If you’ve had more than a passing interest in cigars over the past five years, odds are you’ve noticed an uptick in the number of smokes featuring “San Andrés” tobacco. And no, you’re not imagining things –– San Andrés cigars have become increasingly popular. While farmers have produced tobacco in Mexico’s San Andrés Valley for over a century, recent releases from brands like E.P. Carillo, My Father Cigars, CAO, and Cohiba have elevated San Andrés tobacco’s profile. With that in mind, it’s overdue for a breakdown of this exciting tobacco taking the industry by storm.
Where is San Andrés Tobacco Grown?
Though Mexico has several tobacco-growing regions, San Andrés tobacco has a unique quality because of the one-of-a-kind coastal environment of Veracruz. A combination of factors –– such as the elevation of the valley, a naturally cooler climate, volcanic soil, humid coastal breezes, and a quality supply of fresh water –– create an almost perfect setting to grow premium tobacco. Note here that Mexican and San Andrés tobacco are not interchangeable, even though they are sometimes confused as such.
What is San Andrés Tobacco Like?
No two tobacco leaves are precisely the same. And growers working in the same field can use different techniques to create tobacco that looks and tastes very different. (Consider the difference between Connecticut Shade and Connecticut Broadleaf for reference.) However, Mexican San Andrés tobacco is generally of a dark, Maduro quality. Some professionals use terms like San Andrés Negro or San Andrés Marron to describe the dark brown or even black color of San Andrés leaves. Because of the excellent soil and the humid (but not arid) environment, the San Andrés Valley lends itself to producing intensely flavorful tobacco.
Tasting notes you may experience with San Andrés tobacco may include a thick sweetness, spices, leather, cocoa, chocolate, and/or earthiness. San Andrés wrapped cigars tend to have a sharp, even burn as well.
What are the Best San Andrés Cigars?
Let’s get down to brass tacks. Whether you’re new to San Andrés cigars or you want to find more great smokes with this unique Mexican tobacco, you can’t go wrong with any of these recommendations:
- CAO Zocalo –– the archetypal new-age San Andrés cigar with a wonderful mixture of Mexican and Nicaraguan tobaccos. A great place to start your journey.
- Casa Turrent –– The Turrent Family are legends in the cigar industry. They were some of the first people to cultivate tobacco in the San Andrés Valley, and they still have a significant impact on San Andrés tobacco production. Also, some Casa Turrents are San Andrés puros –– a rarity in the industry.
- Cohiba Riviera –– A box-pressed beauty, Cohiba Riviera delivers the signature San Andrés flavor with a wonderfully balanced finish. A five-star cigar by any measure and the only Cohiba to feature a San Andrés wrapper.
- E.P. Carillo La Historia –– It’s no surprise that a master blender like E.P. Carillo created a San Andrés cigar of fantastic quality. Still, this highly-acclaimed cigar really does live up to the hype.
- Partagas Valle Verde –– Though this is the first Partagas to feature a San Andrés wrapper, it provides an incredible smoking experience that fans, both new and old, will definitely appreciate.
We’d love to list all our favorite San Andrés cigars, but we’d love to hear from you! Sign up for Cigar World and let us know your favorite San Andrés smoke with a comment below.