Have you met Don Pipo yet? He’s waiting down at the Havana Lounge, ready to roll a cigar just for you. Don Pipo (Jorge Ovidio Guerra Perez) began working at the highly lauded cigar factory Heroes del Moncada in Havana at age 19 and has been curating the cigar collections of Cancun’s best resorts for over 15 years. If anyone can tell you what kind of cigar blend you’ll enjoy, it’s the Don.
The process of cigar rolling is extremely detailed and meticulous. It is a practice steeped in tradition and has remained virtually unaltered for generations. The cigars are rolled on a small wooden board, using a semi-circular blade and a clear purified rubber resin, ¬which is used to seal off the ends of the cigar. The perfect cigar is not too tight or too loose. It has a smooth surface with no dark stains or holes. It’s soft to the touch and can be squeezed between your fingers without cracking. It should be spicy, not herbal.
No two cigars are the same. Along with a strong, rich tobacco, they are filled with fine, large leaves that are grown in the open and harvested by priming them with essential oils and resins. They also come in a variety of sizes, such as the Half Corona, Tres Petit Corona, Petit Corona Corona, Corona Grande, Lonsdale, and Double Corona. They’re graded by the color of the tobacco leaf, Claro, Colorado-Claro, Colorado, and Colorado-Maduro.
Once Don Pipo has rolled your perfect cigar, it’s time to talk spirits. Try the subtle sweetness of an aged rum or brandy. Or, you can savor the heady, smoky nose of a fine single malt Scotch, which pairs well with a cigar.