Santa Damiana Series Especiales 2004
“The climate conditions in 2004 were ideal”, the Altadis masterblender José Seijas discloses in an ECJ interview about the Santa Damiana Series Especiales 2004. But what remains a secret is how a cigar with one of the most expensive wrappers in the world can still be “affordable”.
José, the Connecticut Valley is known for the outstanding quality of its shade tobaccos. What in your opinion sets these tobaccos apart from other regions? How is the soil and/or treatment of the tobacco different from elsewhere?
The land on either side of the Connecticut River from below Hartford into lower Massachusetts has always been considered ideal land for growing tobacco. Many people have wondered why this particular area is considered exceptional for producing Connecticut Shade and Connecticut Broadleaf. One theory is that way back, the Connecticut River overflowed onto the land and supplied certain nutrients that were ideal for tobacco. There is no contesting the facts that this small area on both sides of the Connecticut River has produced some of the best quality tobacco in the world.
You have told us that in 2004 and 2007 the crops of shade-grown tobacco were the best of the decade. Was it primarily due to the climate in those years or did the process facility utilize different fermentation techniques?
Regarding the two outstanding crops you mention, the answer is that climatic conditions during the growing season were ideal. There was ample sun mixed with the right amount of rain. When this occurs we have outstanding crops.
You have decided to produce the Robusto size only in the Santa Damiana Series Especiales 2004. Why?
The Robusto is the best selling vitola; I’m sure you would agree with me that it is the vitola of our time. Thanks to its size, the balance of aroma and flavor is perfect. It is the first time we’ve produced a Santa Damiana with a Connecticut Shade wrapper; together with Eric Piras, we decided to select the Robusto vitola for this special edition.
The cigar was rated 4 stars in our winter 2010 issue, which means “outstanding”. Yet, it is moderately priced and received the “Best Buy” attribute. We all know that Connecticut Shade is one of the most expensive wrappers, if not the most expensive. How did you manage? And can you give us a comparison on the price of Connecticut Shade Wrapper versus wrappers from other provenances?
Connecticut Shade wrappers are by far the most expensive tobaccos in the world. There are three basic reasons. Firstly, the land in this area is very valuable. Secondly, the cost of materials, especially the shade cloth that covers the fields, is extreme-ly expensive; and, lastly, the cost of labor is higher than in any other tobacco growing regions and the production of Connecticut Shade is mostly done with human hands and not with a lot of machinery. How did we manage? It’s our secret! As you know, we also have a farm in Connecticut where we grow one of the best Connecticut Shades.
Going back to the fine crops of 2004 and 2007 in the Connecticut Valley, will there be more sizes featuring the 2004 wrapper? What about the 2007, will you do another Limited Edition with that?
Unfortunately, we won’t be able to produce any more with the 2004 wrapper; we’ve used most of the stock we reserved for the limited edition. However, perhaps we’ll do another edition featuring the 2007 harvest. And following the success of the first Series 2004 we may extend to another vitola. Which vitola would you like to enjoy with the 2007 Connecticut shade wrapper?