August 2019

Don Duarte is back. About a decade ago, Don Roger Duarte Rodriguez launched his Don Duarte brand of cigars. But that wasn’t his debut in the tobacco industry. By the time he launched his brand, he had a prosperous career behind him in the field of tobacco.

Esteli, Tobacco and more

The great grandparents of Don Roger Duarte Rodriguez, Don Rafael Rodriguez and Juana Lanuza de Rodriguez, were one of the founders of Esteli. Don Rafael Rodriguez was a tobacco grower and one of the first to export tobacco out of Nicaragua. And his great grandmother on the Duarte side, Dona Maria Duarte Boza, owned a small tobacco manufacturing plant in Masaya. They processed tobacco from Ometepe and turned them into small cigars called Chilcagres. So tobacco runs through the blood of the Managua born entrepreneur.

When Duarte Rodriguez served as president of Tabacalera Tropical, now known as Aganorsa Leaf, he worked with people such as Don Pepin Garcia and Eduardo Fernandez. Through these mutual friends, he met Evelio Oviedo. Oviedo is a legendary blender and master roller from Cuba. And after leaving Tabacalera Tropical, Duarte convinced Oviedo to work with him. They teamed up with Nestor Plasencia, who gave Oviedo complete control to create the Don Duarte cigars.

Succes in Europe and health issues

The brand launched in 2008 and gained attention in Europe and Asia. Distribution agreements were reached and the cigars were available in several countries. Japan was the biggest Asian market for Don Duarte. In Europe, his cigars were available in The Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Poland, and a few other countries. But then disaster hit. On a promotion trip to Europe, a sudden health issue arose and Duarte Rodriguez was admitted into an Amsterdam hospital, fighting for his life. It took months to recover enough to be released from the hospital. Don Duarte returned to his Florida home and had to recover from his health issues. He wasn’t able to focus on his business during that time. And it took years for him to reboot the cigar brand.

But now Don Duarte cigars are back. Still made in the same factory. Still made with the same eye for detail. The first shipment has already been sent to Japan, where cigar aficionados hadn’t forgotten about him. And currently, Don Roger Duarte Rodriguez is looking for distribution partners in the rest of the world as well.

Ministry of Cigars Don Duarte is back

The cigars

The brand offers several blends. Those include the Reserva Privada. That’s a cigar with a Colorado wrapper from Jalapa. The binder is also from the Jalapa valley in Nicaragua. The fillers come from Esteli, Jalapa, and Mexico. The Reserva Privada Fuerte is a tweaked version of the regular Reserva Privada with a bit more strength. It’s a Nicaraguan Puro.

And then there are the Don Duarte Reserva Privada Maduro and the Don Duarte Reserva Privada Doble Fuerte. These blends contain six different tobaccos instead of five that make up the other blends. The fillers for both cigars come from Esteli, Condega, and Jalapa. Both cigars have a double binder, one from Esteli, one from Jalapa. And the wrapper is either a Colorado wrapper of a Maduro wrapper from Jalapa.

Ministry of Cigars Don Duarte is back
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