I love cigars. Cuban seed is great, and what I’ve come to learn is that tobacco grown in Nicaragua with Cuban seed is world class. Last year, in July, I came across a manufacturer of such a cigar in Granada, Nicaragua. Dona Elba Cigars, a small, family owned establishment caught my eye the moment I set foot inside their store. It’s owner, Silvio Reyes, opened his home (located at the shop) to me. I met his family, including his wife, Jennyfer and their newborn son. I was immediately taken by Silvio’s warmth and honesty. In short, I felt like family. Oh, and he made great cigars, too (we smoked a pair together).
Eleven months later, I returned to Granada and sought out Silvo and Dona Elba Cigars. One of his cigars in particular hung to my senses from the first puff. His ‘Puro Pinol’, a medium-bodied robusto, was one of the best cigars I had ever smoked. As I approached his store, located on Calle Real Xalteva, west of the central plaza, I was immediately concerned. A black ribbon hung at the entrance, affixed to the iron gate above the main door. Once inside, I walked up to one of the counter-shaped humidors and met Manuel, Silvio’s brother-in-law.
“Buenos tardes, I was here last year and met Silvio. Is he here today?”
“Have you not been around recently?”
“Silvio passed away two weeks ago from complications after surgery. He had prostate cancer”.
I was devastated. Silvio Reyes, age 63, husband and father of two, ages 10 and 2, was gone.
I spent the next hour reminiscing with Manuel. I surprised myself by just how much I had to say about Silvio after our brief encounter in July of 2011. Manuel and I agreed that it was difficult to understand why so many good people died so young. He vowed that the family would continue many of the traditions that Silvio established. The most important of all being the strong sense of family passed to their customers.
I thanked Manuel for his time and purchased 15 more ‘Puro Pinols’ before leaving. I told Manuel to stay strong and to do everything he could to maintain the culture of Dona Elba. The cigars were balanced, consistent and of the highest quality, just as his family was. I bid him farewell with the promise to return again soon.