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Interview with Sebastien Decoppet of Cavalier Geneve

Interview with Sebastien Decoppet of Cavalier Geneve

What’s your story?  How’d you get into the cigar world?

Honestly, this part was pretty unconventional. I was about 22 years old, lived in Switzerland, didn't speak a word of Spanish - but I did love cigars. I remember giving my resignation letter to my corporate job one day to sell all I had, knowing I wanted to move to Central America to learn more about cigars. I had no idea what would happen.

Luckily enough, after first arriving in Honduras and starting to ask myself what I was doing (I had trouble communicating since I couldn’t speak Spanish) I just decided to find a way to get to Danli from Tegucigalpa. I remember coming down in one of those funny, small buses. Funny probably isn’t the right word though, maybe scary? Especially not knowing where to start.

I had no idea whom to talk to or what to do, but then everything turned into the most amazing life experience. A man came to me, and we started talking. He happened to be Nestor Plasencia's nephew and his name was Adin Perez.

He brought me to one factory after talking a little, then another factory, where I first met Nestor Plasencia. I will remember that day my entire life. After that very special first day, Adin told me, "If you want to learn, stay with us.”

He didn’t have to ask me twice. I ended up living with them and working in the factory for over a year. That's where it all started.

I remember a story about the meaning of your logo.  Would you mind sharing that again with us? 

Sure thing, this story is a little special and personal. It all started in Danli, Honduras. I had a friend named David Rojas and we were smoking cigars on a daily basis after work. He was an artist, painter, and cigar enthusiast.

At that time, I was thinking of how to represent the cigars I wanted to create, and he came up with this drawing: a man running along with a horse. He never accepted to sell me the design and I can tell you I tried to buy it, but without success. He did not want to let me pay; he saw it as his work being displayed in different countries on a product he loved.

I had troubles deciding if I was going to use it or not, until a terrible day when David left us in a sad car accident. That changed it all for me, and it’s now my way of bringing my friend with me in this story to all those countries where the brand is now distributed.

Talk to us about your factory selection.  Who makes Cavalier Geneve, and how did you choose them?

Well I can't really say I was a big part of the selection process as it seems life brought me directly to the hands of Adin Perez from the Plasencia family. He taught me everything I know, let me try my own experiences and learn from them. This made the decision to use the San Judas Tadeo factory pretty easy.

On top of that, add the extensive expertise of the Plasencia family in the cigar industry and you don't have to think twice about it. They are absolutely great people, although I should maybe even say family based on the way they have treated me since the first day we met.

Everyone’s curious about the gold diamond.  What does it mean to you, and how does it affect the cigar experience? 

For us it is a symbol. It’s easily recognizable and represents our brand as you can find it on every cigar we produce. It is our identity.

Now regarding the smoking experience, it is particularly interesting when the burn line hits the gold diamond. Watching how the gold flakes into the ash and seeing how the gold rests on the ash as it was on the wrapper before.

How would you describe your cigars to someone that’s never smoked Cavalier before?

Honestly, the intent is simply to be true to the consumers and to my own palate. To produce the best possible product for any occasion, whether it is a flavorful but very approachable cigar like the White Series, or a darker flavor profile experience that goes straight to the point with the Black II or a fuller, bolder experience with the USA exclusive Black Series. 

If you were to recommend pairing suggestions for your lineup, which pours do you feel complement each cigar? 

Pairings are always interesting and pretty personal, but I would definitely recommend the following:

White Series: A nice barrel-aged bourbon.

Black Series: Aged port wine or a single malt whisky.

Black II: Coffee or rhum definitely.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received in the cigar business?

This question immediately brought me back to Honduras. It wasn’t direct advice, but I did remember it this way. I was at the factory with Adin and he was sitting there looking at tobacco, testing it, studying it. I remember asking him, what are you doing? 

His answer: “Very simple, I am trying to learn.” It is and remains the best advice I’ve ever had, always keep learning from people around you and from everything you can.

What are some of your favorite cigar memories?

Well, that is difficult to pick since we all accumulate a great number of amazing experiences as cigar smokers.

I would definitely say my first experiences in Danli, when I was just starting to discover this amazing world of factories and sharing cigars with so many knowledgeable people.

Of course, definitely the first time that I spoke to the woman that is now my wife, in Honduras, at my friend David’s place.

Another one that I won’t forget was my first time in the United States. I had landed in Miami, and as you can imagine the weather was absolutely fantastic. It was a really special moment facing the ocean and having this first cigar ever on U.S. soil.

I will definitely always remember those.

What can your fans expect from Cavalier Geneve in the next 12-18 months?

Having moved from Switzerland to the US to start the year focusing on the territory, there will be a lot of changes. All of our attention is focused on the expansion of the Cavalier family and bringing the cigars to the hands of our supporters by expanding our partner basis across the country. 

The LE2019 is definitely something to look out for. These cigars will be available shortly after the Tradeshow this summer. Salomones and Lanceros from the White Series will also be re-released this year as short runs about once or twice a year for now. 

We are also working on some projects such as a "Cavalier Club" program, for us to show our appreciation to the people that support us and be able to share the experiences with everybody.   

Of course, we could go on but why spoil all surprises, right? In other words, it is going to be an exciting couple of months!

We are thrilled to count Small Batch as part of the Cavalier Family! Thank you!



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