Brazilian-based Dona Flor Cigars, manufactured by Menendez Amerinowhich, is coming to the U.S. market, including cigar stores all around Gasparilla Island.
Dona Flor features cigars with 100 percent Brazilian tobacco. "Brazil's dark treasure" is the Mata Fina tobacco from the state of Bahia in northeast Brazil.
Dona Flor Cigars are a collaboration between Cuban cigar maker Felix Menendez (who was involved in making famous Cuban brands Montecristo and H. Upmann in the pre-Castro era) and Brazilian tobacco grower Mario Amerino.
Chris Edge, owner of Dona Flor USA, calls Dona Flor Cigars one of the best-kept big-stick smoking secrets.
"Brazilian cigars or Brazilian tobacco in general are an unknown treasure here in the United States," he said in a press release. "Brazilian tobacco has been a crucial part of infamous cigars for decades, but all of the glory has gone to the country of manufacture, not the country of origin," he said in a reference to Brazil's Cuban connection.
The cigars are stout and powerful to the point of being a bit rough. They burn well and are priced economically at near $5 per stick.
Dona Flor cigars have garnered ratings from Cigar Aficionado Magazine of 92, 89, and 88. Dona Flor's cigars are 100 puro "puro" with filler, binder, and wrapper all grown in Bahia.
Dona Flor tried to enter the U.S. market in 2005 but legal issues involved with the longstanding embargo kept the Dona Flor brand off U.S. shelves until President Barack Obama eased restriction in 2011.
Edge, a cigar enthusiast and successful businessman from Denver, was chosen by Menendez and Amerino to bring Brazil's finest cigars to North America.
"Because of the quality and unique flavor of Brazilian tobacco we will be able to establish Dona Flor cigars as the ultimate Brazilian cigar," Edge said.