Darryl Lieser found the inspiration for his own cigars years ago at a well-known watering hole in the desert. Celebrating an investment deal at the Phoenician's Thirsty Camel Lounge in Scottsdale, Arizona, a client bought them a couple of 1956 Montecristo No. 3s.
"I'm a post-embargo baby, and I always thought that Cubans were taboo, were going to be harsh and unbalanced and tough to smoke," Lieser, 43, recalled. "It was quite the contrary. Total opposite. Smooth, balanced, wonderful cigar."
He decided then that if he ever pursued his dream of creating a cigar, that legendary Cuban vitola would be his model.
About three years ago, Lieser began working on a blend and last year he got booth space at RTDA with Altadis, which produces Isla de Cuba in Honduras for Lieser. He shipped his first cigars in February. Isla de Cuba Cigar, Inc. is headquartered in Tampa and Lieser, the president, splits his time between the Cigar City and Chicago.
Right now, the cigars are available in two versions. The natural, the one Lieser feels is most reminiscent of that '56 Monte, has an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper with Nicaraguan binder and a mix of Dominican, Nicaraguan, and proprietary farm fillers. The maduro has the same filler and binder with a Connecticut broadleaf wrapper.
They come in five sizes ranging from a 7x52 Churchill to a 5.5x44 Corona. Prices are $6-8. Lieser calls them mild to medium, an everyday cigar. You can find a little information at the company's website, though it remains under construction.
To get the word out, Lieser is hitting the road. When I talked to him, he had just pulled over while driving in Michigan and was heading to another cigar event in Ohio. His calendar is dotted with future stops at cigar shops around the country.
"I think that the only way to build credibility and to build brand awareness is to do events in conjunction with the retailer so we can educate the public on our product - a great cigar," he said. It is also necessary, he added, to have the patience to develop personal - and in-person - relationships with retailers so they'll know it's a brand they can count on.
With the economy weak, tobacco under constant attack, and many new lines hitting the market, is Lieser concerned that it might not be the ideal time to launch a new cigar? "Honestly, I like competition," Lieser said. And he believes his approach is the right one: Keep the quality up, the prices reasonable, and work with retailers. "I think it's a great opportunity for the right boutique type brand."
Odds are you'll be able to decide for yourself. Check with shops in your area. You'll likely find Lieser and Isla de cuban cigars headed your way.
Monday, May 05, 2008
Source: Stogie Guys Online Cigar Magazine