Inferno is all Nicaraguan, though its Ligero filler is likely grown from Cuban seed. If you like Ligero tobacco — think the La Flor Dominicana Double Ligero with some of its smoothness and most of its spice — you’ll love this far less expensive cigar.
The first smell and taste from the Inferno was a hint of dark chocolate, as it is with some darker-wrapped smokes. But when the pepper flavor mixed in, I was reminded of my favorite guilty-pleasure candy: the Lindt Excellence Chili dark chocolate bar. it has little flecks of red chili pepper in it, and it’s a fantastic idea.
Exhale the smoke and take a sip of water, and you’d swear you were nibbling on one. (RELATED: Cigar Hunter: Burning the midnight maduro)
“It’s that subtle thing,” Kelly told me. “It’s smooth and chocolaty on the front end, and then, ‘Whack!’”
Now, as our president would say, let me be perfectly clear: This is a peppery cigar, but it’s not overwhelming like the Cu-Avana Punisher or the 601 La Bomba. It’s more like the 601 Blue Label maduro, which I think is one of the best pure smoking pleasures available at any price. I like that cigar so much that I mailed one to Kelly last month when she was feeling down.
The Inferno is manufactured at Oliva’s Tabolisa factory in Esteli, Nicaragua. Esteli is on the Pan-American Highway, less than 100 miles from Managua. Its climate and soil are absolutely perfect for tobacco growing. So it’s no surprise that the region became a landing pad for Cuban tobacco-grower refugees between Fidel Castro’s 1959 revolution and his 1962 decision to put the entire cigar industry under his new government’s thumb.
Plop yourself in Esteli, and the plantations are everywhere. Padrón has a factory in town. So does Carlos Toraño, and also Joya de Nicaragua — the factory that started the big Esteli boom.
Segovia Cigars also rolls its popular Casa Magna cigars in an Esteli factory constructed with cathedral-like vaulted windows. I’ve read that tourists tend to make the sign of the cross as they pass by, not knowing what goes on inside.
And, of course, Oliva has a factory there: It cranks out 50,000 cigars every day. This is a company that has only been selling cigars for 17 years, and it’s already one of the highest-volume manufacturers in the premium market.
That probably has something to do with the Oliva family’s much longer history with tobacco cultivation. Melanio Oliva started the ball rolling in the Pinar del Rio region of Cuba in 1886. (That’s not a typo.) So these people know what they’re doing.