We caught up with Victor Nicolás of Chogüí Cigars for a short Q&A before his new cigar, Heart Breaker, hits the market. You can read the press release for Heart Breaker right here on CigarNoise.
What’s the story behind Heart Breaker? Who do we need to bury in the desert for you?
Last year I went to a really bad break up when I moved from Santo Domingo to Santiago to be closer to the factory. The hardest moments were at night when I’d end the day and just try to relax at home and that’s when all the memories and solitude kicked in. So after a week or so, I decided to make a cigar that was stronger than what I usually smoke, so I could end my days with it and just numb myself. I’m a big fan of the 46 ring gauge so we blended it in a 5×46 size, short enough to squeeze in a last cigar for the day but bold enough to end it too. One of the lessons tobacco has giving me is that of turning my negatives into positives. A quick example of this is when we have a delay with the box or band supplier and the cigars are waiting to be packed, that extra rest time benefits the experience of the cigar. So in a way working with tobacco always turns the negatives to positives. So I guess you guys don’t have to kill anyone.
What are some of your favorite quotes?
I have a lot of them: My goal is to live a life I don’t need a vacation from. Keep it simple. Sell your story not the product.
Is the world’s perception of cigars from the Dominican Republic changing with brands like yours taking the stage?
I definitely believe so. One of the goals we’ve always had with Chogüí Cigars is that of taking down the cliche that all Dominican cigars are mild to medium and the body is medium at best. I take great pride in having our products made 100% with Dominican tobacco. We’ve also progressed and perfected a lot of the growing and fermenting of tobacco as a country. At the same time I also think that the newer generation of cigar smokers are understanding and learning the benefits of smoking cigars that have true characteristics from a premium cigar. What I mean by this is that the newer generation is learning to distinguish well aged and blended cigars rather than look for that under-fermented cigars that just have that aggressive experience. I remember that a lot of what consumers looked for in a cigar around the years 2012/2015 was that kick and aggressiveness, but now the consumer is looking more for that palate stimulation where flavors become the protagonist and strength becomes secondary.
Are you planning to venture into other countries?
At the moment I don’t really think about it, specially with all that is going on in the US with the FDA regulations. We have access to a lot of tobacco, not just Dominican but from all other countries. The thing for me is that I think a lot of manufacturers are getting too creative with the fermenting of tobacco and blending process. We keep it simple. Use traditional tobaccos and traditional fermenting methods. I can proudly say our method seems to be working because the market buys and smokes our products at a faster rate than we make them. So thank you guys for that!
What’s something you’ve wanted someone to ask about your cigars that they haven’t yet?
If you know me, you know I’m not afraid to ask anything.
You skipped IPCPR this year – why’d you make that decision?
I was pretty much out of the market for almost 10 month because of family issues. We recently went back into production and just launched the HeartBreaker so I decided to stay back in the DR and oversee the manufacturing of our cigars and packing. We are adding a new 6×50 size to the Dos77 and have been sourcing tobacco to do a bigger batch of Primeraño and have it formally debut in the US. I’ve also had a lot of request to do another batch of Papa Chogüí, so who knows we might bring it back too!
If I wanted to be as cool as Victor, what drink would I pair with my cigar?
Keep it simple. I’m a big fan of sparkling water and espresso, no sugar.
Want to know more about Victor and Chogüí? Check out previous CigarNoise coverage below!