Cigar Snob Magazine September October 2018

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THE DOMINICAN ISSUE

September / October 2018

Dominican CIGAR TRAIL

Chateau de la

FUENTE COLONIAL

SANTO DOMINGO

YEARS OF DAVIDOFF Smoking with OLD DOMINION






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Hear “The Man’s” Story www.arturofuente.com/theman

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editorials SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2018

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PERFECT PAIRINGS ARTURO FUENTE DON CARLOS / MACALLAN MURDERED OUT ROB ROY A cigar like this deserves an upgraded cocktail. Our go-to mixologist brought a killer single-malt into the mix to replace the customary blended Scotch and bring the Rob Roy to a level of sophistication worthy of this Fuente.

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EXPLORE THE DOMINICAN CIGAR TRAIL Follow us on a journey to get up close to the rich colonial history, world-class cigar factories and delicious homemade pastas of the Dominican Republic. Plus, buckle your seatbelt and warm up those turn signal fingers; we’re about to do a whole lot of defensive driving.

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DAVIDOFF CIGARS AT 50

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OLD DOMINION ON FAME, FAMILY, COUNTRY MUSIC AND CIGARS

When Zino Davidoff got his first shipment of branded cigars, could he have imagined how far his vision would take the family name half a century later? We explore the history of the brand and the manufacturing and blending operation that have made Davidoff a symbol of Dominican cigar excellence.

Old Dominion is one of the hottest acts in country music. This group of veteran musicians and songwriters was already accomplished, but now they’re in the spotlight. Whether capping off a tour stop, celebrating an award or just taking a breather from life on the road, they’re never far from their next cigar.

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features SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2018

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LETTER FROM THE PUBLISHER

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FEEDBACK

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WHAT’S BURNIN’

54

SMOKING HOT CIGAR SNOB

69

RATINGS

96

TWITTER SCOREBOARD

98

SMOKING HOT CIGAR SNOB

108

BIRTHPLACE OF A DREAM

SOL Y SOMBRA

EVENT COVERAGE 108 MY FATHER DINNER 110 DREW ESTATE MEDIA PARTY 110 GENERAL MEDIA COCKTAIL 112 DAVIDOFF GOLDEN BAND AWARDS 114 AGIO HOSPITALITY SUITE 116 ROCKY MOUNTAIN CIGAR FESTIVAL 118 ESPINOSA AT CAVA CIGARS 120 ASHFEST 2018 122 VICTOR CALVO AT CAVA CIGARS

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Ask for it by name, In fine cigar stores near you SEPT / OCT 2018 | CIGAR SNOB |

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SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2018

VO L . 1 0 IS SU E 5 www.cigarsnobmag.com PUBLISHER & EDITOR Erik Calviño SENIOR EDITOR Nicolás Antonio Jiménez COPY EDITOR Michael LaRocca SALES & OPERATIONS DIRECTOR Oscar M. Calviño PRODUCTION DIRECTOR Ivan Ocampo ART DIRECTOR Andy Astencio DIGITAL RETOUCHING SPECIALIST Ramón Santana CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS David Benoliel Andy Astencio Brad Ziegler Mason Allen EVENT PHOTOGRAPHERS Jamilet Calviño Rob Roth Cover Photography by David Benoliel www.davidbenolielphotography.com Cover Model - Megan Samperi Cigar Snob is published bi-monthly by Lockstock Publications, Inc. 1421-1 SW 107th Ave., #253 Miami, FL 33174-2509 Tel: 1 (786) 423-1015 Cigar Snob is a registered trademark of Lockstock Publications, Inc., all rights reserved. Reproduction in part or full without written permission from the publisher is prohibited. Cigar Snob is printed in the U.S. Contents copyright 2006, Lockstock Publications, Inc. To subscribe, visit www.cigarsnobmag.com

(SUBSCRIBE TODAY) - Only $18 for one Year (six issues) of -

- Magazine delivered to you Visit: www.cigarsnobmag.com or write: subscribe@cigarsnobmag.com

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B E

I T

T A K E S

A

LEGEN DA RY

L E G E N D

INTRODUCING

SURGEON GENERAL WARNING: Cigar Smoking Can Cause Cancers Of The Mouth And Throat, Even If You Do Not Inhale.

T O

C R A F T

PARTAGAS

A

L E G E N D

L EGEND

PA RTAG AS .CO M / L E G E N DS


I’ve been asked on countless occasions, “Why don’t you and your team do one of your photo shoots in a cigar factory or a tobacco farm?” My answer is always the same: “When you have a cigar magazine doing a fashion shoot featuring cigars, doing so in a cigar factory or farm is a bit too cliché for our taste.” If you’re a longtime fan of this magazine you know that we’re always trying to do things differently or unexpectedly. In the best of cases, we are able to combine elements that you would otherwise not encounter together and do so in a way that is refreshing, sexy, and memorable. Some of the home runs of this “photo shoot ideology” are the July/August 2015 Expedition Untamed and the July/August 2016 Raw Deal photo shoots. If your local tobacconist has copies of those, check them out; these and several other standout photo shoots raised the bar for production quality. Of course we’ve also had some swings and misses, like one look in the May/June 2010 California Summer shoot, where we had the model on a surfboard, waiting for the next wave while “smoking” a dripping wet cigar. The rest of that shoot was excellent, but after more than eight years, that’s one of the shots that still bother me. So after 13 years of publishing Cigar Snob and producing photo shoots in all but three issues, why did we all of a sudden do an about face and shoot in a cigar factory and tobacco farm? If you’ve been fortunate enough to visit Tabacalera A. Fuente and Chateau de la Fuente in the last year and a half or so, you aren’t asking this question. Seriously. Words aren’t enough to describe the beauty and magic of these places, and regardless of how well our team executed the photo shoots, images are equally inadequate. Here’s one quick story that illustrates the point. After walking the factory to scout shooting locations on day one, our photographer David Benoliel turned to me and said simply, “I would like to try a cigar.” It stopped me dead in my tracks. David has shot more than 40 photo shoots for this magazine — all with cigars — and not once in over six years has he asked for a cigar. After a little over an hour at Tabacalera A. Fuente, he was moved to try one for the first time. And he enjoyed it! You’ll probably notice that this issue is decidedly Dominican. The idea was to take the concept from the Nicaragua issue that we published in July/August 2017 and do something similar, but Dominican style! So to that end we produced two photo shoots in the Dominican Republic, one at Tabacalera A. Fuente and Chateau de la Fuente as mentioned above and the other in the capital city’s colonial zone. Coordinating and pulling off these shoots in three different Dominican locales over the course of five days with an eight-person crew that flew in from several different U.S. cities was no easy task. With added pressure, our team led by Ivan Ocampo and assisted in the U.S. by Liana Fuente and Manny Iriarte and in the D.R. by Carlito Fuente, Ciro Cascella and his team, made the shoots (p. 54 & p. 98) a resounding success. Thank you all. In addition to the two shoots, we sent Nicolás Antonio Jiménez and Andy Astencio to explore the Dominican Cigar Trail from Santo

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Domingo to Santiago. I want to thank all of the cigar stores, lounges, and factories who welcomed our team with open arms, especially our friend Francisco Batista of Balmoral for his generous hospitality. A few months back Nick and I went on a trip called Davidoff - Viaje al Origen. We visited Davidoff’s fields and factory and participated in tasting and blending seminars. One particularly special treat was the time we were able to spend with Henke Kelner and Eladio Diaz, Davidoff’s master blenders. Our conversations with these gentlemen and hours of research and more interviews resulted in Nick’s story celebrating 50 years of Davidoff (p. 47) Finally, the only non-Dominican story in this issue was also one of the more interesting conversations with celebrities in a long time. Nick spent an afternoon smoking cigars and hanging out with the guys from Old Dominion, the popular country band. His story, Written in the Stars (p. 87), gives you a glimpse into the lives of these cigar loving country musicians. There’s a bunch more stuff in this issue but no more room to talk about it so let’s get this show on the road! Keep ‘em lit,

Erik Calviño ecalvino@cigarsnobmag.com


L E G E N D S

A R E N ’ T

I NTROD U CING

B O R N .

T H E Y ’ R E

PARTAGAS

M A D E .

LEGE ND

An homage to legends of the past, present and future.

SURGEON GENERAL WARNING: Cigar Smoking Can Cause Cancers Of The Mouth And Throat, Even If You Do Not Inhale.

PA RTAG AS .CO M / L E G E N DS


CORRECTION In the print version of Cigar Snob’s July/August 2018 issue, we missed an error in my piece titled Nicaragua on the Brink, in which I named Augusto Sandino as the Nicaraguan dictator who was deposed in 1979. Of course, that dictator was Anastasio Somoza. This error has been corrected for the online version of our story. I regret the error, especially in light of how important we all know Nicaragua’s history is to the cigar community. Mistakes happen and things slip through the cracks. Invariably, we spot things as soon as we get our hands on the print magazine. But this is worse than the average typo. All that said, I’m glad that we were able to give voice to the cigar industry and to many Nicaraguans’ concerns about the challenges the country faces. We look forward to telling this story from a perspective that readers won’t get elsewhere. — Nicolás A. Jiménez, Senior Editor

CAN’T WE ALL JUST SMOKE ALONG? (In response to Erik Calviño’s July/August 2018 “Letter From the Publisher”) Hi Erik, I’m just reading your letter and I could not agree more. The country has gone a bit crazy and it seems we can’t even talk to each other anymore. I travel for a living so I tend to get to check out lots of cigar shops, most recently in L.A., Chicago, Charleston and metro Detroit as well as my home town of Atlanta and one thing holds true: the conversation remains civil even when we don’t agree — and we certainly don’t always agree. Sometimes the core group is very liberal and sometimes it’s very conservative, but I’m always welcome as a fellow cigar lover and we talk about issues and how to fix and change them — not how to hate each other. We all agree that the cigar industry is under attack and we need to speak out. I find lots of fellow Cigar Rights of America members. Keep up the great work and great magazine. We all have to talk to keep our country going. Cigars are a good common ground. Sincerely,

John Atlanta

VIA FEEDBACK@CIGARSNOBMAG.COM

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BE LEGENDARY

Introducing Partagas Legend, a tribute to legends of the past, as well as the ones to come in the future.

SURGEON GENERAL WARNING: Cigar Smoking Can Cause Cancers Of The Mouth And Throat, Even If You Do Not Inhale.

PA RTAG AS .CO M / L E G E N DS

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MY FATHER CIGARS

305.468.9501 | MYFATHERCIGARS.COM

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DREW ESTATE RELEASES LIGA PRIVADA 10 - YEAR ANIVERSARIO Drew Estate announced the launch of Liga Privada 10 - Year Aniversario. As the name suggests, this product marks the 10-year anniversary of Drew Estate’s sought-after Liga Privada lines. The cigar features a Connecticut-grown Criollo wrapper, a San Andrés binder, and fillers from Nicaragua and Honduras. This cigar, which comes in a 6 x 52 Toro format, will be packaged in 10-count boxes. It has a fishtail cap and a covered foot. The MSRP for a box is set at $179.00. Robusto, Corona Doble, and Torpedo sizes are on the way.

DREW ESTATE ANNOUNCES LIGA PRIVADA H99 CONNECTICUT COROJO Drew Estate announced the release of Liga Privada H99 Connecticut Corojo, which will be added to the celebrated Liga Privada lineup that includes No. 9 and T52. The new cigar made its debut at the IPCPR trade show in Las Vegas. H99 features a Corojo wrapper grown in the Connecticut River Valley, a San Andrés binder and fillers from Nicaragua and Honduras. The 6 x 52 cigar will be packaged in 24-count boxes that carry an MSRP of $343.92 per box. Drew Estate’s announcement of the product notes that the company plans to add additional vitolas.

LA AURORA LAUNCHES LA AURORA HORS D’AGE 2017 LIMITED EDITION La Aurora has announced Hors d’Age, a new limited edition cigar that made its debut at the IPCPR trade show in Las Vegas. All the tobacco in Hors d’Age was harvested in 2006. Production is limited to 6,000 boxes.

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The La Aurora Hors d’Age features an Ecuadorian wrapper and binder, while the filler is a mix of Colombian, Dominican and Nicaraguan tobaccos. They ’ll come packaged in 15-count boxes of one vitola, a 6 x 54 Toro. A La Aurora press release describes the cigar thusly: “It is a well-balanced cigar with a start unique to a cigar with extra years of aging, in which spicy notes of black pepper predominate, which give way to more complex and delicate flavors. The presence of wood is evident throughout the smoke but is enriched with nuances of cinnamon, nuts and even citrus. With touches of roasted coffee, its finish is powerful and creamy, at the height of a demanding smoke.”

PUNCH DIABLO, MADE BY AJ FERNANDEZ, IS THE FIRST PUNCH PRODUCT MADE OUTSIDE HONDURAS SINCE THE ‘60S General Cigar has announced yet another collaboration with AJ Fernandez. This time, the cigar is part of the Punch lineup. Punch Diablo, made at AJ Fernandez’s Nicaraguan factory, represents the first time that a Punch product has been made outside Honduras since the ‘60s. The Diablo blend comprises four-year-old Nicaraguan and Honduran Habano fillers, a Connecticut Broadleaf binder (aged six years) and an Ecuadorian Sumatra Oscuro wrapper (aged four years). The cigar is available in three vitolas: Scamp (6 1/8 x 50), Diabolus (5 1/4 x 54), and Brute (6 1/4 x 60). Those vitolas have MSRPs of $7.19, $7.79 and $8.19, respectively.

EL GALÁN ANNOUNCES NEW BRAND CALLED VEGAS DEL PURIAL El Galán announced the upcoming release

of Vegas del Purial, a new addition to the company ’s portfolio, which includes the core El Galán line, the Doña Nieves line, and extensions of both. Vegas del Purial is an homage to El Galán founder Félix Mesa’s paternal grandparents, Felipe and Caridad Mesa, who grew tobacco in the Cuban province of Las Villas, as well as their farm. The cigar is made at El Galán’s Estelí factory and features an Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper, Nicaraguan fillers, and a new hybrid tobacco called FFMC 96 for the binder. It ’ll be available in four vitolas: Robusto (5 x 50), Belicoso (5 1/2 x 52), Lancero (7 x 38) and Súper Toro (6 3/4 x 52). The cigars will range in price from $8.90 to $10 each. The cigars are set to ship to retailers in October.

DREW ESTATE ANNOUNCES HERRERA ESTELI REBRANDING, INCLUDING BRAZILIAN MADURO & MIAMI LINE EXTENSIONS Drew Estate is launching a rebrand of its Herrera Estelí products, which are named for the company ’s master blender Willy Herrera. All Herrera Estelí products are getting updated packaging. In addition, the company announced the national release of Herrera Esteli Brazilian Maduro and Herrera Esteli Miami. The Herrera Estelí Miami, which has been on the market but less readily available to this point, is made at El Titan de Bronze, the renowned Miami factory Willy called home before his move to Drew Estate. The Brazilian Maduro sports a Mata Fina wrapper, Connecticut Broadleaf binder and Nicaraguan fillers. Made at La Gran Fábrica Drew Estate in Estelí, Nicaragua, it will be available in five vitolas: Robusto Grande (5 1/4 x 52), Toro Especial (6 x 52), Lonsdale (6 x 44), Fino (6 x 52) and Short Corona Gorda (5 1/2 x 46). The cigars will range in price from $227.94 to $269.94 for a box of 25.



XIKAR INTRODUCES FOUR NEW LIGHTERS Accessories brand Xikar announced the addition of new products to its portfolio. The High Performance Collection, which was introduced in 2017, will get two new lighters: the HP3 Triple Flame Lighter and the Turismo Double Flame Lighter. The HP3 Triple Flame features an “in-line triple flame ignition system designed for lighting precision,” according to a Xikar press release. The outer jets are all angled toward the center burner so that the flames are unified. The HP3 will be available in four finishes: Burnt Yellow, Daytona Red, Matte Black and G2. The Turismo Double Flame is a pocket friendly lighter with rugged panels for durability. It’s available in four finishes: Matte Black, Matte Red, Matte Blue and Matte Gray. Additionally, Xikar is introducing lighters in product categories that are new to the company. First, there’s the Verano Flat Flame, which Xikar describes as providing “the power of a double flame with the breadth of a triple for maximum fuel efficiency.” Again, this lighter is available in four finishes: Black, Silver, G2 and Vintage Bronze. Finally, Xikar is introducing the XFlame Electronic Lighter. As the name implies, this is a fully electric lighter. It’s powered by a lithium-ion battery. The burner is designed to light a cigar up to 62 ring gauge at optimal temperature, so that you shouldn’t ever overheat your cigar. What’s more, the lighter is TSA approved for carry-ons so long as you store the burner coil and battery separately.

ALEC & BRADLEY BLIND FAITH IS SHIPPING Alec Bradley announced that its new release, Alec & Bradley Blind Faith, is shipping to retailers. The brand is the first Alec & Bradley release (note the ampersand), denoting that it was developed by Alec and Bradley Rubin, the sons of Alan Rubin, who named his company Alec Bradley after the two of them. “As a father and brand owner I couldn’t be more proud of my two sons,” said Alan in a press release. “Their mother is very excited that both of the boys are joining the family business and sharing experiences with me, my father — at age 91 — who still opens the office doors every morning and the rest of the Alec Bradley family!” “My father and mother never pushed Brad or me into the business,” Alec said in the same release. “From a young age, we watched our father’s passion and respect for the process, the tradition and heritage of Premium Cigars. I’ve been working in the offices for over 4 years, as well as travelling down to Central America with my father and brother — we decided that we wanted to create a brand.” Blind Faith features a wrapper from Alec Bradley ’s own Trojes, Honduras farm, three different Estelí fillers, and a combination of two binders, one Honduran and the other Nicaraguan. It ’s being manufactured at the Raíces Cubana Factory in Danlí. The cigar is available in three vitolas: Robusto (5 x 52), Toro (6 x 52), and Gordo (6 x 60). MSRPs are set between $8.95 and $10.95.

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A. Fuente Don Carlos Macallan Murdered Out Rob Roy For the final installment in our cocktail series with Republic National Distributing’s staff mixologist and all around badass David Ortiz, we decided to “murder out” a Rob Roy. The classic Rob Roy is a twist on the Manhattan except that while a Manhattan uses rye whiskey or bourbon, the Rob Roy uses Scotch. According to David, Rob Roys are often made with cheap vermouth and the wrong bitters, so in this version he jacked up the Rob Roy with Carpano Bianco vermouth and plum bitters and swapped out the blended Scotch for Macallan 12. Yes, he put Macallan in a cocktail because he can. We sat in David’s office … er … bar drinking these murderous and boozy cocktails trying to figure out what Dominican cigar would pair best. After several rounds and bouts of slightly slurred speech, everyone’s choice, including David’s, was the Arturo Fuente Don Carlos Belicoso. The Recipe:

1. Pour 2 oz of Macallan 12 into a mixing glass 2. ½ oz of Italian Sweet Vermouth 3. ½ oz of Carpano Bianco Vermouth 4. 4 dashes of plum bitters 5. Add ice to the mixing glass 6. Stir until the liquid is cold 7. Pour into a chilled cocktail glass through a strainer

8. Garnish with a skewer of two Luxardo cherries

THE PAIRING The idea is to get the Don Carlos fired up before the cocktail is ready. Take in the smoke and develop a baseline for the cigar before introducing the Rob Roy. You’ll notice the slightly sweet, nutty flavor coming off the Cameroon wrapper complemented by savory wood, cinnamon, and soft spice on the finish. Now taste the cocktail and enjoy how the oak and vanilla from the Macallan combine with the dry sweetness of the vermouth and plum bitters. Save the cherries until the end. Once the cigar is starting to heat up in the final third, the Luxardo cherry will give you a sweet and tart treat to balance out the cigar’s increasing intensity.

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The Epic Archetype Saga Continues...

Introducing

venturacigar.com

#archetypecigars

@venturacigar

/venturacigar

WARNING: This product can expose you to chemicals including tobacco smoke, which is known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm. For more information go to www.P65Warnings.ca.gov. Smoking cigars causes lung cancer, heart disease, and emphysema, and may complicate pregnancy.


Monumento a los Héroes de la Restauración, Santiago

BY NICOLÁS ANTONIO JIMÉNEZ / PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANDY ASTENCIO


The Arturo Fuente Cigar Club in Santo Domingo, whose bar and lounge area are shown above, is unquestionably the most luxurious cigar lounge experience in the Dominican Republic. or many cigar smokers, simply smoking cigars is enough to make you fall in love with the craft of cigar making. But the surest way to fall hard for tobacco is to go to the source. Unfortunately, opportunities to get up close and personal with the process of making your favorite cigar aren’t always easy to come by. Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic each have annual cigar festivals offering cigar factory tours. If you can’t make it to one of those, it might seem like your best bet is to hope you land an invitation from your neighborhood tobacconist to go on a group trip and for farm and factory tours. And with all of the above options, you only have so much flexibility when it comes to scheduling your trip. The truth, though, is that planning your own independent cigar tour doesn’t have to be that tough. Back in our July/August 2017 issue, I wrote a piece about how you might go about experiencing the world of Nicaraguan cigars on your own. Unless you’ve had your head in the sand, you know that that particular trip has become less advisable over the last several months. This time around, we’re laying out what it might look like if you planned your very own visit to the cigar manufacturing facilities of the Dominican Republic. This is a completely different experience from visiting Estelí. While a trip to the Nicaraguan cigar capital takes you to a more remote, small-town rural setting, the bulk of the Dominican cigar industry lives on the outskirts of the country’s two largest

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cities: Santo Domingo and Santiago de los Caballeros.

SANTO DOMINGO

Keep a few things in mind as you read through this piece. First, we assumed you would only have so much time in the country to explore the cigar scene. Even if you’re here for a full week, you’re probably not here on your own and won’t have enough time to see every last thing. This trip does not represent an exhaustive sampling of everything the country has to offer. Second, we only visited factories that welcome visitors in some form or fashion. Because we have this ridiculously cool gig at a cigar magazine, we often get special access to places and people that lay smokers such as yourself do not. But in this piece, you’ll only be reading about experiences that are within reach for you. Refer to the map and map legend at the end of this piece for a more thorough accounting of which factories will offer you tours and which will not. Third, very few cigar companies have staff dedicated to managing tours and welcoming visitors. In fact, there might only be one factory in the entire country with a regular tour schedule (spoiler: it’s La Aurora). So no matter what factories you want to visit, make sure you get in touch with them at least a week in advance. Even then, you’re not guaranteed a tour, but these people are all as accommodating as they can be and will always do what they can to give you access to the places where the magic happens. That map and factory list at the end of this piece also includes the contact information you’ll need to inquire about factory visits.

Santo Domingo is a bustling city with a picturesque colonial district and HOLY SHIT WE ALMOST KILLED THAT GUY ON THE MOTORCYCLE!

All right. With all that out of the way, let’s start our Dominican cigar tour in…

As I was saying, the Dominican capital is the oldest continually inhabited European settlement in the AmeriJESUS CHRIST HOW DID THAT GUY END UP IN OUR LANE? Santo Domingo proper is home to about a million people and the Santo Domingo metropolitan area has about 3 million inhabitants. That makes this the largest metro area in the Caribbean by population, which is an absolute marvel when you consider that after five minutes on the road here, you’ll wonder how any Dominican survives past the day they get their driver’s license. Which brings us to our first Dominican travel tip: either use Uber (it works pretty well here) or be prepared to adjust to new rules of the road. Dominicans — especially Santo Domingo residents — do not drive like you and I drive. They drive like Dominicans drive. At first, it might not seem like there’s any rhyme or reason to what they’re doing, but it’ll start to make sense eventually. The most remarkable thing is that while you’ll find yourself fuming at the things that are going on in the traffic around you, none of the locals seem to be getting upset. This is just how things are done. The main attraction in Santo Domingo is the colonial zone. Rich with history and Spanish colonial architecture, it’s home to museums, art galleries, restaurants, forts and monuments. There are also a lot of places to take in waterfront views, though


CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: The Villiger lounge at ABAM cigar factory just outside Santo Domingo; the oceanfront deck at D’Lius Parrillada restaurant; Cigar Market; Cameroon Cigar Bar; rollers at ABAM and their special hydraulic cigar presses the coastline here is rocky, so you won’t be getting much sand on your toes. Instead, consider kicking things off by picking up a cigar at Cameroon Cigar Bar and taking it across the street to D’Luis Parrillada, a casual oceanfront, open-air bar and grill owned by the same Luis from Cameroon. This is a great way to ease into your Dominican experience in a come-as-you-are sort of atmosphere while also getting right into the full Dominicanness of it all. D’Luis Parrillada has all sorts of meats, but you might want to go with the sampler platter for a smattering of Dominican bites, like croquettes, sausages, mofongo and tostones. The only major factory in the greater Santo Domingo area is ABAM, which manufactures cigars for Villiger in Villa Mella, a town just north of Santo Domingo, across the Isabella River. We made our way there to take a tour with José Matías Maragoto and Aidee Castilla, the Cuban couple behind the factory. It’s an expansive facility that also creates much of the packaging for Villiger cigars. If you’ve walked through enough cigar factories, you know that two things are true. First, cigar factories operate mostly in the same way. Second, every time you walk through a factory, you pick up on some little thing that that place does differently from any other. In ABAM’s case, it’s the mold presses. Outside of Cuba, most cigars are made by pairs of workers. A buncher puts the filler blend together, applies the binder leaf (or leaves) and then puts all that into

a mold, which is then placed on a stack of molds, which are then placed in a press. They’ll sit there for as little as an hour or as long as a day so they can settle into their shape before the wrapper leaf is applied. Usually that press is operated by a large wheel that a worker turns to tighten the presses. At ABAM, though, every press is hooked up to a hydraulic rig that was developed right here for this purpose, cutting down on inconsistencies in mold pressure and some of the time and strain of operating the presses. It’s a little thing, but hey … you’re touring cigar factories. You’re a geek about this stuff. Less geeky is the gorgeous new cigar lounge that ABAM and Villiger put in. Overlooking the factory floor through floor-to-ceiling windows, the place leaves you feeling as immersed in the factory experience as ever while also putting you in a plush, luxurious club setting. As far as I’m aware, no factory in the Dominican Republic that takes visitors from outside the industry has a nicer place to smoke. Once you’re back in the city, there are four cigar lounges to be aware of outside the colonial zone. We’ll run through all of them now since they’re roughly in the same part of town just west of the colonial zone in the Piantini, Lope de Vega and La Esperilla neighborhoods. The Arturo Fuente Cigar Club is, unquestionably, the premier cigar lounge in the country. Hell,

you’d be hard pressed to find a higher caliber cigar club anywhere in the world. And would you expect anything less from the Fuentes? Between that and the fact that the company doesn’t offer factory or farm tours to independent travelers, this is the best way for Fuente fanatics to get up close and personal with the brand while they’re in the country. Naturally, what’s on offer is all Fuente. The bar is well appointed, and overlooking the bar, there’s a second-floor stage with a piano and drums for the musicians who play nights here. If it’s your first time in the bar, you might just find yourself wandering around leaning into every little corner of the building to examine the (seemingly) millions of little details that the Fuentes have worked in to make the place uniquely theirs — from the artwork made from old cigar molds to the backdrop of the stage, which is made to look like backlit burlap tobacco bales. Again, classic Fuente. At the other end of the swank spectrum, but no less fun, is Cigar Market. Owner Manuel Herrera (who also happens to be a cop) has slowly developed this space into an incredible man cave. What started as a small afterthought of a lounge in the back of the store has grown into a comfortable lounge with a large TV, boisterous regulars and some brilliant touches. For instance, there’s the floor made from tiles salvaged from a demolished colonial zone building, shelving and a bar built from wood that used to form shipping pallets, and an impressive array of boutique cigars, including products from

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CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Restaurants on Plaza de España; Cabinet Tabaco Boutique; the entrance at the Agio factory in San Pedro de Macorís, Pat’e Palo’s crispy apple; a steak skewer Pat’e Palo non-Dominican brands. You’re here to take in all things Dominican, of course. So if you visit, make sure you ask staff to point you in the direction of some of the Dominican blends you’ll have trouble finding through your tobacconist back home. By the time you visit, Manuel might have finished his next major improvement: an expansion of the deck out front so that there’s some seating that overlooks the street. Then there’s Cigar World, a small tobacconist with a respectable humidor, a comfortable lounge, and a bar with a surprisingly ample wine selection. Finally, you could head to Cabinet, which is your best bet for a large selection of some of the industry’s most respected brands from around the world, including Dominican cigar makers like La Flor Dominicana, EPC and La Aurora, but also Nicaraguan brands like Padrón, My Father and AJ Fernández. Cabinet is the Dominican Republic’s most recognizable tobacconist brand — primarily because they have locations all over the country (Santo Domingo, SDQ Airport, Santiago, Altos de Chavón, Casa de Campo and Las Terrenas). Cabinet’s Santo Domingo location also has a food menu. We tried the sliders and they were, to our surprise, pretty damned good. My travel partner on this assignment was our art director, Andy Astencio. Before we left Miami, the rest of the Cigar Snob crew decided to turn our

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trip’s meals into the focus of a wager. How many tostones would Andy and I consume over the course of a few days in the Dominican Republic? For those of you who are unfamiliar, a tostón is a twice-fried smashed plantain. They’re staple of Caribbean cooking. The thinking had been that tostones are everywhere in this country, and so unable would we be to avoid them that we’d be coming back with some astronomical tostón count. To this point in our journey, we’d had just three tostones between us — far fewer than the team keeping score in Miami had hoped. We were about to further disappoint the team with our dinner at Pat’e Palo with Francisco Batista of Royal Agio Cigars, which makes Balmoral cigars, along with a number of brands in Agio’s machinemade portfolio. The restaurant — whose name means “peg leg” — sits on the edge of the Plaza de España and has an excellent view of the Alcázar de Don Diego Colón. Commonly referred to as “las Casa de Colón,” that building is the oldest viceroyal home in the Americas and was built by the Spanish crown for Christopher Columbus’ son Diego. Pat’e Palo is not a place to go for tostones because it does not serve Dominican cuisine. Instead, the menu focuses on creative, rustic dishes with Mediterranean influences. I had a steak skewer, Andy had grilled fish, and Francisco got himself a couple of smaller plates. But the real revelation here was

Crispy Apple. It’s a slice of crispy fried apple topped with caramelized onions and shrimp. They’re served on a metal tree, with each branch of the tree carrying one shrimp-topped-apples slice at the end. Knowing that I wouldn’t be able to come back very often for this dish, I did my best to commit the flavors to memory so I could try to recreate this dish at home. I’m sure I’ll be discussing my titanic failure on the Cigar Snob Podcast soon. “For someone like me who likes to smoke a cigar after dinner,” Francisco said, “this is one of the places where you can eat outdoors and where smoking cigars is very accepted. We have a great view of the Casa de Colón and Calle Las Damas, the oldest paved street in the New World — so in this area there’s a lot of history. And aside from that, there’s great food. I think Pat’e Palo has the best Mediterranean food in the whole country. Combine that with a great atmosphere, location and food and that’s hard to beat.” Other Colonial Zone recommendations from Francisco include the Museo de las Casas Reales (a 16th-century Spanish administrative building), Buche’Perico for upscale Dominican and Italian fare in a courtyard dining area, Lulú Tasting Bar for a cocktail bar with shareable food, and Jalao for Caribbean gastropub food and live music. “If you want typical Dominican food, like goat, duck, crab, go to el Mesón de Bari,” Francisco said.


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CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: The Cathedral of America in Santo Domingo’s Colonial Zone; La Dolcerie’s patio dining area; a pilón of fermenting tobacco at Tabacalera La Alianza (EPC); peach cobbler at Bottega Fratelli Mesón de Bari sits on the corner of an old residential building in the heart of the colonial zone. The dining area feels homey, with lots of small rooms and Dominican art hanging from the walls. It’s a great setting for exploring the kinds of dishes that Dominicans grow up with here. After breakfast at La Dolcerie in the Piantini neighborhood (a solid option for omelettes, pastries and coffee), we made our way back to another encounter with Francisco — this time for a tour of the Royal Agio factory in San Pedro de Macorís, a coastal city about 45 minutes east of Santo Domingo. The Agio factory is different from most of the others we visited in that it produces both handmade and machine-made cigars. “We’ll show visitors the whole process. Our factory consists of about 17,000 sq. meters of buildings,” said Francisco. “You’ll see bobbins, machine-made cigars, hand-made cigars, fermentation. If you want to get to know the industry, this is a good way to do it.” If you visit now, you’ll get a peek at production of some products that debuted at the IPCPR trade show, namely Balmoral Añejo XO Connecticut and Balmoral Añejo XO Oscuro (which has a Mexican San Andrés wrapper). It’s also an opportunity to get up close to the production of a cigar portfolio with a unique calling card: Brazilian tobacco.

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By the time we made it back to Santo Domingo, we were closing in on the end of our time in the city. We picked up our luggage and made our way to the Colonial Zone for an afternoon of exploration. If you’re into old architecture, forts and the like, then you should give yourself at least half a day to wander around here with your camera. Our final colonial stroll started at the Fortaleza Ozama, an old colonial fort at the mouth of the Ozama River. Built in 1502, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is the oldest formal military edifice built in the Americas by Europeans. The fortress’ tower offers one of the best views you can get of the city (especially since the city’s not particularly tall in this area). On our way out of the city, we made one last stop at Bottega Fratelli, an Italian restaurant that had been recommended to us by Matías when we toured ABAM. I had a pappardelle ragú, Andy went with penne, and we followed all that with a peach cobbler and a funky, deconstructed take on cheesecake. From there, it was off to Santiago de los Caballeros, which is the heart of Dominican Republic’s cigar industry.

SANTIAGO Santiago is still a large city, but it doesn’t take much time here to understand that it isn’t half the tour-

ism hub that Santo Domingo is. The inland town is more modern, more industrial, and not quite as picturesque, with the exception of the area near the Monumento a los Héroes de la Restauración, the city’s most iconic landmark. It’s an old monument that was ordered built by Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo in 1944 as a “monument to peace.” After his assassination in 1961, it was renamed in honor of the heroes of the Dominican Restoration War, which was fought against Spanish forces and loyalists who re-colonized the country nearly two decades after it won independence. Locals refer to it simply as “el monumento.” One thing this town does appear to be missing: breakfast. Maybe we were asking the wrong people, but God did we ask a lot of people. The staff at the front desk at the Hodelpa Centro Plaza, where we stayed for all our time in Santiago, sent us to restaurants that were closed. Google searches yielded nothing. And when we finally found a couple of cops who looked like they might not have anything better to do than help us find an omelette, they gave us directions to El Provocón. Which turned out to be a rotisserie chicken place. It was open, but who the hell’s ordering rotisserie chicken at 9 in the morning? We gave up on the idea of finding a great breakfast and ate at the small restaurant on the fourth floor of the Hodelpa Centro Plaza. Not great, if we’re be-


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vas Limited Edition, of which the Cuevases are only making 1000 boxes of 10. Half of those will be Maduro, the other half Habano. All of them are boxpressed lanceros. Once they’re gone, they’re gone, though the family intends to put out a new limited edition blend every year from here on out. We got to talking about Santiago away from the cigars. Once we got to music, one of the executive staff there chimed in to offer her recommendations. “If you want reggaetón, you should go to Lovera Bar. But for typical Dominican music, especially the kind of merengue that’s common in this part of the country, head to Tabú Room at the Hotel Matum,” she said. Luis added that his favorite restaurant in town is Noah, a hip place serving a fusion menu that, like so many restaurants in this country, is heavy on Italian influence. Now I know that I mentioned our rule was we’d only do things you could follow our lead on if you did this trip yourself. I’ll admit that we cheated a bit here. Pressed for time before an appointment, we accepted an offer to eat some Dominican food right there in the factory. There was a salad, beans, rice, a beef stew, and concón, which is what Dominicans call that last bit of toasty, crispy, crunchy rice that sticks to your pot or rice cooker. Next up: EPC. Ernesto Pérez-Carrillo is the name behind brands like Inch, La Historia, and EP Carrillo. A visit to the EPC factory will take you considerably longer, as there’s a lot to see and it’s all a bit ing honest, but until Santiago decides to step up its breakfast game, your best bet is to load up before you leave your hotel. And you will want to load up. Most of this leg of the trip is about cigar factories, which means you’ll be smoking through much of your stay here and you’ll want something in your stomach as you smoke and make your way through fermentation warehouses, aging rooms, and other parts of the cigar making process. Our first Santiago stop was Tabacalera Las Lavas, which you know — even if not by name — primarily for two products. The bulk of what comes out of this factory is Gurkha cigars, and most of the remainder ends up bearing the name of the family that owns the place: Casa Cuevas. That brand name is only now starting to gain some recognition in the U.S. market, but people have been smoking Cuevas-made cigars a long time. “I have been in the cigar industry in the Dominican Republic 22 years,” said Luis Cuevas, Sr. “We started making cigars here in 2008 and we have been in this zona franca since 2010. The history of our family is that this is what my father and grandfather did in Pinar del Rio in Cuba. I left Cuba almost 50 years ago. My brother and I were in Miami 20 years before deciding to come here. And now here we are.” There are two important things to bear in mind when you visit Tabacalera Las Lavas. First, a Google

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Maps search might lead you astray. That’s because the marker that comes up — at least until someone gets Google to make the edit — will take you to their old factory, about 20 minutes farther from the city than you need to go. You’re probably better off looking for directions to “Parque Industrial Santiago Norte - Pisano.” Second, you’ll want to avoid wearing shorts when you visit the Cuevas’ factory. Don’t blame them! The people who run this particular industrial park apparently decided to impose a dress code for visitors. We showed up in cargo shorts and ended up getting a talking to. Eventually, a supervisor at the visitor office called Las Lavas to explain that an exception would be made in our case, but that we were not to be allowed to roam the industrial park freely “in those conditions.” We readily agreed to their terms knowing that we wouldn’t have had time to wander around showing off our legs anyway. A walkthrough of Las Lavas doesn’t take too long. The rolling floor, storage, aging and fermentation are all inside of a relatively small area. It’s a deceptively compact operation, but that might be changing at some point soon. There are boxes all over the place, as the Cuevases are short on storage space. They’ll outgrow this factory eventually, whether that means expansion or relocation. We were able to get a sneak peek at Casa Cue-

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: A roller at Tabacalera La Alianza; the production floor at Tabacalera Las Lavas; quality control at Tabacalera Las Lavas; Ernesto Pérez-Carrillo’s aging room seating area.


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CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Pilones of tobacco fermenting at Tabacalera Palma; Kukara Macara; House Blend; a Kukara Macara sampler; Las 3 Reinas more spread out. We got a tour from Emmanuel Díaz Cabrera who works for EPC and grew up around the business as the son of Eladio Díaz, one of the masters at Davidoff. “The growth in the cigar culture in Santiago over the last 10 years has been incredible,” Emmanuel said. “Young people especially have become interested in getting to know this world. It’s attractive to people when they see the friendships that form around cigars. That change, I think, is due to the curiosity generated among locals when they see foreigners come here asking about cigars as well as a growing awareness of the fact that this is a natural product that is different from cigarettes. People want to get to know this craft.” Emmanuel gave us his slightly accelerated walkthrough of the factory (in your case, it would take just under two hours) and explained every last step in deep detail. We also had a chance to check out the EPC aging room, which also serves as Ernesto’s tasting hangout. No smoking allowed in there if your name’s not Ernesto Pérez-Carrillo, though. When we came to the very end of the tour at the rollers’ tables, we took a closer look at what makes this factory different.

note the triple cap, then try and take care to only snip off the wrapper leaf with your cutter. It’s a subtle difference, but you might see that there’s something distinct about how that cap is applied and how there’s just a little more room between it and the bunch inside. Emmanuel recommended playing dominoes with the locals at Parque Villa Olga and checking out the food trucks that have become popular around town — not just Dominican food, but Mexican, Argentine, and Spanish as well. And you’ll want to head to Boli Super Fría for beers and quipes, which are large fritters loaded with meat and beans. “There’s nothing like a Presidente in her wedding dress, which is how we Dominicans refer to a beer bottle that’s cold enough to get all white and frosty on the outside,” he said.

“Every factory has its own magic,” said Emmanuel. “In our case, one of the things that makes us special is the way we apply the cap to the cigar.”

Done with factories for the day (only because they’d all closed by now), we figured it was time to check out some of the city’s cigar lounges. But first, we had to deal with the fact that we were getting angry text messages from Cigar Snob HQ about the lack of tostón activity in our Instagram feeds. We headed to Kukara Macara, one of many restaurants immediately surrounding the monument, for another Dominican sampler platter.

The next time you smoke something made at EPC,

Fair warning: this place is kind of weird. In the heart

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of this Dominican city, right across from one of its most patriotic landmarks, is a multi-level country western family restaurant. Think Bubba Gump, but with Dominican staff in the dining room, John Wayne movies on the TV, and an inexplicable combination of burgers and spaghetti on the menu. Like I said… Italian everywhere. We got in and out, upping the trip’s tostón total to 16, and made our way to House Blend, the cigar bar owned by the Díaz family and managed by Emmanuel’s brother Héctor. It’s a great neighborhood spot closer to the eastern edge of the city, with a great selection of wine and spirits and a cigar selection that’s not all that big, but is very well curated. You’ll find some of your favorite brands as well as a number of Dominican offerings that you probably don’t get back home. There’s also a covered outdoor area out front where there’s ample room to enjoy your cigar. Last stop before dinner: Las 3 Reinas, which is a neighborhood cigar lounge just a few minutes north of the monument. Run by the Quesada family, this lounge packs a lot into just a little space. The humidor is well appointed and the lounge has at least a couple of distinct seating areas, so you’re never feeling too cramped in there. Best of all, though, it’s a great place to launch your exploration of this part of town, which is a somewhat upscale residential neighborhood with its own distinct food scene. The Hodelpa Gran Almirante — an Hodelpa property


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CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: De Los Reyes quality control; Debonaire House; La Aurora cigars in their old-school bundle style; Il Pasticcio; the exhibit at the start of the La Aurora tour

Whether you’d ever get to make use of it, I’m still not sure. Either way, De Los Reyes was among my most pleasant surprises of this trip, and I’d recommend that anyone who wants to quickly dive into the world of cigar making starts here. On the other hand, if you want a deep dive that requires some more time, there is no better cigar learning experience — especially for the uninitiated — than a visit to La Aurora cigar factory. We’ve visited all sorts of production facilities while working on stories for Cigar Snob. Wineries? Been there. Motorcycle factories? Done that. Rum distilleries? Yep. Baseball bats? Seen it. Nobody has done a better job than La Aurora of integrating their actual production operation with a learning experience for visitors.

popular with cigar tourists for its outdoor smoking areas and for the fact that it’s farther from the heart of the city, eliminating some of the hassle of transporting large groups in heavy Dominican traffic — is also in this neighborhood, making 3 Reinas a good place to go should you want cigars or a cigar shop setting to smoke in. Finally, we wrapped up the night at Il Pasticcio. It would be worth a visit just for the unique atmosphere that they’ve managed to create inside. The best restaurant experiences feel comfortable and special at the same time, and that’s what this spot thrives at. Luckily, the dinner rush hadn’t quite started when we arrived, so we were able to take our sweet time looking around and examining all the little trinkets and plaques before people started showing up. You’ll notice that the restaurant has a favorite cigar industry customer. The late Don Carlos Fuente, Sr. has his own dining room here and Carlito Fuente makes frequent cameos in the photos and art on the walls. I went with the risotto frutti di mare and Andy had

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the chicken parmigiana. Both were excellently executed, traditional takes on the Italian comfort food everyone loves.

We joined master blender Manuel Inoa and did the tour. When you visit, you might not have him as your tour guide. Again, we cheated.

The following morning, after another lackluster breakfast, we paid a visit to the De Los Reyes factory, where we met Phil Zanghi of Debonaire Cigars and Jean-Michel Louis of De Los Reyes Cigars for a tour of the factory. It’s a truly unique facility. Not many factories this size go this far to make the place feel this good. There’s color everywhere, music playing, and design details that you might sooner associate with a themed cigar showroom than a factory. The rolling tables and mold presses are also laid out a bit differently than I was used to. Because cigars stay in their presses overnight instead of a few hours, the presses also represent the day’s maximum production.

You’ll start in a museum-caliber room that brings you as close to the process of getting tobacco from seed to bale as you possibly could without leaving the factory. There are in-depth videos, real plants and seedlings right there in the exhibit, and even a mock tobacco curing barn for you to check out.

Once the factory tour was done, we went next door to the Debonaire House, which is where all the De Los Reyes team host their business guests and other VIPs. It’s an impressive place that feels more like a hotel pool deck than a factory guest house.

“We have people come here who have never so much as smoked a cigar,” Manuel said. “By the time they leave, they’re fascinated by this process. How many truly artisanal products are out there anymore? Well, this tour takes that to an-

From there, it’s on to the factory, although this factory is as littered with sorts of displays and explanatory text as any natural history museum might be. For whatever reason, only La Aurora has realized that immersing someone in this process doesn’t mean much unless you go the extra mile to contextualize that experience. And they’ve done a brilliant job of it.


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SANTO DOMINGO FACTORIES 1. ABAM (Villiger) Jose@abamcigars.com

Royal Agio (Balmoral) d.mena@agio.com.do (Royal Agio is not mapped, as it’s located east of Santo Domingo in San Pedro de Macorís.)

SHOPS & LOUNGES 2. Arturo Fuente Cigar Club arturofuentecigarclub.com

3. Cameroon Cigar Bar facebook.com/camerooncigarlounge/

4. Cigar Market cigarmarket.com.do

5. Cigar World

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: The aging room at Tabacalera Palma; dishes from Augusto Reyes’ Saga Restaurant & Cigar Club: a twist on sushi, the tomahawk steak on a Himalayan salt block, and toffee cake topped with vanilla ice cream

instagram.com/cigarworldrd

6. Cabinet Tabaco Boutique facebook.com/cabinettb

other level for guests.” Even for me, having visited many cigar factories over the years, this was impressive. It had also been on my bucket list for quite some time, as my very first cigar was a La Aurora Preferidos Sapphire Edition. With time for just one more cigar factory in this trip, we headed east to Tabacalera Palma. You might know their more recently launched La Galera brands, but Palma has developed a reputation over years, especially with the Aging Room brand, some of which is still manufactured here even after the brand was acquired by Altadis USA. This factory, which is a neighbor to PDR Cigars, is worth paying a visit to even if only to take a look at the massive amount of tobacco they are fermenting in pilones at any given time. On the production side, they seem like they might be in a situation like the Cuevas family. Space is in short supply, and as a smoker, it’s always exciting to see factories run into that problem. We headed back to the hotel room to shower and change. We needed to look decent for the very last stop on our journey: Saga Restaurant. Owned, as you might suspect, by Augusto Reyes, whose De Los Reyes Cigars makes the Saga cigar brand, this is the one true must-do dining experience in the city if you’re a lover of cigars. This is where the cigar industry in the Dominican Republic comes to hang

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out and eat great food. Specifically, it’s where they come to eat a massive tomahawk steak sitting on a sizzling block of Himalayan sea salt. I won’t describe the flavors much because… why bother? If you’re doing this right, you’re letting the meat speak for itself, and that’s the approach that Augusto’s restaurant takes with the tomahawk.

7. Tabaco y Ron Cigar Club and Lounge

It just so happened to be Augusto’s birthday that night, so he was there celebrating with family and friends. That made it even more fun to see how proud he is of this place. He’d come over to the table every so often with a knowing look on his face that screamed, “That thing you just ate. Is that awesome or is that awesome?”

8. D’Luis Parrillada

It was. All of it was awesome. From the tomahawk to the salmon tartare to the toffee cake sitting in a shallow pool of dulce de leche and topped with ice cream. Holy crap. After a cigar with Emmanuel, who had tagged along to help out with that tomahawk, we waddled back to the front of the restaurant and drove to the Hodelpa Centro Plaza. We’d been in this country several days and had only begun to scratch the surface of what was possible with a cigar tour (not to mention a tostón tour). I, for one, am already counting down to my next trip to the Dominican Republic. Next time I’m packing my dominoes and doing some advance omelette research.

facebook.com/tabacoyroncigarclub

RESTAURANTS & BARS facebook.com/DLuisParrillada

9. Pat’e Palo http://www.patepalo.com/

10. La Dolcerie facebook.com/ladolceriecafebistrord

11. Bottega Fratelli facebook.com/bottegafratelli

12. Buche’Perico bucheperico.com

13. Mesón de Bari

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ENSANCHE MIRAFLORES

ESTELA MARIA RER FEB DE QUISQUEYA 27 O RES LA JULIA 18. Monumento a los Héroes deELlaMILLON II EXP LOS MILLONES EL MILLON Restauración EL MANGUITO LOS RESTAURADORES BELLA VISTA EL MILLONCITO 19. Hodelpa Gran Almirante

7. General Cigars

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LOPE DE VEGA

PIANTINI

LAS PRADERAS

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BOROJOL PUEBLO NUEVO

ENSANCHE NACO

A. A

OTHERS

6. Tabadom (Davidoff)

D AV

D PA A.

S CA

EXPRESO J. F. KENNEDY

6 4

JULIETA MORALES LOS PRADOS ENSANCHE JULIETA SAN GERONIMO LOS PRADITOS

ENCARNACIÓN

We didn’t visit the following factories, but thought we’d include them to give you a lay of the land.

ÑO

ENSANCHE LA FÉ

1

ENSANCHE ENSANCHE CARMELITA PARAISO

facebook.com/NoahSantiago

E AVDA. PEDRO L. CED

EZ

5. Tabacalera Las Lavas

EL HOTEL

LA AUGUSTINA

D AV

16. Il Pasticcio

info@casacuevascigars.com

VIEJO ARROYO HONDO

BOTANICAL GARDEN

EDCabrera@epccigar.com

PU

VANDO AVDA. NICOLAS DE O

AVDA. MAXIMO GOM

cpena@tabacalerapalma.com

24 DE ABRIL

LIBERTAD

CRISTO REY

facebook.com/sagarestcigarclub

3. Tabacalera Palma (La Galera)

ENSANCHE CAPOTILLO

11

OSARIO S. LR

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LAS 800TA

SEO DE L OS R E Y AV DA. PA

LAS CAÑITAS

RIO OZ A

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14. Saga Restaurant & Cigar Club

NUEVO ARROYO HONDO

LOS TRES BRAZOS BARRIO CANTARES

MA

jingrisano@debonairehouse.com

ALTOS DE ARROYO 2

IA

ALTOS DE ARROYO 3

Debonaire House

AT O

RESTAURANTS & BARS

2. De Los Reyes Cigars (SAGA) /

LA BARQUITA

1

URBANIZACION MAXIMO GOMEZ

LOS MIRANDAS

11

COLINAS LA JAVILLA DEL OZAMA

LA JAVILLA

RESIDENCIAL SOL DE LUZ

CERROS DE CUESTA ARROYO HONDO HERMOSA II LA CAÑADA ARROYO MANZANO

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1

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1. La Aurora

AV D

D IR A

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13. Las 3 Reinas

CERROS DEL PARAISO

ZA

12. House Blend

FACTORIES

J MA

JARDIN MEMORIAL

CO B O

SANTIAGO

EL CHACON

ALTOS DEL PARQUE

AR AZ TA LU

SHOPS & LOUNGES

HERMANAS MIRABAL

COL. DE LOS DOCTORES

LAS PALMERAS

URBANIZACION

LAS GAVIOTAS SEPT / OCT 2018 | CIGAR SNOB |

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46 | CIGAR SNOB | SEPT / OCT 2018


DAVIDOFF HAS BEEN PUTTING OUT CELEBRATED CIGARS FOR 50 YEARS. AS THE BRAND CELEBRATES ITS GOLDEN ANNIVERSARY, GET TO KNOW THE PEOPLE AND HISTORY THAT DEFINE THE BRAND AND GIVE THE CIGARS THEIR DISTINCT CHARACTER.

- BY NICOLÁS ANTONIO JIMÉNEZ -

SEPT / OCT 2018 | CIGAR SNOB |

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orget your own palate, your likes and dislikes. Just imagine you’re in a cigar shop looking for something that says, “I sprung for the good stuff.” What do you reach for? If “Davidoff” isn’t on the tip of your tongue, you’re kidding yourself. The brand’s synonymous with luxury among seasoned cigar lovers and novice smokers. Where did it come from, how did it come to be so highly regarded, and what’s the history that made it — after a half century of Davidoff cigars — one of the most distinctive cigar brands in the world, both on the shelf and on the palate?

GENEVA ROOTS The story of the brand is unusual, but takes turns that bring it within view of some of the industry’s most commonly-lived experiences. The company’s eponymous founder Zino Davidoff was born in Kiev in 1906. It was a tumultuous time in Russia — just a year after the split of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party into two factions: the Mensheviks and the Lenin-led Bolsheviks, who would later become the Russian Communist Party. Add to that the fact that the Davidoffs were Jews, and tsarist Russia starts to look like a tough place to stick it out as the country barrels toward its repressive, anti-Semitic Soviet future. By the time he was 5, Zino and his family had emigrated to Switzerland. Zino was next in a long line of tobacconists, and his father built the tobacco shop whose name you’ll recognize: Davidoff of Geneva. Having put down roots in Europe, the Davidoffs surely were prepared to see their business grow, but they couldn’t have anticipated just how far Zino would take things. In 1924 he traveled, as so many tobacconists do, to tobacco growing regions and explored the places the tobacco his family sold was coming from. The experience helped give shape to a grander vision for the family enterprise. Most of Europe, however, was gearing up for something entirely different. As World War II crept closer to Geneva, much of Europe turned to Davidoff to store its cigar inventory. Under Zino’s leadership, the shop had created the world’s first climate-controlled room, making the small company one of the most innovative in the cigar world and a pioneer in stewardship of cigar culture. The Davidoffs stored a stockpile of Cubans for Parisian tobacconists and safeguarded them until peacetime. Over the years, word spread of Davidoff of Geneva and the local business became a global brand, attracting customers like King Farouk of Egypt, Baron Rothschild, Orson Welles and Gina Lollobrigida. The public association of the Davidoff name with expertise in tobacco products was also helped by

48 | CIGAR SNOB | SEPT / OCT 2018

the fact that Zino had developed the world’s first desktop humidor. In fact, he’s credited with having come up with that name. War subsided and the world moved back toward normalcy. Zino revived relationships in the Cuban cigar world. In 1967, Cubataco, the Castro regime’s cigar monopoly, approached Zino about producing a branded cigar for the Geneva store. That cigar was produced at El Laguito, the famed Cuban factory that’s home to Cohiba. With production in one of the most celebrated factories in the world’s cigar capital, Davidoff launched the Chateau Series, including the acclaimed Grand Cru, as well as the Davidoff No. 1, No. 2 and Ambassadrice. The brand took off, but the pitfalls of doing business with the Cuban dictatorship caught up to Zino like they do everyone else. By the late ‘80s, quality control had taken such a nosedive that Zino is said to have burned — not smoked, but burned — thousands of Cuban-made Davidoffs unfit to go to market. By 1991, an agreement had been signed to discontinue all production of Cuban Davidoffs. Zino, whose family escaped repression and established a successful business in its new home, had been burned by the ideological heirs of the Bolsheviks that the Davidoffs and so many other Russians had fled in the first place. Seeking to expand into the American market, Zino had some cigars produced in Honduras and opened a Davidoff shop in New York City in 1987.

In 1969 — roughly the time that Zino was moving toward releasing a Cuban-made Davidoff — Henke got his start in the Dominican tobacco industry at a cigarette company. He became the GM of that factory, then left to create Compañía Tabacalera Santiaguense in 1980. Just a few years later, in 1984, Henke founded Tabacos Dominicanos (Tabadom), splitting his time for two years between the Dominican Republic and a venture in Colombia before dedicating himself completely to his new business. Tabadom started with just 6 rollers, and Henke says that things went well enough that in the first year the factory produced about 900,000 cigars. By 1989, production had grown to 2.7 million. “It was fast,” Henke said. “I defined the business as being dedicated to production and quality. We did not dedicate time and resources to marketing. So we always made private label cigars.” Tabadom’s roster of private-label clients included four well-known brands: AVO, The Griffin’s, Ashton and Troya (all but the last one are still alive and well). At first, the company sourced much of its tobacco from Henke’s cousin, who managed one of the largest Dominican tobacco growing operations. Eventually, Tabadom became more vertically integrated and came to grow most of its own tobacco, although they weren’t growing any wrapper until much later.

Hendrik Kelner has that jovial look about him. You see him from across the room, walking someplace with his trademark gentle, unrushed gait, and think, “That guy’s having a good time.”

This is where luck comes in. You might think if you asked Henke why Davidoff chose to have cigars made at Tabadom, you’d get some answer about the quality of the cigars they were producing, his own expertise, or the skill of other members of the team, like Master Blender Eladio Díaz, who is still with the company. But you’d be wrong. Yes, those were all reasons that Tabadom was in the race to take El Laguito’s place as the home of Davidoff. But Tabadom effectively won that race by default; it was all because of those decisions that Henke had made about focusing on manufacturing. See, Davidoff had built a global cigar brand without ever manufacturing a single cigar. Zino and Dr. Schneider knew they played the marketing and distribution game better than anyone. And so if they were going to play to those strengths, they’d need to find a cigar factory that didn’t have its own marketing operation getting in the way. They also preferred a factory that wasn’t making any of its own brands.

Henke, as he’s known to most, has achieved just about everything a man could hope to in the cigar game. But getting here took ambition, a curious mind, patience, and plenty of that right-placeright-time type of luck. He’s now the VP of the board at Tabadom, the company he founded that later became Davidoff’s manufacturing subsidiary outside of Santiago de los Caballeros.

“Schneider didn’t have many options,” Henke said. “[The Dominican Republic] had Consolidated, which is now Altadis, and we had General Cigar. Those were and still are the two largest companies in the Dominican Republic. La Aurora wasn’t as big a player back then. Fuente was new in the country, but they were important. There was Manolo Quesada at Matasa. And then us.

A new chapter in Davidoff’s story began when Zino and Dr. Ernst Schneider, a friend who had become Zino’s business partner in 1970, explored their options for production in the Dominican Republic, where the cigar industry was picking up thanks to Cuba’s exclusion from the American market. While there were a number of well-respected companies in this Caribbean neighbor, only one really made sense as a new home to Davidoff production.

THE MOVE TO THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC


They were also simpler times for cigar blending. At that point, there were fewer variables to account for in Dominican tobacco. Only three varietals were being grown there: Olor Dominicana, Piloto (which was brought from Cuba shortly after the Communist revolution) and San Vicente. There were also fewer regions growing tobacco. When they first mapped the country’s tobacco zones, Henke and Eladio only counted six: Jacagua, Villa González, Navarrete, Piloto, Mao and La Canela.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Davidoff

“We achieved complexity by region, but it was basically three elements. We had no hybrids. All our wrapper was Connecticut, and occasionally Cameroon,” Henke said.

Zino Davidoff stands at the front door of Davidoff of Geneva, the retail shop that launched one of the most legendary brands in cigars.

“Davidoff was not interested in the first two [Consolidated and General],” Henke continued. “They were multinationals with distribution and established brands. It wouldn’t have been wise to negotiate with them. La Aurora, at the time, wasn’t prepared to do this. Fuente was making Fuente products and had just started distribution with the Newmans. Manolo [Quesada] had his own brands and a small distribution. We were the only company that didn’t have its own brands and that didn’t have any distribution. So it was like a very convenient marriage.” There was a sense of urgency at Davidoff. They needed Dominican cigars stat, as the New York store had been open two years and couldn’t sell any Davidoff product because it would violate the embargo on Cuba. The most popular cigars at Davidoff’s Manhattan shop were AVO, The Griffin’s and Ashton — all made at Tabadom. “They were more expensive than most other cigars,” said Henke. “At the time, a three-dollar cigar was scandalous and The Griffin’s were selling for $4. They thought, ‘This factory must have something going for it.’”

in the business of making cigars and they’ll tell you that one critical component of a successful factory is a large stockpile of raw material. The more tobacco you have in storage, the more capable you’ll be of churning out cigars that are consistent from one batch to the next over long periods of time. Remember Henke’s cousin? Thanks to that connection, Tabadom had more than 3,000 bales of tobacco in storage. They were golden on that front. Now it was just a matter of actually turning all that tobacco into the finished product. Again, some luck came into play. Ashton had just opted to take its business to Fuente. This meant that the resources that had gone to making nearly half a million cigars for that client could now be shifted to Davidoff. From there, it was about making a recruiting and training push. Tabadom, which had been producing fewer than three million cigars before this deal, put the pedal to the metal in 1990 and produced 5.5 million cigars, entering the premium cigar boom as the manufacturer of a renowned brand.

It was a surprise when Davidoff placed its first order, as Henke says he expected they were still a few meetings away from a deal. And yet, in July 1989, there was an order for 125,000 cigars. Henke knew that was entirely doable. In October, after another meeting, a new order came in. This was for a bit more. Three million cigars.

Those initial orders from Davidoff were all for Grand Cru, a brand that had been a Davidoff staple since its Cuban days, and which remains at the core of the Davidoff portfolio. It wasn’t until 1991 that Tabadom started to make other Davidoff products. Specifically, they began to make the Aniversario line, including a new Robusto format that — for purposes of giving it a special name — was named Special R. Later, when they didn’t want to name a Toro the Special T, the folks at Davidoff put their heads together and came up with “No. 3.”

Every cigar maker has some secrets and little twists on the process. But talk to anybody who’s

“It had nothing to do with the blend for the No. 2,” Henke said. Those were simpler times.

The brand names and sizes were all in the mold of the Davidoff brand’s Cuban past, and that was all well and good for the Tabadom team, who weren’t much interested in packaging design or sales strategies. The partnership suited Davidoff just fine in that they had master craftsmen giving virtually all of their attention to their products. But it also was the creative opportunity of a lifetime for Henke, Eladio and others at Davidoff. “The instructions we got when production moved from Cuba were, ‘We want a cigar that’s totally different from the Cubans,’” said Henke. That meant that Davidoff was willing to let Tabadom help move the brand toward a new profile. For Henke, that meant taking a direction that married the essence of Dominican tobacco and his own meticulous, scientific approach to blending cigars. “Our smoker appreciates balanced, complete stimulation that’s not aggressive,” Henke said. A tasting seminar with him usually involves a map of the tongue and detailed explanations of which parts of the palate are stimulated by various flavors. It’s part of why he’s come to be known as el ingeniero (the engineer) in cigar circles. “The flavor and aroma dominate without being overly strong, although I know smokers often confuse flavor with strength. The cigar should stimulate you without bothering the back of your throat.” This aversion to abrasive smoking experience and prioritization of balanced stimulation over big, punch-in-the-face flavor was attractive to Zino. “We are talking about a cigar for today’s lifestyle, specially created for a new generation,” said Zino in an interview filmed early in the partnership, “for people who prefer lighter products, and are looking for an easy smoking pleasure, something less demanding on mind and body. We have achieved an excellent result if you look at the great popularity and success we enjoy today on a global scale.” A new Davidoff was born of this fortuitous, inescapable partnership. With Davidoff’s marketing and distribution backed by what would come to be an iconic blending and manufacturing team

SEPT / OCT 2018 | CIGAR SNOB |

49


at Davidoff (Kelner is universally recognized as a tobacco guru and Eladio’s blending reputation is second to none), production grew from that initial 5.5 million cigars a year to a whopping 22 million at the peak of the boom (a number that waned as the boom did, but which eventually Davidoff reached again and even surpassed). The brand became a powerhouse, winning critical acclaim, smoker loyalty, and even Dominican government decrees praising Davidoff for helping to establish the Dominican Republic’s global tobacco reputation.

EXPANDING THE VISION, REMEMBERING THE ROOTS Zino and Dr. Schneider had brought a vision to the Dominican Republic, but the team in the Dominican Republic ushered it to new heights.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Davidoff

“There are even products that aren’t being made right now and that for me are out of this league,” said Eladio. “And those are the Puro d’Oro. Those are the cigars that represent not only a Dominican brand, but a cigar that is extremely Dominican in all its ingredients. There are seven formats, each with its own blend. They’re only united by their common wrapper. For me, those are the best cigars and authentically Dominican.”

Eladio and Henke have a special place in their hearts for 2010’s Puro d’Oro release because it’s emblematic of developments with broader significance for their careers and the company. It’s billed as the product that took Davidoff longest to develop, and that’s largely because of its wrapper, which was grown in the Yamasá region of the Dominican Republic. The last hundred years of cigar history appear to have conspired against Dominican wrapper. Even in today’s Dominican Republic, many of the major players are transplant companies. The Altadis factory Tabacalera de García moved in from Spain. General brought production from Jamaica. The Fuentes had been making cigars in Nicaragua. Unlike Cuba, the Domini-

50 | CIGAR SNOB | SEPT / OCT 2018

Eladio Díaz (left) and Henke Kelner share cigars in Henke's office. The two have been colleagues since the earliest days of Tabadom.

can Republic had never quite had an international market demand to drive the development of great Dominican wrapper tobacco. Nor had domestic demand for cigars been enough to drive that market like it did in the early days of Cuba’s cigar industry. This has led to a strange phenomenon. The Dominican Republic is recognized as a global cigar hub, but most of the noteworthy production of wrapper in the country is done by manufacturers for their own consumption. The Fuentes have their story with OpusX. So does Litto Gómez at La Flor Dominicana. And when Tabadom looked for the right place to grow its own wrapper, it settled on Yamasá, a region about a third of the way from Santo Domingo to Santiago. It took 23 years of research and 14 harvests in Yamasá, but Henke and Eladio finally struck gold. Maybe that’s why they called that 2010 cigar Puro d’Oro. They’re not on the market currently, but Eladio hasn’t let that stop him from enjoying the fruits of all that hard work. “I had some made today for myself!” Being the master blender has its perks. If Zino’s death in 1994 slowed the company down, it was tough to notice. It’s a testament to the culture he built and the clarity of his vision that Davidoff continued to grow, expanding its product portfolio not only within the Davidoff lines, but also with others that it distributes. For instance, Davidoff purchased distribution rights for the AVO brand in 1995. Davidoff acquired the Camacho brand in 2008 and the Cusano brand in 2009. The universe of Davidoff cigars has also expanded with brands like Davidoff Nicaragua, Davidoff Yamasá, and The

Late Hour. Tabadom has also become a subsidiary of Oettinger Davidoff. The company that has its roots in retail has also become a global tobacconist juggernaut. Wherever there is a Davidoff store, it is recognized as being among the city’s elite tobacco shops — if not the head-and-shoulders best in town. The company’s retail footprint has grown now only with its own flagship shops and cigar lounges, but also with its Appointed Merchant program, membership in which has come to have significance even among non-Davidoff smokers. But it all began with what’s referred to as Davidoff’s Signature Series. To mark the 50th anniversary of the Davidoff cigar brand, the company added special commemorative bands to a number of its most iconic products: the Signature No. 2, Signature 2000, Aniversario No. 3, Aniversario Special R and Aniversario Entreacto. In other words, the brands that started everything off. It’s a subtle yet elegant nod to where things began. “For me, a cigar is a loyal, kind, balanced and consistent friend,” said Henke. “Loyalty is only achieved with consistency. Not just in cigars, but in many things. What you least want in a friend is surprises. You want to know how your friends will behave. A good cigar is consistent. Before you light it, you know what it’s going to give you. So I know there are smokers who experiment a lot, but that’s just one part of the market. The smokers who really keep a company alive are the ones who are loyal. And that also means loyalty to the company, so that when we release a new product, they want to smoke it.”






FEATURING

Fuente Fuente OpusX Few places in the cigar world can compare to Chateau de la Fuente. It is a magical place where what was once thought an impossible dream of growing wrapper tobacco in the Dominican Republic came true in glorious fashion. The Fuente family uses the tobacco grown at Chateau to produce the famed Fuente Fuente OpusX.


EL GRITO DE CARLITO Standing atop “El Grito de Carlito” (Carlito’s yell), the highest point in Chateau de la Fuente, gives you a view of tobacco growing in the fields as well as several of the curing barns on the property. The perpetual activity of birds flying to and from their nests overhead combined with the symbolically decorated stones laid out beneath you give this enchanting spot its whimsical allure.

BLAZER ZARA SKIRT BIMBA Y LOLA


BODYSUIT VERDELIMON SKIRT LEVIS


LA CATEDRAL It’s easy to forget that there are cigar rollers making some of your favorite Arturo Fuente cigars all around you at La Catedral (The Cathedral). While it looks and feels like a mix between a place of tobacco worship and a turn of the century Ybor City restaurant (it was modeled after Columbia Restaurant in Tampa), La Catedral is every bit as functional as any section of the Tabacalera A. Fuente cigar factory.

DRESS ALEXIS


JUMPSUIT ISOLDA


SALÓN FFOX Making a Fuente Fuente OpusX takes painstaking attention to detail and an uncompromising commitment to quality above all else. The elite group of rollers who make one of the world’s most sought-after cigars do so in this room. Using the Cuban entubado method, they make a small number of cigars per day focusing on only one vitola for the majority of their careers.

DRESS BIMBA Y LOLA


DRESS FOR LOVE & LEMONS BELT BCBGMAXARIA


SKIRT ISOLDA TOP STYLIST'S OWN


DRESS FOR LOVE & LEMONS SHOES ZARA



KIMONO FOR LOVE & LEMONS

SKIRT VIVIENNE WESTWOOD


A CIGAR PRESS Early in the cigar making process, the buncher prepares the filler blend and keeps those tobaccos together by wrapping them with a tobacco leaf referred to as a binder. The buncher then inserts the rustic bunch of leaves into a cigar mold. Stacks of molds will give cigars their shape after about an hour and a half in one of these presses, which are tightened with turns of a large wheel like the one in this shot. When the molds are re-opened, wrapper tobacco will be applied to the perfectly shaped bunch.

DRESS CAROLINE CONSTAS


DRESS INTERMIX

CURING BARN At Chateau de la Fuente, the curing barns are painted red and covered with thatch. When tobacco is harvested from the nearby fields, it is hung in the curing barn to dry. The hanging tobacco will go from green to yellow to brown before it is taken down and moved to the next step, fermentation.


BODYSUIT AND SKIRT CARLO CARRIZOSA

HOUSE OF DREAMS The newest addition to Chateau de la Fuente is instantly its most iconic, memorable building. Its name is not exactly set and neither is its final purpose, but the House of Dreams (or the Hemingway House as it is also called) is mostly used as a hospitality center for guests visiting the farm. The feeling of smoking an OpusX on the second floor veranda overlooking the field where the wrapper for this cigar is grown, while a light afternoon shower rolls through, is at once impossible to describe and perfectly sublime.


TOP HERVE LEGER


TOP INTERMIX SKIRT ZARA


MODEL

MEGAN SAMPERI NO TIES MANAGEMENT PHOTOGRAPHY

LIMITED EDITION www.limitededitionmanagement.com PRODUCTION

IVAN OCAMPO iocampo@cigarsnobmag.com PRODUCTION ASSISTANT

JAMILET CALVIÑO jcalvino@cigarsnobmag.com WARDROBE STYLIST

MARIELA ORTEGA www.limitededitionmanagement.com STYLING ASSISTANT

BARBARA BIANCHINI HAIR AND MAKE-UP ARTIST

SIDNEY JAMILA LOCATIONS

TABACALERA A. FUENTE & CHATEAU DE LA FUENTE

GRAN SALÓN DE DON CARLOS On August 5, 2016, Don Carlos Fuente, the family patriarch and cornerstone of the business, passed away at 81. So when the family set out to remodel and restructure the cigar factory, it was only fitting that the first salón that you encounter was named after him. The Gran Salón de Don Carlos is where the famed A. Fuente Don Carlos cigar is proudly made.

CIGARS Fuente Fuente O pus X www.arturofuente.com


68 | CIGAR SNOB | SEPT / OCT 2018


54 cigars SEPT / OCT 2018 | CIGAR SNOB |

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TORO Camacho Coyolar

$ 9.00

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H O N D UR AS

)

91

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Super Toro 6 52 Honduras Honduras Honduras

)

Oscar Valladares 2012 Maduro

)

91

$ 8.50

H O N D UR AS VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Toro 6 52 Mexico Honduras Honduras & Nicaragua

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Aging Room Quattro Nicaragua

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90

Loaded with rich flavors of cocoa, espresso, and sweet earth complemented by notes of leather and soft pepper. This medium strength blend is impeccably box-pressed and finished with a dark, toothy wrapper.

$ 11.00

N I CA R AG UA VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Vibrato 6 54 Nicaragua Nicaragua Nicaragua

Rocky Patel 50th

A full strength, soft-pressed cigar covered with a neatly applied, good-looking, dark brown wrapper. This well-made toro delivers a profile of intense pepper and earth joined by a touch of oak and coffee.

$ 21.00

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N I CA R AG UA

)

90

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Toro 6 1/2 52 Ecuador Nicaragua Nicaragua

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Diamond Crown Black Diamond

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89

Opens with a blast of black pepper, which quickly subsides allowing flavors of cocoa, cedar, and earth to emerge. This medium-plus strength blend is neatly pressed and covered with a clean, dark brown wrapper. Provides an open draw and an even burn.

$ 20.00 VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

D O M I N I CA N R E P UBLI C Emerald 6 52 USA/Connecticut Dominican Republic Dominican Republic

Punch Diablo

Smooth and balanced with a profile of sweet cedar, molasses, and espresso accompanied by more subtle notes of bittersweet chocolate and leather. Produces an excellent output of thick, highly aromatic smoke.

$ 7.19

)

N I CA R AG UA

)

89

70 | CIGAR SNOB | SEPT / OCT 2018

Beautifully constructed with power and flavor for days. This full-bodied, thick toro has a core of earth, dark chocolate, and intense pepper joined by more complex notes of roasted nuts, toast, and ripe fruit.

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Scamp 6 1/8 50 Ecuador USA/Connecticut Nicaragua & Honduras

Intense flavors of earth and pepper accompanied by notes of charred oak and dark roast coffee in the aroma. This medium to full strength blend is consistently well-constructed providing an excellent draw and an even burn leaving behind a compact ash.


TORO My Father La Gran Oferta

$ 8.36 VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Toro 6 50 Ecuador Nicaragua Nicaragua

D OM I NI CAN REPUBLIC Gran Toro 6 52 Nicaragua Nicaragua Brazil & Nicaragua

92

)

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

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Balmoral Serie Signaturas Dueto

$ 10.50 This beautifully constructed toro is well-balanced and complex with flavors of cedar, pepper, and almond cream complemented by more subtle notes of currant and baker’s spice. Produces an excellent output of smooth, medium strength smoke.

92

)

Ultra-flavorful and complex, this full strength smoke delivers a profile of dark chocolate, smooth pepper, and dark roast coffee accompanied by hints of toast, blackberry, and sweet earth. Impeccably constructed and finished with a dark, oily wrapper.

)

N I CA R AGUA

Joya Silver

$ 7.80 VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Toro 6 52 Ecuador Mexico Nicaragua

91

)

A neatly box-pressed blend with a core of earth and smooth pepper accompanied by notes of walnut, sweet cedar, and tanned leather. This medium to full strength toro is consistently well-made delivering tons of thick, aromatic smoke.

)

N I CAR AGUA

CAO Nicaragua VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Granada 6 54 Nicaragua Honduras Nicaragua

D OMI NI CAN REPUBLIC Toro 6 52 USA/Connecticut Dominican Republic Dominican Republic

Saga Short Tales Sixth Element

$ 9.20

D O M I NI CAN REPUBLIC

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Tomo VI 5 1/2 58 Mexico Indonesia USA, Nicaragua & Dominican Republic

89

)

Delivers a core of sweet pepper, oak, and molasses along a good draw and burn. This thick, well-constructed toro is covered with a milk chocolate colored wrapper with slight veins showing. Medium strength.

90

)

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

)

Indian Motorcycle Habano

$ 8.30

A smooth and creamy blend finished with an oily, reddish brown wrapper. This medium strength toro has balanced flavors of cedar, soft pepper, and nuts complemented by a rich, buttery texture to the smoke.

90

)

Flavorful and aromatic, this medium-plus strength blend delivers flavors of soft pepper, roasted nuts, cinnamon, and cedar joined by notes of coffee and cedar in the aroma. Covered with an oily, reddish brown wrapper. Draws and burns consistently well.

)

N I CA R AGUA

)

$ 6.99

SEPT / OCT 2018 | CIGAR SNOB |

71


TORO A. Fuente Magnum R

)

$ 8.65

)

92

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

D O M I N I CA N R E P UBLI C R 54 6 1/2 54 Ecuador Dominican Republic Dominican Republic

)

Romeo y Julieta 1875 Nicaragua

)

91

$ 7.10

N I CA R AG UA VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Toro 6 50 Nicaragua Nicaragua Nicaragua

Hamlet Liberation

Produces an excellent output of highly aromatic smoke with notes of tanned leather, roasted nuts, and sweet cedar accompanied by soft pepper and a touch of earth on the palate. This medium-plus strength blend is finished with a reddish brown wrapper with a velvet feel.

$ 11.10

)

N I CA R AG UA

)

91

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Toro 6 1/2 55 Ecuador Nicaragua Honduras & Nicaragua

)

Rocky Patel Olde World Reserve Corojo

)

90

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

A beautifully constructed blend finished with a rounded head and an uncovered foot. Has flavors of earth, oak, and sweet pepper accompanied by notes of cream, coffee, and a touch of cocoa. Delivers a good output of medium bodied smoke along a slow burn.

$ 10.00

H O N D UR AS Toro 6 1/2 52 Honduras Nicaragua Nicaragua

Aging Room Pura Cepa

Perfectly pressed and covered with a velvetsmooth wrapper with beautiful oils. This medium strength robusto is loaded with notes of chocolate, pepper, and earth accompanied by an aroma of coffee and leather.

$ 13.00

)

N I CA R AG UA

)

90

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Mezzo 6 54 Nicaragua Nicaragua Nicaragua

)

Protocol Official Misconduct

)

88

72 | CIGAR SNOB | SEPT / OCT 2018

Balanced and flavorful, this medium strength toro is covered with a supple, light brown wrapper with minimal veins. Consistently delivers an excellent draw and burn with a profile of cedar, soft spice, and cinnamon complemented by a rich, almond cream finish.

Delivers a profile of intense spice, cedar, earth, and nuts complemented by a rich, buttery texture on the finish. This medium to full strength toro is solidly constructed and covered with an oily, reddish brown wrapper.

$ 9.89

N I CA R AG UA VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Toro 6 50 Ecuador Nicaragua Nicaragua

Opens with a blast of pepper and bitter citrus that settles to incorporate wood, cinnamon, and a touch of earth. This medium-plus strength blend is covered with a reddish brown wrapper with slight veins showing.


SEPT / OCT 2018 | CIGAR SNOB |

73


TORPEDO Oliva Serie V Melanio

$ 13.98

)

N I CA R AG UA

)

92

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Torpedo 6 1/2 52 Ecuador Nicaragua Nicaragua

Davidoff Yamasa

)

$ 23.00

)

92

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Piramides 6 1/8 52 Dominican Republic Dominican Republic Nicaragua & Dominican Republic

EP Carrillo Encore

D O M I N I CA N R E P UBLI C Complex, well-balanced, and covered with an impeccable, supple wrapper. This medium-plus strength blend consistently draws and burns perfectly leaving behind a solid, compact ash. Complex flavors of oak, soft spice, and sweet cedar are joined by subtle notes of earth and floral.

$ 12.00

)

D O M I N I CA N R E P UBLI C

)

91

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Valientes 6 1/8 52 Nicaragua Nicaragua Nicaragua

Matilde Quadrata

A flavorful, pressed torpedo covered with a neatly applied wrapper. Consistently draws well and burns beautifully while producing a profile of cedar, sweet earth, and intense pepper complemented by a touch of cocoa and roasted nuts. Medium-plus strength.

)

$ 9.00

)

90

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Torpedo 6 52 Ecuador Dominican Republic Nicaragua & Dominican Republic

Villa Zamorano Reserva

D O M I N I CA N R E P UBLI C A soft-pressed torpedo covered with a slightly brindled, reddish brown wrapper with good oils. This medium-plus strength blend delivers flavors of cedar, sharp pepper, and burnt caramel complemented by a touch of tanned leather in the aroma.

$ 6.50

)

H O N D UR AS

)

90

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

No. 15 6 1/2 54 Honduras Honduras Honduras

Quesada Vega Magna

This mild to medium strength, short torpedo is covered with a thin, light brown wrapper with a velvet feel. Draws and burns well while producing a good smoke output with notes of cedar, soft earth, and toasted almond.

$ 21.00

)

D O M I N I CA N R E P UBLI C

)

88

74 | CIGAR SNOB | SEPT / OCT 2018

Delivering a balanced and nuanced profile with flavors of cinnamon, soft pepper, almond, and caramel complemented by a rich creaminess on the finish. This well-constructed, medium strength torpedo consistently draws and burns perfectly.

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Torpedo 6 50 Ecuador Dominican Republic Dominican Republic

A good-looking torpedo finished with a neatly applied, reddish brown wrapper with only minimal veins. This slow-burning blend has a core of wood, molasses, and spice accompanied by a grassy note in the aroma.


SEPT / OCT 2018 | CIGAR SNOB |

75


ROBUSTO The Tabernacle

$ 10.50

)

N I CA R AG UA

)

92

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Robusto 5 50 USA/Connecticut Mexico Hoduras & Nicaragua

Liga Privada T52

$ 13.10

)

N I CA R AG UA

)

91

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Robusto 5 54 USA/Connecticut Brazil Nicaragua & Hoduras

)

Hoyo - La Amistad Black by AJ Fernandez

)

91

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

) )

90

N I CA R AG UA Rothschild 4 1/2 50 Ecuador Mexico Nicaragua

D O M I N I CA N R E P UBLI C VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Robusto 4 7/8 48 USA/Connecticut Ecuador Nicaragua

) ) )

Dark and sweet with notes of earth, bittersweet chocolate, and raisin complemented by a touch of soft pepper and oak. This short robusto is consistently well constructed, producing an output of thick, aromatic smoke.

$ 5.42

H O N D UR AS VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Rothschilde 5 56 USA/Connecticut Nicaragua Honduras

Rosa de Sandiego Maduro

)

89

Covered with an exceedingly dark and toothy wrapper showing good oils, this medium to full strength blend opens with intense pepper and earth, which settles to incorporate bittersweet cocoa and dark roast coffee. Excellent smoke output.

$ 6.99

Saint Luis Rey Natural Broadleaf

89

An ultra-flavorful blend producing an abundant smoke output loaded with notes of tanned leather, nuts, milk chocolate, and a touch of sweet earth. This medium-plus strength blend is covered with a dark, reddish brown wrapper with slight veins.

$ 5.83

Macanudo Inspirado Black

76 | CIGAR SNOB | SEPT / OCT 2018

A dark, flavorful, and complex blend with a core of sweet earth, oak, and red pepper complemented by dark chocolate and espresso notes on the finish. Consistently well made and covered with a neatly applied, dark brown wrapper. Medium-plus strength.

Beautifully square-pressed and covered with a dark, supple wrapper with thin veins showing. Delivers a smooth, medium bodied profile of bittersweet cocoa, oak, roasted nuts, and soft spice accompanied by a hint of creaminess on the finish.

$ 6.80 VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Robusto 5 52 Mexico Ecuador Nicaragua & Dominican Republic

N I CA R AG UA A medium to full strength blend covered with a dark, toothy wrapper. Delivers a core of earth, soft pepper, and bittersweet chocolate complemented by a touch of espresso. This wellconstructed robusto consistently provides a good draw.


SEPT / OCT 2018 | CIGAR SNOB |

77


78 | CIGAR SNOB | SEPT / OCT 2018


ROBUSTO San Lotano Requiem

$ 7.20 VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Robusto 5 54 Brazil Nicaragua Honduras & Nicaragua

N I CA R AGUA No 50 5 54 Nicaragua Nicaragua Nicaragua

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Almost Robusto 4 3/4 52 Ecuador Undisclosed USA, Nicaragua & Dominican Republic

H OND U R AS Robusto 5 50 Brazil Honduras Nicaragua

H OND U R AS Robusto 5 1/2 54 Ecuador Honduras Undisclosed

D O MI NI CAN R EPUBLIC Robusto 5 52 Ecuador Dominican Republic Dominican Republic

87

)

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

)

PDR 1878 Capa Sun Grown

$ 6.10

A beautifully constructed blend covered with a thick, flavorful wrapper and topped with a neat pigtail. Produces an excellent smoke output with notes of wood, leather, cayenne pepper, and a hint of cream. Medium strength.

88

)

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

)

Archetype Strange Passage

$ 10.82

Soft pressed and covered with a milk chocolate colored wrapper with a velvet texture, this medium strength blend delivers a core of earth, charred oak, and pepper complemented by a touch of dark chocolate.

89

)

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

)

Toraño Exodus 1959 50 Years

$ 8.19 Solidly constructed and covered with a goodlooking, medium to dark brown wrapper. The pre-light gives off a sweet aroma from the foot. This medium strength blend delivers a flavorful profile with notes of earth, roasted nuts, caramel, and a touch of bitter coffee.

91

)

Flavors of cedar, spice, and a zing of red pepper at the onset are accompanied by more subtle notes of hazelnut, toffee, and touch of cream. This medium strength blend is consistently well-constructed and provides a firm draw and plentiful smoke.

)

Caldwell Hit and Run Part Deux

$ 11.50

D O MI NI CAN R EPUBLIC

91

)

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

)

Padrón Family Reserve 50 Years

$ 25.80 A beautifully box-pressed blend with a rich, creamy profile of cocoa, cedar and leather balanced by subtle earth and pepper throughout the smoke. This medium strength robusto produces an excellent output of thick, aromatic smoke.

92

)

Full strength and full flavored, this impeccably constructed robusto delivers a core of pepper, soft earth, and savor complemented by notes of sweet cedar, almond, and a touch of cocoa. Draws and burns perfectly, leaving behind a solid, compact ash.

)

N I CA R AGUA

SEPT / OCT 2018 | CIGAR SNOB |

79


ROBUSTO Cabaiguan

$ 9.50

)

N I CA R AG UA

)

92

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Robusto Extra 5 1/4 50 Ecuador Nicaragua Nicaragua

Epoca

)

$ 9.25

)

91

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Admiral 5 50 Ecuador Dominican Republic Nicaragua & Dominican Republic

)

Balmoral Añejo XO Connecticut

)

91

) )

90

D O M I N I CA N R E P UBLI C Creamy and smooth with a profile of soft cedar and spice complemented by almond, cinnamon, and a touch of coffee. Impeccably constructed leaving behind a solid, compact ash. Mild to medium strength.

$ 9.75 VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Rothschild Masivo 5 55 USA/Connecticut Ecuador USA, Brazil & Dominican Republic

Victor Calvo U.S. Shade Reserve

D O M I N I CA N R E P UBLI C Smooth and nuanced, this medium strength blend delivers a core of wood, sweet spice, and hazelnut accompanied by a touch of light coffee and cream on the finish. Consistently draws and burns perfectly.

$ 7.75 VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Robusto 5 1/2 50 USA/Connecticut Ecuador Nicaragua & Dominican Republic

Espinosa Crema

N I CA R AG UA Smooth and balanced. This blend is consistently well made and cloaked with a supple, golden colored wrapper. Mild to medium bodied with a profile of cedar, earth, and soft spice complemented by a rich vanilla cream finish.

$ 8.65

)

N I CA R AG UA

)

90

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

No. 4 5 1/2 52 Ecuador Nicaragua Nicaragua

Quesada Fonseca

Consistently well constructed and covered with a supple, light brown wrapper with only minimal veins. This medium strength blend delivers a balanced profile with notes of wood, soft spice, and a light touch of earth complemented by hints of coffee and vanilla cream on the finish.

$ 8.25

)

D O M I N I CA N R E P UBLI C

)

89

80 | CIGAR SNOB | SEPT / OCT 2018

Beautifully balanced and ultra smooth with flavors of cedar, roasted almonds, cinnamon, light coffee, and a touch of spice. This mild to medium blend is consistently well constructed and finished with light brown wrapper with slight veins.

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

5-50 5 50 USA/Connecticut Mexico Dominican Republic

Delivers flavors of wood, soft spice, and vanilla accompanied by soft floral notes in the aroma. This consistently well-constructed robusto is covered with a supple, golden colored wrapper with sheen. Mild to medium bodied.


SEPT / OCT 2018 | CIGAR SNOB |

81


LANCERO

)

Vegas del Purial Gran Reserva

)

92

$ 9.80

N I CA R AG UA VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Lancero 7 38 Ecuador Nicaragua Nicaragua

Flor de las Antillas

$ 9.50

)

N I CA R AG UA

)

92

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

TAA Lancero 7 1/2 38 Nicaragua Nicaragua Nicaragua

Villiger La Flor de Ynclan

Excellent construction with a beautifully balanced and complex profile highlighted by notes of cedar, roasted nuts, soft spice, and vanilla cream. This lancero is consistently well-made delivering an abundant output of thick, aromatic smoke.

)

$ 11.00

)

91

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Lancero 6 3/4 43 Ecuador Indonesia Nicaragua & Dominican Republic

)

Casa Cuevas Edicion Limitada

)

91

D O M I N I CA N R E P UBLI C Flavorful and nuanced with a profile of cedar, soft spice, and toasted almonds joined by subtle hints of coffee and vanilla cream on the finish. Consistently draws and burns perfectly while producing an excellent smoke output.

$ 9.50 VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Lonsdale 7 43 Ecuador Nicaragua USA, Colombia, Nicaragua & Dominican Republic

La Sirena

D O M I N I CA N R E P UBLI C A flavorful, medium bodied blend covered with a reddish brown wrapper with slight veins and topped with a neat pigtail. Delivers a core of wood, pepper, and tanned leather complemented with a touch of cocoa on the finish.

$ 12.00

)

N I CA R AG UA

)

91

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Box-Pressed Lancero 7 42 Nicaragua Nicaragua Nicaragua

Flor de Selva

A beautifully constructed, soft-pressed lancero finished with a velvet smooth wrapper with only the slightest veins. This flavorful blend has a profile of earth, soft pepper, cinnamon, and mocha accompanied by a rich, leather aroma. Medium-plus.

$ 15.00

)

H O N D UR AS

)

89

82 | CIGAR SNOB | SEPT / OCT 2018

Superbly balanced and flavorful. This mediumplus strength blend is beautifully constructed producing an abundant output of thick, aromatic smoke with notes of cedar, cinnamon, and soft spice joined by roasted nuts and caramel on the finish.

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

No. 20 7 38 Honduras Honduras Honduras

Delivers an earthy core with notes of wood, raisin, and subtle pepper. This thin lancero is consistently well-made and covered with a clean, milk chocolate colored wrapper with excellent oils. Medium strength.


SEPT / OCT 2018 | CIGAR SNOB |

83


PETITE CORONA

)

Crowned Heads Le Carême

)

92

$ 7.40

D O M I N I CA N R E P UBLI C VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Cosacos 5 3/8 42 USA/Connecticut Ecuador Nicaragua

Rocky Patel Vintage 1990

)

$ 7.80

)

92

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Petite Corona 4 1/2 44 Honduras Honduras Nicaragua & Dominican Republic

)

Davidoff 702 Series - Signature 2000

)

91

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

) )

90

H O N D UR AS Produces an excellent output of thick and highly aromatic smoke with a rich profile of dark chocolate, raspberry, and earth joined by a hint of soft pepper and vanilla cream. This boxpressed blend is consistently well made and covered with a supple, dark brown wrapper.

$ 15.80

D O M I N I CA N R E P UBLI C Signature 2000 5 1/16 43 Ecuador Ecuador Dominican Republic

La Flor Dominicana La Nox

Flavorful and smooth from the onset with a profile of cedar, soft spice, cinnamon, and vanilla bean accompanied by a hint of coffee and floral. This medium strength blend is finished with an oily, reddish brown wrapper.

$ 7.40 VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Petite 5 40 Brazil Mexico Honduras & Dominican Republic

Gispert Intenso

D O M I N I CA N R E P UBLI C Covered with an exceptionally dark brown wrapper, this flavorful short corona delivers a core of espresso, molasses, and earth accompanied by a subtle mineral note in the aroma. This well-constructed cigar draws and burns perfectly while producing an abundant smoke output.

)

$ 6.4 8

)

90

VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Corona 5 44 USA/Connecticut Nicaragua Nicaragua & Dominican Republic

)

Daniel Marshall Red Label

)

89

84 | CIGAR SNOB | SEPT / OCT 2018

This dark and soft-pressed blend produces an excellent output of thick, aromatic smoke with notes of dark chocolate, smooth pepper, and a touch of cream accompanied by a subtle hint of pear on the finish. Medium-plus strength.

N I CA R AG UA Opens with an intense blast of pepper and earth that subside to incorporate complementary notes of espresso and bittersweet chocolate. Consistently draws and burns well producing an excellent smoke output. Medium to full strength.

$ 5.95

N I CA R AG UA VITOLA: LENGTH: RING: WRAPPER: BINDER: FILLER:

Petite Corona 4 3/4 42 Nicaragua Nicaragua Nicaragua

A smooth, slow-burning blend with a medium bodied profile of sweet earth, pepper, and cocoa accompanied by charred oak and a subtle hint of orange peel on the finish. This short corona is covered with a thick, reddish brown wrapper.


SEPT / OCT 2018 | CIGAR SNOB |

85


86 | CIGAR SNOB | SEPT / OCT 2018


WRITTEN IN THE STARS OLD DOMINION IS ON THE RISE WITH MUSICIANSHIP, A PASSION FOR SONGWRITING, AND THE GOOD SENSE TO NOT TAKE THEMSELVES AS SERIOUSLY AS THEY DO THEIR CRAFT. THE BAND’S STAR IS RISING AND THEY’RE LIGHTING UP TO CELEBRATE EVERY VICTORY ALONG THE WAY. - BY NICOLÁS ANTONIO JIMÉNEZ / PHOTOS BY MASON ALLEN & BRAD ZIEGLER SEPT / OCT 2018 | CIGAR SNOB |

87


n a corner of the upstairs lounge at Detroit’s La Casa Cigars, the five members of the ascendant country band Old Dominion contemplated what it’s meant to blow up as a band at the height of the social media age after having enjoyed some success as songwriters and musicians just outside the spotlight. They’re right around 40 and are music industry veterans, but it’s only in the last few years that they’ve become famous as recording artists. “There’s no mystery,” said drummer Whit Sellers. The consensus in the room is that Whit is the one who’s most weirded out by fame. “You have to give a window into your personal life to get people interested in the music as opposed to being able to have the music stand there on its own artistic merit — which is a totally idealistic idea to have in this day and age.” “As an artist, you’re like ‘No, man. Care about the song!’,” said Matt Ramsey, the band’s frontman. “But then you’re like, ‘Well, I guess we have to take the selfie in order to get people interested.’” “It’s concrete,” said Geoff Sprung, the group’s bassist. “You take the selfie, you put it on Instagram and it explodes.” “It’s like… I don’t know what David Bowie does all day,” added guitarist Brad Tursi, “And that’s what’s cool about it. It’s like, ‘Who is that guy?’” He hasn’t done much talking to this point in our interview, but the subject has Whit fired up. He chimes in again to mock a curious Bowie fan. “I wonder what David Bowie does all day? He must do really cool shit. It has to be so cool.” That’s when guitarist and keyboardist Trevor Rosen put us all back in touch with ground control. “You know, he’s not doing anything right now,” Trevor said. We all burst into laughter. “He’s been doing the same thing for a while,” said Matt. “He’s settled into a routine!” The lives of these five guys (who took the Virginia state nickname for their band since four of the five members have ties to the state) are many things — but routine isn’t one of them. The group came together, as so many country acts do, in Nashville, but it was almost accidental that they came to think of themselves as a band at all. Matt, Geoff and Whit all grew up in Virginia.

88 | CIGAR SNOB | SEPT / OCT 2018

Matt and Whit grew up in Botetourt County, about two and a half hours west of Richmond, playing on drumlines at their rival high schools. Whit met Geoff and Brad (a native Connecticuter) when he went off to Virginia Commonwealth University, while Matt was introduced to Trevor (a Detroiter) in 2003 in Nashville, where all five would end up to pursue work as songwriters or musicians. Eventually, the group formed for purposes of working out and performing the songs that its members were writing. “It was something we were proud of,” said Geoff, “but the idea of being a band came from the outside in. People kept saying, ‘You guys are a band.’” “We were just having a good time. The moment where we were like, ‘we have something here’ was pretty recent,” said Matt.

“[OUR MUSIC] WAS SOMETHING WE WERE PROUD OF, BUT THE IDEA OF BEING A BAND CAME FROM THE OUTSIDE IN.” — GEOFF SPRUNG Old Dominion members’ writing credits include songs recorded by Luke Bryan, Cole Swindell, Randy Houser, Tyler Farr, Kenny Chesney, the Randy Rogers Band, Michael Ray, Josh Turner, Ryan Hurd, Brandon Lay, Dierks Bentley and Blake Shelton. They’ve also written songs for the ABC drama Nashville. Trevor and Matt pointed to one song in particular, Wake Up Loving You (which they wrote with Josh Osborne), that brought them attention in country circles and was then recorded by Craig Morgan. “That was the flag in the ground that we built everything around there for a while, until Craig recorded it and we were like, ‘Guess we gotta let that one go,’” said Matt. “We were writing songs together for years,” said Trevor, “but then I remember when we went into the studio, [Matt’s] publisher — out of being cheap — was like, ‘Why don’t you just bring your band in here and we’ll just record the demos with your band?’ We were like, “This guy’s a hit producer. Is he producing us

as a band?’ That was our first taste of being artists. It opened that window in my mind of, ‘This could actually be a possibility.’ Because we were already starting to have hits as songwriters. We had just started to scratch that surface. It was like, ‘Well, we write hit songs for other people. We sound good. Maybe we can take a run at this too.’” Old Dominion officially formed and got its name in 2007, though they didn’t release their first EP until 2014. The first single on that EP, Shut Me Up, did fairly well. What really got things going was the exposure that another single called Break Up With Him got on “The Highway,” a country station on Sirius XM Radio around the start of 2015. The track gives you a good sense of their sound. It’s a little pop, a little rock, clever songwriting and just enough of that earnest country flavor to recall the ‘90s take on the genre, which is what these guys would have been hearing in their teens and twenties. “We wrote [Break Up With Him] goofing off just trying to make each other laugh, but we really cracked into this thing where it really hadn’t been said in that way before, but everybody can relate to that,” said Trevor. The song’s lyrics are written from the perspective of a guy who’s calling a woman to convince her she should leave her man.

Hey girl, what’s up? I know it’s late, but I knew you’d pick it up Naw, I ain’t drunk Okay, maybe I do have a little buzz but That song came on and I just thought what harm could come from one little call? I know you say you’re taken, but I say girl you’re taking too long To tell him that it’s over Then bring it on over Stringing him along any longer girl, it’s just wasting precious time — Break Up With Him

“It really hits on something that I think hadn’t been said in that way. It’s kind of like being a standup comedian when you can find some-

PREVIOUS PAGE PHOTO: Mason Allen


PHOTO CREDIT: Brad Ziegler

From left: Brad Tursi (seated), Whit Sellers, Matt Ramsey, Trevor Rosen and Geoff Sprung (seated) smoke cigars at La Casa Cigars and Lounge in Detroit a day before opening for Kenny Chesney at Ford Field.

thing that everybody can relate to and think ‘I don’t think anybody’s doing a bit on this.’”

their underdog status. How do you stay motivated and how do the challenges shift?

“That one had an identity that framed us up,” said Geoff. “I think probably still now, when people think ‘What does Old Dominion sound like?’, Break Up With Him is what we sound like.”

“We want the whole thing to grow. We’re on this tour with Kenny Chesney right now,” Matt said, referring to Kenny Chesney’s Trip Around the Sun Tour, “and we spend every night watching a stadium full of people. I think that’s what we want. With that award it felt like we just sort of broke through. Now we have some attention and we want to create a longstanding career like someone like Kenny has. He has a two-hour set of hit songs and there are hit songs he doesn’t play. We would love to get to the point where we have the confidence of a two-hour iconic set.”

That sound has caught on in a serious way. Over the last few years, Old Dominion has been showered with praise for their work, garnering a slew of award nominations and wins at the Academy of Country Music Awards and the American Country Countdown Awards. Most recently, the band took home the ACM Award for Vocal Group of the Year, breaking a streak by Little Big Town and edging out Lady Antebellum. When the group won the ACM Award for New Vocal Duo or Group of the Year in 2016, they were asked backstage whether they had lost

Thomas Rhett is also a part of that Trip Around the Sun Tour. The Old Dominion guys noted that he’s a smoker as well. They got him a box of Joya de Nicaragua Cuatro Cincos. “He’s such a part of the fabric of [his fans’]

lives. We’ve had some people come to us and tell us we’re a part of their lives,” said Trevor. “He doesn’t have 10 or 20 people like that. He has hundreds of thousands. Every town he goes to.” These are lofty goals, to be sure. Kenny Chesney has sold more than 30 million albums and consistently has his singles occupying top-40 spots on the Billboard charts. He’s not only country-big. Kenny Chesney is just plain big. The day after my interview with the Old Dominion guys, I was at the Trip Around the Sun’s Detroit stop at Ford Field. It was mindblowing to see a football stadium packed with people — who notably ran the gamut of age — singing along with every single word Chesney sang, including the words to Save it for a Rainy Day, which Matt and Brad wrote with their late friend (and smoking partner) Andrew Dorff. Matt and Brad have been joining Kenny on stage to perform it on this tour.

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‘Cause the sun’s too bright, The sky’s too blue Beer’s too cold to be thinking about you Gonna take this heartbreak and tuck it away Save it for a rainy day Yeah, the music’s too good,

One positive addition has been the grooviness of hip-hop beats. It’s opened up all different types of songs you can have. You don’t have to have that same Nashville or country feel. You can get really creative.” Those hip-hop influences might be most vivid in the lyrics and rhythms of Dirt on a Road:

My friends are all out

My mama taught me how to treat a lady with respect

And they’re all too high to be bringing ‘em down

But what the heck did you expect with the perfume on your neck

If they ask about you

Is smellin’ all so good, peaches and cream

I’ve got nothing to say I’ll save it for a rainy day — Save it for a Rainy Day “I’m pretty proud of that song,” said Brad. “Kenny is such a top-tier artist and he’s so great at picking songs that to pick one that we wrote is pretty awesome. And to be able to watch it connect to so many people… It’s such a simple idea, when you’ve had a heartbreak and then you have that moment where you’re like, ‘Forget this. I’m gonna have fun today.’” Like Brad, the rest of the guys in this band are proud of their craft, their writing and their musicianship. While they’ve been around each other a long time, each brings a set of influences to the table that colors the work they put out. “In the ‘90s, country was a thing. It had a very specific feel to it,” Matt said. “‘90s country was always on in my parents’ kitchen. It wasn’t what I was listening to by choice. I’m from a very small town and that’s what everyone was listening to. I was listening to things like Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, but I knew everything about country because it was constantly on. As I grew older, I started to realize, ‘Actually I kind of like some of this stuff.’ As far as my writing goes, all of that bleeds in.” Anybody who was listening to ‘90s country on the radio was probably at least also passing through some ‘90s hip-hop stations to get there. In Trevor’s case, growing up in Detroit meant rap and rock played a big role. “I was a huge Eminem fan. I also grew up listening to NWA,” Trevor said. “For me, it’s the coolest music. You listen to that stuff and you’re like ‘We’re not that cool.’” “It’s the rhythm in the song too,” said Whit. “One of the advantages of country is that it co-opts any genre with no guilt whatsoever.

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You’re so fly you make a trout want to jump right out the stream So, walk those little boots you’re wearing Over here to where I’m standing Let’s get to causing a scene… — Dirt on a Road “You can’t be an adolescent male and not have that part of your brain tickled by hip-hop,” added Geoff. “There’s a magic to that genre at that age and we all grew up through that.” As true musicians, these guys are also perpetually curious. Whit has been on a Latin kick lately, putting special focus on Cuban music and Caribbean rhythms. “No Such Thing As A Broken Heart has a Caribbean rhythm it’s built on. None of us had any idea we were doing that, but it turns out it’s a soca. There’s so many different things to have fun doing,” he said.

“Crowned Heads has a lot of nice stuff, like Las Calaveras,” said Brad. “They’re also Nashville based which is pretty cool. This Herrera Estelí I really like. And of course the Padróns. Their cigars are by far the most consistently good.” During our sit-down at La Casa, other members of the band smoked cigars by Padrón, 7-20-4, and My Father, among other brands (some of us had more than one). I asked when it is they tend to make time to smoke together. “I can’t think of a specific moment,” Geoff said. “It’s mostly post-show good feeling. When things feel good, let’s just sit and soak it up. And our life is not about sitting down. Our life is about moving.” “[After winning] any award,” added Whit. “If an accomplishment is big enough, a cigar celebration is done by default. I probably smoke cigars less than anybody in the band, and that’s when I’m thinking, ‘I would like to have a cigar right now.’” This is a change from Whit’s initial attitude toward cigars. “[When I smoked my first cigar] I’d only had experience with a cigar wrapper. Just the wrapper; it wasn’t filled with any tobacco, though. Like, ‘This isn’t just a delivery system? I thought you always took the tobacco out.’”

Well it was down some street we couldn’t even pronounce We were smoking a little from a half an ounce Tequila was cheap but the flow we were feeling was real

After a pause to think about the possibilities, the country-Caribbean fusion inspiration hits. “You play soca and you sing about a truck… Boom!”

Neither one of us looking for three little words

Old Dominion might not have achieved Chesney-level success yet, but they’re on their way. In the meantime, there’s been a marked improvement in the tour cigar selection.

Checkout was s’posed to be noon but we slept in ‘til three

“I remember [my first cigar] was a Swisher Sweet. With the plastic shitty dipped tip. All my buddies were smoking cigarettes and I didn’t really like them, but for some reason I really liked those,” Matt said. These days, Matt’s a Padrón guy. He smoked a 1964 Anniversary Series during our interview. He takes the lead on stocking the band’s traveling humidor with Brad, who has more eclectic tastes.

Unless those three words were Do Not Disturb

— Hotel Key The more time you spend with Old Dominion, the more you realize these guys are having fun. It’s constant laughs, inside jokes, stories, and awe at the ride they’re on. Smoking cigars is part of the way they make sure they’re savoring every moment of it. They also look to their next steps with a clarity that probably comes from having achieved this fame in their late 30s. They’re country stars (it would even be fair to call them rock or pop stars consider-



ing their crossover appeal), but most of them were family men when they got here. The members all agreed that they preferred to keep their families out of the public eye and maintain all the normalcy they can. Country might be the ideal music genre for finding fame in that regard. “It’s understood that [country artists] are supposed to be more like a regular person,” said Matt. “And they’re viewed in that way so it’s not as eccentric as a pop artist. Walking through the airport you still look like a normal person. The biggest country star is still just wearing jeans, a t-shirt and a ball cap. He might be playing stadiums in that outfit.” And yet, to be fair, country has changed over the years. As I’ve noted in this piece, this crew has crossover appeal. That can bleed into their wardrobes. “I forget that we dress differently,” Trevor said. “I assume we dress like normal people, but someone will point out to me that normal 40-something year old people who take their kids to school don’t wear these skinny jeans.”

PHOTO CREDIT: Mason Allen

“It kind of creeps on you,” Geoff added, “because our world is insular and there’s five of us, so clothing-wise, we’re all changing slowly but together. So you look around and what’s normal is I’m wearing something closer to these guys, 200-plus days a year. You go back to Nashville and drop your kids off at school, and you realize, ‘Oh, I’m not with my four guys…’” “I look like a jackass,” said Matt, laughing. The flip side of fame is that it’s brought these five guys into situations they might never have imagined otherwise. From invitations to stay several nights in Hawaii in exchange for a short acoustic performance to run-ins with the band’s sports idols, the gig has come with a lot of perks. “We played Pittsburgh,” Matt said, “and Bill Cowher came and was like, ‘Oh, you guys are so great!’” I was like, ‘You’re Bill Cowher, man!’” During a stop in Denver, Trevor — who once had hockey aspirations — met some NHL players who introduced him to John Elway. “So John Elway says, ‘Any time you need anything in Denver, let me know. Actually, let me give you my number.’” The room went silent for a moment. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one hearing this story for the first time.

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Trevor Rosen (left) and Matt Ramsey during Old Dominion’s performance at Ford Field on Kenny Chesney’s Trip around the Sun Tour

Whit was first to react. “You have John Elway’s number?!” Then Geoff. “How long have you been sitting on John Elway’s number?!” A moment later, Whit had already figured out how the band would leverage this. “I have a feeling John Elway can get us a tee time.” While they’re journeying toward whatever tee times and packed stadiums are in their future, I left my meeting with Old Dominion convinced that the best thing the band has going for it is the band itself. It’s a group of friends who

became a band, not the other way around. And that’s the kind of thing you need if you’re going to put out the kind of tongue-in-cheek, playful, authentic country that will have staying power with country fans and newcomers. “You hit on something with hearing personality in our music. We’re friends and we don’t take ourselves seriously. We don’t think we’re that cool, so we’re not going to make music that’s putting up that front. So we’re just making music that we enjoy,” Matt said. “Our identity as a band is who we are as people and that’s translated into our recording and our writing.”


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The cigar world is on Twitter and we aim to keep track of who’s leading who. The following is a scoreboard of the cigar world’s most relevant Tweeples. The list is sorted by number of followers and broken into groups: Top 20 Twitter Cigar Companies & Reps, Top 10 Twitter Retailers, Top 10 Online Cigar Tweeps, Top 3 Twitter Cigar Organizations, and Top 3 Cigar Radio Twitter accounts. If you have the numbers and belong in one of these groups, stand up and be counted! Set us straight via Twitter @cigarsnobmag.

TOP CIGAR COMPANIES (sorted by Twitter followers) Rocky Patel @RockyPatelCigar......................................... Drew Estate Cigars @DrewEstateCigar............................. Padron Cigar @PADRONCIGAR......................................... CAO International @CAOCigars......................................... Alec Bradley Cigars @AlecBradley.................................... Jonathan Drew @JonathanDrew1..................................... La Flor Dominicana @LFDCigars....................................... Camacho Cigars @camachocigars................................... Ashton Cigars @ashtoncigar............................................. Pete Johnson @TatuajeCigars........................................... Xikar Inc @XIKARinc......................................................... La Gloria Cubana @lagloriacubana.................................... Nick Perdomo @PerdomoCigars....................................... Punch Cigars @punchcigars............................................. Miami Cigar Co @miamicigar............................................. Ernesto Padilla @PadillaCigars......................................... Nat Sherman Intl. @Nat42nd............................................. La Palina Cigars @La PalinaCigars.................................... Avo Cigars @AvoCigars..................................................... Ezra Zion Cigars @ezrazioncigars......................................

31283 30054 26014 24569 21221 19105 19014 18533 16786 16675 14588 14108 13079 13029 12924 12101 11974 11657 11437 11026

TOP CIGAR ORGANIZATIONS CRA @cigarrights............................................................. 14468 IPCPR Staff @theIPCPR.................................................. 7767 Tobacconist University @tobacconistU............................. 4619

TOP CIGAR RADIO Cigar Dave Show @CigarDaveShow................................. 11422 Smooth Draws @SmoothDraws....................................... 4427 KMA Talk Radio @KMATalkRadio...................................... 2372

SOME OF OUR FAVORITE TWEETS, MENTIONS, AND RANDOM SOCIAL MEDIA GOODNESS.

TOP CIGAR RETAILERS & REPS Mulberry St. Cigars @MulberryStCigar............................. Famous Smoke Shop @FamousSmokeShop...................... Cigar Hustler @cigarhustler.............................................. Cigar Row @CigarRow..................................................... Jeff Borysiewicz – Corona Cigar Co @CoronaCigarCo....... Michael Herklots–Nat Sherman @MichaelHerklots............ Cheap Humidors @cheaphumidors................................... Lindsay Siddiqi @TheCigarChick....................................... Palm Desert Tobacco @palmdsrttobacco......................... Buckhead Cigar @BuckheadCigar.....................................

13750 12509 11866 8481 7197 6754 5694 5352 5338 4408

@smokinonewithtatum via Instagram A little Oliva on Oliva action this evening #cigars #cigarreview #cigarreviews #cigargirls #cigargirl #ladiesoftheleaf #shesmokestoo #cigarsnob #oliva #olivacigar #olivaseriev

TOP ONLINE CIGAR TWEEPLES David Voth–Sex, Cigars, & Booze @SexCigarsBooze......... Cigar News @CigaRSS .................................................... Cigar Events @CigarEvents............................................... Cigar Federation @CigarFederation.................................. Robusto Cigar Babe @RobustoBabe................................. Stogie Boys @StogieBoys ............................................... Cigar Evaluations @CigarEvaluation................................. Cigar Inspector @CigarInspector ..................................... The Stogie Guys @stogieguys........................................... Tom Ufer @cigarsmonkingman..........................................

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151677 15014 14476 12362 9856 9215 9109 8544 8242 6647

@rockypatelpersonal via Instagram Enjoying a Legends 52 with Michael Phelps.


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IVAN OCAMPO iocampo@cigarsnobmag.com PRODUCTION ASSISTANT

JAMILET CALVIÑO jcalvino@cigarsnobmag.com WARDROBE STYLIST

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EVENTS MY FATHER CIGAR DINNER AT IPCPR MORTON’S THE STEAKHOUSE Las Vegas

The tradition of My Father Cigar’s annual dinner during IPCPR keeps getting better with age. The Garcia family and their invited guests quite literally took over Morton’s for one amazing evening of world-class steaks, wine, and cigars. But no Garcia party is complete without dancing, so after VP of sales Jose Ortega finished his presentation, the steakhouse’s bar area became a dance floor as every able-bodied invitee danced off their dinner to the sounds of guaguanco, reggaeton, and Los Van Van.

Pete Johnson and Vartan Seferian

Sahil Ambani, Prutha Jhakeu, Charryka and Raj Singh

Jon Fia, Andy Anderson and Shaun Anderson

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Berta Bravo and Nick Nanavichit

Sancho Oset García, Albert Montserrat and Hostos Fernández Quesada

Susana Díaz-Delgado. Dany García, María López and Yadami Fernández

Brandon McKinney and Steve Garland

Nancy and Curt Diebel and María García


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EVENTS DREW ESTATE PARTY AT IPCPR THE VENUE Las Vegas

Every year during the convention and trade show we refer to as IPCPR, Drew Estate hosts a party for industry insiders and cigar media. This year’s party was held at The Venue on the iconic Fremont Street. Guests were gifted with boxes of limited edition Liga Privada Unico as well as the Cinco Decadas from Joya de Nicaragua, which Drew Estate distributes in the US.

Justin Bond, John Chernogorec and Weronika Bernas

Erik Calviño, Alejandro Martínez Cuenca and Raphael Gros

Matty Rock and Gary Pfleiderer

Frank Moreno, Matt Lehner and Josh Roque

GENERAL CIGARS MEDIA PARTY CARSON KITCHEN Las Vegas

Every cigar media outlet in one place with an open bar; whose idea was this? The truth is that everyone got along famously at General Cigar’s media party held during the annual trade show. Guests casually enjoyed delicious bites and free flowing drinks at Carson Kitchen’s rooftop terrace while sampling some of General Cigar’s newest releases.

Wes Gade and Matt Tye

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Myron Gooch, Kacey Bradley-Gooch and Eric Guttormson

Jeff and Brenda Slat and Cigar Dave


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EVENTS DAVIDOFF 50TH ANNIVERSARY PARTY & GOLDEN BAND AWARDS CELEBRATION DAVIDOFF OF GENEVA CIGAR BAR Las Vegas

The Davidoff Golden Band Awards is the annual event where Davidoff Appointed Merchants are rewarded for being at the top of their game. This year’s event was made extra special as the Davidoff brand celebrated 50 years in the cigar business. And the Golden Band Award for Appointed Merchant of the Year goes to… Corona Cigar Company! Congratulations to Corona Cigar and all of the Golden Band Award nominees and winners.

Kris Miller, Henke Kelner and Klas Pieter

Brian Hewitt, Ben Lee and Paul Bertucci

Paul Laflamme, Mike Baca, Marc Hollingshead, Fernando Romero and George Rami

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Corona Cigar wins Appointed Merchant of the Year!

Dee Aguavivas and Alejandra Cespedes

Amber and Gary Flores

Lana Fraser and Melanie Büscher

Dylan Austin, Johan Zwaan, Kenneth Saluk, Moe Sohail and George Rami

Jen Loria, Carlos Escalona and Anastasia Lukyanova

Jim Young and Mike Baca


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EVENTS AGIO’S HOSPITALITY SUITE AT IPCPR ENCORE AT WYNN Las Vegas

Royal Agio, the makers of Balmoral cigars, hosted a group of cigar industry insiders and cigar media guests at their hospitality suite during the IPCPR Trade Show in Las Vegas. In addition to a top-shelf selection of beer, wine, and spirits, guests enjoyed the newest releases in the Balmoral line including the XO Connecticut, XO Oscuro, and the Ernesto Perez-Carrillo collaboration called Balmoral Serie Signaturas Dueto.

Liana and George Margioukla

Terry Gallagher and Frank Armstrong

Marcel Michels and Laura Barlau

CIGAR SNOB PODCAST

LISTEN NOW cigarsnobmag.com/podcast 114 | CIGAR SNOB | SEPT / OCT 2018


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EVENTS ROCKY MOUNTAIN CIGAR FESTIVAL OMNI INTERLOCKEN RESORT Broomfield, CO

One of the best multi-vendor events of the year returned to the Omni Interlocken Resort in Broomfield, CO. More than 2,000 cigar smokers took part in this all-day event featuring 60 cigar companies, 15 local brewers, and 20 distillers. In addition, there was live music, food, and tons of swag! Cigar companies gave away everything from t-shirts to headphones to pocketknives. Pam Nolen, George Rami, Jeremy Weiner and J.T. Guagliardo

Melody Troutman and “Island Jim” Robinson

Slow Poke, Huey, Liana Fuente, Bigs and Prospect

Jay Fifield and Rob Gagner

Quang Chau, Chris Stone, Gary Pfleiderer and Daniel Barrios

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Arley and Michael Blanco

Melody Hales, Kari Clark, Linad and Aaron Endres


Robert and Claudia Galvian

Rocky and Nish Patel

Matt and Patt Minder and Dan Gallagher

Tom MartĂ­nez and Mike Doly

Thaddeus and Katrina Lawson

Janelle and Brian French

Jerry Elliott, Aaron Broome and Chung Tran

Claudio Sgroi and Rob Rasmussen

Orlando Ventura, Oscar Valladares and Barry Blonder

Vance Taylor and Nicole Garrett

Max FernĂĄndez and Terence Reilly

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EVENTS ESPINOSA CIGARS AT CAVA CIGARS Miami

Fans of the boutique brand Espinosa Cigars gathered at one of Miami’s hottest cigar spots. In addition to a great selection of Espinosa cigars, including the highly rated 601 Blue, Murcielago, and Laranja Reserva, guests also enjoyed complimentary sushi and fried rice from Sushi Sake and a selection of beer and wine. Ángel Aguayo, Ángel Suárez, Beatriz Calis and Erik Espinosa

Irma Osborne and Erik Espinosa

Jessica and Michael Balboa

Frankie Vegas, Ralph (USA) Torres, Johnny Cortina and Willy Casas

Erik Espinosa and Oscar Benedit

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Ines Torres and Estrella García

Casey Haugen and Giselle Rosales

Roberto Riadigos Jr., Jim Lobo and Jorge Reyes

José R. Pérez, Reinier Lorenzo and Lazaro Guzmán


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EVENTS ASHFEST 2018 Rochester, NY

Cigar lovers from all over upstate New York gathered at Nice Ash Cigars for a cigar festival unlike any other in the area. VIP ticket holders received 20 cigars, a swag bag, and access to beer, wine, and spirit tastings. In addition, there was live music and all sorts of freebies, but the star of the show was the pig roast on a spit.

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PHOTO CREDIT: Rob Roth


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EVENTS VICTOR CALVO AT CAVA CIGARS Miami

There was live music, food, and good times as Victor Calvo himself, his son Victor Calvo Guerrero, and Miguel Pinto were all in attendance at Cava Cigars in Miami. Guests enjoyed specials on some of the company’s best-selling brands like the VC50, U.S. Shade Reserve, and the Victor Calvo Fuerte. Miguel Pinto, Victor Calvo, Jr., Victor Calvo and Ángel Aguado

Ángel and Laura Aguayo

José Álvarez and Alex Gutiérrez

Dez Karpati, Erika López, Gyorgy Lakatos and Victor Calvo

Andrés Figueroa and Raul Bosque

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Dr. Carrillo and Hector J. Pires

Dirk Longwood, J.P. Lurves, Mauro Caballero and Aquiles Carmona

Félix Mesa, Miguel Pinto and Joaquín Martínez Rueda

Marian Castellano and Juliette Navarro


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A Good Day, Starts with...

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Distributed Exclusively by Oliva Cigars 124 | CIGAR SNOB | SEPT / OCT 2018

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