What’s changed with Dapper since our 2017 interview?
Quite a bit! Retailer-wise, we've grown our retailer count and have expanded our presence throughout the U.S. IPCPR-wise, when we first met, we shared a space at IPCPR with two other companies. This year we'll have our own dedicated space and are expanding out to international conferences like InterTabac in Dortmund.
Read our first ever Small Batch Interview, also featuring Ian Reith!
Brands-wise, we added extensions to Cubo with the Sumatra line, El Borracho with the Broadleaf Maduro, and the Siempre Sun Grown line. We partnered up with a retailer-specific brand for Cubata Cru and we're still in the midst of getting that re-done and released. So yeah, we've been busy!
For that matter, what’s changed in the industry in the same amount of time?
I think the largest changes I see in our industry are centered around the FDA and its rulings. From a small/boutique manufacturer level, I see very few boutiques coming to market (obviously) and some even dropping out of the market. Thus far, most all the rulings have either been modified or delayed... so time will tell as to how these FDA rulings will impact our business. As I've said in the past, I'm pretty optimistic from both a small manufacturer level and a premium hand-made cigar level. From a Flavored or Infused perspective, I have to admit... it's looking grim!
The new Siempre
As far as what’s changed with cigars, I think there's a trend now of lowering the intensity and strength a little bit and focusing more on flavor. A few years ago, the market was really saturated with super strong cigars that seemed to just have strength without any other considerations.
Now, it seems people are more interested in the blends and the nuanced elements of the cigar rather than just its strength. I see companies using wrappers now that were sort of out of fashion such as Connecticut Shade, Cameroon, Sumatra, etc. As a cigar company, it’s certainly helping us because these trends are somewhat in our wheelhouse.
Talk to us about the Cubo Sumatra. What’s your intent for this cigar, and how would you describe it to someone that’s unfamiliar with your lineup?
Cubo was my original brand... and since it was released a few years ago, I felt it needed to be refreshed as I didn’t want the brand to fall by the wayside. With Cubo Sumatra, besides the obvious packaging changes, we increased the strength and complexity of the cigar to a higher level than the Maduro and Claro blends. A slight amount of US Conn Broadleaf also gives it some flavor and smoking components that I personally dig.
The new Cubo Sumatra
As with all the Cubo cigars, we’re namely focused on taste and aroma… and not strength. So for folks that aren’t familiar with the brand, if you’re aiming for a medium cigar with lots of beautiful aroma, I’d give any of them a shot.
You were our first VIP interviewer and still hold the record of most comprehensive blender’s notes to date. Do you feel that people are resonating with your intentions?
First VIP Interviewer – Thank you for allowing me that opportunity! Referencing blender's notes... I still hold by my original intention of revealing all the ingredients I can. And, we'll be taking this to an even higher level of detail in the future. For me, it's a consumer trust thing for me and I'm really proud of the tobacco we use and the folks involved in the process.
I'm not completely sure about how this strategy is resonating with folks. At the end of the day, I think that people smoke what they like for whatever reasons (flavor, strength, packaging, etc.). For cigars, it’s always surprised me that people don’t expect a higher level of transparency with this type of luxury item. My hope is that this will change as customers become more educated and interested in the specifics of what goes into the cigars they love.
The last time we spoke, you mentioned the Desvalido brand that we haven’t seen yet to my knowledge. Are these still in the works?
This is a brand and blend we've been rigorously working through. I'll be honest with you -- each time I've worked on blends for this cigar things haven't felt right. Either the blend tastes too close to an existing blend or the strength level hasn't been correct.
The new El Borracho Maduro
Regardless of these issues, and without spoiling anything... I'm confident you'll see a variant of this cigar this year in some fashion.
If there’s one thing that our audience should know about Dapper Cigar Co today, what would it be?
We're committed to consistently making great cigars and supporting our customers to the best of our abilities.