Working in the business has been a joyride, but meeting these manufacturers face-to-face is easily among my favorite all-time cigar experiences.
Most of these guys are the salt of the earth; I am humbled by their graciousness, both with their time and their cigars. Perhaps most evident is the universal passion they share.
I made note of a few facts along the way, which I will now share with you. Enjoy!
Fact: NOTHING inspires camaraderie like good food, a stiff drink, and fine cigars.
Fact: I stand 6′ 2″, and I am seriously dwarfed by Dion Giolito of Illusione cigars.
Fact: Sam Leccia of NUB cigars (and soon Cain cigars) fame is among the most innovative people I’ve ever met in this business, or any.
Fact: Kinky Friedman and Little Jewford are funny as all hell.
Fact: Don Jose Pepin Garcia’s eyes light up like Christmas trees when you ask him about tobacco.
Fact: Jose Oliva and Nick Perdomo’s business acumen is surpassed only by their dedication to quality tobacco and craftsmanship.
Fact: Besides making wonderful cigars, Alan Rubin of Alec Bradley cigars is impossibly charismatic.
Fact: Abe Flores and Juan Rodriguez of Pinar del Rio cigars know how to throw a party.
Fact: The fine folks of Rocky Patel cigars, Drew Estate cigars, and Flor de Gonzalez cigars understand that the quickest way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.
Fact: Eddie Ortega and Erik Espinosa of EO Brands (601 cigars, Cubao cigars) are more fun than a barrel of monkeys.
Fact: Nestor Miranda could well be the world’s most interesting man.
Fact: Even if one does not have time to smoke a full sized premium over coffee before the show opens, it’s easy to sneak in a quick smoke (like a Garcia y Vega) on the walk from the breakfast buffet to the trade show floor.
These are the facts, and they cannot be disputed.
By Hayward Tenney