For me, Puro Sabor 2023 was an amazing experience. While this was my first time attending Puro Sabor, this was an event that surpassed expectations and is one that I would recommend. Below are some of the closing thoughts that give some more insight into my experience and what I saw.
Meet the Manufacturers
Many people ask why would they want to go to an event like Puro Sabor when there are plenty of events held locally. The answer is that this is an opportunity to meet the actual producers of the cigars – whether it is people working in the factory or people handling the agriculture. Many times, these folks don’t travel out of their country. Visiting Perdomo Cigars is one of the few times you will get to meet the legendary Aristides Garcia. Typically folks like Jorge Padrón, AJ Fernandez, and Nestor Andrés Plasencia spend a lot of time in Nicaragua, so there are few chances to see them stateside.
The bottom line is Puro Sabor 2023 really provided a great opportunity to meet these folks.
Smaller is Better
For the daytime activities at Puro Sabor, attendees were broken up into smaller groups. Each group had a track of factory and farm visits. The smaller groups were also used during the cultural activities in Grenada.
At least from my observations, the tour groups at Puro Sabor 2023 had about ten to 15 people in each of the groups. These smaller breakdowns really allowed for great interaction with the industry folks. It provided more opportunities for some direct face time and certainly an opportunity to ask questions. The intimate feel of these smaller groups made the tour feel a lot more personalized.
Open Seating at the Evening Galas/Lunch Gatherings was Huge
The lunches and evening galas have a very different vibe than the tour groups. Everyone gets together in one venue. This is not a bad thing as it provides opportunities to meet and network with attendees and manufacturers outside your group track. At other festivals, I have seen the manufacturers have reserved tables. If you followed my recaps from Puro Sabor, one thing I really liked was there was much more in the way of open seating.
Not only was there ample seating at these events, the open seating provided more in the way of opportunities to meet the stakeholders in the cigar industry. My hope is Puro Sabor doesn’t move away from this model.
Hometown Feel: Hosting at Venues
If you followed my recaps, you will also know another nice thing about Puro Sabor is the idea of a different factory or farm hosting a lunch or an evening gala.
While it wasn’t practical to incorporate a tour at these facilities, the idea of different factories or farms opening up the venue to a festival gala event or lunch was pretty cool. I would be remiss if I didn’t comment that the lunch we had at Victor Calvo’s farm actually took place in a tobacco barn.
Puro Sabor 2023 also gave the opportunity for events on the grounds of STG Estelí, Plasencia Cigars, J.C. Newman’s PENSA factory, AJ Fernandez’s San Ramon farm, and Oliva Cigars’ Las Mesitas facility. The hosting at the “home venues” for many of the manufacturers was part of the unique charm of this festival.
“I’m Just Here for the Free Samples”
If you are going to a cigar festival, there is an expectation you will get cigars. Puro Sabor certainly provided plenty of them.
For starters, each attendee received a 20-count gift set of premium cigars in a beautiful humidor. In addition, there were cigars available at each of the factory/farm stops as well as at the gala events. In some cases, there were individual cigars handed out, and in other cases, they were handed out in three-packs.
The nice thing is most of the cigars provided all had a special commemorative band indicating the 10th anniversary of Puro Sabor. These weren’t different cigars, but it’s nice to know that when these cigars go into your humidor at home, you can know that the cigar was handed out at Puro Sabor 2023.
On a side note, other partners besides the cigar manufacturers were handing out samples. Flor de Cana handed out rum throughout the festival, and also provided a special bottle as well.
Note: If you follow Cigar Coop, you know the satirical nature of the comment in this header. It makes reference to the fact that many still believe cigar media solely exists to get free cigars.
Pack Light for the Festival
This is not a Puro Sabor 2023-specific comment, but a general festival comment.
If you are planning on going to a festival, be sure you leave extra room in your luggage or bring an extra bag to take things home in. You will come back with many things you did not have when you arrived in Nicaragua. I came back with a humidor, a second box of cigars, loose cigars, a bottle of Flor De Cana, shirts, caps, swag, and a leather bag. The humidor and Flor de Cana added some significant weight to my luggage.
Cultural Activities Were Fantastic
One thing I highlighted in my Puro Sabor recaps was the integration of cultural activities into the festival. National cigar festivals will often do this. I found Puro Sabor 2023 did a great job at this.
Nicaragua is a country proud of its history and culture. The festival did a great job of showcasing this and tying it to the world of cigars. This was seen many times throughout the week. Days 1 and 2 showcased the history and culture of the city of Granada. On day three, I visited Joya de Nicaragua – the oldest factory in Nicaragua and one that ties its own history to the history of Nicaragua. The entertainment throughout the week – whether at the galas or even in the factory also showcased the history and culture of Nicaragua.
A Marathon Week
Puro Sabor 2023 is a rewarding week, but it is also one chock full of activities and one that will keep you busy.
Most of the days start around 8 am (in the case of transit days, it was early) and many of the gala events will go into the late hours of the night. In some cases, there were after-parties held following the evening gala events. There is also a lot of walking, and at the farms sometimes the terrain is rough. In addition, you will be getting in and out of buses throughout the days of the factory and farm visits.
My advice is to pace yourself. Drink plenty of water, and take advantage of the rest time at your hotel between the day and evening activities.
Excellent Job by the Event Staff
An event like Puro Sabor 2023 can only run well with good staff. A special shoutout to the staff of Puro Sabor and Maximiza Eventos who kept this event going smoothly. This was not only a knowledgeable staff but one that really tried to accommodate the needs of the attendees. This was a job well done.
Wish List Item: A Seed to Shipping Tour at the Festival
One thing I would really like to see offered at Puro Sabor is a full-day tour option at one of the manufacturers where you go through the cigar-making process from when the seeds are planted to when the cigars are shipped.
Most of the tours that are done are a little less than a half-day tour. You will certainly get plenty of value going on these tours. Given, there are so many manufacturing and farming operations you will want to see, the shorter tours provide a great way to see more of them. At the same time, I think there is something special about going through the full cigar-making process from start to finish. There is also a lot of value in going through this process in sequential order. Simply put, I think there would be some great benefit if this would be an option that could be offered in the future by one or manufacturers for the festival.
If you missed our recaps from the festival, you can find them here:
Disclaimer: Ticket and lodging for Puro Sabor 2023 were provided by Puro Sabor. Airline transportation to Nicaragua and back was paid for by Cigar Coop
Photo Credits: Cigar Coop, unless otherwise specified.
Originally posted on February 3, 2023 @ 11:20 am