On a Roll

Nick Perdomo’s quest for greater integration continues to draw Tabacalera Perdomo deeper into the farms of Nicaragua as he guides the company’s growth well into its second decade.

By W. Hart Lane

On a sweltering June afternoon in the northern Nicaraguan cigar town of Estelí, third-generation Cuban cigar maker Nick Perdomo fidgets while watching the bustle of activity from the modest offices of his family's sprawling cigar factory. He leaves abruptly and moves through the family's cigar production and packaging department, stopping only to scrutinize the work of his torcedors. He walks briskly across a large courtyard to the box manufacturing plant, meeting with a team of supervisors, and then it's on to the massive aging barns and cavernous fermentation facilities to inspect the progress of his latest tobacco crop. Perdomo is a large man, but here at his factory he is a nimble, energetic blur of motion - and emotion. In terms of public perception, he is perhaps the most misunderstood cigar maker on the planet.

Unlike most of his manufacturing peers, whose demeanors are often humble and self-effacing, Perdomo's personality more closely resembles a hurricane in a can. While he is undeniably an intense and highly competitive man, his tightly woven circle of friends know Perdomo as a deeply compassionate and generous individual who regularly rewards his employees and is quick to lend help to those less fortunate in this burgeoning tobacco town.

Perdomo's birthright, a family legacy of cigar making artistry, was virtually destroyed before he was born. His late grandfather Silvio, who was an icon at the world renowned Partagas factory in Havana, was arrested outside his own home by Castro insurgents and endured 17 harsh years in Cuban prisons. His late father Nick, Sr., also a cigar artisan at Partagas, was shot and seriously wounded by Communist guerillas, before eventually fleeing to the safety of the United States to avoid certain death. When three generations of Perdomos were finally reunited in the early 1970s, cigar making was a distant memory. Ironically, it was Nick, Jr. - the eager and determined grandson of the cigar making patriarch - who would breathe life back into the family's dream of making cigars. His family's circuitous journey back to crafting premium cigars was a difficult, hard-fought struggle that he took on as his life's mission. But the result of that arduous experience, many would say, was to make Nick Perdomo, Jr. as bold and intense as the cigars he produces.

Tabacalera Perdomo is now one of the largest manufacturers of premium cigars in Nicaragua, yet the slow and deliberate cultivation of the family's growing operations in Esteli, Condega, and the Jalapa Valley has drawn little notice among industry observers. Although Perdomo has been growing filler and binder crop for ten years, the past three years have been spent concentrating on growing and harvesting his own wrapper crop. "We've finally completed extending our rigorous quality control standards to the field," stated Perdomo. "It has paid huge dividends in the terms of production quality and our perception in the marketplace. We're making the cigars of our lives now."

And leading cigar authorities concur. Perdomo's Edicion de Silvio, a limited-edition, ultra-premium cigar made as a tribute to his late grandfather, earned distinction as Robb Report's "Best of the Best" in the cigar category for 2004. And his new La Tradición Perdomo Reserve series has recently earned rave reviews from many domestic and international cigar publications.

Above, the rolling gallery of Tabacalera Perdomo in Estelí, Nicaragua. Below, Nick, Jr. and tobacco technician Gonzalo Puente in the tobacco fields.
Newest Launches to Focus on Expanding Existing Brands
Perdomo's plans for the 2004 RTDA trade show will primarily focus on his flagship brands. The Edicion de Silvio will have a new shape, Solomon en cedro, added to the highly exclusive line. Each cigar, exquisitely wrapped in Spanish cedar, will be delicately placed in a wax-sealed "coffin" and carefully stacked in a slide-top, perforated Spanish cedar cache surrounded by the boldly fragrant shavings of a 120-year-old Spanish cedar tree. 24 individual cigars are sealed within the cigar cache and placed under lock and key within a rustic "Spanish Galleon" tobacco chest. Qualified retailers will also be able to display Edicion de Silvio in a free-standing, Pendergast-crafted "museum humidor."

Perdomo will also unveil a fourth edition of his highly successful La Tradicion Perdomo Reserve called Champagne. Joining the existing line, available in Cameroon, Cuban Café, and Maduro wrappers, Champagne is a seasonal release that features the same award-winning blend of medium- to full-bodied Cuban-seed tobaccos, accentuated by a golden, creamy, U.S. Connecticut wrapper aged over six years. La Tradicion Perdomo Reserve Champagne is available in five distinctive sizes: the "F" (4 3/4 x 44/56/52 Figurado); "R" (5 x 54 Robusto); "E" (6 x 54 Epicure); "C" (7 x 54 Churchill) and "X" (7 x 54 Torpedo).

Finally, the company will introduce Compay, a cigar tribute to Cuba's rich musical past and its favorite son, legendary folk guitarist Compay Segundo. The medium bodied, all Nicaraguan blend is available in four sizes: "Buena" (4 3/4 x 52); "Vista" (6 x 50); "Social" (7 x 48) and "Club" (5 3/4 x 54). The cigars are packaged in eye-catching, 20-count Spanish cedar boxes.

Listening to Perdomo excitedly explain his plans for RTDA, one is reminded of a proud father discussing the limitless possibilities of his own children. His family's cigar making tradition is back on course for a bright and prosperous future, and it can only be hoped that someday everyone will understand the fiery Perdomo's fervent, passionate ambition to make the best cigars in the world.

Tabacalera Perdomo, 5150 NW 167th Street, Miami Lakes, FL 33014, Tel: (305) 627-6700, Fax: (305) 627-6414, www.perdomocigars.net

Family Mourns Nicholas G. Perdomo, Sr., 66

Nicholas Grovy Perdomo, Sr., who headed cigar production at Tabacalera Perdomo S.A. since its founding, died on Friday, July 2, 2004 at his home in Estelí, Nicaragua. He was 66.

Perdomo was born on September 10, 1937 in San Jose de la Lajas, Cuba, the son of cigar maker Silvio Perdomo and his wife Onelia. Although Perdomo's life is remembered by many as one personified by overcoming adversity to accomplish his dreams, his memory is celebrated by many more as a man whose generosity and selflessness touched them deeply.

A devoted husband and father, his love for life and humanity was evidenced through his firm handshake and broad smile. His caring presence will be sorely missed and never forgotten by the many lives he managed to touch and influence during his life.

Funeral services for Perdomo were held on July 5 at Caballero Rivero Woodlawn Funeral Home in Hialeah and he was interred at Woodlawn Cemetary West on July 6.

Perdomo is survived by his loving wife Mary; two sons Nicholas, Jr. and William; brother Antonio; sisters Daisy and Xiomara; and his four grandchildren whom he considered his life's greatest accomplishment: Nicholas III, Natalie, Alexa, and Emily.

SMOKESHOP - August, 2004