The cigar world’s crisis of prices creeping up slowly didn’t spare top company Davidoff Cigars. Representative Garrett Calhoun introduces the new release, the Winston Churchill Late Hour, that brings out the opposing flavors of the cigar through its sweetness with rich earthiness at the back end. Garret shares stories of their huge tobacco aging warehouses that focuses on quality over quantity as well as his insights on smoking cigars with big price tags but tiny quality.
Listen to the podcast here:
Garrett Calhoun From Davidoff Cigars | Winston Churchill Late Hour
I’m Lane and I’m hanging out in the shop with Harris. We have one of my favorite people, Garrett Calhoun from Davidoff Cigars. What’s been up?
Just traveling the world and it’s always trying to promote this fantastic cigar industry and cigar products within our Davidoff family and doing it fine with Harris.
What are you promoting?
Everything will be based around toning down the dinner aspect of it but with the higher aspect to focus on the cigars. The focus tonight will be on our new product the Winston Churchill Late Hour. That’s what I’m smoking right now.
He has been smoking some good things. I’m smoking the new Davidoff 702 cigar?
I’m going with my throwback in the Davidoff Nicaragua in the Diademas format, one of my favorites.
Is that old enough to call a throwback at this point?
No, if you look at it math-wise but when you think about what Davidoff’s done since we started our innovation with the Nicaragua and adding things: Nicaragua Box Pressed, the Yamasá, the Escurio, the Winston Churchill Late Hour, Davidoff 702, when you think about all of those things and if I left anything out, I apologize, those main core brands that have all come out since 2015, since the Nicaragua, are doing fairly well.
I used to sit around talking about how you did not have a Nicaraguan cigar. That has changed.
Now we have a few with Nicaraguan. We have few with Brazilian. We have a little bit of stuff that’s Scotch cask-aged. We’ve got a little bit of everything.
Speaking of the Brazilian stuff, I had the Ritmo, it’s the second one I had. Harris told me, the first time I had it, I smoked it with expectations. It doesn’t taste like what I thought it would. I thought it’s got that bar code on it and stamped Syncro 3. I thought it’s going to taste like the original Syncro or the Fogata. It is nothing like those two smokes at all. There’s none of that dried fruit in there, it’s not the Honduran, Peruvian, Ecuadorian, Habano wrapper. There’s a whole lot going on in that cigar but if you go into thinking it’s just another Syncro, you’re going to be baffled by it.
The fun thing with that too is people who haven’t smoked it still don’t even know what they’re smoking. When you have six countries of origin and it’s very complex, you need to smoke all the size and a couple here and there. Connecticut-Seed wrapper grown in Ecuadorian, San Andreas Mexican binder, fillers from Honduras, and Peru and Brazil and Nicaragua. You see the six countries of origin, it’s a great concept and it’s an amazing cigar, and the box press adds some body to it. It’s going to start out spicy and it becomes smooth and it becomes rich and then it becomes mellow and then becomes bitey and then peppery. There’s so much going on that people who like complex cigars and like to know that they’re smoking stuff, it’s great. Those guys who like traditional like to know, “Here’s how this flow goes.” It’s very interesting.
That was one of the things that I was looking forward to, figuring out what Davidoff is going to do with the AVO Legacy tradeshow this year. You have done right by it. What are Harris and I smoking? The 702 and the Late Hour. These three blends end up being the flagship, sticks out of this year’s tradeshow.
It’s very good. AVO Ritmo basically we have three new non-limited editions that have come out on the tradeshow. We mentioned and just talked about the AVO Ritmo, fantastic though very low for us in the market. Hopefully if you haven’t smoked it, go out on and get one at your local retailer. Winston Churchill Late Hour has done very well for us as well, not to get chippy and overexert myself on the same thing, but it definitely has been very successful. It is different because we did the American Barrel- Aged and the Camacho and that third release, which I’m about to mention, the Camacho Nicaraguan Barrel-Aged which we did on the rum barrel. It’s the barrel aging first. A lot of people went to San Andreas Mexican wrapper leaves and then it was more full-bodied. Now people are doing more of the barrel-aged, including ourselves.
We have something American Barrel-Aged and the bourbon barrels, the rum barrels with the Nicaraguan Barrel-Aged, but did something in the Davidoff line with the name like Winston Churchill on it to be aged, cask-aged and Scotch barrel it. It’s very cool. It’s very different. It’s very innovative. I just hope we don’t lose touch with everything else that we’re doing successfully.
Other than the re-blend and the rebrand of the original Winston Churchill, this is really the only other thing you have done under that name, isn’t it?
Yeah. We had one limited edition actually that we came out with from what I know, depending on FDA and the future of this business. We did get another one out of market last year before the cutoff date. Who knows what that means here and there, but like we have another limited edition, we’ve also introduced them in medium-filler formats in the smaller Petit Panatela and Belicoso. The petits, that can be bought at any other tobacconist, not just the Davidoff-appointed merchant.
Those have been popular.
They’re very good. I think the price point’s good and it is a good quality cigar. If you haven’t had it, go. I suggest grabbing a smaller format. Smaller format of cigars, Petit Corona, Lonsdales, Lanceros and something that you’re interested in trying. If you want to keep the price down of the tube, you can truly get the flavor of the cigars. If you’re a Toro smoker or 660 smoker, if that offer is available, that format is available, I will always start there because I feel like, “If I like it in that format, I’m definitely going to like it in the format I smoke.”
I try to impress that on people who are in the shop. You start looking at the Robustos and the Toros and stuff. This is what the blender intends for the cigar to be. Then you start getting it in smaller ring gauges and that’s when the cigar gets into it. There’s this big ring gauge crowd and that’s all they smoke.
I’ve been with a Davidoff since 2005. I remember sitting in sales meeting as early on all the way up to 2010, and the guy is from Switzerland pounding their hands on the table saying, “We will never have a 660. We’re not going into that trend. We’ll never have it.” They come out with the Year of the Horse limited edition that has been hash tagged quite intended on that one, I guess 660. Now we also offer them all of our newer blends, so we have a 660 and the Nicaraguan Box Pressed and the Escurio and the Yamasá. I find that interesting that even though that those guys always smoke 660s, trying to get them to upgrade, and that’s why we offer those in our new format within the last year.
Those have been a big hit too. I’ve been amazed that they’re a little bit higher price point but that doesn’t seem to scare anybody away from them.
Are you 660?
I smoked a few in that 660 Gordo, whatever you want to call it size. The Rocky Patel Vintage Cameroon is one of them that I smoke. It is a hefty cigar. I don’t smoke a lot of them but they’re pretty awesome. Lane, you might want to try it.
The other night, the AVO Syncro or whichever will come later? I didn’t find one. If you find one you, maybe set it perfectly right to that Rocky. If you’ve had one, somebody gives it to you, you buy one, and you remember. 660’s not what I go to but in four or five cigars that I’ve smoked, I like the 660. It’s just box-pressed. Box-pressed is hot right now. I was never a big traditional box-pressed fan. I like the COO Brazilian back in the day. That was one of the first few box presses. They did a real nice job with that. Now, our company after the Syncro and the Davidoff box press doing the Ritmo and a couple of other things with the Camacho box-pressed lines that we added, it’s lot more comfortable. It’s just that weird feel and it’s hard to get over holding something square in your hand. I’ve smoked a lot of Padron over the years. That’s a good brand. That sounds like a spoil guy but they’ve done it good with whatever they call their part box-pressed.
The Scotch really comes out in this, especially as far as hearing this first, if I didn’t know that it had tobacco age and Scotch barrel, I can see it’s fitting in well with just a pour of Scotch or something like that.
Many times, there’s two different ways we’ll get pairing. One is a complementary pairing, so it’s like, “If you’re smoking something that’s aged, and Scotch-cask, let’s get a nice glass of Scotch.” The other way to do a pairing is do the exact opposite. That’s where you bring out the nuances of your beverage or food. In this case, we’re talking beverage. Let’s just have a couple of rum with this Scotch aged and you see the sweetness come out of that cigar and you see a little bit more of that richness or maybe even some of that bite that you wouldn’t normally get on the rum. I was doing the opposite stuff because we have two good products that’s going to work one way or the other.
That’s how you did the Golden Band Awards last year with the Yamasá release. You had a very sweet rum drink or something like that.
That was bourbon drink. We did bourbon. We did rum drink before with the Escurio.
There were juices in it, it was very sweet, and it really brought out the opposing flavors of the cigar. I’m getting a pretty rich quirkiness to it, a little bit of pepper spice on it, but on the back end of it, it’s like, “I should have Scotch sitting in front of me.”
The cool thing about what you’re doing, smoking it right now being fresh, is that even though I apologize for not getting you one at the tradeshow, your first experience is happening right now and it’s upfront and it’s honest and it’s not preconceived. It’s cool to hear what you’re saying about what you’re smoking right now as we go.
I heard feedback. We were all just listening to customers. Everybody seems to love the Robusto size. They love the other ones too, but that one for some reason is what they like.
This is inside intel that I would like from my retailers. I don’t hear a lot of this. I only know what I smoke. Honestly, when I smoke with other people, if they like the cigar we’re not worried about the format. To hear it from a retail point of view, “The guys like the Robusto better,” that’s good intel. Thank you.
Harris, do we have these in all the shops or is it just here at 280?
Here at Vitola. Those are the two stores that are Davidoff-appointed merchants, so they are available.
These are fairly typically priced. Those are like $19 or something like that for a Davidoff?
You’re looking at $17, $15, $20. That’s about exactly the price point available, Robusto, Toro and then obviously the infamous Churchill.
There are lot of people who run from that sticker price. If you can smoke a little bit less often, that’s a nice change of pace that’s going to be out of the wheelhouse from a lot of those $8 to $10 or even the $12 sticks.
In the stores, that one is sold everyday pretty much in the humidor. People always ask me, “Why are these more expensive? Is it worth it? What’s the difference? These are $20 instead of $10 for what I normally buy.” I always tell them my bullet points, that it had been from the Davidoff factory at Saint Paul. There’s people checking the people checking it, it’s crazy. I’ve been to a lot of other factories, it’s not that way. They have quality control but not to that level. Everything comes out just right and you have unbelievably huge warehouses of tobacco aging. You’re aging the tobacco longer than anybody else. It’s the difference between, “Do you like Flor de Cana 5 or do you like the Flor de Cana 18, the smoother and more complex?” Just with that much age changes the tobacco. People will often be like, “It makes sense.” It sets the quality over quantity.
Believe me, I’m not downing with the $8 and $10 and $12 Davidoff cigars. They are all fantastic cigars in those price points.
Money is just money. When it comes down to it, it’s what you like. It doesn’t matter if it’s two to $10 or two to a $100. You mentioned the quality control. 143 people from the beginning to the end do the quality checkpoint. Maybe it’s overkill, but like Harris said, no offense to anybody else out there, you think it’s overkill but then you see the consistency and the quality year after year after year. It proves that it’s not overkill.
I lit this with a match fifteen minutes ago, and the bourbon is as perfect as you can expect. I don’t expect that this is going to need any touch ups or anything like that. That’s why you carry lighters, just so we can touch up our cigars when they eat up, but this one is not going to need it.
Our rollers go through less than 1% fail rate. If they go through less than 1% fail rate that day, they’re getting extra kickers. They’re incentivized to do great job, plus they go through the training. You don’t start as Davidoff roller. You start in the bundle factory or somewhere else until you get that clout and that experience to do the best. I think that’s cool. Zino Davidoff calls is it “smokeless but only the best.” He could say that because he thought it’s the best Davidoff and it’s the best cigar out there, so he can say that at a higher price and higher quality. It’s about living life and it’s about enjoying moments. When you got to go to something constantly and you’re constantly doing it, I feel like you take the enjoyment out of it. Me sitting smoking a cigar on the way up from Montgomery was nice, because I enjoy cigars but sitting now with you two gentlemen and just having a normal conversation as we would if we were in the lounge, the cigar tastes a lot better. It’s a lot more enjoyable and I’m enjoying myself. I’m smoking the same thing I smoked on the way up here. I like it. It’s starting to taste better. If you have those moments when you’re around people that you don’t necessary like it, it’s the opposite. In this case, it’s definitely a positive.
I remember when I first started smoking cigars and stuff. We start off with those little bulk 3x3s that Davidoff produces. We’d smoke a lot of those like Saturday nights after coming in from the club and stuff like that. One of these days, I’m just going to go and get those $20 Davidoffs. What’s funny is like what other prices in the cigar world have slowly crept up, I feel like you have kept your prices right where they’ve always been.
Our retailers and people like Harris know we still have price increases, but it slowly crept up across the whole portfolio. Some things like the Davidoff Yamasá, we’ve actually lowered the price on it to get more into the portfolio of our new innovation, our new Discovery Pillars. That’s exactly what it is. The cigar people who were smoking some Rocky Patel Edge or some La Palina or even some Gurkha back in the day that we’re all in that $6, $8, to $10. They’ve grown up on their flavor and they’ve grown up and their palate’s changed and they’re smoking other things. Then also you see Rocky and Ghurka and Liga and a lot of Alec Bradley, a lot of them made in companies that their sweet spot was that $6 to $8, $6 to $10now have stuff $12 to $30. The guy who smoke that also sees the Rocky 50 and Rocky 25th or whatever at $30 and they’re like, “Now I can try Davidoff.” It’s that mental thing so it’s benefited us, to be honest with you.
Staying on that quality over quantity, for somebody who’s in that $10 cigar price point, skip a day, skip a week, whatever it is, but you owe it to yourself to go out and experience that next level of cigar, whether it’s a Davidoff, s whether it’s one of those lipstick cased rums. Those cigars smoke different. I’m not saying you got to go out and get a $60 Hammer. You don’t have to go that far, but you want to get that quality and some of these premium brands, even in their entry level price points.
Set a goal for yourself. You’re out there and smoking regularly, you like to have two or three a day, set a goal for yourself at your job or on your personal stuff or something fitness-related or something with the family. Say, “If I reach this goal, I’m going to treat myself.” It’s not just I want to treat myself on my birthday or on Christmas or something special, Father’s Day, Mother’s Day for the women out there smoking. Treat yourself, set a goal and say, “Every month, I’m going to be able to do this.” You said the 3×3 story which was great. I used to smoke 4×4. It’s the same exact cigar. It’s just a different way that it was packed.
They’re like $275 back in the day.
Yeah, top, three or four boxes. The Figurado that they made and it was the same thing as a Shorty. This was an amazing Davidoff product that has discontinued. ’I’d been smoking those like it goes out of style, and people were like, “Garrett, you work for Davidoff. Why are you smoking that?” I’m like, “Because it’s a good cigar. I’m out there buying it. That goes back to you don’t have to spend $60because there is stuff that’s out of the market that’s $3, $4, and others that’s good, and there are stuff that’s $3, $4 that’s not good, and there’s $50 stuff that’s overpriced, and for the other stuff that’s good. You got to take the dollar value out of it and go with what you know, with the information you give your guys on a regular basis and the information that’s out there via website, social media or from the manufacturers. The customer is so much more educated now with the price tag. It’s easier for me to say because I work in the business, but you can put the price tag out of your head and go and get what you want, and try it and enjoy it.
I have a budget that I have to stick to for cigars. I smoke a lot of cigars that are sub $10. Especially on Sundays when I’m in Patton Creek or something like that. I can’t smoke four $20 Davidoffs. That’s just not going to happen. Every once in a while, sneak something in that’s a little more than normal. Everybody’s got responsibilities and demands on them. Sometimes it’s important to reward yourself.
If you have a go-to cigar and you try something different, it doesn’t matter what the brand is, that’s your special. Try something different. I can never encouraged people enough. I remember with myself, Harris and I talk about this in numerous times, back in the day it was always a customer would come in, “Do you have all this OpusX? Do you carry VSG? Do you carry Davidoff? Do you have anything Padron? What’s new?” Nowadays, it’s, “What’s new? What’s new? What’s new?” Those are the five questions a retailer asks. If there’s something out there they haven’t tried, that’s only way you’re ever going to know. You find the right boutique guy out there, the right person who can support you from now on.
You bring up the Padron and VSG and stuff like that. Those are still cigars that also I’m going to treat myself with. The VSG Enchantment is one of my all-time favorite sticks. I like whole knobby Perfecto size.
I like Sorcerer. It’s one of my favorite to-go too.
I had the Padron Soberano Maduro the other day and it’s a 1964 Padron. It’s cool and they’ve got presentation on that’s really good.
I prefer the 64s over the 26s myself. I know that we’re all in the minorities. Even stuff like Liga Privada, I do get anything from there. It’s just a treat, and people knowing and if they ever hear, “It’s so expensive.” That’s Beretta, Tiffany& Co., Lamborghini and all these major cars, Armani didn’t just come up with $1,000 suits and $100,000 cars because they can. There’s a desire for them. There’s a demand for them, and it’s a quality product. Don’t be scared of smoking something different because you can. There’s always ways to do it.
It’s funny because even when you start talking about like the top shelf candidates and stuff, you’re still going to find bargain and deals in there. I had some guy come in the other day asking, “Would you consider this Eiroa The First 20 Years to be a good splurge smoke?” I said, “No, that’s a good budget smoke. That smoke is not much better than $12.” I said, “If $12 is out of your normal cigar budget, that is a fantastic one to go with, but don’t look at it as if it’s a splurge. It’s going to smoke like a Liga Privada. It’s going to smoke like some of these Padrons.”
Myself and Christian have had a relationship for a long time. I think it’s one of the best cigars that him or his family has ever put out, and that’s saying about the history that him and his family have had and stuff on Honduras. Just think about that and nobody’s put out and see some of those sizes at $10, $12, $14. You’re like, “Got us some steal.” It almost feels like it’s underpriced.
He looked at me funny and I said, “No, I’m not telling you that’s not a fantastic stick because it is,” I said, “For $12, that stick is, I don’t want to call it undervalued but it seems underpriced.”
If you could get both, that’s a win-win, high quality and a value. That’s one thing you don’t see a lot in the market. You either have, “That’s a pretty good cigar for what you pay for or that’s too expensive for what you pay for.” You hear that all the time so to hear that, “It’s a good cigar and that’s a good value,” and it’s doing so well.
People feel like they’re getting a lot for their money and they’re happy with it. It’s a good combination. It’s pretty rare.
I was reading random cigar articles and I saw that Christian’s boat sank in the hurricane. Cigar, I think was the name of it. I saw a little line that says the boat sank but he’s okay.
I will extend him a message and we can report back if there’s anything else. You’re hoping nobody ever has that losing power, still painting the iron, the charger devices and those things. I’d rather lose power for a couple of days than anything else horrible.
What are you thinking about the Late Hour?
It’s great. It’s halfway through, the pepper has faded a little bit. There’s still that subtle Scotch note in there.
I don’t think I’m often going to be doing anything in the 18 or 21 or anything like that. I like it a little fuller or something like that?
In the next school or something, being a Calhoun guy, I’ve tried a lot before a couple of the other ones with it. I’m not a peety guy. If they can be drinking that, I don’t usually drink that but to have it out and to be able to pair it with a cigar really changes things. It doesn’t make me like those Scotches anymore because I know really what I like but it opens up the experiences and that was worth trying.
There’ve been a couple of times that retro help on this and you did that letter in there everything too.
I like if you do that, it’s still subtle but it’s there for those out there who haven’t smoke our new Maduro product and Nicaraguan Barrel-Aged. If you take the cauldron then it’s very rich. You almost think it’s a flavored or infused cigar because once you get it lit eighth of the way in, if you don’t like that flavor it really does dissipate and you save a little bit of that subtle sweetness on your lips when you smoke it through a cigar. See more people light that up and go, “Ugh,” and then all of a sudden, “It’s pretty good.” It’s different along the lines of the Late Hour, I’m thinking of the holidays.
I do have the Camacho Rum Barrel-Aged but my managers not going to permit me to smoke it because she wants to smoke it at the beach. She’s a fan of rum-type cigars and everything. I’ve tried to tell her, “This is not like those rum-cigars that you normally like.” She’s like, “It’s okay.”
That cigar was not nearly as strong as I expected. It was much more just me. I thought it was going to be more like bourbon barrel-aged Camacho. That’s definitely more full-bodied to me.
That was a little bit with disappointment because when you think about American Barrel-Aged they use in Honduran tobacco, and then you think about Nicaraguan, you just hear that word Nicaraguan and you think stronger. They’re both often same thing, but complexity-wise it’s both there, flavor-wise, it’s both there, but body-wise, they’re very similar. It was a little disappointing because you know that the guys that want to smoke that want a little bit more oomph, but it’s not there, but that’s not the end of the world. Some people don’t want that bite. They don’t want sweetness and the bite. For those people, we got a product for you.
That Nicaraguan flavor profile that I personally gravitate towards is more about the richness than it is necessarily intensity. There are a lot of medium-bodied Nicaraguan.
That’s changed and that’s why I think Nicaragua continues to grow as a cigar-producing country in the US because it’s not just close out all the time. They can do so much stuff with that Nicaraguan tobacco and that richness, and like you said, the complexity of the flavor. There’s a whole lot more going on in there than just strength.
I feel like because of that. They age well, too. A lot of those, you give more time and they change a lot in a good way.
Outside of Cuban cigars, which I’m not necessarily the biggest fan of, because we know that quality of this other countries have bridged that gap. It was almost different for so long. I feel like Nicaraguan is probably one of the best types of tobacco to age, and then my company would disagree with me. In my experience with smoking everything, I agree. There’s something about the sustainability of that tobacco and the richness of the tobacco that’s gets another two, three years. Maybe some of the Dominicans and Hondurans would mellow out a little bit, but the Nicaraguan can stay with that complexity and some of that richness and flavor.
Harris, I don’t feel like we’ve talked about your 702 much. How’s yours going?
It’s good. It started off a little spicy almost to me and then it’s mellowed out. It’s a nice medium-full body now. It’s good.
It’s just the wrapper leaf. We’ve tried it with the Colorado Claro, changing the wrapper leaf and keeping the binder and the filler the same with some of our most popular sizes. With the 702 being a hard region to grow tobacco, we’ve put it out on limited edition back in 2009.
Is it the same wrapper? Is that limited?
Yeah, it’s the 702. It’s been a numerous amount of our products, a lot mostly limited edition, because we haven’t been able to get the gross yield of the tobacco for the wrapper leaf that we wanted until we’d been sitting out for couple of years to produce what we released earlier with the 702. It does add some spice to it, add some little bit more richness. It’s smooth halfway through then you get a little bit of that pepper than you get in the beginning and the end. ’09. I like it a lot. My thing is if it’s in the same sizes as the Colorado Claro, but if I’m saying like Specialty, I like it better than Colorado Claro. 83 I like it better than 702. It’s weird, I can’t say that I like one better than the other because I still the core lines as well. The innovation has been great. I’ve been very blessed with our new leadership and the stuff that we’ve been doing to set some industry trends. Instead of being the guy that’s just always stuck where they were and just floated by and we’re very successful, to start some things across the line, start some industry trends and have people follow, instead of just being Switzerland and being neutral and we’re following ourselves. It’s been really good.
Out of the big cigar companies, the big four or five, whatever they are, you guys in a less few years definitely have tried hard to take on that role of leading the market, being on the cutting edge. Those traditional and bigger guys have not done that, so it’s good to see.
We’ve been successful doing things for as many years as we have, but it’s a blessing to have what we have. It’s also made other companies step up their game. All of us smoking other people’s product, and especially myself with you, I’ll be honest I smoke a little bit about everything. It’s really nice we’re in the middle of another cigar boom basically. Even with all the FDA stuff going on, we’re pretty good spot right now.
It seems all that started to change; President of the US, operations and it’s like from that day on, total change.
It’s been good. Sitting on the tobacco and being able to do the quality where a lot of guys get the stuff in and we have it to turn around because that’s just the way that it works. There’s not anything wrong with that but because of our longevity in the business, we’ve been able to sit on stuff and we really pride ourselves on aging the tobacco. It might not be the whole cigar, but one cigar there could be fourteen, sixteen years old as far as filler tobacco. Something else could be four to six now. It’s very privileged. It’s very good to have a partner like you to have a good fan like Lane.
What else that you smoked in the show or that you’re smoking now from the show, since I know you had a lot of stuff to smoke and digest, what’s really stuck out for you or a couple of winners?
I actually have a blog article that it’s in review. It’s already uploaded and everything, but it hasn’t gone out. There’s a lot of hype around basically anything that AJ Fernandez was involved in not just his own line. Actually, a couple have hit the bureaus. The New World. I think the New World, being as full-bodied as it was, that was a good change.
I haven’t had the Hit & Run or the other Matt Booth and Caldwell?
It was going to be called the Truth, but they’ve got a logistics thing going on, so they don’t know what the name of it is but that would be the second release.
I like Mr. Brownstone from Esteban Carreras. The Four Kicks Maduro that they rolled out to us.
That was one of my winners at the show that I smoke. Did they say it’s because of demand? So they rolled it out at once. They’re really good at doing works, “We’re going to send it to half the country now and half the country later.” They do a good job of getting it all in the inventory and getting it all out.
The Ritmo was one that I was really looking forward to. You do have to get it out of your head that the Ritmo is not going to taste like the other two Syncros. The flavor profile on the other two Syncros was almost identical. The Fugato was turned up a notch or two but it’s the same cocoa and coffee and some dried fruit like the fig or something like that in there.
You would think the progression. They’re doing the first box-pressed using Nicaraguan tobacco for the first time in the Syncro. Then they go in the Fugato. All of a sudden you make this huge long term Albuquerque and you’re not even in the same state as you are with the other two.
I do feel like the Syncro 3tag is a little misleading, but it’s a great cigar.
It’s a good tribute to AVO. That was something that was already in the works they’ve been passing earlier this year. They have something that has interesting and complex as the man himself. That’s the best selling point on it because people who knew AVO, they’re like, “Go, get it.” Sam who was walking put a new smile because everybody who’s ever met him or smoked the cigar heard the story from somebody or story from me. It does make you smile in the back your head. You’ve got to take the positives with any tragedies or unfortunate things that happen in life. You can look for the positive thing and honor the life, but we did a really nice job with that, so thank you for noticing.
I’m intrigued by the foundations of the other cigars, we’ve ordered those the sub shifts but I think they’re coming out.
Those guys have some good ones too. Those two guys doing their own thing is great. I wish they have the power that they had when they were with the bigger company. They have given them the flexibility to do what they’ve done and it’s great. One of the other cigars I smoked, speaking of bigger companies, that Undercrown Sun Grown’s really tasty. I don’t know if you have smoked that. I’m a big fan of that for the price and for everything. Undercrown’s one of my go-to from Drew Estate. Sun Grown, they did nice job. Connecticut last year was successful but they have a bigger winner with the Sun Grown.
I smoked a couple of Undercrowns. Fratellos, the Movida. The shallow one that we smoke with, I enjoyed that too. I’ve been a big fan of Eiroa but that was definitely one of them that I enjoyed smoking at the show.
It is tough when you’re in that mid-level boutique guy, and you come up with something good that put your name on it, and it’s really good because, it’s originally released, it’s so hard to follow that up with something better. Most guys you see that come out with, they were like, “Who is this?” Then they get out there and they’re doing the tour hitting the fences and everything, and everybody’s back. Then the next release was like a sophomore slump in football, whatever it may be. It’s hard to follow up something and him, more so than anybody else I can think of at the top of my head, in his position did a really fantastic job growing on his original release.
I think leaving the show just to stop that I smoke while I was there, I still think my best of show was probably the La Opulencia from My Father. That was one that I enjoyed.
I’m going to read your blog and see couple other things that I haven’t got and wait for them to come out if they’re not already out yet and get my hands on them. It’s always nice to hear somebody else I can represent the company, but I like to smoke everything across the board. I’m all about the cigar industry being successful because if it is, then everybody within it should also be very successful.
Have you had the Esteban Carreras?
That was the only one that he mentioned that I haven’t tried.
It is good. You’ve had the Chupacabras. They’re pretty medium-bodied even the Hell Cat was still saving that medium-bodied line. Mr. Brownstone’s gone balls out.
They’ve done a good job, even the stuff that they used to do for 262 or maybe still doing for 262, that’s more on the medium to mild to medium side. It’s nice to know what they’re doing A to Z instead of so many guys staying at what I call the M to P range to cover the whole facet of everything from something mild to something like that’s balls out that’s not interesting to me.
I do have a Davidoff advice question. You cancelled a cigar you were tirelessly going around that I really liked.
What can I find in the line-up that’s in that ballpark?
It replaced it but it didn’t replace it, the Davidoff Yamasá is the one that is the closest to the Puro d’Oro. The remove fillers is different but it’s the wrapper leaf that was the key to that. The mascuro origin of tobacco is something that they got to work on fifteen, sixteen years to get that right, blood, sweat and tears. Then they finally put that out and we changed the bands on. We changed the body. It was too much to get it all in instead of just letting the cigar speak for itself. We have that wrapper leaf, that rich growing wrapper leaf in Yamasá on that cigar. Find a filler, it’s a little bit different, but that’s the closest thing to it and thus reducing the price on that a little bit. It’s shooting everybody’s wheelhouse a little bit more so than it was when we released it couple of years ago.
I probably smoked ten of the Yamasá.
Maybe it’s not the same. The Puro d’Oro is something too, that with the FDA and everything else going forward, it’s not something that it’s not killed. It may still show up. There are still people that has somewhere out there, here and everywhere and we occasionally will get some stuff from Europe where they don’t necessarily sell some of those richer cigars because they have a Cuban market over there. There’ll be times when all of a sudden I hear some message, “If you want a per count bulk box of one of the sizes, we can get it for you.” Then he can’t get the size he wants for one of his customers of Fratello. That stuff is still out there, so if you do find one, buy it. It’s a great cigar. Something that I found out too, is if I like it and I support it, then there’s a good chance it gets this discontinued.
Yes, even when I find them with a four or five year old bar code. It sat here and they’ve aged. Those aged smoke, it’s just fantastic.
We do a lot of things with new product coming out. A lot of people don’t have the space so when there are stuff that’s out there that we temporarily or permanently discontinued. I get my retailer to sell them to me at a discount because I like getting my hands on them too.
The buyback to Garrett Calhoun, Jonathan Nelson buyback program. We’ll tell you the other thing that more to come in 2018 but down the office, I was actually roaming out Davidoff Academy which is going to be something about that but I already completed it. We had all of our reps and everything gone through, they’re going to make it. It’s going to be open to retailers and then to consumers. It’s very in depth in training. It goes through each line. It goes through process. It goes through accessories, to the actual processes of how it happened. You get a certificate when you complete it and there are questions that you go through, so it’s a ten harder and there’s a lot of time. There’s a whole thing just not AJ shows how cigars age, the temperature is the key, the difference between how cigars are stored in your personal humidor to your retail walk-in humidor to everything else. It’s a very good education. It’s wasn’t like a refresher that I went through because I’ve been with the company a long time and there were still stuff that I didn’t know it was going through. It’s definitely a cool thing.
A training for your retailers and for the merchants, something like that it’s so valuable because we’ll get everybody do that new guys. You can’t be everywhere. You do a good job and you have tons of accounts and hundreds of people to work with.
At the events, the time where there is some training and there’s some education available. We spend a lot of time dealing with the consumers because some of the staff members will miss out. We went on the Davidoff trip 2009 or 2010. We both lost a lot of stuff since that trip because it’s overwhelming.
The other new thing I think is the Davidoff Master Selection 2010 and 2013 are out now. Tell us a little bit about that. I’ve read about Diaz selecting special blends.
The 2013 was a good story, celebrated 60th birthday. I happened to be in the office and he was the first time he just completed the cigar and then he happened to walk in. He said, “60th birthday cigar is complete.” Then he sits down and I’m sitting there.” Now I know absolutely nothing. Everything that I knew doesn’t matter with these two guys in the room. Hanky started smoking it and he started naming off all the tobaccos and he got a lot of cigar. I’m like, “Yeah,” what he said. That’s all I knew. He got through and Hanky named off six tobaccos and Hanky said, “What? I’ll just light one more,” and Hanky’s just perked off and kept smoking and then finally get educated guess to the last one. Just to sit there and have that and when I got bundled off him at the time and it was amazing. I was like, “This is cool. Never thought I was going to come up.” When you fast forward four or five years later and that’s cigars released. He’s coming out three releases, so every three years he does it. He did one for his 57th birthday, it was 2010. Then later this month, the 2007 for his 54th will come out.
Ultra-limited edition, 54 boxes sell to my whole territory so it’s always appointed merchant or not, you won’t find it in every appointed chant. There are always some select ones that will get it likely Harris gets both for his stores I always think that he’s got that line and Hanky makes it happen, so I think that’s great partnership, a great cigar.
Thanks for bringing out that.
Thank you for the invite and some info. Hopefully some of the info I gave was good and entertaining.
Good job. It was cool experience for me able to do this way back and do some other things and be amazed that’s just a normal conversation and stuff that you can learn, stuff you could pick up from just checking out; local podcast, national podcast, whatever it is.
Talk to you later.
Thank you. Appreciate it.
- Garrett Calhoun
- Davidoff Cigars
- Davidoff 702
- Nicaragua Box Pressed
- Winston Churchill Late Hour
- American Barrel-Aged
- Nicaraguan Barrel-Aged
- Petit Panatela
- Petit Corona
- 660 Gordo
- Esteban Carreras
- Undercrown Sun Grown’s
- Puro d’Oro