's famous black tobacco, lived.Duarte's great grandmother, Dona Mariana Duarte Boza, was a pioneering woman who owned a small tobacco manufacturing plant in the city of Masaya in the late 1800's.She and her family processed the black tobacco leaves that she bought from the island of Ometepe and converted them into small cigars, locally called Chilcagres. These famous small but very aromatic and strong cigars were distributed in her hometown and in the nearby capital of Managua.
"No wonder my grandfather Don Arturo Duarte Carrion always carried one of those small chilcagres with him, side by side with his H.Upmann that he relished so much".
In 1960 the first Cuban exiles began to appear in Estelí and Jalapa in Northern Nicaragua. They were attracted by the soil and climate similarity with the Pinar del Rio and Vuelta Abajo region of Cuba; jet black earth and an ideal climate.
With the trade techniques honed for more than 200 years of cigar manufacturing in Cuba as well as an improved variety of the black tobacco seeds, and the rich black soil and ideal climate they found in the regions of Jalapa, Estelí and Ometepe of Nicaragua, they had the perfect ground to flourish and produce the Habano wrappers and binders that characterize the rich-tasting, aromatic cigar of exceptional quality produced in Nicaragua.
While many consider tobacco from Vuelta Abajo and Pinar del Rio, Cuba to be the best in the world, Nicaraguan tobaccos and particularly those from Jalapa, Condega, Estelí and Ometepe have successfully yielded top quality leaves, including fine wrappers, giving birth to a thriving industry that is now comprised of twenty-one (21) factories between small and large that produce true “Puros” in the best Cuban tradition.