Grown in North Side and hand-rolled in Bodden Town, the world’s first premium cigar containing tobacco grown in the Cayman Islands was introduced to local cigar aficionados this month. The Cayman tobacco was produced at Beacon Farms and blended with other hand-selected, long leaf tobaccos into a premium cigar which received high praise from Cayman’s most polished palates.
“This cigar is so new, it doesn’t even have a name yet, and the response to it has exceeded all our expectations. We are testing and tasting additional blends using this tobacco, and while it is not yet available, we hope to introduce our new cigar to the public very soon,” said Scott Haugh, Co-Founder of Cayman Cigar Company, who hosted a cigar dinner at Abacus restaurant on Wednesday 9 February to preview the new cigar to a select group of cigar enthusiasts. “We are immensely proud of the Beacon Farms team who worked so hard to produce such a high-quality tobacco leaf.”
The tobacco for the cigar’s binder, which holds the cigar together, was grown at Beacon Farms, a non-profit agricultural enterprise created by Granger Haugh and Frank “Bud” Volinsky, founder of The Bridge Foundation and a tireless advocate for Caymanians in addiction recovery. Volinksy’s vision was to provide agricultural jobs to Caymanians in sustained recovery from drug and alcohol addiction issues, and the idea of the farm was born. Beacon Farms now provides a safe, secure, supervised working environment for approximately 12 staff members with a wide range of responsibilities from operating heavy duty farming equipment to propagating seed beds and harvesting the farms many crops.
Tobacco is one of many crops grown at Beacon Farms, where chief operating officer Sandy Urquhart and his team have planted acres of coconut trees alongside several existing species of local mango and banana trees. Additional plantings include callaloo, tomatoes, peppers and a type of sugar beet called mangel. Mangels are often used for animal fodder, and Beacon Farms expects a bountiful harvest of this interesting and useful vegetable.
Beacon Farms’ Science Officer Sasha Appleby said, “Learning how to grow tobacco on a commercial level has required constant experimentation with pH levels in the soil, fertiliser, pest control and irrigation. We are preparing for our third tobacco harvest and this time we have hit the jackpot – the leaves are perfect for use as filler tobacco for cigars. It’s the next step in our journey towards cigars made with tobaccos grown exclusively in the Cayman Islands.”
“We call them cigars with a purpose,” said Haugh. “It’s a great example of social entrepreneurship in action. The crops are grown by people learning new skills to help them regain confidence, self-worth, and independence. Tobaccos grown at Beacon Farms will soon find their way into Cayman Cigars, which donates 100% of all net profits to charity. As far as we know, Cayman Cigar Company is the only premium cigar company in the world to donate all net profits to charity.”
While the tobaccos grown at Beacon Farms are further researched and evaluated, Cayman Cigar Company sources its tobaccos from throughout the Caribbean to make its current portfolio of premium hand-rolled cigars. Torcedoras (Master Rollers) Barbara Garcia Anselmo Petrie and Maria Delvis-Hernandez roll all Cayman cigars by hand in their small shop in Bodden Town.