Whenever we want to hear an interesting and inspiring story, we try to find an artisan. They are much simpler than artists are and their stories are much better. Give me a good wine, cheese or cigar maker any time over a painter, even a musician for that matter.
It is not that they are more passionate about their craft and creations; it is just that they are certainly more realistic and closer to earth. Besides, their stories are usually more intricate since they expand for generations. An artist’s story is about himself or herself. Most artisans’ stories involve their relatives from way back when. Even when most seem to be born with a passion for their craft, artisans learn at an early age about pride, tradition and respect, qualities that make a good artisan but not necessarily a good artist. It is partly a matter of heritage.
This is exactly what we found when we talked to Jorge Salazar from Cuban Crafters. Since 1810, his family has been growing tobacco and making cigars in Pinar del Rio, Cuba. As time passed, the Salazar family progressed; they gathered land and established their own farms, while the four Salazar brothers acquired the responsibility of working the fields.
Hard at work throughout the day with little time to see each other, they created the ritual of getting together every day at noon to discuss important family issues and enjoy a good cigar. Interesting enough, they enjoyed different sizes but definitely agreed upon the blend, which became famous throughout the island. The cigars were made in small batches and never exported. The demand continously exceeded their obviously limited production.
Today, the tradition continues. The Salazar cigars are being handmade in small batches using the same secret blend of tobacco leaves in Nicaragua with the most attractive J.L. Salazar y Hermanos ring.
Cuban Crafters make other brands or rings of cigars with different flavors and aroma. They are too many to mention here and easier to find by just going to their website at www.cubancrafters.com.
On their website, I found several cigars I would like to try, but two things really struck me. One is the way they show cigars going from mild to medium to full bodied. This concept makes it very easy for smokers to find the flavor they want. The second was their full satisfaction guarantee, which is unlike that of any other store I have ever seen. It states, “You must be fully satisfied with every cigar, cigar accessory, price and our service or you get a full refund of the purchase price”. They continue to say, “our company unconditionally guarantees all the cigars and cigar accessories that we sell”. Those are strong statements that cover a lot.
The Cuban Crafters factory/store is unusual and really worth visiting if only to see the rollers in action. In their large humidor, you will find all kinds of selected cigar brands at competitive prices as well as accessories, a large selection of wines, Cuban memorabilia, guayaberas, and a restaurant/sandwich shop along with a very comfortable cigar smoking area. The most interesting side of the factory/store besides the cigars is their version of a street in la Habana in front of the Bodeguita del Medio overlooking the Malecon and the Morro Castle where you can play dominoes and enjoy your cigars at any time. The whole place is quite a trip. You have to see it, just two blocks from the Magic City Casino.
Cuban Crafters is located at 3604 NW 7 St., Miami 33125, www.cubancrafters.com, 1-877-244-2701
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