SmokeGood DrinkGood Magazine

Cigars: Nick Perdomo Jr. Honoring Tradition Using Innovation and Technology

“Building a Worldwide Brand”

Nick Perdomo Jr:
TABACALERA PERDOMO

Honoring Tradition Using Innovation and Technology

Nick Perdomo Jr. President and CEO of Tabacalera Perdomo sits down with SGDGmagazine to share what’s new, innovation, and his vision for the future of Perdomo Cigars.

You pour a glass of finely aged single malt whiskey, ready to relax, feeling that at the end of the day a job is well done, but not yet. When only the best will do for your reward, you open up the humidor and without question, you reach for a Perdomo Cigar. It doesn’t matter the blend because with Perdomo every cigar is made with the highest quality tobacco and handcrafted with the greatest of skill and passion for the leaf.

We had the incredible privilege of sitting down with Nick Perdomo Jr., father, husband, son, Founder, President and CEO of Perdomo Cigars, to discuss his historic and legendary rise in the tobacco industry. Nick and his team built a worldwide brand while honoring tradition using innovation and technology. Nick is a pioneer and a visionary in the cigar culture and has given SGDG Magazine the honor of sharing the journey of Perdomo Cigars, then, now, and the future, through his eyes.

Please enjoy the following interview:

SGDG:    Welcome to SGDG Magazine Nick. Thank you for spending time with me and for sharing the brilliance of Perdomo Cigars with our SGDG Family.

Nick: Thank you so much for having me. It is my honor to talk to you and share my passion which is Perdomo Cigars!

SGDG: Please allow me a moment to be just thrilled that I am speaking with you! Nick, you are a living legend to cigar Aficionados around the globe. I believe that I speak for myself, John, and our readers in saying that we are all deeply humbled and truly honored to be speaking with you. Thank you.

Nick: That is so kind of you Terri! I am so proud of our loyal employees worldwide. I am truly a blessed man.

SGDG:  Nick, your family history and its legacy is known to many and has been well documented in the historical bedrock of the cigar industry. The strength and perseverance of the Perdomo Family under the Cuban dictatorship and at the hands of a tyrant and terrorist is beyond extraordinary. You are an inspiration to people around the globe and I am very sorry for the suffering that you and your family have endured.

With that being said, I would like to take the focus of this conversation into the present and future of Perdomo Cigars.

Nick: Well Terri, it has been such a wonderful experience throughout these last 24 years. Starting out of a garage and following my father’s advice, he always told me that me that we live in the greatest country in the world and if you work hard enough, you can attain anything in life. My mom instilled in me the knowledge to always respect your customer and to always make a great product, because it takes 10 years to get a customer and 3 seconds to lose one. I will never forget that. I still love what I do now more than ever. The future for Perdomo cigars is sky high and we are one of the bestselling premium cigars in America. I am so proud to say that Perdomo cigars are taking off in Europe also. As my mom would say, quality always prevails! I am also so humbled to meet our customers and to hear of the enjoyment that they get from enjoying Perdomo cigars!

SGDG:    Let’s talk about the dream. Share with us how the dream of Perdomo Cigars became a reality?

Nick: I started out of my garage in Miami Lakes Florida in 1992. I sold 9,460 cigars my first year. You have to start somewhere. It was the start of our dream! Three years later, I called my dad and told him that I sold one million cigars. My father was so proud of me. He came on to work with me soon after. It was awesome to be able to work with my hero. My father was a great businessman, not to mention the best cigar maker that I have ever met. His experience in Cuba making cigars was so helpful. We always made full-flavored cigars and it really made us different at the time. Everyone knows my Grandfather and my late fathers experience in Cuba as Cigar manufactures, not to mention my grandfather’s brother was the Minister of Tobacco in Cuba. My family and our great workforce deserve all of the credit for our success. I must mention my wife Janine and our children who have been with me through thick and thin. One of the most truthful statements I live by- behind every good man is a great woman.

SGDG:    You made the decision to relocate your operations from Florida to Nicaragua. Why?

Nick: In August of 1995 my father and I were talking, and he said the greatest tobacco in the world comes from Nicaragua. It was becoming too expensive to make cigars in Miami and Tampa and I was also staying in the same price point as the Dominican Republic and Honduras at the time, so as you can imagine it was a struggle, but it was the greatest move that we ever made. When we came to Nicaragua there were only three cigar factories, a huge difference from today. When I saw the grounds, the valleys, and the wonderful tobacco let’s just say that my dad was right again. Today we proudly provide jobs to over 2,000 people in one of the most dedicated and fierce workforces that anyone could have. In fact, our typical worker in Nicaragua has been with Perdomo cigars for an average of 16.3 years. Many of our employees there as well as in Miami have been with us since day one! Yes, I am very proud of that and we treat our employees like family. My wife, my mother, my son and my uncle still work with the company. Arthur Kemper our VP is like my brother and our operations manager, Nelson Cuba, has been my friend since we were eleven years old. I was just with Chris Harper, our national director of sales, in Atlanta with Janine having drinks and smoking Perdomo cigars. We have such a special team. So yes, I love my career!

SGDG:    You have team loyalty on a scale unmatched by many. Leadership is directly related to the happiness of those who choose to work with us. Your father Nick Perdomo Sr., played a critical role in the management and operations in Nicaragua. Share with us his influence on you and your leadership style?

Nick: Let me say that my father and I worked so well together because we not only loved each other, but he always put his family first. This is something I will never forget. My father treated every employee no matter what position with the upmost respect. I always and still do follow that mentality. People see me load a container or work on the farm and ask me, why? The answer is you have to lead by example and our employees respect me for it. I love to stay active and help in any way that I can because we are a team.  My dad left a lasting mark on me and his influence and leadership were paramount. I honor him each day by leading from his great example.

SGDG:    When I think of you and the way you have always gone against the status quo, Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Computers, comes to my mind. Steve was an innovator who did everything outside of the box of average thinking and expectations. I see you this way. They told you a bold cigar would never sell.  You said let the customer decide and you blended one anyway. Share with us your philosophy on “quality over quantity”?

Nick: In June of 1999 we made a sound decision to become vertically integrated and to control our own journey in every aspect. We wanted to control everything down to the seed, so we brought in the very best geneticist, who is still with us, and has developed over seven seed strains for us that have worked wonderfully. Today we are one of the largest farmers in all of Central America. We manufacture all of our own cigar boxes. We even sort and grade our cedar. This attention to detail is the difference. We don’t like the status quo and are always going against the grain to be the best that God will let us. Our strict blending techniques, our ability to pinpoint quality control and quality over quantity mantra, our use of innovation and technology with traditional ways of farming, all lead to richer, bolder yet extremely smooth cigars. That is what I mean of going against the grain in giving the Perdomo customer the very best that money can buy. Being completely vertical gives us that and it is what leads us to keep pricing so fair. People talk about it all of the time and I am proud of that. Our dream is that there is a Perdomo cigar for everyone and that is why our growth has been so amazing.

SGDG:    Your factory operates using efficient environmental technology. You have installed a water saving drip system to conserve water. Speak to us about your decision to marry innovation in tobacco farming with the traditional ways that you were taught by your father, grandfather and others?

Nick: We worked with a fantastic company in Israel that is a leader to water conservation and that makes a more healthy and lush tobacco plant at the same time. Filtered clean water for our tobacco plants using a special water drip system and the same time fertilizing the plant at its optimum levels using an eco-friendly water conservation system. This process is very expensive but better for our tobacco. I am all in and the tobacco speaks for it. The merging of traditional farming with new technological advances has really set us apart and made for an even more bountiful crop that our consumers have been enjoying for years and we promise to continue improving with new advanced equipment.

SGDG:    Perdomo has beautiful graphics and attention to detail in its presentation. You said that every box of cigars is special. What makes every box of Perdomo cigars special?

Nick: A box of cigars is very special. I want every box of Perdomo cigars to feel and look very special because we all know the cigars are outstanding. Remember they are given out at special occasions such as weddings and other celebrations. Our customers deserve the very best and packaging starts the celebration, look, and feel. Arthur Kemper, our Vice President, and his team, which includes me, looks at every aspect and Arthur is second to none at this with his years of experience at Perdomo and retail. At the end it must breathe special because that is exactly what a box of Perdomo cigars is!

SGDG: How have the new FDA regulations effected Perdomo Cigars and the tobacco industry? What is the current status of the regulations with regards to production, sales, promotion, etc.?

Nick: Anytime the government gets involved in regulation it hurts the employee, future employment, and the company. This new FDA regulation is just that. I urge all to call your local senators and congressmen and tell them to stop this nonsense. Of course, it will impact the industry. But I promise you one thing, we will survive and fight this all the way!

Many regulations that are imposed on business hurt and stifle growth and employment. Government intervention on the cigar industry has been punishing but I have a positive attitude. I believe that as a proud American we will fight the government and things will turn around.

SGDG:    Why is there confusion between cigarette tobacco and cigar tobacco? And what can the cigar industry do to separate itself from this misconception?

Nick: This is all about taxes and more government intrusion. Americans are tired of it. Unlike the contents of a cigarette, Perdomo cigars consist of three things: Air cured and aged tobacco, water, and pectin. No chemicals.

SGDG:    There is a new edition to the Perdomo Family called “Perdomo Estate Seleccion”. What is new with Perdomo Cigars?

Nick: This is our newest brand that features the top one percent of our crops. These tobaccos are estate grown and come from our 2011 crops in Estelí, Condega and Jalapa. We have invested a lot in our packaging and our retailers have been very receptive to this product. We have some great new products coming in the future, but we will be keeping them close to the vest due to the FDA.

SGDG:    Perdomo Cigars now has a distribution center in Frankfurt, Germany. How has this effected your ability to accommodate your European market?

Nick: It’s been incredible for us. The concept works like a “spoke and hub” concept. Frankfurt Germany is right in the middle of the European Union and because of that when we ship any Perdomo cigars through Europe, the average time that retailers will get their shipment is within 48-72 hours, which is very quick. All of the stamps and labels are put on by our team in Frankfurt and then shipped. It’s been a really great thing for us.

SGDG: You just finished a European Tour. Perdomo Cigars seems to connect well with customers there. How do you feel about that?

Nick: It’s an honor. We’ve been in the European market for a little over 15 years and our growth has been quite expediential there. We are happy to be able to showcase Perdomo Cigars in Europe. It seems that the customer base really enjoys our cigars and their construction so it’s great for both parties.

SGDG:    Perdomo Cigars is family owned and operated. You shared with me that your mother, Senora Perdomo, bless her heart, still comes to work every day. Your beautiful wife Janine, is Vice President of Operations and has been by your side from day one. You still work with the original team that you started with. Tell us about the Perdomo business as a family?

Nick:  Yes, we’ve always run our business like a family. Our employees are extended members of the family.  One of the things that I’m blessed with is not only having a great workforce but the amount of longevity.  In Nicaragua the average Perdomo worker has been with the company for over 16.1 years. Here in Miami I still have several workers who have been with me since day one. Our sales team has been with us for double digit years as well.  A lot of it has to do with our family concept with quality and the way we treat our workers. It’s been a blessing for us.

SGDG:    The Perdomo Family Legacy lives on through your son Nick III and your beautiful daughter Natalie. What is next for Perdomo Cigars? Will there be more expansion of the brand in the future? If so, what will that expansion look like?

Nick: Today is my sons 25th birthday as you know and to answer the first part of your question, he’s doing phenomenal. He’s not the boss’s son. He’s his own man and he’s doing a great job. We’ve always followed the concept of “you have to walk the walk before you talk the talk” and he follows that philosophy.  My daughter is about to graduate from the University of Alabama in December.  She will be attending law school here in the Miami area. It’s nice to have a law degree because I believe that it always helps in business.

As far as growth, we’ve always believed that quality brings quantity. We foresee more and more growth at an even keel where we are doing it systematically with quality. The company continues to grow year in and year out. We will continue that phase but never at the expense of quality.  We believe that the reason we continue to grow is because our consumers worldwide respect our quality.

SGDG:  You have accomplished so much and of course you are elevating in the European Market. Is there anything else you would like to share with us that is in the works for Perdomo Cigars?

Nick:  A lot of our growing operations are becoming more state of the art. Together, with the traditions that I learned from my father and my grandfather, we’re producing better and richer tobacco in Nicaragua. We would like to start seeing federal regulations being lifted by the FDA so that we can bring some of the incredible new blends to the market. With the FDA restrictions it’s been an issue. As you know we have a class action law suit pending that we hope will lift some of the restrictions so that we can bring some of these new cigars to market.

We still see our growth in Europe expanding however we are really trying to grow here in the United States of America because this is our baby. My priority is and will always be here in the United States. Although we have grown vastly over the last 25 years, America is our number one priority.

SGDG:  Have you considered expanding the Perdomo brand in other markets such as distilled spirits, coffee, or any other market?

Nick:  Sure. That’s a great question. We have been working together with different liquor companies on pairings with our cigars. We have a brand that pairs well with special craft beers and we are looking to expand that market into single malt scotches, vodkas, red wines, bourbon, rum. Another reason why I think your question is great is because I love coffee.  We are looking to pair with a good roaster in Nicaragua and come up with a Perdomo brand of coffee that pairs well with our cigars. That’s probably something that no one really knows about that we’ve been working on. When I find the right combination, that’s when we’ll start releasing that.

SGDG:    The Drums! I understand that you were in a band years ago and that you have a collection of drums. What is your relationship with music?

Nick: I love music and at my age the drums have become a big stress reliever and more of a hobby. I’ve been playing the drums for over 40 years and I have three sets in my office.  I love to play and again, at this stage in my life, I get together with some friends and we jam in my office. We do a lot of classic rock, 70’s, and 80’s music. I’m originally a trained jazz drummer and I still love jazz music. Unfortunately, because of my travel schedule I don’t get a chance to play as often as I would like to however I still try to get in one or two hours a week of playing and it’s still a lot of fun for me.

SGDG: What would you like people to know about you and Perdomo Cigars that hasn’t been shared? What are you most proud of?

Nick: In business I’m most proud of producing a quality product at a fair price point. My father always told me that if you’re fair to your consumers and you give them the best quality that you can get, you can’t fail.

What I would like people to know is that my favorite title in my life is not President or CEO; it’s being a dad and a husband. I told someone recently that I work harder now than I ever have and it’s because I still love it. Not only do I love cigars, I love what I do. I look forward to coming to work, and I know that it sounds like an old cliché, but it’s a blessing. I got up at 4:00am this morning after flying in last night from Birmingham, Alabama. I was spending time with my daughter. I’ll be on the road again tomorrow morning, but I flew into Miami because I wanted to spend the day with my son and celebrate his birthday today. To me those are the most special times. I would like people to know that we’re good people and we work really hard and we’re humbled by all of the cards, letters, emails, and the kind words that we get out there on the road. I’m a blessed guy.

SGDG: What advice would you give to entrepreneurs who are taking that leap of faith and following their dreams?

Nick: The first thing they need to realize is not to be afraid to work. You will be surprised at what you can do when you work hard. A lot of it has to do with my faith in God. God has been very good to me. I’ve been fortunate and lucky. When you work hard and have faith and you pick the right people to assist you, and you treat them like family, you can’t lose.  We have so much opportunity here in the Unites States. I wouldn’t say that entrepreneurship is easy, by any stretch of the imagination and especially with the government, but I think if you are really determined, work hard, and you’re focused, it’s a risk—but if you’re willing to take that risk you can do it.  A lot of the times people see the iceberg on top, but they don’t see that on the bottom are the sleepless nights, the risk, and so on.

I don’t begrudge those that don’t want to do it but it’s something that you have to work really hard at. People look at business people and say “Wow why do they have this and that” and I say it’s because they worked really hard. I talk to a lot of young people and I get asked this question a lot. I’ve been blessed. I have a motor inside and my wife asks me “when does it stop?”, and I say it doesn’t because I really like it. It’s not easy but if you’re willing to take the shot and bust your butt like you never thought you could, the human being can do amazing things, the sky is the limit for any young entrepreneur.  I’m certainly not the smartest guy but I was determined and raised by a father and a mother who really pushed me, they always believed in me and taught me to believe in myself. I am relentless.  I believe that if you have all of those attributes that I just mentioned anyone can do it.

SGDG:    Nick thank you so much for you time, for sharing your journey and for producing some of the most incredible cigar blends in the world! Remember to always Smokegood cigars and Drinkgood spirits. SGDG…It’s a Lifestyle.

End of interview

Cigars: Matty Rock Inc One of the Cigar Industry’s Most Brilliant Minds

The Disco Ball Rules! Didn’t you know?

*Matty Rock, CEO of Matty Rock Inc, and a Drew Estate Icon, sits down with SGDGmagazine to share his extraordinary relationship with the cigar sub-culture, as well as shed some insight on the man beyond the eccentric suits, lattes and cigars!

Please enjoy the following Interview:

Several years ago, I saw a photo on Facebook of a quirky bearded man wearing a patterned suit with playing cards on the fabric. There was a cigar in his hand, which had silver rings depicting the Drew Estate cigar brand logo, and one of the funniest expressions on his face. He was posing in the picture with someone at a cigar event. I was amused yet fascinated and thought, “Who is this guy”. I soon found out that this character I had seen was Matty Rock! Matty left an unforgettable impression on me in a matter of seconds as well as a smile on my face for the entirety of the day. Immediately, I sent him a Facebook friend request- and the rest was history.

Throughout the years I realized there was much more to Matty Rock, the cigar event marketing genius and Drew Estate Icon, than what I had initially seen on the surface. Eventually I had the ability to peel back the layers of his personality and found a truly brilliant and inspiring mind. On top of being a businessman, an entrepreneur, and someone who is at the forefront of cigar sub-culture, Matty embodies the heart and soul of the Drew Estate movement. And lucky for us, there’s a whole lot more.

SGDG: Matty, thank you for spending time with me and sharing your journey with our SGDG family. You’re an impressive figure in cigar culture and in this interview, we will explore your life beyond the industry. However, share with us your history with tobacco and cigars. When and where did it all begin for you?

Matty: It’s almost as if the path was already there. I started out in the tech world when I was seventeen years old and I was going to school at night. I was working for a fortune 500 company learning computers at seventeen. I was around sophisticated people and I use that term loosely, I started out with a delicious White Owl and when I wanted to be classy I would light up one of those Robert Burn cigars thinking hey I can be sophisticated! Look at me now!

I was introduced to the cigar culture at a young age. From there it was a natural progression. I always knew that it would be a hobby of mine and something that I loved and enjoyed. What most people don’t know about me is that I don’t drink. I’m already out of my mind! The world is much happier about that fact! There’s no alcohol. This is an all-natural crazy! Twenty-seven years of being around tobacco and doing shows. Suited up in corporate America, meeting a lot people. From there it was a natural progression and a blessing. I’m used to being around a lot people and promotions companies from doing Battle of the Bands in New Jersey back in the day. Cigars were always around and a great bridge into just about anything.

SGDG: That’s the wonderful thing about the cigars and the cigar culture. Cigars tend to bring people together. How do you feel about that?

Matty: Oh yeah! One hundred percent! It can be an introverted thing or an extraverted thing. That’s part of the beauty of it. You can sit down with your cigar for an hour or two and dream and scheme about how to rule the world.

SGDG: Speaking of ruling the world. One of the reasons why you’re so fascinating is that there is so much more to you than what people see on the surface. You are a Brother of the Leaf. We see this character, that isn’t really a character at all, it’s just who you are. But you do have a public persona. When you’re taking care of business are you the character that we see or do you change into a more conservative corporate guy?

Matty: For the most part, I’ve always had the unique opportunity and I’ve been blessed to always be myself. I do tone it down a bit when I’m meeting a new client. I’m usually well behaved as not to scare the Hell out of new prospective business. I wouldn’t want to scare them off with a fuzzy dice suit! They might look at my resume and then scratch their heads a little bit. I’m generally myself and I’m approachable for the most part.

SGDG: You’re brilliant when it comes to marketing. Your personality is strong and genuine. From a branding perspective, you are naturally what most people try very hard to create. You tend to flow with positive energy that is magnetic and contagious. How do you maintain that authentic positive flow of energy?

Matty: It’s just easier for me to be who I am. I’m blessed with the opportunity to do what I love. As long as your work speaks for itself, people will give you the room to be yourself. You will always find people who don’t like you or that have issues with your character. You can’t do much about haters or people that feed on negative energy. If you’re happy with who you are and you feel good about who you are, you will find your niche and your grove. I think its most important to be comfortable in your own skin. People feel it when you’re confident and genuine. I feel that in order to stay successful, you have to get rid of the negativity and the negative people. Don’t get caught up with what the media throws at you. The media pits people against each other with politics and the like. They take the negative and blow it up and keep people in the dark. I don’t have the time or the patience for that. I just stay positive in my life and in everything that I do.

SGDG: You travel a lot for business and you do a fair amount of cigar events, however, I’ve noticed that there is much more to your travels. Besides your work within the cigar industry, do you own your own business?

Matty: I own several businesses and work within several industries. I have a promotions company called Rock to Galaxy working with talent and I have a staffing agency where I manage recruitment and hiring for companies. I’m a computer programmer with global contracts and I train fighters. I also own a jewelry company. If you ask most people…hey what does Matty do? They will probably say meh he smokes cigars, eats food and goes to cigar events. I used to be part owner of a night club but I’ll never do that again. When I travel it has to do with mixture of all of my business.

SGDG: Do you work exclusively with Drew Estate Cigars or do you work with other cigar manufacturers?

Matty: Yes, I’m exclusive to Drew Estate. When it comes to Jon (Jonathan Drew), outside of actual blood, he’s my brother. Jon’s my brother and I’m going to always be loyal to my brother. Loyalty is the most important character trait a person can have and the brand (Drew Estate Cigars) speaks for itself. The people who come into the organization, they become family. That’s what makes Drew Estate so unique. Drew Estate is 100% a sub-culture. When you come to one of Jon’s events, you see art, culture, music, passion, love. There are people painting live, not men dressed in suits. There’s nothing cookie cutter about the man (Jon) or the organization. Everything Jon does is done with love passion and devotion. When you put your heart and soul into something, that’s what makes the difference. We are a family and it’s nice to be in a family where we can all be ourselves. We love and respect each other.

SGDG: Do you all get together outside of work as a family?

Matty: Yes, we always find time to spend as a family outside of work. Whenever one of us in town we hang out. It’s a beautiful thing.

SGDG: Let’s talk about your suits and the Kagol hats! When did the eccentric suits and collection of Kangol’s come about?

Matty: I’ve been dressing like a maniac for years. I’m a little bit more out in the open about it. I have a Kagol collection of more than 60 hats that are over 25 years old and from different countries around the world. When you see me in a regular suit, I feel iffy about how I look. I’m happy with the craziness and I have well over 50 suits. When people tag me to show me suits on Facebook, the sad part of that is, chances are I have the suit already. I think a lot of people tend to take themselves too seriously. No one should take themselves that serious. You’ll always have detractors. Do your job, have fun, and live your life light heartedly and people will support you for being yourself.

SGDG: You wear some of the most amazing jewelry. Is it custom made?

Matty: I own the jewelry company that sells most of the pieces that I wear. We do make custom pieces. The Drew Estate rings are made by someone else, but everything else is made by my company.

SGDG: The cigar industry has grown over the past six years with regards to its use of social media. You have a major social presence with a very active fanbase. Are you aware this? And which social media tool is your favorite to use?

Matty: That’s very flattering and I realize that there are a lot of people who are interested in the next stupid thing that I do. It’s great that people take time out of their day to find out how much sushi I eat in one sitting and how many burgers I polished off, that’s flattering and I appreciate it. I’ve had people remind me of some crazy thing that I did on Facebook a year ago. It’s like a history lesson and I’m beginning to realize that I’m my own historian! I enjoy talking to people and interacting with people so the 140-character limit of Twitter doesn’t work for me. I think that Facebook is best and allows me more of a connection with people in diverse ways. Instagram is fun with pictures and good for promotions but Facebook reaches a biggest audience.

SGDG: People connect with the energy that you exude. They admire you and value what you say; they trust you. You leave an indelible impression and have an incredible influence. How do you feel about that?

Matty: I appreciate that and its very flattering. I like to detract from negativity. You can either be part of the problem or part of the solution. I choose to be a part of the solution. In society today, when you take a stand, there seems to be only one direction to take with no compromise. I believe in compromise. I’m respectful of how other people feel, and when it comes to social media I will very rarely write something negative or divisive. I like to leave subtle reminders that we don’t have to be hurtful. We don’t have to be influenced by the media and be lead around like sheep. I don’t want to be a part of negativity because it spreads like cancer. Business, personal, negative energy influences every part of your life. There are a lot of things to be happy about and being happy is how I choose to live. No man is an island and everyone has their issues. Each person would do themselves good by getting out of the habit of thinking that they’re the only one with issues. You can see the happiest child who won’t see their next birthday yet there are still people who will choose to complain. Perspective. Perspective is the most important word in life for me. If you keep everything in perspective it will make your life and everyone else’s life better. I never really get upset. I encourage people to choose to be happy, to compromise and to keep everything in its proper perspective.

SGDG: You are a survivor of the World Trade Center terrorist attack. Would you mind sharing your experience with us?

Matty: Yes, I am a 911 survivor and I lost a lot of brothers and sisters that day. I went to get a latte and I missed my ferry that morning so I was late. I say that I was “saved by latte”. That tragedy taught me to never take life for granted. Live each day to its fullest because life isn’t promised to anyone. I learned to be incredibly thankful and to always give something back. People need to be reminded of those things. I was working on two projects. Both projects were in the Towers. One was on the 97th floor of the North Tower and the other was on the 81st Floor of the South Tower. Unfortunately, I was there when both planes hit. I watched each plane hit the Towers. Where I was located, it would have been a direct hit had I been in either Tower. You put that into perspective. You can learn something from this and be kind to people and be helpful. Imagine what our military is going through every day, dodging IED’s and ducking bullets. We went through a horrible time and it always brings us back to choices and perspective. You wake up every morning and decide who you will choose to be. Choices and Perspective.

SGDG: After having had such a life changing experience, would you say that you are a spiritual man, religious, or a bit of both?

Matty: I would say that I’m more spiritual and I have a lot of faith. The problem that I have with religion is that its mixed with politics. Religion will cloud your judgement so I try to stay away from that. Faith and spirituality describes me best. Everyone has their own truth and facts can be manipulated. I stay far away from religion.

SGDG: Let’s talk about your cigar preferences. Do you have a favorite cigar, region, and/or strength?

Matty: That’s a tough one because I’ve been smoking for a better part of two decades and smoking as much as I do. Your palate changes over time and your go to sticks will change but the Liga L-40 and the Chateau Riel Maduro are what comes to mind. Back in the day I thought I was a fancy fellow when I first started smoking so it was the Robert Burn cigar in a tube. Then I graduated to a Don Diego and I was the Man!

SGDG: Most smokers have a preference when it comes to cigar cutters. What is your preferred cigar cutter?

Matty: I like to use a guided cutter but lately I’ve been enjoying the V-cut.

SGDG: How extensive is your cigar collection?

Matty: I have about 14,000 cigars in my collection. I’ve been collecting cigars since I was 17 years old.

SGDG: I’ve noticed that many cigar manufactures are becoming global with their distribution. How do you feel about the global expansion of the American cigar industry?

Matty: I think is great! I love it on a global level because the world gets a little bit smaller. There was a guy who was a web developer that knew me and he came to visit New Jersey from Shanghai just to smoke cigars with me. He said, “we know of you in Shanghai.” There’s been a lot of that. There was a woman who was an artist from Japan, who saw me on social media and traveled to the U.S., there we were smoking a cigar on the Hudson River.

SGDG: You are so active. What do you do to relax?

Matty: My mind never really shuts off but I love my cigars. I smoke cigars and drink root beer! I have about 45 different cold root beers. I love music. Music is a passion for me. I did Battle of the Bands back in the day. You’ve seen the disco ball, haven’t you? That disco ball has more miles on it than most flights. It talks and says, “oh this guy just took me to Vegas”. Have you seen the Boom Box? It weighs about 40 pounds and it travels too! That thing is a monster!

 

SGDG: What is an admirable character trait that you are most proud of?

Matty: That I keep things positive and I’m able to stay grounded while still having fun. I don’t take myself too serious. I’m accepting of everyone’s opinion whether I agree or disagree. I have fun with life. I believe in just being myself and being happy. I’m a genuine guy who enjoys life. Remember that you can’t fix everything and if you can’t fix it, don’t break it or make it worse. It goes back to my two favorite words, choices and perspective.

SGDG: There are so many layers to you. What would you like people to know about you that you haven’t already shared?

Matty: That I’m a fantastic dancer! I’m transparent. What you see is what you get. I let people peek in and see me with my family and see me working. People think the only thing I’m about is cigars, but there’s so much more. I’m a software engineer who develops software for global companies, and I own my own staffing company that I’m in the process of expanding. I’m a Mui Thai Fighter and I train fighters. I own a jewelry company and I’m old school when it comes to music and rap. Only the people very close to me tend to know these things.

SGDG: What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?

Matty: You have to be 100% passionate and invested in whatever it is you are doing. It won’t always be fun and there will be a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. You have to know what making a living means to you. You need to ascertain what being wealthy means to you because it means different things to different people. To some people it means quality of life and to others it means being able to pay their bills. Set goals and develop a plan to meet them. Once you can answer these questions and be honest with yourself it will give you a better idea of what to expect.

SGDG: Matty, thank you so much for your time and for sharing your epic journey with our readers from around the globe. Remember to always Smokegood cigars and Drinkgood spirits. SGDG…It’s a Lifestyle!

 

Follow Matty Rock at:

Instagram: @mattyrock2k
Twitter: @mattyrock2k
Facebook: Matty Rock

 

 

Cigars: Wayne Mabry From Brother of the Leaf to the VIOLATOR

“I’m Living the Dream…It’s a Lifestyle”

*Wayne Mabry aka The VIOLATOR of Raider Nations Black Hole, Entrepreneur and Cigar Aficionado; sits down with SGDG Magazine to share his passion for cigars, life, and for the NFL Oakland Raiders.

One of the many wonderful experiences cigar aficionados share is our ability to influence and encounter new and exciting people across the globe. Whether it be on the golf course, in a cigar lounge, on the beach or tailgating at a football game, cigars have the unequivocal ability to bring people together. Our Brother of the Leaf, Wayne Mabry also known as the VIOLATOR of Raider Nations Black Hole, sits down with SGDG to share and speak about his passion for life, the NFL Oakland Raiders, and most importantly, cigars.

Just a “southern gentleman from Mississippi”, Wayne discusses how he is determined to live life with a purpose as well as how he peeled back the layers of his soul ultimately unmasking his “kindred spirit”, his character, and his alter-ego, the VIOLATOR. For Wayne, being in character has always been a very “intense” and extraordinary experience so smoking cigars is a meditative and tranquil necessity allowing him to “put the world on pause”.

At 60 years young, this retired union carpenter lives the cigar lifestyle and savors the moments in life that allow him to Smokegood and Drinkgood. High on life and living his dream, Wayne Mabry is a husband, a father, entrepreneur and community activist. Wayne continues to be adored by fans new and old from every corner of the globe while expanding on his love and passion for cigars and the cigar lifestyle.

Please enjoy the following interview:

SGDG:    Welcome to SGDG Magazine Wayne. Thank you for spending time with me and for sharing your passion for the cigar lifestyle with our SGDG Family.

Wayne: Thanks Terri.  It’s a pleasure.

SGDG:    I believe that we met on Facebook through a mutual Facebook friend a few years ago. From the start, you posted wonderful cigar and spirit pairings. At the time, I was an Oakland Raiders fan and I noticed that your profile photo was familiar to me. When I clicked on your name and your page came up, I was blown away. I thought to myself, “He’s a member of The Black Hole!”. From that moment on I was completely fascinated by you and your legacy. The multiple aspects of your life became aware to me, first casually enjoying your cigars and spirits as Wayne and then to see you transform into the VIOLATOR! It’s just SAVAGE! Of course, I looked up your birthday and found out that you were not only a BOTL (brother of the leaf) and the VIOLATOR; but you are also a fellow Scorpio! That was all I needed to know.

Wayne: Yes.  I try to live a well-rounded life because you only get one Journey to travel so it’s up to you to make the most of the opportunities that you encounter.

SGDG:    I am a huge fan of yours however, I did my homework to prepare for this interview. You are a retired Union Carpenter, a hard-working blue-collar man, and a family man with children and grandchildren. When did you begin your journey into the Black Hole as the VIOLATOR? How did it all begin for you?

Wayne: It all started as a dream back in the 70’s after watching the Oakland Raiders on Television. I was hooked on the idea of moving to California from Mississippi to do something positive with my life. I started going to games in Los Angeles around 1983 and unleashed the VIOLATOR in 1991. What happened over the last 26 years you couldn’t script in Hollywood! I’m living the dream!

SGDG:    It takes me 15 minutes to apply my makeup. How long does it take for you to transform into the VIOLATOR? How do you feel when you are in full gear?

Wayne: First, mine is called “war paint” and my transformation takes about 2 hours to complete. During this ritual, my spiritual senses and emotions are elevated to intense levels which I call “GAMEDAY mode”.

SGDG:     What kind of sports did you play in your youth? Did you always want to be in the NFL?

Wayne: I played football in my youth, and of course I dreamed of playing in the NFL. But I guess God had a different direction for my life and I feel like I’m a part of the history of the NFL.

SGDG:    As a child, my grandfather’s lodge brothers smoked pipes and cigars in the basement after their meetings. That was the first time that I fell in love with the smell of pipe and cigar tobacco. I found the aroma of pipe tobacco and cigars to be soothing and enjoyable. When was the first time you can recall ever encountering the scent of a cigar or pipe tobacco? How did it make you feel?

Wayne: My first encounter with cigar tobacco came as I helped my uncle AJ deliver newspapers while in high school. I also fell in love with the aroma.

SGDG:    When did you smoke your first cigar and what brand was it?

Wayne: I had my first cigar with the same uncle, even though after turning green from inhaling the smoke! He taught me how to properly enjoy a cigar. I think it was a Dutch Masters.

SGDG:    Give me your top 5 cigars.

Wayne: Padron 1926, Perdomo 20th Anniversary Maduro, Oliva V Melania, Arturo Fuente Hemingway, and Cohiba Behike 56.

SGDG:    What strength and ring gauge do you prefer?

Wayne: I prefer a full-bodied Maduro and ring gauge from 54 to 60.

SGDG:    What is your preferred spirit to pair with your cigar?

Wayne: My preferred spirits are bourbon or cognac.

SGDG:    Where do you smoke? Do you prefer to smoke at home or in a social environment such as a cigar lounge?

Wayne: I prefer to smoke at home where I can enjoy the view, music and just totally get in my “CHILLAXIN zone”.

SGDG:    How extensive is your cigar collection?

Wayne: I have a modest collection of cigars in different price ranges, but lately I’ve been purchasing only what I truly enjoy. I believe in “enjoying the moments”!

SGDG:    Being the Alpha Male that you are, do you have a “mancave” or a place that you consider to be your mancave? What goes down in the mancave?

Wayne: I don’t have a mancave, but consider my patio as my “CHILLAXIN sanctuary”.

SGDG:    In your travels, where is the most exotic place that you’ve enjoyed a cigar?

Wayne: The cigar lounge at Ceasar’s Palace in Las Vegas and the Fox Bar in Arizona.

SGDG:    In 2003, you gave an interview to the St. Petersburg Times, where you expressed that Raider Nation is “spiritual” and that it’s a “lifestyle.” ESPN The Magazine, did a photoshoot entitled “Raider Nation Behind the Makeup”, where it featured members of the Black Hole and the VIOLATOR was front and center. ESPN quoted you as saying that your character the VIOLATOR was a “kindred spirit”. What did you mean by that? Are you a spiritual man?

Wayne: Absolutely! Until you reach that place in life where you understand that we’re all here for a
purpose and you need something spiritual to get you through life’s situations, you’re missing the real joy of your life’s journey.

SGDG:  Your relationship with cigars…Is it a spiritual experience for you?

Wayne:  Yes, for me it’s a connection between mind, body and spirit and that’s why being in my spot (home) I’m able to have that type relationship while enjoying a nice cigar.

SGDG:    Twenty-six years of passion! What motivates you to get up and show up every season as the VIOLATOR?

Wayne: You just said it; PASSION for the game, love for my team, and fellowshipping with fans from around the world!

SGDG:    The Raiders are moving to Las Vegas in 2018. I saw your post on Facebook which gave your fans a glimpse into the new stadium. How will this affect you and other members of the Raider Nation Black Hole? Will you be relocating to Las Vegas?

Wayne: As of right now I’ll be enjoying the seasons left in Oakland, but when that day comes God willing, my plans are to continue my MISSION. It’s going to be a new experience, but one I’m looking forward to enjoying!

SGDG:    As the” VIOLATOR”, do you smoke cigars? Do you smoke while you tailgate? While in the Black Hole during games?

Wayne: Yes. I do smoke while in character and when I can I try to enjoy a cigar while tailgating. No. I don’t smoke while in the stadiums, however they do have designated smoking areas.

SGDG:    Do other members of the Black Hole smoke cigars with you?

Wayne: Yes! That’s the beauty of GAMEDAY, you never know with who or where a cigar moment will happen.

SGDG:    On September 16, 2017, you will be honored in Oakland at The Black Hole Kick Off Event with the “Black Hole Lifetime Achievement Award”. Tickets for the event can be purchased at Eventbrite.com. Congratulations Brother! How do you feel about this?

Wayne: Thank you and I’m honored to be a recipient of the award. To be honored by one’s peers is one of those unforgettable LIFETIME memories.

SGDG:     I see that you are charitable and compassionate. You participate in various fundraisers and events that support many worthy causes for your local community and beyond such as Cancer Kids. Tell me more about the organizations that you support and how our SGDG Family can lend their support?

Wayne: I’ve been Blessed. I believe in giving back and leaving POSITIVE footprints that others may choose to follow so I get involved with helping those less fortunate. The organizations that I support right now are Raider Nation 4 Life Car Club,  Outreach Ministries, ABC7 Stuff-a-Bus Toy Drive, and other fundraising efforts. My SGDG Family can always support by donating to the causes so check out my social media outlets for info. Thank you to my SGDG Family for your support in advance!

SGDG:     MODO-SPORTS is your apparel line. Your brand promotes fun, fitness, and positive message gear. Tell us more about your company and your brand?

Wayne: I’ve been into fashion since high school and MODO SPORTS allows me to express and share some of my passions for life, fitness and POSITIVE attitudes. You can see my clothing at MODO-SPORTS.COM.

SGDG:    You are very active and social on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. You have thousands of fans from all over the world that love and adore you. What would you like your VIOLATOR Fans to know about Wayne Mabry, Cigar Aficionado?

Wayne: I would like my VIOLATOR fans to know that I’m Blessed to live my dream and I strive to be an example of what it takes when you pursue your passion in life, no matter what that may be. When you really stop and smell the roses, it’s all about simple pleasures. Just be yourself. One of my favorite t-shirt designs sums it up by saying, “JUST DO YOU ” you can’t f**k that up!

SGDG:    What would you like your Brothers and Sisters of the Leaf to know about Wayne Mabry, Raider Nation, and the VIOLATOR?

Wayne: To my brothers and sisters of the leaf, I say…Smokegood Drinkgood and enjoy the moments that make life special. Life has no reverse gear so keep it POSITIVE, stay hungry and remain humble!

SGDG:    Is there anything else you would like to share with SGDG readers and with your fans around the world?

Wayne: I’m living the dream. As we journey to the mountain tops in this life, take someone with you to share the experience.

SGDG:    Wayne, thank you so much for your time, for sharing your passion for cigars, and for introducing our SGDGmagazine Family to the VIOLATOR and Raider Nation. Remember to always Smokegood cigars and Drinkgood spirits. SGDG…It’s a Lifestyle!

End of Interview

Sources:

St. Petersburg Times
http://www.sptimes.com/2003/01/25/Bucs/Raider_nation.shtml

ESPN Magazine
http://www.espn.com/espn/photos/gallery/_/id/9697611/image/3

 

Where to Follow Wayne

Facebook: Wayne Mabry
Facebook: VIOLATOR
Twitter: @violator57
Instagram: @mabrywayne
Website: MODO-SPORTS.com

Cigars: Le Bijou is Don Pepin’s Homage To His Father Born in 1922

My Father 1922 Le Bijou cigars are handmade in Nicaragua. While the original My Father was made secretly by Don Pepin’s son Jaime, Le Bijou is Don Pepin’s homage to his own father, born in 1922. French for the jewel, Le Bijou lives up to its billing! Notoriously difficult to grow, Pelo de Oro wrapper leaves (dubbed Nicaraguan Habano Oscuro) cloak a well-aged, full-bodied blend of Nicaraguan tobaccos.

A sweet, creamy start gives way to some spice and bold tobacco flavor. Le Bijou 1922 exudes a robust array of flavors delivered in a remarkably smooth fashion. Complex, unique and satisfying – the Garcia Family’s new star!

My Father Le Bijou 1922 received Cigar of the Year honors for 2015 and an impressive 97-point rating, noting: “It takes a profound understanding of cigar tobaccos to create a smoke that conveys uncanny impressions of dark chocolate-covered raisins, savory leather and a sweet-and-salty finish that resonates on the palate.

My Father Cigars

It all began from a very humble beginning when Jose Pepin Garcia and his family established a very small cigar factory in Little Havana in 2003. Jose Pepin Garcia could not have imagined at that moment that his love and passion for cigars would help him to build one of the most recognized companies in the cigar industry. His companies have become synonymous with highly rated and well-distinguished brands. Read More

You can purchase these cigars here at Neptune Cigars , make sure you tune into SmokeGood DrinkGood Radio and checkout The ASHLife Store for Apparel and Accessories.

The LifeStyle: Southern Hospitality Cigar Time & Liquor – Katy, Texas

Nestled within the Houston-Woodlands-Sugar Land metropolitan area, sits a wonderful cigar lounge where smokers can relax, have a drink and enjoy Texas hospitality. Cigar Time & Liquor, Located in Katy Texas offers its customers over 5,000 sq ft of lounge space, an extraordinary walk in humidor with a vast selection of premium and unique cigar blends.

Customers may also take advantage of membership options which has its privileges. Membership with Cigar Time offers a VIP loft with lockers,  poker, pool, flat screen TVs, a bar and plenty of leisure seating. The lounge has a state of the art air filtration and circulation system for its customers comfort.

Conveniently located next door is Liquor Time. Liquor Time is the sister store which provides aficionados with the opportunity to DrinkGood Whiskey while they SmokeGood cigars. Stop by and meet the friendly and knowledgeable tobacconists available to assist you with your tobacco and cigar accessory needs.

Cigar Time & Liquor is located at: 20940 Katy Freeway, Suite K Katy, TX 77449. For information on cigar events, membership and other inquiries call (832)321-4311.

The LifeStyle: Cigar Pairing of the Month #SGDG It’s a Lifestyle”

Yamazaki and LFD 1994 Pairing

1994 Litto and Ines Gomez purposefully (and brilliantly) set aside the most exceptional fillers and binders from their La Canela farm in the Dominican Republic to create LFD’s 20th Anniversary Rumba commemorative cigar. Surrounding the complex and powerful blend is a sweet and savory Mexican San Andres wrapper. Like LFD’s other premiums, the 1994 is a full-bodied cigar that’s totally off the hook; made with love, pride, and decades of patience.

The latest trend among whisky geeks is to be in the know about the burgeoning market for “world whiskies,” those that arise from locations other than the traditional brown spirits nations of Scotland, Ireland, United States and Canada. What some hipsters mightn’t have sussed is that in Japan distilling isn’t the latest fad. Since 1923, Suntory has been making whisky at its flagship distillery Yamazaki—a very Scots-like location in a misty vale at the convergence of three rivers. The spirit’s conjunction with this cigar has a very East meets West charm to it.

Yamazaki Single Malt Aged 18 Years (86 proof; 18 years old; $250 per 750 ml. bottle)

APPEARANCE: Medium amber tone with a Champagne sparkle.

NOSE: A rich aroma full of black cherries, spice vanilla, chocolate, sawdust and Christmas pudding.

PALATE: In the mouth it defines its spice with chewy nutmeg, vanilla and a smattering of ginger. The fruit expands to include pears, lychee and plums, the later two giving it an Eastern taste. A hint of peat also appears on the palate.

FINISH: The long encore includes a sweet oak finish with walnuts, caramel and orange peel.

CIGAR PAIRING: This matchup is an object lesson on how one tiny element can make a partnership blossom. The whisky’s peat, which seems a mere afterthought following almost two decades in wood, awakens my palette. Delicious notes of citrus, chocolate and some molasses as an afterthought on the finish of the smoke. The one thing that I am really noting how medium bodied this cigar is the in comparison to other cigars such as the Ligero and Double Ligero. As the first third of the cigar comes to a close the molasses really begins to stand out and a sweetness becomes the focal point with some citrus remaining on the finish.

Cigars: Arnaldo Gonzalez 90 Mile Trek To Freedom Created FDG Cigars

When Arnaldo Gonzalez made the 90 mile journey from Cuba to the Florida Keys in 1980, he was in search of a life of freedom and prosperity and that is exactly what he found. As a third generation in the tobacco industry, he grew up watching his father and grandfather work the fields of Cuba. With knowledge of the business in tow, he fled the Communist regime put in place by Fidel Castro to try his hand in the U.S. market. This wonderfully crafted gem is a tribute to that 90 mile trek to freedom, fittingly named, Flor de Gonzalez 90 Miles.

Receiving an appropriate 90 rating from a number of top cigar magazines, 90 Miles is a Cuban-esque blend that calls back to the Havanas of old. Handmade with aged Nicaraguan long-fillers and a Nicaraguan binder, 90 Miles grabs your attention right off the bat. A shimmering Habano Rosado wrapper graces the outside giving this prize aesthetics second to none. Starting with strong notes of a delightful natural sweetness mixed with cedar and leather and working its way to complex hints of earth, pepper, and spice, this is one blend that you are going to want to come across.

90 Miles Nicaragua R.A.

90 Miles Nicaragua RA

This cigar is a tribute to Roberto Alonso belated Director of Sales and Marketing of FDG Cigars.  He was a best friend to Arnaldo and a mentor to Yadi.  Roberto was the creator of the 90 Miles name during a sales trip to Chicago.  We made this cigar in his favorite size (lancer) a limited edition all Nicaraguan puro to honor his name with this cigar.  We dressed the box and band with a sketch he had made on a napkin while on a trip to Nicaragua back in 2011.  He put Nicaragua R.A (his initials) at the bottom of the napkin as a signature and this is why we called it like we did.

 

90 Miles 1980 Edition

90 Miles 1980 Edition

They say they don’t make it like they used to… and this is why we developed the 90 Miles 1980 Edition. This cigars delivers a complex and unique flavor profile created by the blending of two of the best tasting wrappers out there. Not only are these wrappers both aged for five years, but the marriage between the two are like no other and had not been put together by any other cigar company in the market until we did. We are talking about San Andres natural maduro Mexican wrapper with Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper used as a binder.  This is why this double wrapper cigar along with the perfectly aged and fermented fillers from Nicaragua with a dash of Dominican is one of the most flavorful cigars you will experience.

 

90 Miles Reserva Selecta

90 Miles 1980 Reserva Selecta

Special cigars are no longer for special occasions. Presenting the Flor de Gonzalez, 90 Miles Reserva Selecta. Meticulously blended for over a year and blended with premium slowly aged 5 year tobacco the Reserva Selecta was the second extension to the 90 Miles line of cigars. Notes of black pepper and spice and a more robust smoke that the original 90 Miles.

 

90 Miles

90 Miles 1980 Edition Torpedo

Flor de Gonzalez Cigars proudly introduces the first series of “90 Miles”. Made from selected and specially fermented and aged tobacco that offers a smooth taste cigar aficionados can appreciate. This line of cigars is an all Nicaraguan filler puro blended with the finest tobaccos from all three tobacco growing regions of Nicaragua.

 

 

About Flor De Gonzalez

Flor de Gonzalez Cigars was established in 1993. The founder, Arnaldo Gonzalez, grew up in the tobacco fields of Las Villas in Santa Clara, Cuba where his father and grandfather were both tobacco growers. Arnaldo’s father passed away when he was a young boy, but his grandfather taught him everything he knew and before he passed away Arnaldo had already developed a passion for tobacco and everything that evolved around that business.

In 1980 he had to leave his native land through a third country to escape from the unmanageable communist regime, but his passion, knowledge and background for tobacco left with him and after a few years of hard work the dream of owning his own cigar factory came true.

Flor De Gonzalez started by manufacturing a few hundred cigars per week in Hialeah, Florida, which were sold at the storefront of the factory. Pretty soon the manufacturing increased to thousands among thousands of cigars and selling to distributors and retailers all over the United States. The brand has been consistently rated by Cigar Aficionado and Cigar Snob magazine amongst some of the best cigars in the world.

In 1997 when the industry boom came to a halt the factory in Hialeah that was “Up in Smoke” (figuratively speaking) they found themselves struggling to survive. While many factories closed their doors, Flor De Gonzalez Cigars decided to move 95% of the manufacturing to Nicaragua and there they started making a quality cigar that would be affordable to the everyday smoker. Thus making a small margin, the objective was to maintain a quality cigar in a post industry boom market. The theory worked out because here they are today, still serving their clients.

Arnaldo really went back to his roots when in 2004 when he started growing tobacco in Ecuador. The family grows exceptional quality Connecticut, Habano, Sumatra and Broadleaf wrappers which are sold to the industry as well as used in their products. The debut of the first crop went on their 15th year Anniversary cigar. A limited edition line called “15 Aniversario” that was beautifully wrapped with an elegant Connecticut Desflorado wrapper.

Back in 2002 Arnaldos youngest daughter Yadi Gonzalez-Vargas joined her dad and became part of the industry. Arnaldo has taught her the ins and outs of the business. She is in charge of their Miami operation which specializes in boutique lines such as their original blend the Gold Series. Yadi also oversees their manufacturing in Nicaragua, distribution of the cigars and handles the private label clients. She is literally hands on with the blending and full operation of the business.

Our personal guarantee stands behind every cigar we manufacture. We are our most demanding clients“.

Cigars: Caldwell Cigars Innovation Passion Development

Robert Caldwell has burst onto the boutique cigar scene like some sorta supernova, and it seems like there’s no stopping his meteoric rise. You see, he makes cigars his way he scours farms across the globe for the best tobacco leaves, tests and retests his blends until he gets the exact flavors he’s looking for, and keeps production limited in an effort to deliver a superior product. I’m telling you once you try a Caldwell cigar you will count yourself among his growing legion of fans.

Years of blending, generations of expertise and centuries of tradition have all factored into the making of great cigars — and Caldwell Cigars is no exception. Innovation, passion and development by companies such as theirs have been key in the effort to bring you the best cigar smoking experience known to man since he first rolled up a leaf and smoked it. And it’s hard to argue that with hard work like this, the premium cigar world is now the best it’s ever been.

EASTERN STANDARD CIGARS

CaldwellEastern

Eastern Standard cigars have begun earned a reputation as a head-turner…and with the boutique cigar market on fire, Caldwell is surely deserving of a slice of the action with this one. Part of the Caldwell Collection, Eastern Standard utilizes “Grade A” tobaccos, all rare and hard-to-find. Meant to smoke on the milder end of the range, Caldwell Eastern Standard does it and then some, rounding out to medium via the Dark Connecticut wrapper. The flavors are fat and complex; order now, and see…

KING IS DEAD CIGARS

CaldwellKingDied

The King Is Dead cigars come by way of Robert (Wynwood Cigars) Caldwell. The company uses very rare tobaccos, like the 2008 Dominican Negrito wrapper used on this selection. The core blend uses various amounts of vintage Dominican Corojo Ligero, Negrito Viso, and HVA (Habano Vuelta Arriba) with a Corojo binder. A short blast of cedar, sweet spice and red pepper open the show, then taper-off to a mostly cedary and very satisfying medium-full puro. ORDER A BOX NOW and taste for yourself.

LONG LIVE THE KING CIGARS

CaldwellLongLiveKing

Long Live The King cigars come from Robert (Wynwood Cigars) Caldwell. The company uses very rare tobaccos, like the shimmering 2008 Corojo Dominicano wrapper used on this selection, while the core blend uses various amounts of vintage Corojo Ligero Dominicano, Viso Pelo De Oro Peruano, and Habano Ligero Nicaraguense. The cigar starts out with a blast of earthy spice, quickly settling into flavors of dark tobacco and cedar, while building to a very exotic full-bodied smoke.

BLIND MANS BLUFF

Caldwell Blind Mans

Caldwell Cigar Company has made waves in the cigar industry. For the annual IPCPR Trade Show of 2015 Blind Man’s Bluff was featured. Blind Man’s Bluff features a Ecuadoran Habano wrapper, a Criollo binder from Honduras, and fillers composed of San Vicente viso from the Dominican Republic and Criollo ligero and what Caldwell calls Generoso ligero sol from Honduras. Rolled in Davidoff’s Agroindustrias Laepe S.A. in Honduras, the same factory where Camachos are produced these cigars are perfectly crafted.

IPCPR VIDEO

The LifeStyle: The Life Of Davidoff Cigars Is The Life Of Zino Davidoff

The story of Davidoff Cigars is much different than any other cigar manufacturer today. Generally speaking, a cigar company was either born in Cuba and moved after the Revolution, or simply started up somewhere in the U.S. or Latin America. Not Davidoff Cigars though. No, the story all starts with one man: Zino Davidoff. The eldest of four children, Zino was born to a Jewish family in present day Ukraine while it was still under the control of Soviet Russia. His parents were tobacco merchants in Kiev, with many loyal customers searching out their products. However, due to political turmoil and heavily anti-Semitic sentiments that reached almost genocidal levels, his family emigrated to Geneva, Switzerland in 1911 for a better life, opening a new tobacconist shop in 1912. After his schooling was finished, he traveled to South America to tour around the tobacco fields and learn more about the cigar trade in Argentina, Brazil, and Cuba where he eventually ended up working for two years.

Zino-Davidoff003

Upon returning to Switzerland in 1930, he took over his parent’s shop and grew the modest storefront into a booming business as a result of his newfound knowledge of cigars and tobacco in general. Along with continuing the business’s tradition of blending custom made cigarettes, Zino started importing premium hand-rolled Cuban cigars, and to store them in the proper environment, he invented the first ever climate-controlled humidor in the basement of his shop.

Zino-Davidoff005

Perhaps the biggest moment for Zino was when he received a call from SEITA, the French tobacco monopoly during WWII. Basically, the Nazi’s were goose stepping all over France and the French didn’t want the Nazis to confiscate the two million habanos they had stored in a customs warehouse. Zino jumped on the opportunity to buy them all up and his shop was the only store in the world with a consistent supply of premium Cubans. The money he made by selling these cigars funded what is now the most premier cigar manufacturer in the world, Davidoff Cigars. Originally it started with only Cuban blends such as the Chateau lines, but Zino’s ties with Cubatabaco ended when quality started to falter under the state owned monopoly’s hands. Zino personally set ablaze over one hundred thousand of his own cigars saying they were not fit to be smoked due to the low standards.

He eventually opened his Dominican operation in 1990, right before the American cigar boom, and Davidoff Cigars soon became the king of the cigar world. With the transition to the Dominican factory, Zino created the flagship Davidoff Aniversario line, popular among every cigar circle and a testament to the quality and flavor Davidoff is known for. Throughout the years, and to keep up with the ever changing palates of consumers, in 2001 the Davidoff Millennium came into existence – a strong yet still wonderfully flavorful smoke for the ages. In recent years, the company made waves of husky-kid-nailing-a-cannonball proportions with their brand new Davidoff Nicaragua being premiered in late 2013 and the acquisition of Camacho Cigars from Christian Eiroa.

Zino-Davidoff004

When you buy and light up a Davidoff Cigar, you’re not simply buying a stogie to smoke. You’re buying a rich history that started in turmoil, suffered through two World Wars, the Cuban Revolution, yet still maintained the standard of excellence Zino’s father held in that small tobacco shop in Kiev. Today, Davidoff is still going strong and will continue to create premium cigars that will be appreciated by even the most discerning smoker.

Today

Davidoff Cigars are to the cigar world as Bentley is to the car industry. There’s simply no better recognized brand in the entire world. Of course, many believe these to be the cigar of the bourgeoisie; they’re nothing short of an amazing cigar meant for anyone to enjoy any moment of the day. They’re known for their absolutely flawless quality control, having the best of any cigar manufacturer in existence, and incredible overall consistency.

Cigar Line

Escurio
A night in Rio inspires an adventure of taste

Winston Churchill
There is only one Winston Churchill. There is only one cigar to bear his name.

Oro Blanco
The rarest cigar for the rarest of moments.

Classic
Fresh floral scents mingle with earthy, woody notes, and the barest hints of a sweet, clean, creamy aftertaste.

Mille
Mille series redefines the timeless elegance of the Classic Blend with slightly wider ring gauge formats.

Nicaragua
The new Davidoff Nicaragua – Discovered by and appreciated by those in the mood to explore.

Grand Cru
Leaves from carefully selected fields are used to create this unmistakable blend: woody, slightly spicy, with an earthy aroma.

Puro D’Oro
Exceptionally pure and deeply rich, the Puro d’Oro blend was created using only the finest tobaccos from the Dominican Republic.

Millennium Blend
The Davidoff Millennium blend celebrates a transition. A beautiful shift to to a new millennium filled with fresh horizons.

Special
Davidoff’s Special Series marks the renaissance of emblematic classic shapes; robustos, culebras, perfectos and other figurados.

Aniversario
The exquisite aroma and carefully balanced blend of tobaccos declare the Aniversario range worthy of the most important times.

Maduro
The Maduro series presents intense yet smooth aromas of nuts, caramel, and honey with sweet twists of dark chocolate and chili.

Primeros
Imagine being able to stop life momentarily and enjoy time to pause and reflect.

Limited Editions
Superlative craftsmanship is supported by deep heritage all in the service of delivering unforgettable moments of pleasure.

Royal
Davidoff’s Royal Series is expertly and meticulously crafted for life’s happiest occasions.

Colorado Claro Line
The Davidoff Colorado Claro line is based on the Special line formats but carries a very rare wrapper.

Cigarillos
First created over 40 years ago, Davidoff cigarillos are now the most popular cigarillos in the world.

Checkout the Davidoff Website

Distilled Spirits: Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Worlds Best American Award

Thomas H Handy was the first to use a rye whiskey in a Sazerac cocktail, and for this, we can only raise our glasses and thank him. Buffalo Trace, however, do much more than that by honouring him with the Thomas H Handy Sazerac Rye Whiskey, which is released annually in their Antique Collection. Last year’s Thomas H Handy was Jim Murray’s “World Whiskey of the Year”.

Bright, candy and spice nose; chocolate covered maraschino cherry, late minty mouthfeel, fresh cut wood. Super spicy, nutmeg and cinnamon. Bright and balanced, expresses very well in the heat. Sweet, candy with pepper, bold and forward. Medium to long finish with hints of cinnamon and nutmeg. Loved the balance and complexity.

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Chocolate truffle, nutmeg, cinnamon buns and black vanilla pods on the nose. A touch of ginger cake. Strong and heavy. Crème brûlée topping, drying oak and a big hit of bluebird toffee. Packed full of flavour, if not a little too dry. Long and lingering wood. A good example of extreme oak maturation.

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About Buffalo Trace

Buffalo Trace Distillery is a family-owned company based in Franklin County, Kentucky. The distillery’s rich distilling tradition dates back to 1787 and has included such legends as E.H. Taylor, Jr., George T. Stagg, Albert B. Blanton, Orville Schupp, and Elmer T. Lee. Buffalo Trace is a fully operational distillery producing bourbon, rye and vodka on site and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Buffalo Trace has won seven distillery titles since 2000 from such notable publications as Whisky Magazine, Malt Advocate Magazine and Wine Enthusiast Magazine. Buffalo Trace has also garnered more than 170 awards for its wide range of premium whiskies. The distillery is part of the Sazerac family of companies, which has operations in New Orleans, Louisiana; Franklin County, Bardstown and Owensboro, Kentucky; Fredericksburg, Virginia and Baltimore, Maryland.