I recently got back from Drew Estate's Cigar Safari. For those who don't know what it is, it is a 3 day trip to Esteli, Nicaragua hosted by Drew Estates where they teach you everything you could possibly want about making cigars. This trip is an all inclusive drink eat, drink (no bourbon so if you go bring your own), and smoke adventure.
On day one they pick up the entire group, limited to 15 people per safari, from Managua. As soon as you got on the bus, top of the line Drew Estate cigars were passed around along with beer. A half hour later we stopped at a great steak house for lunch and to introduce ourselves to each other. After lunch it was back on the bus and more cigars and beer for the 2.5 hour ride and to Drew Estates in Esteli. Once we arrived and shown to our rooms we were given a tour of the grounds and given the rest of the day to smoke cigars, drink, relax, and recover from the flights in.
The second day after breakfast we went out to a tobacco plantation and learned everything about growing and harvesting tobacco from the seeds all the way to harvesting and curing the tobacco in curing barns. After lunch we went to the Joya cigar factory and were given a step by step tour of production from how the age, select, blend, and roll their cigars. Then we had a blend your own cigar session and then back to Drew Estates for dinner and relaxation.
The third day we toured Drew Estates massive factory complex in similar fashion to Joya's but with even more detail including smoking fresh Liga Privada's from the rolling floor capped off with a blend your own cigar session that with a huge variety of tobacco leaves to choose from compared to Joya's. We also toured Drew Estate's Subculture art studios where some guys, including my brother in law, decided to get tattoos. The night was capped off with them brining in a band who played 80's rock music. They couldn't speak a word of English, but could sing and play pretty damn good.
The next day we all packed up bright and early and hopped back on the bus for the 2.5 hour bus ride back to the airport and headed back home.
The whole thing reminded me of the Kentucky Bourbon trail except with even more information and in depth look at the industry. It was done very well and our guides were fantastic. If you ever get the chance and you love cigars, I highly recommend you go. I'm not a heavy cigar smoker and normally have one or two a week at most (and even less during the winter), but I ended up smoking damn near 30 over the 3 days. The only down side is that I didn't get to try the Pappy Van Wink cigars because they were not ready, but from reviews that I've read, I didn't really miss out on much.