Lane: Welcome everyone. I’m hanging here today at Cigars & More with Harris and Sean. We have a special guest today Sean Hardiman. Sean is the new southeast area sales rep for General Cigar Co. and formerly represented La Flor Dominicana Cigar Co. Welcome!
Sean Hardiman: Thanks for having me on today!
Sean K.: Tell us a little bit about what you do and the company you work for
Sean Hardiman: I am the premium cigar sales manager for General Cigar. I am very excited about it. We have recently released several blends only found in your local cigar shops. Macanudo Inspirado is one. It is very medium body and is launching at the end of this month. It has a Honduran wrapper with an orange band. There will also be a version of this with a black label that is an internet only cigar.
Lane: Dominican Olor tobacco is becoming very popular
Sean Hardiman: It ages well, Piloto is great and very clean on the palate great with Nicaraguan tobaccos. I really like this combination. Using this tobacco is a big trend in the industry.
Sean K: Tell us what has been going on with CAO lately.
Sean Hardiman: We almost never have backorders. CAO Flathead has been on and off backorder since receiving the #3 cigar of the year and a 95 rating.
Harris: I love that you really try hard to learn as much as you can and are an industry expert.
Sean Hardiman: My father taught me to be an expert on whatever I do
Sean K.: Sean what are some of your favorite cigars right now?
Sean Hardiman: Rick Rodriguez has done a great job with CAO new blends. The CAO Pilon (Dark Ecuadorian habano wrapper) It delivers a ton of flavor. CAO Flathead Steel horse
Sean Hardiman: We try to stay under the $10 mark with our blends for the most part. Our new blends are usually in the $8 range. Any other company would sell these blends for over $10. We are vertically integrated which keeps costs down.
Sean Hardiman: It’s funny we make many cigars for boutique cigar companies. People don’t realize they are smoking our cigars.
Sean K.: Sean give us your top 5 cigars you guys make:
Sean Hardiman: CAO Columbia is mild and showcases the filler tobaccos (blend dominant) neutral wrapper and binder (unusual)
Medium – Original Partagas line (Cameroon)
Medium – full – Punch Signature, New Hoyo black label, CAO Flathead, CAO Pilon
Lane: Sean tell us how you got into cigars?
Sean Hardiman: Golf. I played golf with Eddie. He got me into cigars. I ended up managing a store in Rhode Island for 4 years. Then I was the La Flor Dominicana rep for 2 years and now the General Cigar rep. Funny how it works out. I love it! Fun people. It is not work. I hang out with people who are my friends!
Lane: Its good to hear from people interested in the business of cigars not just the craft. Seems like a good balance for you.
Sean K.: What states do you cover?
Sean Hardiman: Alabama, Mississippi, Chattanooga, Memphis, Georgia
Harris: Did you guys see the FDA exemption language inserted by Robert Aderholt from Alabama into the Agriculture Appropriations bill for FY2017? Thank You Robert Aderholt!
Sean Hardiman: The big issue is that we really need to separate OTP from cigars and lower taxes in each state.
Lane: Sean how do you think the FDA regulations affect General Cigar Co.?
Sean Hardiman: I think General Cigar Co. will be ok since they have many pre 2017 blends. Any legislation hurts all of us and the health of the overall industry. It won’t be good for any company.
Sean Hardiman: Obama should have an interest in less regulation because of Cuba. I think it will be at least 2 years after the Cuban embargo is lifted that we would see Cuban cigars on store shelved minimum.
Lane: Will companies start blending with Cuban tobacco?
Sean Hardiman: Interesting. Biggest issue will be the tobacco availability. The tobacco costs will be very high. Probably won’t happen for a long time if ever.
Sean K.: I went to the Ashton cigar bar in Philadelphia. It was very nice.
Sean Hardiman: General Cigar has club Macanudo in NYC
Sean Hardiman: Acid and Java are the gateway cigars. I did thats how I started.
Sean K.: I was smoking lots of Java a year and a half ago. I stated trying tons of things after we started the podcast and haven’t looked back. I loved the Ashton VSG.
Sean Hardiman: Ashton VSG is strong!
Lane: I love the Ashton VSG enchantment
Sean K.: I am now a huge fan of Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper cigars
Harris: The Ashton VSG was one of the first full body cigars on the market
Sean K.: Tell us 3 cigars you love
Sean Hardiman: La Flor Dominicana Coronado , Ashton VSG, Alec Bradley Post Embargo, Eiroa
Lane: Thanks Sean for hanging out with us today. It was great!