Cuba has long been the world's leader in growing tobacco and rolling cigars. It has, however, been in decline in the cigar world for some time, due to inconsistent growing and aging techniques and a lack of dependability in both crop and products. These lapses, while increasing the value of particularly good Cuban cigars, has also opened up the market for other countries' own big breaks into the cigar industry - and none are as exciting or as up and coming as the cigar industry in Nicaragua.
The rich volcanic soil of Nicaragua paired with a climate very similar to that of Cuba's famous Vuelta Abajo region makes for some of the highest quality tobacco available today. Each of the nine active volcanoes and the countless dormant ones located throughout the Central American country contribute to the high mineral content and nutrient-density of the soil in each of the four main regions which tobacco is grown.
Jalapa, the first of these ideal tobacco-growing regions, lies in the northern area of Nicaragua. The thin, sandy soil is reddish in color, producing soft leaves with a similar red tinge. Tobacco from Jalapa is sweeter and aromatic than other leaves, and rollers often use these leaves as wrappers; some companies use Jalapa leaves as fillers, as well.
South of Jalapa is the Condega Valley, where the near-constant cloud cover and rocky, mineral-rich soil produces thin tobacco leaves that are sweet with a slightly stronger flavor. Tobacco leaves from this region are often used as binders in cigars.
Further south is the Estelí region, at the highest point of the valley. Tobacco from Estelí tends to be particularly potent and widely spicy, as the soil in this area is densely packed and a deep, rich black with nutrients. The extra sun allows the leaves to grow thick and tough, making for the extra strong Ligero filler leaves for which Nicaragua is quickly becoming famous. Tobacco leaves from Estelí are sometimes used as wrappers, but they are predominantly used as fillers.
The fourth and final growing region in Nicaragua is the Ometempe region, located on a 107-square mile island in the middle of Lake Nicaragua. Known for having one active volcano and one dormant, Ometempe is accessible only by ferry, and the rich volcanic soil coupled with the humid jungle climate and sources of fresh water are perfect for growing mild- to medium-bodied tobacco that is perfect for fillers.