Cigar Coop Procigar 2024

Today, I wrap up Cigar Coop’s coverage of Procigar 2024 with a series of eight closing thoughts in no particular order.

As I said last year, this is an extremely well-run festival. What impresses me each year is the level of continuous improvement that is implemented.

Below are some closing thoughts that give more insight into my experience and what I saw.

The La Romana Experience

This was my fourth Procigar Festival, but it was the first one where I attended the La Romana portion of the tour. La Romana is a city located in the southeast portion of the Dominican Republic. It is the home to Tabacalera de García, the largest cigar factory in the Dominican Republic. The La Romana region is known for some of the best resorts in the world.

La Romana provided the best of both worlds. It allowed us to visit Tabacalera de García. It also offered the opportunity to stay at Casa de Campo, one of the top resorts in the world. In many ways, this encapsulated what Procigar is all about – showcasing Dominican culture with an emphasis on premium cigars.

The trip on the catamaran to Isla de Catalina was interesting. It provided something more cultural and recreational, and I think that is a part of the Dominican experience.

Cigar Coop Procigar 2024

Isla de Catalina

Santiago is where the lion’s share of the Procigar Festival takes place. There is an additional cost with flights and hotels for the La Romana piece. As a result, many attendees opted to skip the La Romana piece. In addition, many of the Santiago-based manufacturers do not attend this piece. This is not a bad thing. It gives the La Romana piece a smaller, more intimate feel, and it gives one better access to the folks who are a part of the country’s largest premium cigar operation.

Tabacalera de Garcia’s Theme Nights

Cigar Coop Procigar 2024

Cigar Roller rolling VegaFina 1998 at Welcome Reception in La Romana

The smaller, intimate feel in La Romana allowed Tabacalera de García to shine. I really liked what they did: each evening was themed for a different cigar and/or brand. This seemed to be a page from the Habanos Festival, which focuses on a brand each evening. In the case of this year’s Procigar, the first night featured the VegaFina 1998 cigar, while the second night featured the Montecristo Epic brand.

Cigar Coop Procigar 2024

Montecristo Epic Gift Set

Ultimately, I would like to see this carry over to the Santiago portion of Procigar. The Santiago portion tends to try to give equal exposure to the cigars from each of the manufacturers. While I understand the reasons, I felt the focused approach worked out well in La Romana, so it would be nice to see it get a shot in Santiago and see how it goes.

The White Party Really Shined This Year

The White Party is always a grand celebration at Procigar and is definitely one of the signature events. It’s an evening when everybody wears white, filled with food, cigars, and (loud) music.

Cigar Coop Procigar 2024

2024 White Party

As it has been for the past several years, the setting is impressive as it’s held at Santiago’s Monumento a los Héroes de la Restauración. The Procigar Festival is the only time of the year the Monument is opened up to a private event.

Cigar Coop Procigar 2024

Monumento a los Héroes de la Restauración.

While the White Party always delivers, everything seemed to click flawlessly this year. The night was capped off by Tony Gomez popping the question to his girlfriend.

Milestones, Events, etc

This year, two factories celebrated anniversary milestones, and one factory chose to use Procigar to showcase a rebranding.

On the anniversary end, the Quesada family celebrated 50 years of their cigar-making operation, now called TABADEX. The family is releasing a special limited edition Quesada 50th Anniversary line to mark the occasion.

Cigar Coop Procigar 2024

Quesada 50th Anniversary Presentation; Photo Credit: Procigar; Left to Right: Raquel Quesada, Enrique Tavarez, and Manuel Quesada

While La Flor Dominicana did not have a cigar floating around, the company still used Procigar to celebrate Litto and Ines Gomez’s 30 years in the cigar business. There is expected to be a cigar this year.

Cigar Coop Procigar 2024

The Gomez Family; Photo Credit: Procigar; Left to Right: Tony Gomez, Litto Gomez Jr, and Litto Gomez

Finally, while it’s not an anniversary, Procigar was the place to see the recently rebranded Casa Carrillo. This is Ernesto Perez-Carrillo’s factory, formerly known as Tabacalera La Alianza. As we pointed out in our recap of Casa Carrillo, this wasn’t a new sign on the door but a top-to-bottom rebranding of the whole factory.

Casa Carrillo

Behind the Factory Door: Jorge Luís Fernández Maique & José Manuel Blanco

One of the things I like about going to the Procigar Festival is meeting people who are more involved in the production side of things. This year, I want to single out two people who conducted the factory tours I attended in Santiago: Jose Luís Fernández Maique of Casa Carrillo and Jose Manuel Blanco of Tabacalera Palma. As it happens, the two are each a right-hand man for a legend.

In 2011, Maique was hired by Ernesto to be the factory’s General Manager in late 2021. Maique has worked in various roles at Habanos S.A. Additionally, he is said to have played a vital role in developing the Cohiba Behike. I’ve seen a lot of great industry people lead factory tours. I would easily put Maique in the upper echelon among the best factory tour guides. Possibly my favorite quote by Maique was, “Remember, you are in a factory, not a museum.”

Left to Right: Jose Luís Fernández Maique and Ernesto Perez Carrillo

José Manuel Blanco is the son of Dominican grower/blender Jochy Blanco. I met José Manuel at a couple of PCA Trade Shows, and I found him very friendly and knowledgeable. This time, I got to see José Manuel on the factory end, and one thing was evident – he knew the operations of Tabacalera Palma from top to bottom. Get ready for the next generation because this kid will be something special.

Center: Jochy Blanco; Right: José Manuel Blanco

The Dominican President Comes to the Gala

If you followed our Procigar coverage, you know that Dominican Republic President Luis Abinader Corona was the special guest at the final gala of the Procigar 2024 festival. President Abinader has been an ardent supporter of the Dominican cigar industry and has been on the record as saying cigars are an integral part of the culture of the Dominican Republic.

Left to Right: Ciro Cascara, Arturo Fuente; Luis Abinader

The President didn’t float in and out. He stayed well past the conclusion of the charity auction. It seemed he was somewhat accessible, although security was still around, so it was controlled. I have been quite vocal regarding the vibe of an event. I usually measure vibe on something you can’t quantify easily – positive energy. Abinader seems to be a popular president; you can see that in the room.

530K Raised at the Charity Auction

Speaking of positive vibes, the final night of Procigar saw 530k raised in support of several charities. The charities inside Voluntariado Jesús con los Niños, the Sociedad San Vicente de Paul, “A Home for my Family,” and other non-profit organizations. As in previous years, Michael Herklots served as the auctioneer.

Charity Auction; Left to Right: Michael Herklots, Fred Rewey

Herklots is a true master at the craft of auctioneering, and it’s not just in the delivery. This year, I witnessed how much preparation he puts into the auction. He makes sure he knows every auction item inside and out. I also know Herklots takes it as a personal challenge to beat the previous year’s auction record.

Also, some recognition was given to Fred Rewey and Christian Hudson. Both of these men volunteer to be “spotters” every year. The spotter’s job is to spot people in the audience placing a bid. This is a job that is harder than it looks.

Pack Light

This is a section I include with every post-game report for every festival I’ve covered.

This was just the welcome package.

If you plan on going to a festival, leave extra room in your luggage or bring an extra bag to take things home. You will come back with many things you did not have when you arrived in the Dominican Republic. I returned with four boxes of cigars, loose cigars, an ashtray, shirts, caps, miscellaneous swag, and a backpack.

Welcome Dinner Cigar Box


Welcome package of cigars given at registration

While the backpack provided extra baggage space, my experience this year is I still needed the extra space I had left in my luggage.

Procigar Backpack

That’s a wrap on our Cigar Coop coverage from Procigar 2024!!   For full Procigar 2024  coverage, see our Procigar 2024 Coverage Hub.

Special Thanks to Jay Davis of Blue Smoke of Dallas, who contributed to Procigar 2024 Coverage during the week.