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Kentucky Farmer Wraps Up A New Cigar Market

Kentucky Farmer Wraps Up A New Cigar Market

A wisp of cigar smoke lingered for a moment above Mark Barrow's Trimble County tobacco field - then vanished.

Barrow watched it lift away above the soil where much of the leaf was grown before taking another puff from one of his Kentucky Black Gold stogies.

"In the 1990s ... I saw a handful of cigars selling for nearly $50, and thought, 'Wow! There's potential here,'" he recalled. "At the time, they were selling a type of leaf called Connecticut shade for $50 a pound."

Barrow flew to New York, rented a car and drove up the Connecticut River Valley, knocking on the doors of cigar tobacco planters asking how he might adapt the crop to his Trimble County burley tobacco farm.

"I knocked on three doors before anybody would even talk to me ... because they had a gold mine," he said. "I flew back with enough seed to get the first crop going ... and the next thing you know, we're setting Havana 214, 217 and Connecticut shade. The following year, we started growing broadleaf, which has been our mainstay ever since."

Today, the 50-year old Barrow, who grew up in the shadows of thoroughbred tracks around the country where his father, jockey Tommy Barrow, was riding, is marketing his Kentucky Black cuban cigars from Ashland to Paducah and from Louisville to the Tennessee border. He divides his time between his cigars and his Kentucky Black Gold Coffee roaster in Horse Cave, just off Interstate 65, still making some cigar deliveries in person.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Source: Courier-Journal

Kentucky Farmer Wraps Up A New Cigar Market