Box Press Podcast

Get in the Zone, Modern Cigar Smokers (feat. Light ‘Em Up Lounge) | EP. 58

Are you overwhelmed when you visit a tobacco shop? No matter how long you’ve been smoking cigars, it’s a sensory overload when you walk into a store’s humidor. The tobacco aroma, the colorful boxes, the ornate bands, the pensive shoppers. Buying cigars can be intimidating, so talk to the tobacconist. Dig into what flavors you like, duration of cigars, what sticks you’ve enjoyed (or not) and YOUR BUDGET. It’s okay to talk price tags at a smoke shop.

Next, listen to this cigar talk to learn how to use all of your senses to enhance your next smoking experience. Box Press Host, Rob Gagner was shocked by what can influence your opinion of a cigar.  Amaze your cigar buddies with tips from sensory expert Reinhard Phorec, host of Light ‘Em Up Lounge. Light ‘Em Up Lounge was chosen by Cigar Journal as the Best Virtual Cigar Lounge in 2021. Recorded at 2021 PCA in Las Vegas.

“A cigar is never just a cigar. It is an experience.”

Never be overwhelmed again by cigar care or a humidor! First, season your wood humidor with the Boveda Humidor Starter Kit. Then use Boveda to protect the flavor and consistency of your sticks. Shop Boveda for Cigars here.


– I do that in my sensory seminars, for example with apples or tomatoes. I would present all the people at the seminar with a slice of apple on the tray. And right after you would get a slice of apple or tomato, same fruit or vegetable from a different plate. And then I asked people about their experience, and the first one is probably gonna be fresh, has more acidity, more liveliness, probably feels a little unripe even. Whereas the second one is luscious, mellow, full, sweet, peak ripe. And the only thing that I alter is the color of the plate or the tray that I’m serving it from. So one might be light blue and the other one is deep red.

– [Rob Gagner] No way.

– And the visual backgrounds will alter your overall experience. And only afterwards I tell people it’s the very same fruit. It’s the very same piece of vegetable that you just enjoyed, but it’s the surrounding elements that will change everything.

– I love this. You changed the color of the presentation plate.

– Yep.

– And it made the fruit taste different.

– And that’s why I said for a tobacconist, think about how you present cigars in your store. Think about the tray that you use to present certain cigars. And if I want my customer to have a more like a soft connotation or an idea of that cigar, it could be mellow, creamy, not overly spicy. I’d much rather choose a round plate, maybe velvet on there, because that will already impact people’s perception on how the cigar will ultimately feel and taste.

– A velvet round plate that I put my creamy, buttery, smooth cigars on. There’s a story inside every smoke shop with every cigar and with every person. Come be a part of the cigar lifestyle of Boveda. This is Box Press. Welcome everyone to another episode of Box Press. I’m a your host, Rob Gagner of Boveda. And I am at 2021s PCA show, and I’m sitting down with a very special guest from Austria. His name is Reinhard. You’ve probably heard of him. He’s on Light ‘Em Up Lounge. He’s in editorial for Cigar Journal. He’s all over the place. He specializes in sensory experiences. And we’re gonna give you some tips and tricks on how to make your cigar smoking experience better. So pay attention, grab a notebook, take some notes. And if you want to apply some of these tidbits and tricks to your next smoking experience for the next few months and watch yourself get blown away. Reinhard, thank you so much for joining us.

– It’s my pleasure. Thanks for having me, Rob. Do you do all the warm-up spiel like . And we’re now ready to warm up our voices. I actually did vocal exercises before videos. I had to Google it on YouTube and this lady was, you know, stretching out your tongue and the whole thing. And it works.

– Of course.

– I didn’t get the tongue tiedness. I was “pronounciating” everything. And hitting my, you know, correct dictation.

– Your voice is just as much an instrument as all your other senses.

– And muscles.

– Absolutely.

– The tongue. You muscles, your lips, your mouth.

– Facial, everything.

– Your jaw. You know, it’s real hard if you don’t open up your mouth to really understand you.

Excellence Institute in Vienna, Austria, which focuses on that. And they have a business rhetoric diploma that I did, and I’m now working for them as a business rhetoric coach. So I’m very well familiar with those kind of things.

– Really?

– Yeah.

– So you coach people how to vocal exercises or what?

– Well, the particular focus of the business rhetoric side of things is more regarding skills like pitching, killer phrases, how to properly communicate in the stressful business environments, and make sure that you’re communicating the right messages the way you want them to be. And I sort of wove that into, with everything else that I do regarding experiential design and multi-sensory. So I have a program that’s called experience communication, and it’s about implementing all the senses into your corporate culture and making sure that you communicate that in the most holistic and stringent way.

– in that sense, that sense that you’re talking about is how they say things to you as a consumer. So how the establishment talks to you matters on your experience.

– Absolutely.

Cigar Seller Tip #1: Break From the Script

– Retail tip number one, in this episode, let’s jam on this. You come into my shop, you come up to the register, I’m standing there and I tell you did you find everything okay? What do you say?

– As an analysis to that?

– Yeah, did you say, what would you say to that if you’ve got asked that? Would you say yeah, I found everything okay?

– First of all, I’d be gobsmacked because how about you start with good morning, sir. Great to have you. Welcome to our shop.

– Let’s say I did that. Let’s say this is after you’ve come into my shop, you went into the humidor, you got to buy, I’ve already greeted you, and I say did you find everything okay?

– I guess it really depends on whether people are super honest and tell you no, I didn’t.

– Well, how does that make you feel when you hear that? Does that make you feel superficial? Intimate? Are you asking me a specific question? Are you asking me a general question?

– It feels very learned.

– Learned.

– And…

– Scripted.

– Exactly.

– It is.

– Not sincere and authentic.

– And do you even know how to answer the question? Did you find everything okay?

– That’s why I said I wouldn’t know how to respond to that properly because you’re going to be real and authentic and be like no, I certainly didn’t.

– If we break it down in my mind, it’s did you find everything okay? Yeah, your shop is okay. I, this is a smoke shop. I walked in here to buy premium cigars. You have them, it’s okay. If I drop okay at the end of the sentence, it immediately changes.

– You set the bar.

– Did you find everything? Yeah, I did. No, I didn’t. I didn’t see a Crux Epicure in the humidor, do you have them? Or I’m not here trying to find something, I’m actually here trying to learn. That changes the paradigm.

– And what if you just phrase the question differently and ask what could I possibly do to make your experience more comfortable and more enjoyable? Because that is a question that comes from heart and shows that you actually care about the other person.

– You’re not from Minnesota are you?

– Not really.

– Minnesota nice you’d be like oh no, I don’t want you to do anything to make my life better. It’s Minnesota nice. Do you think, because you’re from Austria, if you ask that question, somebody would actually say actually, I would love it if you got me a coffee.

– I think so.

– They would?

– Yeah.

– That’s a totally different opinion, or not opinion, that’s just totally different fact between our culture and your culture.

– Well, you know, Austrians are also known for being slightly grumpy every now and then, especially when you go to the coffee houses. That’s part of our culture and DNA.

– Sure.

– Especially in Vienna, but some people will probably feel rubbed the wrong way and then tell you like what do give a #!&% about? And just leave me alone, but…

– Yeah, why do you care? Why are you asking? I don’t know you.

– I just wouldn’t mind because I’m such a positive person at heart. And I truly care about other people, because I love people. Like we’re having a great conversation. This to me is most enjoyable. It’s what makes life. And I’d much rather spend every single day of my life as positively as I can and surrounding myself with great people, and having good conversations. Why do I want to be mad and unfriendly to other people? It just doesn’t come naturally to me.

– You have to break, if anyone out there is working in tobacco retail, you gotta break from the script. Stop asking those questions. Stop asking those scripted questions. Did you find everything okay? Did you find everything you needed? Is there anything, stop asking that?

– Nope.

– Ask them the question, if it were me, I’d ask them nice selection of cigars here. When are you going to smoke them? Now we’re talking about when you’re going to enjoy these great cigars. That to me is gonna get dialogue back and forth. All I want when I ask you a question is for you to communicate back to me because we can do this transaction without ever saying a word. That’s a really poor transaction in my book.

– Let me go back to the drawing board. My background is in hospitality, and the wine and spirits industry, and in sensory experiences. Hospitality for me is a way of life.

– Yeah. It’s not a means of business.

– Right.

– And to me, that means to most honestly care about the other person and whether he or she feels at ease, at home to a certain extent. I always say the quintessential expression of hospitality is when I invite you over for dinner to my house, because you’re a friend. I want you to have the best time.

– Yeah.

– I’ll bring the most beautiful bottle of wine. I’ll cook a great meal. I’ll bring the best cigars. And I just want you to feel at home and feel well. That is the quintessence of hospitality. And a lot of people who work in the industry probably get it in a different way because to them, hospitality is a means of business and trying to get other people’s money, which if you work in that industry is as a consequence further down the line.

– Right.

The Hospitality Mindset is the Core to Business Today

– But you’ve got to start with the right intent. And I believe that this hospitality mindset is at the core of every single business today. No matter what it is that you doing, you’re always dealing with other people. And the product, even cigars, the product is highly commoditized nowadays. It’s not what differentiates you. What will ultimately set you apart from all the other ones out there is the experience, and the more holistically and authentically and immersive you can make that experience, the more substantial, the more lasting and sustainable it will be.

– Right.

– And so if you have that mindset, and truly care about the, all the people that walk into your shop, or all the people that will smoke your cigars, then there is no going wrong because you always come from the right place. And it will make you realize that every single detail counts. So for the retailer, start from scratch. How does your place feel? I mean, from the very first touch points, like all these marketing, fluffy words. You know, as much as I test them.

– How does it look and feel?

– Right. How does it look and feel? What’s even the first touch point for your customer? Is it online? Is it on the phone? Is it somebody just walking through the door? So how about the furniture? Do you have a carpet? Is it a wooden floor? Is it a stone floor? That will have a dramatic impact. How do you present cigars in your shop? Do you have wooden tray? Is it a leather tray? Is it rectangle, square, round.

– So many variables.

– You just don’t realize, it’s subconscious, but it has a tremendous impact on how you perceive the overall experience. And that will even alter your perception of smell and taste.

– Absolutely. I like the fact that you talked about the phone, the first interaction. I would sometimes answer the phone instead of saying the script, hello this is Tobacco Grove, or hello this is Rob at Tobacco Grove. I would say hello Tobacco Grove. What cigar can I get for you today? That’s probably why they’re calling me, right?

– Yep.

– They want to buy a cigar. They want to come to the shop. They might be lost or whatever. It’s, I got so much more like people pause and say, what did you say? I was just asking what cigar I can get for you today. Well, I’m not here to get a cigar. I’m here to talk to Jeff. Jeff’s not available right now or not in the office. Is there anything else I can do for you? It’s real easy if it’s a sales call, I’m going to know. If it’s a true customer, they’re gonna be like yeah, I need to get some cigars. My name is Tom. Oh yeah, hey Tom.

– Most people are always in for the quick sale or the quick win. If somebody comes into your shop, you think your only agenda and your only target is to sell the other person something. Quick buck. It doesn’t matter. Even if the guy comes in, I’m not in there to push him into buying cigars. If he has a great experience. He has a good coffee and then he just walks out, that’s totally fine for me. Because he will remember that you provided him with a memorable experience. And you made him feel welcomed.

– And not everyone’s willing to come in and just plop down their credit card and buy six boxes right away.

I had this guy come in in cargo shorts and a Hawaiian shirt, totally normal looking, came in. I asked him if he had any questions about the humidor. He was very educated. He asked me a couple of questions of what I liked. I told them right now I really like this and this. And he walked out with a few cigars. He had a friend with him, sat down, they were smoking them. They sat by the register and talked to me at the little bar area. He was asking me all about what cigars I like and what do I think about this. After chatting me up, he goes do you mind going in the humidor with me and we pick out some stuff? I said great. He spent over $1,200 because he was from Canada and the taxes in Canada were way higher than they were in, at this time, mind you, Minnesota was at 90% wholesale tax. It was almost as high as Canada being over a hundred percent. And he thought it was the greatest thing that he could save a couple of bucks and have a great opportunity to buy some cool cigars that he can’t get elsewhere.

Had I brushed him off as like you only bought a couple of sticks from me, you’re asking me annoying questions. Why do you even care? You’re dressed in cargo shorts and a Hawaiian shirt, you have no money, it was totally opposite. If I put that on him, he would add a bad experience. We would have had no cool engagement. And even if the sale didn’t happen, it just wouldn’t have been a fun environment for him to enjoy a cigar. Yeah.

– You can never judge a book by its cover, especially with people walking into your shop, into your restaurant or bar. because you don’t know who the other person truly is. And then again, to me, it doesn’t really matter because a simple, humble guy with just a few dollars in his pocket, to me is just as valuable as the billionaire who walks in and wants to buy half of my humidor because they’re all people. And especially in the cigar industry. This is the most wonderful product

– Yeah.

– And we’re all the same. We are all family of the leaf.

– Yeah.

– That’s just mesmerizing. Rob, I come from such a simple and humble background. I grew up in Vienna, which is a beautiful city, but in a very easy family setting. We never had much, but we had a family table. And my earliest childhood memories evolved around the dinner table and baking bread and kneading dough together with my grandmother and my grandfather. And it gave me a real appreciation for simple, humble things. And for an authentic, real handmade product, because it doesn’t matter whether you have all the money in the world or like in our case, it’s rather simple. It’s those experiences that matter, it’s those emotions, perceptions and being around people you care about. That’s what life is all about. And I think that’s what cigars truly mean and can bring to us, uniting us, and we all just come here to enjoy what we love best.

– Yeah.

A Cigar Is Never Just a Cigar

– A good conversation. A cigar is never just a cigar. It is an experience that is deeply and heavily influenced by all the surrounding elements, all our senses, which I considered to be instruments, part of an orchestra, and only when well conducted, it’s the symphony of that moment, the symphony of that experience. And also cigars, mean time. Time and appreciation for the other person that I’m smoking with for the beautiful conversation that we’re having. And that will just never stop to fascinate and mesmerized me. And that’s why I want to give it my all. And that’s why I’m so grateful to be here with you all and be part of this wonderful ecosystem and industry.

– This isn’t your first PCA event, is it?

– It is the first, yes.

– This is your first.

– It’s my first ever PCA. It is my first ever time in Las Vegas, so.

– Wow. Welcome, welcome, welcome.

– Thanks.

– First time. So I remember my first time. The magnitude of these booths, the magnitude of all the facings, seeing the icons, the people who are the faces of the company, the master blenders, what does that feel like? I get goosebumps thinking about it. What does that feel like? That was so energizing to me. Was it the same for you when you walked into the showroom floor, were you just kinda jaw dropped and like experiencing it all?

– So there’s different components to the answer. First of all, I’m used to similar trade shows from the spirits industry, and they’re probably even bigger with like the Moët Hennessy and the large Diageo booths of Johnnie Walker

– Right.

– and whatnot. So that to me wasn’t as surprising or shocking. And the second element when it comes to the people and the conversations, you know, I was very fortunate and blessed to be hosting the Light ‘Em Up Lounge for the last one and a half years.

– Yeah.

– And on a weekly basis, we welcome the icons of the industry, the master blenders, brand owners, manufacturers, media professionals, Boveda as a company to our virtual lounge. So I already had meaningful and deep conversations with all those people, even though only virtually. And now I come here and for the first time I see these people in person. Some of them I met before, others it’s truly the first encounter, but because of the quality of conversation that I was fortunate to share with those people upfront through our Zoom lounge, through phone calls, privates, herfs even though virtually, I feel so deeply connected with those people that when I listened to Carlito speak the other day and after he gave his speech with an epic mic drop at the end. He saw me standing at the other end of the room and he just stood still for a moment, and you could see like when he starts to tremble and he walks over to me and he gives me a hug and we both start crying. And it’s just like that special moment. And even though you hug that person for the first time, you feel like you’ve known each other forever.

– Yeah.

– And to me, that comes down to the quality of conversation and the quality of relationship that you build. And again, what fascinates me about that is the caliber of people in this industry is beyond everything I have experienced to this moment in my life. And that’s why it doesn’t matter how often you meet those people or how many conversations you had with them. The sheer quality that you share is what matters. And that’s how I think about relationships in general.

– Yeah.

– It’s not about having 10, 20, 50 friends. It’s about five real ones and sharing meaningful conversations with them. So to me, it was a mesmerizing experience, and I’m utterly grateful and humbled by having the chance to be here and meeting all these people and sharing those moments. It means everything to me.

– How long are you in town for?

– I will leave Thursday morning, so overall the week because it’s a lengthy flight from Austria to come here. So it wouldn’t make sense to just be in Las Vegas for like four days. We will be hosting a Light ‘Em Up Lounge from Las Vegas, do a little PCA after show.

– Sweet.

– And then I’m going back the day after.

– And is that all with Cigar Journal?

– It’s independent. Light ‘Em Up is an entirely independent project. I am part of the Cigar Journal family as a contributing author and as part of the tasting panel. But Light ‘Em Up has always been an independent platform and it continues to be so.

Inside the World of a Cigar Journal Taste Tester

– Newsflash, we have somebody from a publication that you all probably read or see in the smoke shops, Cigar Journal. And he just said he’s on the tasting panel. Now the tasting panel works where they send out cigars blindly, unbanded, but they have numbered bans on them, so they know which one is what. Their packaged with Boveda so that they’re humidified properly and taste properly. And then Reinhard and several other people have to analyze the flavors coming out of that, write them down, and then score the cigar based on construction, burn, draw, flavor, overall experience, all the above. It’s very technical. That’s just the broad basis of what it is. Now, walk me through when you receive that tasting kit, how do you set it up? What are the things essential so that you can give it your full attention?

Cigar Smoking Tip: Smoke in a Calm Environment

– I would say try to smoke in a comfortable, calm environment.

Cigar Smoking Tip: Rest Your Palate Before Smoking a Cigar

Make sure that your palate is well-rested, that you haven’t smoked three other cigars that day. That you haven’t eaten anything before or drank anything just before that would interfere with your evaluation and with your experience.

Cigar Smoking Tip: Drop Preconceptions of a Cigar

And then just try to focus and give the cigar a fair chance. The essence of blind tasting is to shut off all misconceptions and preconceptions that you would possibly have, and just take that humble product, enjoy it at your pace and be analytical about it. For me, my background with the wine and spirits education trust gave me a very analytical approach to blind tasting. So I’m well-experienced with sampling all sorts of products, whether that’s wine, spirits, coffee, tea.

– You said analytical approach. Explain that.

– It means that I go into a certain routine of how I evaluate a product. With a spirits or a wine, it would first be the visual appearance, same for a cigar. You would then go into the olfactory sensations, afterwards, the palates, all the different layers of taste that you can pick up. And then you draw some conclusions towards the very end, and only then you start to think about, so with X amount of minerality, X amount of alcohol, or in this case nicotine strength, complexity, length, mouth feel, smoke production. All these different parameters can give you an indication as to what a certain product might be. It doesn’t even matter to think about oh, this could be X brand, or it comes from Honduras, Nicaragua, or the Dominican.

– Right.

How to Develop Your Own Way to Judge a Cigar

– You just draw your conclusions, you write them down, and that’s the end of the story, right. So, when I say analytical, it’s truly about having that structured approach to go through all these different components, because then it makes it easier for you to shut off all the surrounding noise, because you know your routine, you know all these different parameters that you’re going through one after the other. And that helps me a lot. If for example, I have to sample a new product in an ambiance like a busy trade show floor, because I can almost tune out the world around me because I know okay, let’s do the visual appearance first. I have a look at the veins. I just test the roll, how tightly packed it is, the color of the wrapper, triple cap or not. You cut it, you do the cold draw, the sensation on your lips. You light the cigar, all the various aromas that come to mind, all the tastes sensations. And it’s just that structured routine that truly helps you to focus on the product and leave the world aside, and also to leave preconceptions aside.

– Yeah.

– And you wouldn’t believe, even in the blind tasting, we have preconceptions. If you see the color of the wrapper and you just can’t stand the Connecticut shade, you will already have a bias in mind, and you will probably downgrade the product because you say like, I just don’t like Connecticut shades no matter what’s coming. You’ll say oh yeah, I knew that. And I’ve seen this over and over again, also in the wine and spirits industry, a lot of people pick up a product, they smell it, they say oh, it’s must be German Riesling because of the first nose. And then those people would write their tasting notes out of the head and their memories of what they think German Riesling would be, and not out of the glass. I’m a fairly young dude. I have very little experience with all the exclusive wines of the world. And even when I entered the cigar industry, I was sort of a novice compared to some of the guys that would be smoking cigars for 30, 40 years.

– Right.

– It actually helped me because I could just focus on the product itself, go through my evaluation process, and just leave the bias behind. I know it’s never possible to be totally unbiased, but I try.

– You’re trying real hard, that’s good.

– Yeah.

– You have to consciously think of leaving the bias aside. That’s why I love taking bands off cigars.

– Then again, I recently wrote an article in Cigar Journal. It was too serious about blind tasting. And then in the second feature I wrote about the antithesis, which is there is no blind tasting, because as much as we can, as part of a tasting panel, or even as an end consumer, set up a blind tasting in order to evaluate, that’s a very unreal situation for most consumers. Because they never do a blind tasting. So all the biases of the box, the ring, the color of the wrapper will impact their experience.

– Absolutely.

– So you almost have to factor that in. Plus I find it very interesting to consider those two-thesis and antithesis, and come to the synthesis of it all.

How to Get Out of a Cigar Rut:
Set Up a Blind Taste Test with Your Cigar Buddies

– Yes. But taking the bands off and removing the brand to me, brings a whole new element that you’re really not used to. Because it’s very rare that you would ever have, you would never buy, most cigars, you would never buy blindly, not knowing any, I mean, you’re investing your dollars into them. So now when I give people cigars sometimes I like to unband them and just say tell me what you think.

How to Get Out of a Cigar Rut:
Give Him Your Budget, Then Ask Your Tobacconist to Choose the Cigars but Unband Them

– I would definitely and wholeheartedly recommend it to everybody to everybody to try that. And you could even go to your trusted tobacconist and retailer and ask them to give you three different cigars, probably all the same vitola, get three Robustos all the same wrapper. Whether that’s shade, sun-grown, Maduro, whatever you fancy, and have them unband the cigar for you, and then just smoke them and try them. And it’s a wonderful experience to recalibrate your own perception. And also probably your opinion about all various brands and products.

– Yeah. That’s a good idea. I’ve never asked a retailer to go in the humidor, pick out three or four cigars, unband them, and then give them to me. And I pay them because I’m worried that they’re going to be $50 a piece cigars. Maybe I got to say I got a budget.

– Makes sense.

– Here’s 60 bucks, go in there and get me five sticks.

How to Get Out of Your Cigar Rut:
Buy 3 of the Same Cigars, Unband Them, Then Put a Different Colored Ring On Each One

– Another fun little exercise is you could print colored cigar rings, and take three of the same cigars, unband them, and put on those different colored rings. And then do your tasting notes, smoke the cigars, and compare the different experiences. And you will see simply by having a different color on the ring, how your perception will shift. And that was what I meant before, where every single detail matters. And it can even alter your perception of smell and taste. It’s things like that.

– The exact same blend. All three are the exact same cigar.

– Different color rings.

– Three different colored rings. And then you smoke them like later after you’ve forgotten that you’ve done this or what?

How Presentation of Cigars Affects Perception

– You could take three consecutive days and every single day in the morning, when your palate is fresh, you smoke the same cigar, but it has a different color on it. And you write down your tasting notes. And if you’re fair to yourself, you will realize that your perception of smell and taste of the aromas and flavors will be slightly different because the color of the ring, the visual appearance alters your perception of smell and taste.

– No.

– I do that in my sensory seminars. For example, with apples or tomatoes, I would present all the people at the seminar with a slice of apple on a tray. And right after you would get a slice of apple or a tomato, same fruit or vegetable from a different plate. And then I asked people about their experience. And the first one is probably gonna be fresh, has more acidity, more liveliness, probably feels a little unripe even. Whereas the second one is luscious, mellow, full, sweet, peak ripe. And the only thing that I alter is the color of the plate or the tray that I’m serving it from. So one might be light blue and the other one is deep red.

– No way.

– And the visual background will alter your overall experience. And only afterwards I tell people it’s the very same fruit. It’s the very same piece of vegetable that you just enjoyed, but it’s the surrounding elements that will change everything.

– I love this. You change the color of the presentation plate.

– Yeah.

– And it made the fruit taste different.

Cigar Seller Tip #2: Be Mindful How You Present Cigars 

– And that’s why I said for a tobacconist, think about how you present cigars in your store, think about the tray that you use to present certain cigars. And if I want my customer to have a more like a soft connotation, or an idea of that cigar, it could be mellow, creamy, not overly spicy, I’d much rather choose a round plate, maybe velvet on there. Because that will already impact people’s perception on how the cigar will ultimately feel and taste.

– A velvet, round plate that I put my creamy, buttery smooth cigars on.

– Or even take a more robust, full-bodied cigar that has a lot of spice and pepper. But then you can smooth now the experience by presenting it in a different way.

– That’s interesting.

– That’s what I call experience design. Because it’s not just about the perception anymore and you analyze the experience, but you understand that you can design an experience.

– You tweak it.

– You can tweak it. Exactly.

– You can absolutely change the experience of the exact same thing.

– Don’t get me wrong. It’s not about tweaking the experience to a point where you try to fake it or engineer it because you want to force people into something. Quite the opposite. It, and this is where the hospitality component comes in. I want to enhance it. I want the experience for the other person to be as memorable and meaningful as possible.

– Absolutely. We all have that time when we sat down with a cigar or somebody and it just everything was complimenting the whole experience, the conversation, presentation, the music, the accoutrements, the whole thing. It just, and it’s not the cigar that did it. It’s everything else.

– Yeah.

– It all matters.

– Couldn’t agree more.

– Amazing.

– It’s fascinating.

– I could be on this topic for hours. I just want to pick your brain with everything. What other tidbits should I know, if I’m interested in adding three things to my cigar smoking experience to make it better, what are the top three things I should do as a consumer, just by myself to enhance my experience smoking cigars?

Enhance Your Cigar Smoking Experience With a Soundtrack

– The obvious one would probably be what everybody knows is pairing, right. So choosing the right beverage and maybe a snack. Let’s take a more sophisticated or less beaten track.

– Sure.

– Think about the soundtrack. To me, every cigar has a soundtrack.

Enhance Your Cigar Smoking Experience With Tactile Sensations

Think about tactile sensations, fabrics, the chair that you’re seated on, or the carpets that your feet are on, or maybe just a piece of fabric that you have in your hand while smoking the cigar.

– Really?

– It will have a dramatic impact if you have a cold piece of metal in your hand, a warm leather, or like a velvety soft pillow. You could have it next to your, the place where you enjoy your cigar, and just feel it. That could change the whole thing.

Enhance Your Cigar Smoking Experience With the Right Surroundings

And of course, lighting, colors, visuals, all that could dramatically change. So be cognizant and be aware of your surroundings. And I think the easiest ones to alter, be it at home or at a tobacco shop, or at your lounge is visuals and sound.

– Visuals and sound and tactile feel.

– Yeah.

– I love it. That’s broad, but it’s specific as well. And it can be like you said, micro dose basically. I don’t have to have a full leather chair. I could have a piece of warm leather. I could have a velvety pillow. I could have a great soundtrack on that I enjoy the music, so I’m probably going to enjoy this cigar.

– You could do a very easy examination of that. If you smoked the very same cigar and you choose to complete opposite tracks of music, and both could work for a cigar because you can change the dynamic. And you’ve probably like one better than the other, but it will be a totally different smoking experience. And the same is true for lighting. Nobody wants to sit in a neon bright ambience and smoke a calm, luscious stark, Maduro cigar.

Cigar Seller Tip #3: Improve the Lighting in Your Tobacco Lounge

– Harsh lighting. No good.

– And I see it everywhere in so many lounges or retail stores. The lighting is just way off. Or you have seven different LED screens with 10 different sports games going on. They’re all fighting for your attention. And then you’re seated there and you’re supposed to enjoy your cigar where everything’s just you know, grabbing for your attention.

– Right.

– So play with that.

Cigar Seller Tip #4: Program Playlists for Your Cigar Lounge

-Like the cigar that I’m smoking right now, it’s chocolatey. It has a salty minerality and the slight pepper finish. If I would accompany this with Nessun dorma for example, that wonderful piece of music, right. It would just set the stage for this cigar to shine in all its glory, give it depth, give it richness. And it will enhance the grandness of the whole smoking experience. Whereas I could have this cigar with a very funky, upbeat sound like Carwash or something that gets you in a more upbeat mood. It will also work for the cigar, but it will probably bring out some more of the spiciness, the pepper and the salt will be more pronounced and more to the forefront. You will get a little more tingle of slight acidity towards the very back. And the finish will probably be just more lively overall than with the classical music, with the strings and the brass, and that opera voice, it will probably feel more elegant, softer to the touch, and you will get some more of the bit of chocolate and the velvety undertones.

– I love it. And just so you don’t start typing what cigar are you smoking? because it’s gonna be all over the comment board.

– I’m currently smoking the ROOM101 FARCE Maduro. It’s a beautiful cigar.

– Yes. Good. Glad we clarified that. because otherwise we’d have to go back to you and ask and put it in the comment board.

– But for all those people who are curious, hit me up whatever you want to know.

– Where can they get a hold of you?

– It’s quite easy. Find me on, That’s my personal website. And of course, check out, which is sort of the overarching pillow for all our Light ‘Em Up endeavors. So that would encompass the Light ‘Em Up Lounge, which is our weekly live show. And also the new application that we’re launching right now, which we considered the Swiss Army Knife for modern cigar enthusiasts.

– And what’s the URL for that.

– It’s, but you will also find it through our main page,

– Perfect. And what about Instagram? What’s your handle?

– It’s Reinhard Pohorec, my name, and you can also find Light ‘Em Up World and Light ‘Em Up Go on Instagram, but we’re just starting that. So it’s a fairly new endeavor.

– That’s it right there. You have three things to do, visual, tactile, and audio, change it up, make your smoking experience slightly different. Try it. It works. I guarantee it. Thank you so much, Reinhard for being a part of this episode of Box Press.

– It’s my pleasure. Thank you so much for having me.

– We can do a lot more of this, because this was just the tip of the iceberg.

– And we hopefully will.

– Absolutely.

– I have done multi-sensory cigar experiences, even virtually. I once did an Instagram live with Klaas Peter Kelner, and we were smoking Davidoff cigars. And I was actually through the Instagram live playing different musics with the cigars that we were smoking, changing the visuals and the color patterns, and having different pairings. So maybe we can do one with Boveda.

– Absolutely. I’m down. It all matters. And it’s fun.

– That also something I would love to end with and let everybody know. This probably sounds a little weird and theoretical to a lot of people. And you’re like yeah, whatever this dude is just full of #!%&. And he’s talking about all these crazy things. I just want to sit down and have a cigar.

– Oh yeah. There’s plenty of people out there. I just want to smoke it.

– It’s perfectly fine. You know. I’m not here to tell anybody what they’re supposed to smell, taste, or experience. I’m a super simple, humble, easy guy. I want everybody to enjoy fine cigars, a great meal, a great beverage, in whichever way people want. I would just like for people to every now and then become aware of their surroundings, the beauty of experience and perception, and of our senses. Because as I said before, our senses are instruments, and we are all gifted with those precious senses from baby days on. And especially in our modern world, in our digitalized fast-paced world, we’ve become so good at tuning out and disconnecting ourselves from our senses. This is just all too much, right. And I want people to re-engage and reconnect with their senses because it will change not just your smoking experience, but your entire life. And it makes you appreciate all the little wonders and the little things that we have around us every single day.

– Right.

– And it just makes life wonderful.

– Well said, well said. Thank you again, Reinhard for being on here. I appreciate you so much bringing so much value to the industry, and to us as consumers.

– It all comes from here. So I have to thank you and many thanks for giving me the opportunity and sitting down with you for a wonderful conversation and a great cigar.

– This was totally unplanned. So I appreciate you just jumping in.

– Any time.

– With both feet.

– Any time.

– What a great conversation.

– Thank you.

Protect Premium Cigars with Boveda

– There you hear it, Reinhard from Light ‘Em Up Lounge and many other things. It’s a sensory experience. If you want to know more, check him out, follow him. I’m getting goosebumps, just talking about and thinking about it. So I’m gonna end it there. And of course, as always for all of your needs to protect your cigars, keep them safe, smoke them if you got them, and enjoy your week.

– And Light ‘Em Up.

– Light ‘Em Up. Key ingredient is Light ‘Em Up. Thank you all.

Learn how to enjoy cigars better, highlights include:

  • 05:21 Why retailers should break from the script when you’re at the register
  • 09:48 What cigar shops can learn from the hospitality industry
  • 23:39 A professional cigar taste tester shares how to fully taste cigars 
  • 29:59 Try this cigar parlor game with your smoking buddies
  • 31:33 How a local tobacconist can get you out of a cigar rut
  • 35:09 How to present sticks in a cigar shop to help buyers
  • 37:49 Top 3 ways to enhance your next cigar
  • 40:18 Changes you can make today to your smoking lounge that make cigar lovers want to stay

You Might Also Like:
How a Color Inspired an Amazing Cigar

Learn How to Taste Cigars at a Higher Level

Fix Just 1 Thing & Get Amazing Flavor From Your Cigars