While many prefer a traditional cigar, there’s a market out there for both new and experienced cigar smokers for infused cigars treated with other flavors to make them sweeter, more flavorful, and more palatable. Infused cigars make up 10% to 15% of premium cigars sales and cater to a wide range of people. Drew Estate has come out with a number of top-caliber infused cigars, including the Java Latte, Java Mint, and Acid Blondie Maduro. The Tabak Especial has taken the infused cigar to new heights with its deliciously unique coffee aroma.
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Infused Cigars Podcast 3 Acid Blondie | Java Latte | Cojimar
If you’re a regular reader, we’d like to welcome you back and if this is your first time, we’re glad to have you join us, too. Harris, I’m glad to be back in the shop. How are you?
I’m doing well. I’m glad to be back on the podcast. I’m sitting here smoking a Blondie Maduro.
Sean, how are things in the great white north?
Everything is melting. I’m going to take my shirt off and run around outside, which is going to be a hell of a sight for everybody in the neighborhood.
I got back from the beach and I’m looking forward to a Turkey season.
You’re looking a little bit on the red side. Did you did you hit something? Did you go outside a little bit?
I went to the beach. I’ve got a little sun-kissed. I’m glad I didn’t let the sun get to third base.
The best part of the cigar lounge environments is that they have these climate-controlled lockers that they rent out on an annual basis to their guests. Harris, you can probably speak more to them other than them being 70 degrees and 70% humidity.
They are an ideal place to store your cigars. They’re all Spanish Cedar and what that does to the cigars is that over time it allows them to age well and adds a nice hint of flavor from the cedar to the cigar. It’s a great way to age cigars. Also, to store boxes makes it easy to purchase a box, you have somewhere to put it. A lot of guys will throw a bottle of bourbon or Tequila or something like that in there, too. It makes everything easy.
I’ve rented one in the past and that’s exactly what I did. It was always an incentive to have a box, it always pushed me over the edge. I’d always have something I wanted to have available to me, somewhere to hang out after work. I can take a stick home with me afterwards so that I could still smoke on my patio later on. I did keep a bottle of fancy bourbon, usually some expensive tequila or something to sip on while I smoked.
My wife had one in the house, those look good. Harris, is that an antique or did you buy it from a store? How did you get it?
It’s new, it’s seven or eight years old. They’re Mable antique, they’re heavy-duty made. It’s well made by a company in Miami called Wood Projections. They’re very solid cabinet, piece of furniture.
In case you aren’t a returning reader, we started this show to cover the cigar lifestyle. To us, that lifestyle revolves around enjoying the finer things in life or the people that you’re close to. We like to keep our episodes somewhere around the 30-minute mark. We like to light up a cigar for each episode though, and that means we usually end up continuing our conversation sometimes by as much as an hour or more after the show’s over.
Last episode after the show, we realized we’d only covered very serious cigars, more traditional cigars by big names in the industry. We know that while we may prefer a Piero, there’s certainly a market out there for both new and experienced smokers in the way of cigars that are dipped, infused, treated with other flavors to make them more palatable. We wanted to talk a little bit about those. Harris, you said you’re smoking an ACID, which one is it?
It’s the Blondie Maduro.
Which one is that? Is that an infused cigar, Harris?
It is. The Blondie Maduro is an ACID line from Drew Estate. ACID is known for creating their own flavors, they call it an Herbal Infusion and probably have twenty different blends that they’ve created. It has a little bit of a sweetened wrapper with that herbal infusion. This one has the Maduro wrapper so a very sweet cigar but has a nice taste to it.
I remember when I first started getting involved in a cigar cafe website, everyone talked about flavored cigars. They were like, “No, we’re a purist type of cigar company.” Drew Estate seems to have cornered that market. It sounds like there are others that are starting to jump in. Is that correct?
Definitely. It’s a growing segment of the cigar market. Drew Estate with ACID and a few other blends, they’ve made it tough for anyone to compete with them because they’re original in their blends. Recently, Oliva released the Nub Cafe Series based on their Nub Series of cigars, which is a smaller cigar. It’s the sweet spot of the cigar, the nub. The Nub Cafe are coffee-infused based cigars. They have a hint of sweetness, coffee and chocolate. They’ve been catching on. You have a few other companies, Tatiana has quite a few blends. Drew Estate is dominating the market though.
Harris, you said if you ever get ahold of one, it’s a hell of a cigar.
That is the Dragon’s Milk Cigar by Asylum.
We’re talking about these infused and enhanced cigars. Are we going to talk to you and light up one here and there?
I was never a wine guy and I went to a wine tasting ten years ago. I’m was like you, I’m Tequila, Vodka, Bourbon, Scotch, whatever. My wife was always a wine drinker and I was always like, “Wine, I can’t drink that.” I went to a wine tasting and they had a case of $250 Red, it was a Cab, it went down like velvet. The problem is that once you had that $2 chuck is not going to cut it. You don’t go to Trader Joe’s for your wine anymore. Unfortunately, if Harris sends me one of those cigars, it’s over, you’ll have my address on hand.
We have quite a few customers, it’s now their favorite cigar. Those are the guys that never smoked flavored cigars at all.
Harris, you’ve got the most exposure to buying trends in the cigar world, how many flavored cigars you sell versus traditional Parejo?
It varies store by store and different parts of the country. I would say for us it’s around 10% to 20% of our sales and that’s consistent across the cigar industry.
Has it grown every year for the last couple of years?
Drew Estates has been around for ten years and ACID was their first release. Since they came onto the scene in the last five years, it’s grown a good bit each year. That’s why you see other companies jumping on board with it and creating it because they proved that you can make a good cigar that is infused with flavor. Before them, the quality was not very good.
I would imagine that you’ll get a casual smoker like myself, usually four or five cigars a year guy and I like my old cigars, but I do like complexity. Having a company that goes, “We want more of a discerning guy with a milder smoke but give him something.” I don’t like cigars that are going to choke you out. I had some Cuban Montecristo’s and they were rough. I’ll never smoke another one because of it.
That’s who ACID cigars and Drew Estates are aimed at. When they started they would take a good cigar that isn’t on the milder side and infuse the flavor into it a nice complex cigar that’s different.
With the ACID line, the Drew Estate was initially targeting younger guys demographic. Is that what you tend to see being the most people that buy these flavored cigars? Or is it middle-aged guys and women, is it a little bit of everyone?
You’re right that it started out probably targeted at a younger crowd. If you look at the branding, it’s definitely a little edgier than most cigar brands. In our stores we see everyone buying, from guys that normally just smoke non-flavored cigars to ladies too, it hits everybody now. One reason they’ve been so successful is there’s so much crossover with their brand.
I’m smoking my third Drew Estate. I had another Liga Privada T52 at the beach. My wife and I sat down and had the Drew Estate Java Mint, tasting like a thin mint or a grasshopper. That was a very on point description. It was enjoyable even though it’s different from what I usually smoke. I’m on the Drew Estate Java, no mint and a Toro. It has a milky sweetness to it, like a finished cup of coffee, a mocha latte more than just black coffee.
I’ll become a new addition to the smoker’s club because that sounds good to me. You get done with dinner, sit on the back porch, and you have something that has some mint or chocolate. That’s attractive to me.
Cocoa is definitely, even in the more robust cigars, a trend in a lot of cigars that are available: Cocoa, coffee and pepper. Those flavors are prominent in a whole lot of cigars.
The Java is quick to come in as one of our best-selling infused cigars because you get that coffee, chocolate taste to it.
When you say that there’s cocoa in the smoke or that it’s prominent in some of the more robust cigars, they’re not infusing those tobacco leaves or the wrapper with those flavors. They build that cigar to have those notes in it. These are different, they are actively infusing the cigar with those flavors. Correct?
Exactly. You get the most prominent notes from that infusion process, licking your lips after they make contact with the wrapper. The wrappers are especially infused.
When they roll these cigars, I’ve watched them do it before in the factory, the rollers will put their fingers on this sweetness, it’s molasses. They take that work into the wrapper and that’s what gives it the sweetness. It’s a molasses-based sugary substance. They infuse into the tobacco the other flavors. They keep that a secret, the process, no one knows exactly how they do it and that’s why no one else has been able to duplicate that yet.
If you’re doing the wrapper, that would seem easy to do but infusing the binders and fillers with it would seem it’s got to be different than just dipping it in some flavor and enrolling it. There’s got to be a fairly decent complexity in getting those flavors in the tobacco.
The Nub Cafes are probably the one that has come the closest. There aren’t many out there that have done it the same way. Before the Drew Estate and ACID line were out, it was common that they would spray the flavor just on the wrapper. It was a weird combination of a flavored wrapper and irregular filler. Swisher Sweet bought Drew Estate, so they now own the company. Mainly because of their proprietary flavor infusion process.
Isn’t that funny that the company that a mass market cigar company bought a brand like Drew Estate, which is a mainstay in the cigar world. It’s like Swatch buying Omega.
People in the cigar industry were shocked by it, I don’t think anyone saw that coming. They say they plan to operate as a separate independent business. Hopefully, nothing changes with it.
Harris, you’ll have to let me know if Swisher Sweets starts making their gas station lines out of the leftovers of Liga Privadas, that’s a $2 cigar I’d smoke all day long. Harris, did you have any cigars that you wanted to discuss other than the flavored ones? Did you come with any that you wanted to review or maybe have our audience try?
I picked out four cigars that are good ones to check out in different categories. First one is a mild creamy cigar, it’s the Oliva Connecticut series. It is a fantastic Connecticut wrapper Nicaraguan Cigar. Oliva is making some of the best mild and creamy cigars now in that Connecticut line. It’s always one of our go-to cigars, one of my personal favorites for something that’s nice light mild.
Regarding Connecticut wrappers, is the American wrapper usually on mild cigars?
Yes and no, a lot of times it is. They’re starting to grow a lot of Connecticut wrappers in places like Ecuador and Nicaragua. That seed was mainly grown in the state of Connecticut and they still do grow some there, but there are several Connecticut wrapper cigars that come out lately that are more medium to medium plus. Connecticut Cigar or the Camacho Connecticut are two that are not that mild, but they are Connecticut wrapper cigars. Outside of those two, in general, I would say yes. Connecticut is normally a milder blend, mild to medium.
It’s not a perfect system. The Maduro doesn’t mean strong, it means ripe. Typically, it’s a sweeter wrapper that allows you to fit fuller bodied, profiled cigars into a stick and still be able to smoke it. The mild creamy one that I planned to talk about is also made by Oliva. It’s the Cain Nub Connecticut in a Torpedo and it’s a big 64 ring gauge. Its wrapper is an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper, with the Connecticut seed but it’s grown in Ecuador, even though the filler and the binder are Nicaraguan.
Another cigar I’ve been smoking a lot is the La Palina Black Label. That’s the Maduro wrapper and it’s medium volume. It’s not as strong cigar. La Palina is a great boutique cigar company making high-quality cigars now. It was started by the grandson of the founder of CBS Network.
My fuller bodied stick is the Rocky Patel Fifteenth Anniversary and it’s a popular cigar. They have good draw. They put out a lot of smoke, there’s a lot of spice and coffee flavor all throughout the cigar and I enjoy them.
Would you consider Arturo Fuente 8-5-8 to be medium?
I would say medium. That’s a solid medium cigar, it’s a Cameroon wrapper. They do a Cameroon wrapper and a Maduro wrapper.
That was my favorite back in my boozing and smoking cigar days.
We’re going to try and bring back Frank the Tank. It’s in the movie Old School. Maybe one cigar here, we have to go old school. You have to go old school cigars that are still around. They’re passé but the old school guys come in and still buy them.
For the adventurous people out there, something you may not have tried yet or heard of is the Viva Republica Cigars. It’s a newer boutique blend, medium to full body Nicaraguan cigars that have a nice complex flavor and edgy branding. They’re trying to change things up, do things differently. They’ve released a cigar and it’s two cigars in one. They took a smaller gauged cigar and rolled a bigger gauged cigar around it so you’re smoking two cigars at the same time.
This is different from the Barber Pole cigars. This is a cigar wrapped around a different cigar.
I have not tried it yet, they are releasing it. An interesting press out there, they’re off the wall and nobody’s ever thought of. I don’t know if that will be good or bad, but interesting for sure.
My little off the beaten path cigar is going to be Drew Estate Java Maduro Toro. It tastes like a finished coffee drink, but a little bit different. If you’re looking for something that tastes good and smells good to the people around, this is a good people-pleasing cigar even if it is a little bit different.
That’s one of the ones I’d like to try and I’m going to remind you, I need some.
Something people may not know about that is that Drew Estate makes that cigar for Rocky Patel, that’s one that Rocky Patel sells. They were very smart to do that because I heard that that’s their number one selling cigar.
There are two bands on these Java cigars. I noticed in the Java Mint, the bottom band at the foot of the cigar says Mint on the front and on the back has a Rocky Patel logo. There was a Rocky Patel Java Mint and I wondered if they were one in the same, you’ve just confirmed that for me and for our audience.
They don’t put it on the outside box, you wouldn’t even know unless you peel the band.
You have any lady cigars that you think would be good for our female audience?
The one I’m smoking is the ACID Blondie Maduro. They also make the ACID Blondie in a lighter natural wrapper. I would recommend either one for ladies. It’s one that everybody likes, but ladies especially. The lighter wrapper one is a bit milder and the Maduro I’m smoking is a little more medium. I would probably recommend the lighter wrapper depending on what you’re looking for. It’s got a nice sweet taste to it, it has that herbal infusion. It’s hard to describe the flavor. It has nice floral notes and overall very nice taste to it.
The cigar for ladies that I’ve come up with is the Cojimar Senoritas Natural Petite Corona Vanilla. It’s a five-inch-long cigar, but it’s only a 30-ring gauge, it’s a fairly slender cigar. It’s fairly mild body and has a pronounced vanilla flavor. It’s not going to be quite as infused as these Drew Estates, but it is going to have a vanilla flavor to that’s beyond the tobacco notes. It’s something that whether you’re a guy or girl might pair with a Bourbon and Coke or something along those lines.
The ACID Blondie is the same size. It’s a 4×38 with the same ring gauges. It’s not too small but a 45-minute smoke.
Something that’s not going to take you all day and something that you might want to introduce a new cigar smoker, too.
You’ve made me hungry and I want to go buy some Girl Scout Thin Mints. Thanks for having me on, I appreciate it guys. I don’t drink anymore, so I want to do something bad for myself and smoking cigars is the way I’m going to go.
Thanks for being on the show, Sean. Maybe we’ll have you around to talk to our audience here every so often too.
Thank you for having me. Thanks, Harris, I appreciate it.