His name is Arturo Garcia Chevreuil, but the 39-year-old native Californian is known in the cigar and the music business as Art Garcia. As CEO of Antigua Estelí Tobacco Co., Garcia has got a lot going on. But even while producing records and making a place for himself in the cigar world—not to mention taking on life as newlywed to a beautiful bride—he still found time to bring into creation a new Nicaraguan cigar that is gaining favorable notice: the Segovias. Named in homage to the fertile tobacco-growing lands of Nicaragua called Las Segovias, in fact the cigar draws on leaf harvested from all four principle Nicaraguan growing regions.
Made in Estelí, the Segovias will find a receptive fan base among devotees with a taste for Nicaraguan leaf. “We keep the blend a pretty tight secret,” Garcia says, “but all of the leaf inside the cigar comes from the four Nicaraguan regions, and it is all aged three to four years. We are now offering two blends, one featuring an Ecuadorean Habano wrapper and the other wrapped in Maduro San Andres.”
Garcia formed his company four years ago with a vision of capturing the essence of Nicaraguan cigar flavors and traditions, and things appear to be moving in a positive direction for the company. He debuted the Segovias at the 2019 PCA trade show, and his display won Best In Show for a Small Exhibitor.
Just this past August Garcia announced on Instagram the delivery, from the Diamond Cigars factory (now known as Barreda Cigars) in Estelí, of 5,000 boxes of Segovias; and in 2020 three additional lines are being planned. Now he is preparing to bolster his supply line in partnership with Don Oscar Barreda at a new Barreda factory. Garcia says the Segovias is today on the shelves of “30 to 40” retail shops stateside, and in shops in Germany, Malaysia, Singapore, Congo and Japan. He is clearly encouraged. “Sales are growing rapidly, and we are getting lots of repeats in the U.S. and Germany,” he says.
Everything in Garcia’s life and business dealings appears connected to sources of inspiration passed along to him by loved ones or other figures he has looked up to. Only a year before passing, his grandfather introduced young Garcia to fine cigars, and predicted the experience would go toward shaping the boy’s life. When Garcia was 16, an uncle handed him a copy of the famous bestselling book Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, and reading it confirmed Garcia in his entrepreneurial bent. His stepfather hailed from Antigua, Guatemala, and Garcia fell in love with the place from his first visit. He took inspiration from it—thus the name of his company. Before his launch, Garcia’s personal go-to smokes became Padron, Oliva, Plasencia and Arturo Fuente, and Garcia took inspiration from those as well. “Without a doubt,” he says, “our cigars fit into the profile of the cigars I have admired through the years.”
Garcia admits, “Breaking into this industry is not easy.” Nor has he taken shortcuts in his entry. “I’ve been around tobacco for a long time,” he says. “I started getting involved in cigarmaking on my travels through Nicaragua. I went into the fields and warehouses and got my hands dirty finding out everything I could about how a cigar is created. I learned to work the leaf, even how to de-vein leaves by hand. And I found that this kind of manual labor, this kind of attention to industry practices, was very educational. My aim was to become an expert tabacalero, and I believe today that is what I am. I kept up that kind of manual work for years, and in the process I made a lot of good friends, in the business, and in and around Estelí. I still live half the year in Estelí.”
Merchants interested in trying the Segovias on their shelves can find contact numbers on the company web site. This reporter twice phoned up the company in preparing this article, and both times the call was immediately answered—by Art Garcia.
The Segovias is available in 21-count boxes.
- Segovias Maduro Robusto (5 1/2 x 52) / $8.99 per single, box for about $200
- Segovias Habano Oscuro (5 1/2 x 52) / $8.99 per single, box for about $200
- Segovias Semi Box Press (6 x 56) / $13.99 per single, box for about $300
- Segovias Habano Oscuro Torpedo (6 1/8 x 52) / $12.99 per single, box for about $280
Segovias Habano Oscuro Robusto
|Size||5.5 x 52|
|Wrapper||Ecuador Habano Oscuro|
|Purchasing Info||$8.99 MSRP for single (The cigar for this review was provided by Antigua Esteli Tobacco Co.)|
|Smoking time||1 hour, 37 minutes|
From the cellophane, this Robusto smells of a tobacco warehouse, which is high praise in my book. In traveling for tobacco publications, I have had occasion to stroll through a few tobacco warehouses, and they always exude one of my favorite aromas on this earth.
- Oscuro wrapper leaf is made from leaf that was matured for an extra measure of time on the plant—i.e., any added darkening is not achieved by fermentation, but by natural leaf maturation on the stalk. In keeping with its Oscuro designation, this wrapper is on the dark side of Habano, but is not as dark as a Maduro. It is shiny and smooth on first glance, but shows signs of plentiful glands on closer inspection—a sort of a peach-fuzz appearance that raises hopes there will be lots of flavor. I see only one unobtrusive vein extending along about half the cigar’s length, and the seams are all but invisible.
- A standard punch cut to the triple cap yielded a perfect draw. Cold-draw flavors include an undertone of jalapeno over a gentle earth baseline. Both bands popped right off clean without doing damage before light up. (Please don’t judge me; that’s just how I like to do it.) The cigar feels very firm and just a bit sandy to the touch.
- I was able to gently warm and slightly toast the foot and achieve a nice, even flare-up and cherry using only a single 2-inch wood match, whose flame never touched the cigar. (As with any journey, I love it when things go well from the start.) I paired this cigar with strong, black coffee, and as I get into the first five minutes I can already see why the maker suggested I do so. The Segovias gives off a volcano of coffee notes. It is not a smudge pot of heavy smoke, so it could probably be comfortably consumed in a confined space such as a car. The blue smoke that is conjuring up is packed with all the flavor my delicate taste buds can handle. Body is what I would say is decidedly on the heavy side of medium. The retrohale is a tad peppery but still genial enough to bid me retrohale with every puff.
- At 20 minutes I have an inch of slate ash. The cigar is performing superbly, with a gorgeous, straight burn line, and the smoke is getting heavier and chewier as I work my way down. I can already confirm that this is a legitimate after-dinner smoke, and, I would say, probably a bit heavy-bodied for a novice. At 35 minutes, a deeper, sweeter profile is asserting itself, with a background note of treacle coming into focus, and some cedar and cocoa. Delicious!
- I’m only about halfway through at 50 minutes, so this robusto-sized stick is a fairly slow smoker—slower than I’m used to, because I am generally a fairly quick puffer. No doubt the fullness of flavor has slowed my normal pace, but even so, the soft earthiness keeps things pleasant. The burn line has become a little uneven a couple of times, but needs no touch-up, as it straightens itself out. At 70 minutes I break off the ash into my ashtray for only the second time, making the Segovias a top-notch burner. The espresso-like finish lingers throughout any pause between puffs. At 90 minutes I’ve still got more than an inch of warm nub, and I’m still loving it. Finally, at 97 minutes it’s a bit too toasty to handle, and I set it down.
- I usually expect full flavors from any reasonably dark Nicaraguan cigar, and the Segovias delivers copiously. Keep boxes of this cigar on hand for entertaining friends who can handle a rather full after-dinner flavor profile. The Segovias Habano Oscuro Robusto is a glorious product, well worth the price.