Kauai is known as the “Garden Isle,” and for good reason. It is the oldest of the major Hawaiian Islands, the northernmost and westernmost in the island chain, and its rich, red volcanic soil is ideal for growing a staggering number of food items. Sugar and pineapple were the main crops on Kauai for many decades and owned by large commercial interests, but when those industries bottomed-out in the past 25 years or so, determined small farmers began growing more exotic crops. Now coffee is a major crop on Kauai.
But in the past ten years, one coffee farmer has diversified. The Kauai Cigar Company is the only farm in Hawaii growing commercial tobacco, and it is owned by the Blair Estate Coffee Farm. The cost of hand-rolling the cigars here in Hawaii is far too prohibitive, so the Kauai Cigar Company sends its tobacco to a company in Nicaragua for rolling before shipping them back to Hawaii for sale.
It is an ambitious enterprise, one that was years in the making. But the effort has paid off. The Kauai Cigar Company has enjoyed favorable reviews in cigar industry media, and was the subject of a lengthy feature story in Cigar Aficionado Magazine.
I’m admittedly not a cigar person. I’ve enjoyed them on the golf course and while sipping fine whiskey, sure, but I wouldn’t know a good one from a bad one from smoking a chicken bone. But true cigar smokers are a keenly discerning lot, and a small farm like Kauai Cigar Company would never be able to continue to operate if it didn’t offer a superior product.
Kauai Cigar Company offers four different types of cigars that come in a variety of sizes. Each is unique for its taste, color, richness, and the way the filler tobacco is cured. It’s a complicated and time-consuming process, undertaken for the love of it. The company hopes to create the first cigar containing only Hawaii-grown tobacco.
In addition to being available for order online through the company’s website, Kauai Cigar Company cigars are available at scores of retailers on every island, including the familiar ABC Stores chain.
Cigar enthusiasts visiting Kauai will be pleased to know the Kauai Cigar Company also offers tours of its Kapaa farm. The tour includes a free, hand-rolled cigar, a cigar rolling demonstration, a detailed explanation of the process of cigar making, and a bottomless cup of organic, Blair Estate Coffee Farm coffee.
Kauai Cigar Company’s product will not likely ever gain the reverence enjoyed by the famous “Cubano,” but it is a fine cigar and it might just be the most unique cigar in the world.