But it’s not all golf talk. Chris shares the origin story of his North Carolina boutique cigar company, which makes “that Carolina Panthers cigar”. Hear how he evolved from passing out free cigars on the golf course to wishing he could save inventory by serving hors d’oeuvre cigars ON TOOTHPICKS at trade shows. (Inspiration for his shorty smokes, the Buckshot six-count sampler, perhaps?)
Looking for a change from bigger brands’ front-loaded cigars? Cigar enthusiasts love how Carolina Blue Cigars transition from the first third to the last. So how does Chris do that? Find out along with how to up your golf game, save a cigar from tobacco beetles, manage your tasting palate and more.
Rob Gagner (RG): There’s a story inside every smoke shop with every cigar and with every person come be a part of the cigar lifestyle at Boveda this is Box Press.
RG: [silence]. Hey, everyone. Welcome to another episode of Box Press. I am your host, Rob Gagner, and I’m at TPE’s 2021 event where I’m sitting across from Chris Moore of Carolina Blue Cigars. Now Carolina Blue Cigars has a long history of what’s happening stateside. The influence that is penetrating into the cigar market.
Now it’s been everywhere in the cigar market, but more importantly, we are seeing these boutique brands bring back the heritage that has already been in the United States of growing, fermenting and taking care of tobacco and Chris Moore is basically no stranger to that. He has grown up in the Carolinas, picking tobacco, helping it get to its end destination.
He has experience—extensive experience—going to the master blenders in Nicaragua, in the Dominican Republic to make sure that his product gets made the way he wants it. Chris Moore comes to us with not only an opportunity to smoke his cigars, but listen to his story. We have a 30-year veteran sitting in our, across from us and we get to understand what his drive has been to get Carolina Blue Cigars from start to finish.
And the finish line isn’t even today, it’s many, many years down the road because Chris Moore knows he’s in it for the long game. Chris, thank you so much for being here on Box Press.
Chris Moore (CM): Thank you. I’m humbled to be here.
RG: Yes. It’s a… it’s a huge honor for us, to even one, interview you two, have the time to spend and just sit down and chat and share one of your cigars we’re smoking the Limitada.
CM: Yes. Yes.
RG: Beautiful band. I’ve read a lot about your blending and I don’t wanna get into it now, but we will circle back to it. Your blending is exactly the way I like to taste cigars, which is I like unique changes through cigars. I don’t like powerhouses, things that are full frontal, in your face, everything’s hitting you. You’re very similar in that regard, right?
CM: Correct. Correct. That’s that’s I believe in giving a person a, uh, uh, an experience, you know, it’s, it’s why give you something everybody else can do, you know, let you enjoy what the country offers and the transition through the flavors gives you just that, you know. We’re in the first third, we’re gonna taste three different cigars along this along this journey.
RG: And I love the fact that you have the double tapered, you know, some people call it a figurado or…
CM: Right. Yeah.
…if you wanna call it that…
[laughs] So many names.
RG: Yeah. Right. But I love that because to me, this is a true transition between the ring gauge. We start to get to bigger and smaller and bigger and smaller. Right. So I love that journey.
CM: Thank you. Yeah, this, this is one of our uh, tops. well, it is the top seller. I cannot keep this cigar on the shelf. And, uh…
CM: We, we, Yeah. When we first made it, it was in a, um, a Pennsylvania broadleaf and, uh, it was outstanding. Then we moved it back to a, uh, San Andres, Pennsylvania broadleaf. If, you know, especially with COVID is kind of hard, difficult to keep in stock. I wanna do one in a Brazilian Arapiraca at some point, or maybe a Cameroon. Uh, I’ve been playing with that a little bit. Cameroon is like outstanding.
CM: Uh, I love the Brazilian Arapiraca because of the sweetness. And, you know, I was gonna actually add a dash of pepper. So it’s like a strawberry lemonade type thing.
CM: …going on. So it’s it’s, it was really, really, really good cigar. Really good cigar.
RG: Love it.
RG: Let’s Talk a little bit about your 30 years in military service now, right away. When I thought military, I think, okay. Here’s somebody that has some tenacity, some grit, some, some backbone that can give them that entrepreneurial edge that makes them keep going. What would you say is your biggest attribute that allows you to keep going or what you’ve gotten from the military?
CM: Patience. Patience is the key. Um, Really dealing with different types of uh, individuals through my military career. You know, some people can be a pain in the ass, [laughs].
It’s like kids and you have to be patient. You know, to see like, if you see something in them patiently wait until you see an opportunity for them to blossom. So I take that, you know, patiently making relationships. Sometime you have to chip away at somebody’s exterior until you understand who they are, and then find you got somebody that, you know, for life.
And, uh, I take that same, you know, quality into the business, you know, patiently wait, learn, um, understand that this is not an overnight successful business. Um, working in tobacco, how it grows. You have to be patient.
RG: It’s a lot of patience just to grow it.
CM: The way, yeah, just to grow it. So I just use that, you know, of course, along with the leadership stuff I’ve done, but I, I, for me, my personality is I’m very patient about everything I do.
I’m very patient the way I sell the cigar, the way I put it out on the market, I’m patient, you know, to let it happen. Right. So it’s worked for me so far.
RG: And your family comes from a long lineage of people in the military, right?
RG: You were, you were accumulating the amount of years.
RG: And what was the number that you were it’s like above 400, right?
CM: Above 400. My my gra- gra- my great grandfather, my grandfather, my, my uncles, all five of them. Um, my dad, um, my mother’s father, uh, my mother’s brother, my aunt, well, six uncles, really. Cousins. My brothers, you know? All…
RG: So your whole family has over…
CM: Yeah. We all did over…
RG: … four hundred hours…
CM: Yeah. We all-
RG: … four hundred years…
CM: We all did. My uncles and myself did the most time. My three of my four of my uncles did 25. I did 30. My dad, he did a short time. My grandfather did about 10 years. So yeah, add all that together. My brother now he’s on his 18th year, so uh…
CM: Yeah, it’s just adding up, just adding up.
RG: So and you’ve enjoyed the whole time?
CM: You know? [laughs]. Yes, I wouldn’t change it, [laughs]. but it’s, it’s been a ride.
RG: All right. Let’s talk about it…
CM: [laughs] Because if I look, if you think about the career I’ve, I’ve been, I was on duty for five presidents.
RG: Five presidents?
CM: Yeah. Like five presidents. I started with, uh, Reagan, both Bushes, um, Clinton and Obama.
CM: Yeah. I did all and it’s… And all of them affected, not me personally, but it affected the military changes. According to their leadership style.
RG: You could see the change?
CM: Yeah. You can see it. And, uh, again, you gotta be patient like, okay, this guy is gonna be gone, soon. [laughs].
It’s temporary. you know If you liked him or… you know…
CM: You know everything to me in the military, like, hey, it’s temporary. You’re only gonna be here three years. Why worry about it? Just be patient. You’ll be out of here soon. That’s how I looked at it. It’s like, all right, another adventure. Deployments, you know, a year be patient, we’ll be out of here soon. That’s the only way I could do it…
RG: That is a really interesting philosophy that I like, like, it’s hard to tap into that though. Me, I’m on the I’m like, okay, just sign here. How do I get in here? How do I get out of here? How long do I have to be here for? I like to wanna just like, go do, do, do, do do.
CM: I’m like, and it’s like, nothing we can do. Just like, do your job, stay out of trouble. Be patient, enjoy this time best you can. The next thing you know, we’re going home.
RG: When you were overseas were you getting, uh, cigars from like Cigars for Warriors or anything like that?
CM: I can’t, I… My last deployment was, um, 2000. And what was my last deployment? 13. No, my son was born in 13, so 11. That was my last.
RG: Okay. So quite a while ago.
CM: Yeah. So it was like right on the back I did, uh, my last five years stateside, uh, I didn’t wanna deploy anymore. I was deployed like four times. So right about that time on the last deployment, cigars weren’t…
RG: Cigar For Warriors?
CM: … per se weren’t really around.
How to Spot Fake Cuban Cigars
CM: You know, people would send cigars, we would have little cigar clubs, you know, we have the little shops in the desert where we can get some counterfeit Cubans at the time that I know [laughs].
RG: Yeah [laughs]. Right.
CM: ‘Cause like, when you’re overseas, like you see, you know, Cubans everywhere.
But if you’re not really in a business, you don’t know if they’re real or not. And, and we’re, we’re in, we’re in combat. So we’re not thinking, is this is a real one? Is this a fake one.
RG: Right. You just want a cigar.
CM: We’re just enjoying the… . Yeah.
RG: It doesn’t matter.
CM: Right. Good or bad. We’re just enjoying…
RG: And you’re not like over there inspecting it while you’re trying to pick it up.
CM: Right. Right. Let’s just have it.
RG: But if you were, like, if somebody were like on vacation and you, and they were like, “Hey, I don’t really know what this is real.” What what advice would you give them to be like, look for this. Look for that.
CM: You know, It’s more like the burn, you know, the, the seal, you know, it’s like, “Hey, every Cohiba is not a Cuban.”
Every Montecristo is not a Cuban. Why are they getting Cubans here in the war zone? You know, that’s the number one thing. Like—look where we at, you know, like…
RG: And for me, it’s always been told, like, if it’s not a Habanos shop…
RG: That’s like, it’s almost like a, I don’t know what they’re buying into, but they, have to license themselves through Habanos.
RG: …a distributor in the area.
RG: So if it doesn’t say Casa Habanos or Habanos on it, but that’s still tricky. Right. You can still get duped.
CM: That is. ‘ cause you can still get duped, right.
RG: Yeah. Yeah. Okay. So, okay. Now what do I do next?
RG: I go into the shop. What am I looking for? Am I looking at the band? Am I looking at the construction?
CM: And and the most common denominator is like check the serial number.
RG: But what if the box isn’t there?
CM: Then, that’s the problem. That’s problem. Number one.
RG: So then where do you go next?
CM: I’m like, “Hey, just get something, something, you know…”
CM: …don’t look for the Cuban. just get something that you like, you know, they got something else.
RG: What if you don’t know what you like and you really want a Cuban?
CM: That’s a hard one. That’s a hard one.
RG: I’d, I would tell people to look at the band.
CM: True. But you know, they do such a good job.
RG: They can do a really good job, but…
CM: You know.
RG: …right away and like, really…
CM: … the hieroglyphics. …Yeah. The hieroglyphics is all…
RG: …it’s like especially if it’s on the beach.
CM: Yeah. [laughs] . Oh, don’t even tell me about that. [laughs].
RG: But if you walk into a store, you can get duped.
RG: And like the clear top boxes, that’s a big red flag.
CM: Like they don’t have that at all.
RG: Sampler packs.
CM: They don’t have that, [laughs]. right? Exactly. You get a [inaudible 00:10:55] for what? No, man. [laughs].
RG: And if the price is cheap? I only got these Cubans for $1 a piece. Probably not a Cuban.
CM: …right. That’s not a Cuban. It’s a trash bag. [laughs]. Not the plastic one but the paper one.
RG: So price, packaging, label.
RG: Maybe the store name.
CM: And if you really wanna know? Cut it open. Because I guarantee you it’s gonna be short filler falling all out of that thing.
RG: True. I’ve heard some pretty bad horror stories—glass, hair.
CM: You’ll find some… anything in there. Yes, you know.
RG: Have you ever cut one open and found something weird in it?
CM: Um, oh, the most thing I’ve found was short filler and long filler mix, you know, cause I’m really like testing it and like, why is it going out all the time? And so I cut it open like, oh, okay. I got it. You know? Um, I don’t know wanna say I’m particular about what I smoke. I smoke everything. I try not to smoke my stuff all the time.
CM: Um, so I’m always seeing what, what’s out there just to, not to gauge where I’m at, just to see what people are doing. And when that comes up, you’re like, ooh, this one is really like, ooh. I’ll cut it open. You might as well, I’m ingesting it.
CM: I see what it is. And like, why does it taste like this? And then I’ll smell the tobacco. Like, oh, it hasn’t been fermented or oh, look at a wrapper color. Like, you know, stuff like that. And as for me, as a matter of fact, I know kind of thing and I try to tell people like, hey, cut it open.
CM: Just, just, to see.
RG: It’s horrifying to do that, though. I’ve done it before. But it’s horrifying.
CM: Yeah. You’d be surprised. It’s like, if it doesn’t roll out, it’s supposed to roll right out in the leaves. and if it doesn’t do that bingo.
CM: Like don’t be surprised whose cigars are actually like that.
Should You Smoke a Moldy Cigar?
RG: I actually just cut open a cigar because a coworker had found some from somebody who had them improperly humidified and he’s like, there’s some mold on the on the foot. And I said, I wouldn’t smoke it. He goes, why not? And I go because it could have leeched up.
RG: So I cut open, cut it open and right there, it just followed a vein about halfway through this cigar. He’s like, oh my God, I didn’t know it could do that.
RG: I’m like, “Yeah.”
CM: That’s where it’s going.
RG: So you think you’ve cut the mold off because you don’t see it anymore on the end, but really it went up a vein.
RG: It’s like water.
RG: …it’s going to path of least resistance.
CM: Correct. And that’s where all of the uh-
RG: Most of the water is on the veins.
RG: So it’s just gonna feed off that vein system.
CM: Correct. That’s that’s where, you know, when it, when it rains, oops, sorry. When it rains and it does everything, everything goes to the vein, you know, that’s the the heartbeat of the, the leaf, you know, and, uh,
RG: Mold heaven.
CM: …everything, everything.
RG: … mold heaven on that thing.
CM: Yes. Everything. And you can imagine if someone was actually doing the, uh, pesticides or whatever.
CM: It’s going to the vein.
CM: That’s where it’s going, you know, that’s where, that’s, what’s growing on the actual, you know, tobacco, you know, yeah. So…
RG: Yeah. I def I don’t mess around with mold and I don’t mess around with fake Cubans.
CM: No. Yes.
RG: Don’t smoke either one of them.
CM: Yeah. That, and I tell people, “I have mold, can I smoke it?” I’m like, do you eat moldy bread? I’m like “Do you eat moldy cheese [laughs].”
RG: I just, I gotta ask people. Sometimes I’m like, is it that hard up? I Like, I know it’s it hurts me inside a little bit to see a cigar go to waste.
RG: …because somebody spent a lot of time to make it. But we’re not God, we can’t revive it.
RG: So we gotta let it go.
CM: And usually when that happens, it’s like, Hey, it’s something that you did ’cause it’s usually something that you did.
CM: It’s not…
RG: Yeah, not properly taken care of.
CM: Right. It’s too humidified it’s too, you know, it’s something that you, it’s you [laughs]. It’s the end user. It’s you.
RG: It’s not me.
CM: Right. It’s you. It’s you. It’s not me. I [crosstalk 00:14:39]-
RG: It’s a bad break up [laughs]. You, know [laughs]. It’s not me, it’s you.
How to Get Rid of Tobacco Beetles Without Ruining a Cigar
CM: [laughs]. That’s what happens every time. I got, I got beetles, No, that’s you, you made them re-hatch again, you know, you did. [laughs]. That’s right.
RG: Oh man. I’ll give you a breakout beetles. Cause, don’t you think the manu…, do you like, do manufacturers freeze their product?
CM: Well, I know we, we do uh, fermentation, not fermentation, um, irrigation. We spray for them.
CM: Uh, twice, twice, sometimes. Once a month, natural product.
RG: Mm-hmm [affirmative].
CM: …close the factory down, spray everything, everywhere. The, the freeze process is, um, for us it’s if you want it, like I can say, Hey, freeze these before you send it or leave them in the cold room. Not, uh, not exactly freezing them, but leave them in like a air conditioned room for like 65 degrees. You know, for a day or two. And they’re cold.
RG: But that’s not cold enough to crack the eggs out?
CM: No, it’s not.
RG: That’s the whole point of the freezing process.
CM: Right, the freezing process [crosstalk 00:15:46]-
RG: The freezing is kind of like…
CM: Yeah. Yeah. And you don’t need to do it like two or three days, you know, like four hours, you know three, four hours. Then it just gets to a point some in my, the ones that I have done, it kind of diminishes the flavor a little bit.
RG: The freezing?
CM: Only I would know, only. I would know.
RG: So the freezing diminishes the flavor?
RG: You wanna know why? I think it’s because the freezer and the refrigerator suck a lot of moisture out of the air. But you could put your box of cigars or cigars in a Boveda humidor bag and and the Boveda.
RG: …and throw it in there. And it might prevent that. But you’re right. If it cools down, it’s, it’s gonna leave. Some of those oils and sugars are gonna leave.
CM: ‘Cause people don’t really know how to properly freeze it and, and gradually bring it back. They’re like-
RG: So once you pull it out, you’ve gotta gradually bring it back?
CM: [crosstalk 00:16:39]. Yeah. It ain’t like, oh, I leave it out. on the counter for two, three days. No, man.
RG: So where do you go? Freezer, refrigerator?
CM: Freeze it, then we take it to the… We freeze it then we put it in the cold room to let it gra- the temperature gradually rise up and then we may stick it back into the aging room to where it’s ready to go. So we get it to the right temperature…
CM: …to where it’s going. It’s like coming out of in cold weather and you go throw some hot water on your hand.
RG: Yeah. It hurts.
CM: It shocks, it shocks it, you know, you’re shocking a cigar. So you gradually bring it. And then it’s back together, you know-
RG: So a customer could do that, too. If they had beetles, they could throw them in the freezer.
RG: Let them sit in there, even if they wanted to overnight.
CM: They could, yeah.
RG: …put them in the refrigerator.
RG: … another 24 hours.
RG: …and then slowly bring them back up.
CM: Slowly bring them back up. Yeah, Yeah. just isolate it and get it back to…
RG: But man. If you cut that cigar open and figured out how much tobacco that beetle ate.
CM: You might as well throw it out.
RG: ’cause it’s it’s pooping out the other end.
CM: You might as well just throw it out.
RG: Yeah. Throw it out [laughs].
CM: Just throw it out, you know? Don’t cut it in a place. Just throw it out, you know.
RG: Let it go.
CM: Yeah. It’s like, come on. Why waste all that time? [laughs]… when you could have just went to the store and got another one?
Why You Should Never Recharge Boveda Cigar Humidity Packs
RG: That’s what I think about other people that are like, can you recharge these? And I’m like, do you really want to? Do you really wanna recharge Boveda?
CM: It’s funny that you ask me that? It’s funny that you say that, but when I first started somebody was like, oh, you can recharge those. Oh yeah, all you need is this, this and this. Let me try. Let’s see what happens. So I put in it. It swells up.. I’m like, I don’t wanna use this again.
CM: I don’t wanna use this again.
CM: Yeah, you can use it again. I’m like, I don’t think it’s supposed to be like this, so…
RG: No. Yeah. you’re absolutely right. [laughs]. You’re absolutely right. Yes. Salt will attract more moisture again. It’s a natural byproduct, but no…
RG: It’s not the way.
CM: It just doesn’t seem right. [laughs]
RG: … It’s not the way the manufacturer intended it.
CM: It’s not supposed to be this big. [laughs] Like a big pimple.
RG: It’s about the size of a…
CM: Yeah. It just blows up [crosstalk 00:18:29]. Right? Exactly. It’s horrible. I’m like, okay. Horrible.
RG: Oh, man. [laughs]. So the military experience…
CM: mm-hmm [affirmative].
RG: … do you think that’s what got you to be able to start a cigar brand? Or do you think, nah…
CM: …to be honest with you.
CM: When I was first asked to come back, I was like, you’re fucking out of your mind.
RG: Come back where?
CM: To do cigars.
RG: Wait a minute. Take me back to the first time you did cigars.
RG: Cause the comeback is that this?
CM: Well, the comeback. No, the comeback was Chris. You were in tobacco before, why don’t you go to the cigar side, you know?
RG: Oh, ’cause So the, st-
CM: the original…
RG: the story is, is that… Yeah. You tell it, man, you.
CM: Yeah, I was about two years from retiring. My thing was to play golf, teach cause I was two handicap. I love golf. It was like every day I’m like, man, I’m playing golf. When I retire, I’m gonna just teach golf.
CM: …and play. And cigars was the last thing on my mind. You know, I smoked here and there and it’s like, Hey, my uncle in the D.R. Was like, Hey, why don’t you do cigars, man. You really doing good. You know, cigars and golf go hand in hand. I’m like, man, you out of your damn mind. Cause I already knew the business, back then…
CM: …was even crazier. Now it’s like, you know the business already. Just you can do it. I think. it’ll work. Uh, cause I always wanted to do like sure. I was into the military and the golf thing. I wanted to do a polo with military insignia on it and golf shirts.
CM: …and just something tied to my relaxation, my mistress of golf.
RG: Right, right, right.
CM: That was my whole thing. So it took me a couple of months to decide. I’m like, all right, you know, you know what? Because in the research doing all of the shirts, it was very hard to get to a good company that I could start small.
CM: …and produce good polo shirts.
CM: … because everything is China. You know, it wasn’t… it was only two companies in America that really did…
RG: Pretty hard to come up with-
CM: … Yeah.
RG: …the American military.
CM: Correct. [crosstalk 00:20:34]. They’re like, oh, you gotta go to Vietnam. I’m like, I’m not going to Vietnam. You know, I actually, was in a class because so I took the class.
CM: We’d have a class called a boost for business.
RG: Oh, sweet.
CM: Yeah. They you know, kind of get you what you need to know how to do a business plan, you know, loans, blah, blah. You know, they went through the whole gamut. And I was actually in a class with someone who was doing apparel. So I talked about what I wanted to do. He’s like, oh, you probably need to get with my contact in Vietnam. I’m like, “I’m not going to damn Vietnam. to.” So he’s like, and after I did my research, they had all of the stuff that I wanted wicker shirts that, are, you know, I don’t really like the big cotton polo shirts, that-
CM: …you know, really light wearing. um, And he was like, yeah, that’s where you’ll get them all. Like, but it’s really good. I’m like, did some research. I’m like, no. then I have to get somebody. I gotta buy machines. I started looking at the price tag.
RG: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
CM: I’m like…
RG: Cha-ching, cha-ching…
RG: … cha-ching.
From Retiree Golfer to the Early Days of Carolina Blue Cigars
CM: It was like people , you know, outsourcing. I’m like, Hmm, I’m not gonna do this myself in the garage. It’s not going to happen. So then, you know, this opportunity comes up and I’m like, oh, slept on it. All right. Let’s see how it’s gonna work. You know, I was very, still into golf, heavily.
CM: …and and I’m like, all right, give me, give me, give me what you think. Give me good stuff. The first, first batch was really like, crap. You know, I’m like, ah, I’m like, this is crap. So I’m you know, I’m…
RG: don’t, don’t be bashful about telling them.
CM: No, It was crap straight crap.
RG: Yeah. Good.
CM: Yeah. [crosstalk 00:22:06]. So, [laughs] and I’m passing it out I’m like, man, I say you can’t fool golfers. Like a lot of these golfers really smoke. You know, some people just like to smoke have it in their mouth while they play, but a lot of people smoke it for real.
CM: So I’m like, okay, all right, let me introduce you to the blender. So I met Francisco De La Cruz. Really, really he’s a small factory, but really great blender. Like everybody knows who the guy is. So as I, so, you know, we, we, we hit it off. He like, understood that I had a tobacco background. So, you know, he got me back in into blending again and, you know, just got my senses up again one more time. So we came up with a second blend and I just passed them out for like a year to the golfers, like, Hey yeah, you want something to smoke here? Try this here, try this. And let me know when you see me next week, how you liked it, then everybody was like, wow, this is a good stick. You know, where’d you get it from?
I’m like, oh, something I came up with. But I’m like, so it went on for months. I’m like, you know what? Those are golfers. Let me go to the shop. So I knew a couple of shop owners and I gave them the same thing. I’m like, man, you should, you should sell these. I’m like, seriously. He’s like, yeah, for real. I’m like, okay.
So I went back and we tweaked the blend a little bit. I’m like, okay, you twisted my arm. So like, what are you gonna name it? You know I’m like, “Why don’t you name after you?” I’m like who the hell is gonna buy a Chris Moore cigar. [laughs] You know.
RG: It’s smart though for branding not to name it after yourself ’cause you can’t sell the company afterwards.
CM: Yeah. Right. Right? So I’m like.
Public Address: If you are using a scooter for registration, please return it by 4:45. Once again, if you are using a scooter for registration, please return it by 4:45.
CM: … It sounds like we in school, the principal just uh-
RG: Yeah, yeah [laughs].
CM: …please come back to class.
CM: Yeah. The weekly announcement, the daily announcement. But yeah, that’s, that’s how that started and, uh, that process was very, uh, tedious because in D.R., you know, they make so many cigars. And a lot of cigars are done locally. Like for, I got a customer that comes in every day and he likes these 10 cigars or 20 or whatever.
I sell them to the store. And they, so their mind is, is basically on the local community, you know, cause it’s a small factory and that’s how they make their money.
RG: Okay. I didn’t know that.
CM: So I don’t really, yeah. It’s more like I’m the corner store.
CM: So I got the corner store. products. He really likes these chips that are not sold in the grocery store.
So he has these other brands. I really like those. So that’s his market.
CM: So I had to get the way of the thought process. Like, hey, if you wanna take this to another level, because that’s the only way I’m gonna get with you. I don’t wanna just sell it to my friends on the corner. I’m gonna, we’re gonna move this along.
RG: So your whole, the whole process was to get to the American market.
CM: Yeah. Just to get it out. And we’re gonna go, we’re gonna go heavy with this, you know? And he’s like, oh, okay.
RG: What’s heavy? Like for him, like, is it like moving a hundred boxes?
CM: I was looking at moving, in in the first year. Like we gotta move like five or 6,000 units, you know, from, from the beginning. But I knew moving it meant a lot of giveaways. Like it wasn’t gonna be samples. I know it. was gonna, somebody was gonna come in and give me 10 and 15. But I knew the first year I was gonna give out a ton.
RG: So you’re paying the upfront costs for everyone to experience the brand?
CM: Right. You know, that’s, that’s how business is you gotta…
RG: What do you think people wanna experience out of a brand when they’re, when you’re getting, this, given a sample, what do they want the experience to be?
CM: They want something that is just not, oh, I, I taste that before such and such tastes similar to such and such, you know. I’m boutique, you know, it’s like having a suit made, you know, Right. I have this only suit, it was customized for me. You can’t go to Macy’s and get it somewhere else. You know, I have a different liner.
CM: …you know, that’s, that’s the thought process I had.
RG: So You were going in blending and going. I can’t, I gotta make sure this doesn’t taste like something else.
RG: So when you said you like to try a bunch of other people’s stuff, that’s smart.
CM: That’s what I was doing. I was like, Hmm. Cause that’s what I realized, will I smoke this brand or this brand. So I was like, why?
Because it does this, it does that. I’m like, oh, okay. So I would smoke it. I’m like, Hmm. I think I could do something better than that. Or different than that. I couldn’t say better.
CM: I don’t say, you know, it’s different.
CM: So we worked on that and finally, we came up with something like, I don’t want the typical Tamboril cigar, like…
RG: What’s a Tamboril cigar?
CM: Joe down the street, a little booth cigar.
RG: Oh, okay.
CM: You know, you go to the beach and you’re like, here, try this. I’m like, okay.
RG: [laughs] Yeah. It’s unbanded. It’s really, really good though.
CM: Yeah. Yeah.
RG: If it doesn’t have a band on it, I don’t know if I wanna smoke it.
Carolina Blue Catches Fire as the Unofficial Cigar of the Carolina Panthers
CM: Right. Right. I make these $2, [laughs]. You know, that, that thing. So I’m like, we’re gonna take this to another level. And the next level that actually happened for us was my first client was uh, Carolina Panthers. Fortunately, and we did a lot of private events. Uh, Thomas Davis, Muggsy Bogues, some other stuff.
RG: Yeah. You’ve been coined the Carolina Panthers cigar.
CM: Right. And that’s that was…
RG: The colors for one.
CM: The the original one was their color, but it was, you know, the whole purpose behind the Carolina Blue wasn’t anything to do with any of that, you know.
RG: Yeah. You didn’t, you, you didn’t purposefully set out to do that.
CM: Yeah. I didn’t even think about that…
RG: It just kind of happened.
CM: Right. And, um…
RG: … and it just so happens. They enjoyed it.
CM: They did. And then it moved on to where Santa Clara got ahold of it or JR Cigars or Casa de Montecristo. And they called me like, “Hey, everybody’s keep asking me about this Carolina Blue Cigar. Why are we not selling it here in the Carolinas? I’m like, I don’t know. I’m like, I wasn’t even looking at you.
CM: …as far as, uh, uh, a actual product. Cause I’m like, this is gonna be a slow moving train and then they got it and I’m like, wow. So that gave me a wake up call. I’m like…
RG: Supply and demand just start to get a little tighter.
CM: I’m like and then I was, you know, I was traveling and, and to different areas. And they would say, “Hey, this is a Carolina. This is that Panther cigar.”
CM: Or this that Tarheel cigar.
RG: You’ve already got a nickname for your cigar.
CM: Yeah, it was like…
RG: You named it Carolina Blue so it’d be easy to say.
RG: And they still can’t say it.
CM: Right. I was like, Hey, I want you to do it so you can remember it. Cause you know, we’re here. And a lot of the cigars…
CM: …are, you know, Hispanic names.
RG: You put a Spanish name on it. I go even Limitada, I’m like “Limited-ah-do”.
RG: … oh, Limitada.
CM: Right, right. [laughs]. So that was, that’s the only Spanish thing on it. So when I’m back at the factory, like, oh, Carolina Blue, who’s the daughter? Who is it named after? You know, Carolina. That’s how they say Carolina.
Like, is that named after your daughter? I’m like, no, it’s Carolina. Like why, what is it then I tell them, they say, oh, okay.
RG: The state.
… not the girl. Right. So they got the it’s two different meanings in two different places. So we moved on and then, you know, once Casa de Montecristo gave me a wake up call, like a serious wake up call. Like I can’t sustain this at, at where I’m at, you know.
RG: So are we now in the second boom?
CM: This is the second boom.
RG: So the first boom was basically you’re slinging the sticks out on the golf course.
CM: And in a…
RG: …a weird way, right?
RG: Kind of like this non-branded haphazardly way, you kind of got to know a guy?
RG: Hey, this was really good…
RG: …but you gotta know this guy.
RG: And you’re like, no, no. What made you not? Like, were you making money off of that?
CM: It was originally? No..
RG: Were you charging people?
CM: Um, I was just giving this shit away. [laughs]. I was giving it away. I’m like here, because, but I say into, until we launched.
RG: Was it your plan though, to try to see what people would say about it?
CM: That was.
RG: So it was you being patient…
CM: I was doing the marketing. I was doing my own marketing to see like, okay. So I had so many people like, oh, okay. I even went to New York, talked to some people, a really good friend of mine. Uh, Raymond at a shop. He’s very honest with me. He’s like, yeah, Chris, this is really good.
RG: Okay. You were giving it to people who were in the industry to say…
RG: …smoke this. Let me know is it of good caliber.
CM: Right. Let me know if you got …
RG: That’s good advice.
CM: Yeah. I would say go and and get people that I, I really didn’t. I was giving to people that would not like your friends would always boost you up. Like, oh, that’s a great idea. It could be a freaking awful, fucking awful idea.
CM: They’re like, yeah, you should do it.
RG: So listening to customers, aren’t always the best.
CM: No, especially someone close to you.
CM: You know, you need to get somebody to…
RG: They’re afraid to tell you that it sucks.
CM: Correct. So they didn’t know. I’m like, Hey, somebody gave me this, try it. Let me know what you think. You know, they didn’t know that I was the owner because I didn’t portray myself as the owner.
I was like, yeah, try this Hey, I’ve got some cigars. Try them out. Hey, try those. But as the business started growing, they were like, yeah, I’m getting back into the business. Then they were really, they knew who I was. So they would give me honest, honest feedback. And then I was like, okay, enough of you guys.
Let me go to the people who go to, you know, putting it on the shelf. And a lot of, lot of the shop owners were like, yo, this is really good. You should really go for it. That’s before the whole, everybody on the street corner had a, a cigar. You know, I came right at the very end of, of when getting cigars were, you know, before the turn of social media you know, this was like 2017.
RG: ‘Cause you launched it in 2016 so…
CM: Right. Yeah, it was right. At that time when, uh, you know, social media really pushed cigars. So I was like right at the back end of, you know, before the new turnover and, and, and it blossomed. We had good sticks, but the demand, you know, for such a small factory, we couldn’t hold it. You know…
RG: And even your brand. Who’s gonna, unless you’re in Carolina and you go…
RG: Oh, it’s the Panther cigar.
RG: And who’s gonna smoke it?
Why Carolina Blue Cigars Shut Down Production
CM: Correct. And I had long conversations with bigger manufacturers, like, “Uh, you maybe look, look at your marketing.” I’m like, okay. So I moved along, and I just shut it down. I like totally shut the company down at the end of 2018, we just stopped production.
RG: Done. Were people calling, you asking for orders?
CM: They were like, Hey, hey. yeah, it’s like, what’s going on? Like…
RG: What were you telling them?
CM: We’re relaunching, please be patient. I’m relaunching.
RG: What are you, what are you doing to try to relaunch?
CM: We came in with a whole new during that time I started to look for another factory. So I was in Nicaragua, in Dominican Republic.
RG: Why just because that factory couldn’t keep up with what…
CM: It couldn’t keep up with demand. It could not keep up with the orders. Um, and it was not, it was not a, a knock on them. It was just, they weren’t ready for something that large.
RG: Yeah. Well, you just went…
RG: … to the 7-Eleven on the, on the corner and you just asked them to distribute…
RG: To United States.
CM: Right. And it, came and it became, so I was hoping that we would grow and expand together. But the growth factor came so quick that it was like, hey, I couldn’t get orders. Or we couldn’t find tobacco, you know.
RG: You couldn’t find tobacco?
CM: … and then as far as sort, you know, getting the tobacco that I wanted because…
RG: So this guy is not growing it. No, he’s just buying it.
CM: No, we were sourcing it, we were sourcing it. Right. And if you don’t source…
RG: A lot.
CM: The great stick that we had before, and I go back and want another order in six months, it’s a totally different different taste.
RG: You’re out of that inventory.
CM: So that was happening like, Hey, what happened? It doesn’t taste the same. And I’m like, in my mind, I’m like, I know.
RG: You knew it?
CM: I know it doesn’t taste. Right. Cause I would get it. And I would smoke it. I’m like, Hey, this doesn’t taste right.
RG: What do you do then? Cause you’re stuck with you’ve paid for it, right.
CM: I’m, I’m stuck with it. But the thing about it, it still had the it still had the complexity, but it was like a little I’m very particular…
RG: Clearly, your customers.
CM: Yeah. I’m very particular. Some of them didn’t realize it.
RG: Right. But some of them did.
CM: Some of them did. And was like, oh, it, it, it, it doesn’t taste the same.
RG: We’ve all been down that road, if we smoked cigars before…
RG: Every once in a while, you’re like…
CM: You gotta know like, hey, this is not the same one.
CM: And if, again, if you’re not doing the work, all your stuff can be different every single time.
CM: So I’m like I, can’t do this again.
RG: But what kind of work does it take to make sure it’s consistent?
CM: You gotta be in the factory. You gotta be boots on ground.
RG: You gotta be patient.
CM: You gotta be patient.
RG: You gotta keep going to the factory and keep doing the work.
CM: You gotta keep going to the factory, flying in and like, “Hey, what you got going on?” Let’s see what’s going on with these. You gotta be there before they ship it. You gotta be there when they’re rolling it. You’re like, all right, “Hey, this is not right.” You know, that’s what happened here.
RG: Do you have a guy now that’s keeping track at the factory?
CM: Oh, The factory is the El Fuente that we have now is, I tell them all the time. I wish I would have found you guys six years. ago.
RG: So they’re really there to make sure the quality control is consistent to the way you set it out?
CM: And, and the way we do it, they grow all the tobacco.
CM: We, we hardly source a lot of tobacco. They grow everything they have, for the most part. And we have another great grower that’s in there. That’s, you know, and they’re, they’re affiliated deeply with, uh, and I’ll put it out here. I don’t care. They’re deeply affiliated with Davidoff. A lot of them came from Davidoff.
CM: You know, they have uh, family roots with Davidoff, as far as the workers. You know, split off and they made their own factory. So, and after I, you know, figured that out and say, “Hey, let’s blend some of mine.” And they’re like, “Oh, okay.” It’s like, “Oh, you don’t really want to blend what you had before. Let’s, let’s enhance what you had before.” So I’m like, okay, let me see what you can do. So I’m like holy shit…
CM: And they just blew it out the water.
CM: You know, I went to some other big guys that just could not give me what I was looking for. I’m like, no, not like the big guys. This, this is like a major, it’s like Calvin Klein. They, this is what we make. We’re doing millions of shirts. I want a special shirt with this on the pocket. We ain’t gonna do that. You know what I’m saying?
CM: Like, no, go down to Jane, down the street.
Finding the Right Factory to Grow with Carolina Blue
CM: These guys was like, “Hey, we’re gonna grow with you. We’re at the same point where you are. I see what you bring to the table. You got a huge account, which you’re already bringing to the table let’s grow together.” It was like, it was, it was like, we were family from day one when I walked in there.
And now when I walk in the factory, I don’t really talk about what cigars you got from me today. I’m like, “Hey, how’s your family doing? Hey, come on, let’s go to lunch.” Hey, you know, everybody like, Hey,
RG: True relationship.
CM: That’s what I was building from the beginning, you know? And they understood that. He’s all about relationship. And, uh, and that’s why they take care of me now.
RG: So do you attribute that relationship to your success?
CM: A hundred percent. A hundred percent. That’s why they’re here with me now. They’re like they they actually asked me, you know, and that’s why I have them on the table with me. their cigars. And they asked me like, “Hey Chris, do you mind?”
If we jump, we go with you?” I’m like, hell yeah, come with me. Y’all been behind me the whole time. Why would I not say no?
CM: And like, let’s do this together. And we have a stable of other you know, brands in the, in the factory. And they asked me to do it, you know, from day one, because I’m not in there just for making my cigars.
What’s your welfare. Like everybody good for COVID you need anything. You good? You know, we don’t talk about cigars when I’m in there. We just like, “Hey, let’s go out and have, you know.” It’s not, they already know I’m coming there for business
CM: And they know like, Hey, let’s get his stuff right. You know, but first of all, I gotta make sure you’re right.
RG: When you were trying to find him, did you, were you intimidated in like, trying to find that partner? Like, I don’t even know what it would feel like to walk into a cigar makers factory and feel like, Hey, I’m looking for somebody to, work with.
CM: It was, it was a, I guess, because of the process that I was doing it through, I was, I was probably into the eighth month process of going to factory, trying all kinds of cigars and, and you know, the good thing about, I guess, people I’m sociable and they like, oh, he’s good.
You know? And I’m like you in your mind, like, you just don’t make the cut. [laughs].
[laughs]. You know, I don’t want to say, you know, like how could this little guy say he don’t make the cut. It’s not, it’s not a cut. It’s like, my vision is like the profile of Carolina Blue. This is what I want. I don’t want your…
RG: What is your vision? Explain your vision.
CM: … Yeah. Well, it’s, I wanna give everybody an experience.
You know, like we’re sitting here and it’s like, I don’t want to taste like a LFD, you know. I don’t want the one trick pony, you know? I wanna give you something that a lot of people is not giving you. I wanna give you value as a, as a customer. I want you to enjoy the experience of what you’re smoking.
I want you to taste what the country has given you.
RG: I’d have to say there’s a, a little bit of sweetness here and…
CM: It’s starting to come. It’s starting to change.
RG: And as I got into the larger ring gauge of the cigar.
RG: …It has changed.
CM: It’s gonna change again. It’s gonna change again.
RG: Dude, I love that.
CM: It’s gonna change again.
RG: That’s my favorite thing about a cigar is like when it can make changes.
CM: Yeah. It’s gonna change again. It’s like anybody, I mean…
RG: How do you do that?
CM: I’m like, why not?
RG: But how do you do it?
CM: It’s it’s just [laughs] a lot of work. A lot of patience. [laughs] and it’s a lot of creativity, you know, I went to them like, and like, “Hey, I really need us to do this.” And they would come back and like, ah, like, no, flip this there, put this over here. Sometimes they would come to me and say, Hey, try this one.
We just came up with something. And I was like, if you do this. And move this here. Change the wrapper, it’ll taste totally different. And this is from a, because of, if you do something so much, for so long, you know, your mind is like, oh, this is my routine. But if I take you a little outside of your box a little bit and open your mind a little bit, like, wow, I didn’t realize…
RG: But how do you stay fresh then?
CM: Cause I’m always absorbing. I’m always watching. I’m always like learning something. I’m always like smoking. And I’m always looking to advance for. I’m always thinking for eventually they’re gonna get tired of Limitada. They’re gonna get tired of that. So I’m always looking like, “Hey, let’s try to make something for next year or two years later.” Let’s try to get some tobacco and prepare for two years later. Let’s just always be forward looking.
RG: You’re looking for the future.
CM: Yeah. Let’s just, don’t worry. I know it’s not gonna happen today, but why should I go crazy about right now when longevity is going to be in the game. And …
RG: You don’t wanna rest on your loins. Yeah. You want everyone to enjoy this, but what’s next.
CM: Right. What’s next? What you got next?
All right. We’re tired of those.
RG: I can get on board with that. That’s me. Okay. We did this now. Let’s go onto the next.
CM: Correct. And, uh, and that’s just how everything that I do is like, Hey, let’s, let’s move this to the next level. like, Hey, that’s a good cigar. I’m like, no, it’s too many like that.
RG: Where did you get the honesty factor? Did you just figure it’s better not to BS and just say what you want.
RG: Has that always been a part of your character?
CM: I’m very raw. [laughs]. And I love Steve Saka. Cause I watched the Steve Saka interviewed the other day. I’m like, I’m in love with him [laughs].
RG: Yeah. Cause he is so raw. Because he says it like it is.
CM: Yeah. And it’s, And I’m like, wow, I wanna say that so bad. But I don’t have that years of, you know, being in the game and, and the level of expertise that he has, but I’m like…
RG: But do you need that to be raw? And to be honest?
CM: No, but in this game I shouldn’t call it this business. It’s not a game. Um, I think honesty and being very upfront about what’s good. And what’s not because when I smoke a cigar, my cigars, I smoke it as a customer. I don’t smoke it as…
RG: Yeah. You should.
CM: …it’s mine. So I go in the corner, I light up, like, I just bought it off the shelf. If you ever come to the factory, you’ll see, like, “Where’s Chris? He’s over there smoking.” And I’ll sit over there in the corner, some coffee, uh, smoking. And come over and like, “Do you like them?” I’m like, yeah, it’s good. It’s real good. But I think, cause I’m looking like who’s gonna buy it. The Dominican market is not worried about buying.
They can buy a thousands cigars right where they are.
CM: I’m looking for my customers in Texas, New York, North Carolina, wherever like, will these customers buy this cigar? Is there another one on the shelf that is like this cigar? Because I’ve smoked 80% of them already. So I’m already looking for like, okay, if we do this right here, and it really happened. So I like, alright, I’ve, I even tell everyone, I don’t, I don’t like it because he’s like and he even say, I trust what Chris says.
RG: When you don’t like it, they trust you.
CM: They trust what I say.
RG: That’s a good relationship.
CM: Yeah. They trust what I say. Cause I’m not looking for it to like, oh, you’re not good. I’m like, cause when I grow, we all gonna grow. And if I’m not honest about what you’re giving me to present. You’re gonna have a whole bunch of boxes sitting on the shelves that’s not gonna sell. What are we in business for? To make money.
Geting Carolina Blue Boutique Cigars In Tobacco Shops
RG: Right. How hard is it to try to get your box on the shelf though? You’re looking at trying to just get one box on the shelf or do you want multiple? Because you offer, even the sampler pack. What do we got? Four different?
CM: Yeah. We got five, five different SKUs. Five different blends.
RG: You have five different blends.
RG: You’re asking me, as a retailer, to put five different blends on the shelf of something that nobody knows the name of?
CM: I’m not.
RG: What are you asking me?
CM: If I say, “Hey, Rob, you got a shop? What do they like?” They like this type of cigar. I’m like, okay, Rob. I’m not gonna force you to buy five SKUs. Buy what your customers like and throw one throw in there that maybe you can get them on to. See how they like it. And we arrive from there. I’m not trying to force your hand to buy all 10 of my SKUs. But…
RG: It’s interesting. So you just said, what do my customers like? And I know. I can tell you the brands, but you, you also say that you don’t have a brand. You want your cigars to stick out than other brands, but you’re still matching them. So what are you matching them on? Like flavor profile? Strength? What are you, what are you looking for when you’re trying to match another brand? Even though yours is unique to other brands?
CM: As we all know, majority of the customers, they like flavor, but they also look at costs.
CM: They look at cost, for the most part.
RG: So you’re putting in your, your, when they spit out some names, you’re, what are you doing?
What’s Special about Smoking a Boutique Cigar like Carolina Blue
CM: I’m like, okay. So I know X brand tastes like this, so I say, okay—and I’ve done it—it’s, countless times. Like my Nicaraguan, uh, Corona. I won’t say the name of the company, but it’s, there’s a cigar company that has one similar to mine. People love it. I’m like, okay, try this one. The cost is cheaper. And you have more flavor from front to back. It’s like, yes. Because I’m boutique, I’m not gonna give you a halfway cigar. I have enough to where I can change and make it all the way to the back. I want you, Rob to enjoy that cigar as soon as you light it up. And I want you to smoke it so far that you can almost burn your fingers.
RG: But what are you saying? Those other companies that are bigger have to, they have to put some tobacco in there that might subdue the changes and the uniqueness of the blend, because they have so much tobacco to deal with and you’re…
RG: …on a different level that you can…
CM: No, it’s, it’s more of the volume that. They make.
CM: The volume of cigars. If you make, if you make so many cigars, if you make millions of cigars every day, just, you know, there’s no way that I can QC them all to make sure that, not saying that tobacco is bad, but for them to do from the front to the back. So what a lot of, I mean, you smoke, too.
A lot of cigars are front-loaded. So after you get to a certain point, your mind is already telling me like, wow, this was really, really a strong cigar flavorful, but after you get to a certain point, sometimes those cigars tend to go at a lower profile. Nothing wrong with that from the factory, but if you really sit there and think about it, like, wow…
RG: That’s an interesting point.
CM: It tapered off.
RG: Okay. So now you’re saying I got halfway to the halfway point.
CM: You’re good.
RG: And the flavor isn’t the same and it might’ve tapered down or changed slightly to the point—where do you really want to keep smoking this? All the way down to the nub?
CM: Correct? Correct.
RG: No, you might smoke into the-
CM: To the, to the…
RG: …last third a little bit and then be done.
RG: So what you’re trying to say is you provide the value in, I’m gonna keep, I’m gonna keep that intensity or those changes coming so that you smoke it all the way down to the nub.
CM: All the way to the nub.
RG: All right. Now, now, that, now I understand…
CM: And then now your and your, and your palate is still so nice and you know, going like, wow, I wanna try another one.
RG: Is that a measurement of success?
CM: It is. Like, okay, and I’m not asking you to buy 10 of mine. I want you, even if you don’t smoke another one of mine, you can go now smoke your own. And now in your mind is like, wow, I smoke because your, your palate, your, your taste buds like, wow, that, wasn’t what I just had.
And then you may come up, you know what, on the way out, Hey, let me get one of those Carolina Blues, I’m gonna take it to go. And I did my job. And that’s how I get you. [laughs].
[laughs]. And that’s what I’m supposed to do as a boutique. You know, like the suit, you may have two custom made suits, but you have a bunch of others that you like, but you’re like, you know what? I really like that boutique. I’m gonna wear that one today.
RG: Yeah. I tend to be that way.
RG: I like this stuff that really fits.
RG: And I’ll spend extra for it.
RG: But then again, there’s not a lot on the rack that actually fits me, I’m a little guy. [laughs].
CM: [laughs]. I know what you mean.
RG: You said this was a 30, 30 as it hangs six inches off from my waist.
CM: Right, Right. And, and, and that’s that’s, and I, and I just think to it. I’m like, this is what we do. I’m like, you know, people ask me like, what are you offering me? I’m like, I’m offering you a good cigar. Now I’m not saying I got the best cigar. I’m offering you an experience. I want you to taste what we have to offer. You’re a cigar smoker.
RG: That’s good.
CM: You know, that’s what I’m giving you.
RG: That hits all the things of like, you know, you, you say you’ve always wanted the cigar to have good transitions. You wanted, small is better. Is kind of like your idea of like, I can do, I can be a little bit more nimble.
RG: I’m the speed boat, not the ship.
How to Improve Your Golf Score According to Chris Moore, Founder of Carolina Blue
RG: You have that analogy running through everything. I wanna go back to golf because I need some pointers. [laughs]. I just went out last weekend and shot horribly. But-
RG: …shout out to my family. I made a little bit of money back on some bingo, bango, bongos.
CM: You know, golf. I tell people all the time, if you wanna be good in golf, practice from the finish back.
RG: From the finish?
CM: Practice from the hole back.
RG: I finish like this.
RG: Is that it?
CM: No, that’s not.
RG: Okay [laughs].
CM: [laughs]. Finish from the hole, practice from the hole when you putt, all your back to the tee box.
RG: So you would say, go drop…
CM: Go putt, putt, putt until your heart’s desire. Chip, chip…
CM: …chip, uh, your approach shot. Don’t worry about the driver.
RG: The driving gets everyone like messed up because they slice it. And send it.
CM: How many times do you do the driver? About six times a round, maybe?
CM: But you pound it out on the golf on the drive range about 45 minutes.
RG: Yeah. I know.
CM: How many times you putt in a round?
CM: How many times have you chipped in a round?
RG: I’m a, I’m a three to seven to eight putter.
CM: Even if you were good, you might do 32 times.
CM: …to putt every hole, right? If that, you know, if you par, if you I mean, just saying-
RG: Yeah, yeah.
CM: … if you, if you par-
RG: That’s not my case.
CM: … But I’m saying, I’m just, well, if you average-
RG: You can maybe double or triple, or maybe quadruple-
CM: … Right. but you, you putt more than you actually drive.
RG: Yeah, exactly.
CM: Or you chip more than you actually drive.
CM: Your, your, your approach shot is more than your drive. Your approach shot as least 18 times.
RG: So when you go to the driving range, do you immediately just grab the chippers and the putters?
CM: That’s all I do is putt, chip, putt, chip. Cause if I hit it out of bounds, not out of bounds, but in a bad spot, I can chip it out or get where I-
RG: … get back to where you need to be.
CM: And I’m on and I’m still on a regulation.
RG: All right. So if I’m in the woods…
RG: …or wherever, and I can either try to go for it to get yardage, or I can get out to safety, so I can get back onto the fairway. What’s my best option? Odds-wise?
CM: Hit it out into, into somewhere clear. Say, if you hit it into the woods, you’re about 170 yards out. Why would I try to go through the trees and pray that it gets through? And…
CM: … [laughs] when I see a clear shot at 180, I grab a six iron and I’m either on the green or outside the green where I can chip on maybe I get even maybe I get it for, you know, par. The worst could be a bogey?
RG: Yeah. And even if you have to take that lateral shot out, that doesn’t even get you a ton of yardage…
RG: …but it gets you into the clear,
RG: It’s better, right?
CM: Golf is about course management. Even if you take a five iron and you hit, like you have 500 yards out, you can hit a five iron about 200 yards for the average golfer.
Multiply that by three shots. How long is that? 600 yards. The hole is 500 yards.
RG: You could get there.
CM: Guess what? You on, you on for birdie.
CM: It’s just simple, simple, like you don’t have to pound the driver. You don’t score, nobody’s gonna drive the hole in one, in one shot. If you go to the PGA tour, if you can do that.
RG: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
CM: You know, and we watched it, the guys pounded the ball 400 yards, but he’s, he don’t eagle every hole.
CM: It’s all about course management, staying where you can get a clear shot to the next one. It’s about clear shots. This is like cigar business, clear shot. Be patient. You don’t have to be in the front. Just keep chipping away.
Next thing you know, like I got the same score. It don’t say oh, on the scorecard it say, oh, I hit a 200- yard drive.
CM: It doesn’t say anything on the scorecard. It just says 4, 3, 5.
RG: I know I write mine down 325 yards.
RG: [laughs] And I got a snowman.
RG: … for eight.
CM: Right. There’s no extra thing to—like how far did you drive it? Doesn’t say that in a scorecard.
CM: It doesn’t say it at all. I tell people I’m like, what are you talking about? I actually played around like, oh, I’m gonna try to drive. I’m like, go ahead. So he drives it all the way down. It was like he had to pound it about 300 yards, like, okay. So I’m hitting a three-wood, I ended about 220 yards and the next shot, he skull his shit over the top.
CM: And I’m like, I’m on the green for birdie. And he’s on the green for par. I’m like, wow, you hit 300 yards. And I got a better shot than you.
CM: I’m like, why do you do that, man?
CM: Course [laughs] management. Why? Why are you pounding it down the range? Why are you killing yourself? Make it simple. [laughs].
CM: Patience. It doesn’t matter how far you throw it out there.
RG: It’s, It’s so, uh, it’s such a good analogy to life.
RG: …you know, when you’re sitting in the rough and you’re going, man, I really just wanna get further down the course.
CM: Mm-hmm [affirmative].
RG: …but everything’s in your way. Do I take the easy shout out? Or do I try to keep pounding forward?
CM: I can do it.
RG: Yeah. [laughs].
CM: [laughs] I think, I can do it.
RG: Challenge accepted. Yes.
CM: I don’t practice at all, but I can do, it [laughs].
[laughs]. I don’t play but once every other month, but I think I can take it out of the rough and knock it down 150 yards. Yeah. Ploop, right back in the rough again.
RG: Bounces out the tree branch…
CM: Yeah. And here, take these grass seeds over there and put the grass seeds back here. [laughs]. You know, you plowed up the fucking place.
[laughs]. It’s crazy. Crazy.
RG: Uh, so golf has taught you how to live your life and uh, manage your business.
CM: Golf, I think has helped me be patient it’s like, you know, cause I used to play in tournaments and my ego got to me in the beginning. And then when I really learned that, you know, it’s the short victories, it’s the short victories that made me successful to get my score down.
I’m like, wow. And I just started using that whole patient thing, you know? And I was like, oh, like, and sometimes I would play a whole round without pulling the driver out. They’re like, how did the hell did you do that? I’m like, I’m not trying to out drive you. I’m patiently trying to win these holes.
RG: You wouldn’t pull the driver out?
CM: I would not pull it out.
RG: What are you teeing up with on the tee box?
CM: Three wood or iron? All I need to do is get it down to a certain amount. I would pick out spots a 300 yard, 300, say 300 a yard. You know, your average par four is about 380 to 420. My number is 150. That’s my number. If I get it to 150, I’m taking about an eight iron out and I’m on the green, 200 minus…
RG: You can hit your eight iron 150 yards?
RG: All right.
CM: Even if it’s on a, even if it’s on a front of the green I’m on the green.
RG: How do you, how do you get the power. Cause I’ve noticed like the more like my windup, if it gets a little more torque into it, but then I have to control. So how do you get the power out of a hit?
CM: It’s not even, It’s not even in the turn.
RG: It’s not in the turn?
CM: It’s in the lag.
RG: In the, in the, what?
CM: In the lag.
RG: So in the, in the come through?
CM: And it’s, it’s when a club is, it’s usually parallel, usually your arms will be come down, but the club is still lagging down. So that little space, this little bit of area right here gives you the power that’s coming through it.
Ain’t back here. There’s no way you can hold a power from the top of the swing, the same, amount of swing-
RG: So no matter how much I wind up-
CM: …it does not. It’s this little area-
RG: … in a form of coming down in that small…
RG: …whipping moment…
RG: Where you drive through.
CM: Correct. Cause I can do the same thing and come through at 50% and you’re like, wow, you’re going through that slope because that’s how far I wanna hit it.
Yes. This helps you get the distance wise. As far as the power, the percentage of power.
CM: So they’re like hit it at 50%, 70%.
CM: So that’s your swing, but it’s the lag of the power, the effort that you put into it causes the…
CM: Yeah, causes the distance.
RG: That’s just like baseball. When you, when you don’t keep your hands inside…
RG: …when you’re swinging, a lot of people will throw their hands out that loses all of your power.
CM: All. Correct. It’s the same swing. That’s why baseball players can hit it a mile. Hockey players can also do it that way, too.
CM: Cause it’s all about the lag. It’s that last slap shot that they hit it in.
RG: It’s all about the form of that swing?
CM: Yeah. And you know, it’s, you don’t have to. You know, now everybody’s so athletic.
You don’t have to hit it like Tiger or Rory, or have that perfect swing. It’s just that little slot area. If you can just get your club face flat or straight, really not getting it straight, you’re really hitting it on out. Cause you want the ball to counter spin and it comes back in.
RG: I could never do that. I could never get a ball to fly. Like some people would put a hook on it…
RG: …because that’s the way the course goes. Or they might put a slice on it.
RG: Cause that’s the where the course goes. I can never do that.
CM: It’s about hitting it out or hitting it in and ball placement. That’s, that’s…
CM: … it’s ball placement. Cause if you wanna hit it that way, you’ll put it in a certain and it just do that all the time because of the way your swing is coming through and the club face the way it’s turning. So the club face is in the ball’s gonna go out. If the club faces turn out, it’s gonna come back in. That’s why people slice all the time because the club face by the time it hits it, the club face is already turned in. So when the ball is hit it’s faced in, it makes the ball spin outward.
RG: Oh, wow.
CM: So you want the ball to do a counter spin to where it flies this way or to the right, but it comes back into the left and it goes further that way. So you gotta fade or draw, and that’s why you can play either side of the course that way. It’s all a bunch of little stuff, but it’s very simple.
RG: I love it.
CM: You know, It’s very simple because ego. I wanna slap this thing a fucking mile…
RG: Gotta get down those yardage.
CM: Man, take that six iron out and hit that shit over there. [laughs].
CM: Like, what are you talking about? Yeah. Hit it. Hit with a six iron as far as you can hit it. Like, wow, that’s all you need. Yeah. Now I hit the nine iron and eight iron. You’re on the green. Right. But our ego, we gotta take the biggest thing to knock the shit out of it. And you’re not even hitting it as far as you hit the six iron.
CM: Nobody’s knocking, walking off… Nobody here can really come up and hit a 280-yard drive on a regular day if you don’t practice every single day.
CM: And that was me. Golf was every day for me, 4:30 on a golf course. Lunchtime, I’m putting. Weekends, in the morning. I’m training, you know, in the mornings. Cigars are the same way. I’m always talking to the factory. What’s next? Let me check this blend out. Let’s check this leaf out. Let’s see what’s going on.
It’s just constant, you know, constant. Like, why are you not in more shops? Every shop doesn’t need me. You know, I use that kind of uh-
RG: Really? Interesting.
CM: … I say that all of the time. This weekend, oh, I got 17, 18 stores. I’m like, okay, how are you gonna sell Carolina Blue? Who’s in your shop. Oh, the big guys, you know, everybody knows the big guys Okay. So Carolina Blue is in the shop. How are you gonna sell me if Jim walks in and he wants a Cohiba, how are you gonna convert him to a Carolina Blue? You’re mainstream store? You don’t want me, I’m not your customer. I’m not. I’m just gonna sit on the shelf and I’m gonna be on your $5 rack in about a month.
CM: ‘Cause everybody comes in, they know what they want, and they walk out. Boutique shop differently ’cause boutiques have new stuff that people don’t have. And all of us are doing something different.
Why Millennials Favor Smoking Boutique Brands, like Carolina Blue
RG: Do you think millennials like to chase boutique brands?
CM: I think it’s different because it’s getting away from the grandfather-ish way.
RG: It’s stuff that’s been around. Oh, my dad, smoked that.
CM: Yeah. He used to smoke that, Let me try something different. You know, breweries everywhere. And everybody’s not drinking Coors.
RG: Do you think those ingrained into the generations fabric of how they actually were raised?
CM: Going against the grain. you know. We were kids, we did the same thing. You know, in a, in a sense, you know, we came up in a different era for us.
Communication was kind of moving in a different direction and our parents would say, you need to get off of that internet thing.
CM: You know what I’m saying? And they didn’t realize that eventually the internet is gonna run your house. You know?
RG: Mm-hmm [affirmative].
CM: … you know, Siri is gonna tell you where to go. You know, we’re not gonna need a typewriter anymore.
CM: You know, we’re not gonna need that. So now the kids now are so advanced, you know. They’re like, “Hey, let me do something different.” You know, we try a different. Tastes different, more healthy. You know, more interested. You know, more daring. I don’t care syndrome.
CM: They don’t care. It’s like, you know, all right let me try it.
RG: It’s not a brand following. It’s more of a, Hey, let me have an experience. That’s a little bit different.
CM: Right? And I can’t say colleges, you know, kids I wanna go to but now with the, uh, the social media game now it’s people like, Hey, entrepreneurial thing. It was like, I can make just as much money as my father did and he worked 15 years or 20 years.
CM: I can make it in five, and I don’t have to work for anybody.
RG: That’s an interesting point that whole like legacy of working for a company for 25 years and getting a good pension or good benefits.
RG: It’s, having them take, even the companies don’t want that anymore.
RG: They wanna hire new people with new ideas, new things, take it to the next level.
CM: Correct. And, And that’s…
RG: It’s a whole different mentality.
CM: And it’s fun. I mean, it’s fun to see, um, like I have my son here with me, uh, and, and he’s, uh, he has that thought, but part of cigars is still, is still the tradition of cigars.
You still have to, this is one of the few businesses that you still have to practice that tradition to get that product. We can’t cut a corner. We can’t rush it.
RG: In quality?
CM: In quality.
CM: We we can’t go out and-
RG: I’ll agree with that.
CM: …and, and grow something in three weeks and put it on the market.
RG: Yeah. This isn’t 1999.
CM: No, we still have to-
RG: The Cigar Boom is not…
RG: Anybody. And everybody just trying to go and get some cigars made for them. And this is what the factory has to offer. Take it or leave it.
CM: We have to take out time. And still takes three years to bring out a perfect leaf off the shelf. Still have the ferment it the same amount of time as Cohiba or, who else?
CM: I still have to do the same thing. I’m a boutique guy, but that doesn’t mean I can do it faster. That means I just do it differently.
RG: Good point. Yes. Boutique doesn’t mean speed.
CM: Right? And a lot of people get caught up in that. Why you don’t have it because it takes the same amount of time as José Blanco does.
It takes the same as Caldwell. It takes the same amount of time. I just don’t have as much tobacco, but still take the same amount of time.
CM: I can give you something right off the shelf, but you’re not gonna like it. [laughs].
How Not to Burn Out Your Cigar Palate
CM: I can give you a Ligero Bomb. We can find plenty of that, but you’re not gonna like it.
RG: I still think our, uh, discussion on the, not the longest ash, but how long you can smoke the Ligero Bomb? You know how far into it? We’re gonna go get into the second, third, first, third, second, third, third, third?
CM: No, it’s no way possible.
RG: You don’t think they would? Your palate would just…
CM: You would just either one, be sick to your stomach or your palate would be just like, would you please stop? [laughs].
RG: Well, you don’t think there’s enough stubborn people out there just to smoke it to get it?
CM: They would because they get that sensation like, oh, I’m really feeling it. No fool, you’re actually killing your palate.
CM: And you cannot smoke no more after this.
CM: You’re done for the day.
RG: Maybe the week. ‘
CM: Cause they realize their palate is getting burned.
RG: I stopped smoking pipe because of that.
CM: Yeah, getting burned. Well, yeah.
Pipe, pipe, smokers do catch that, that, that sensation of mouth I’ve heard about that. I haven’t really smoked a pipe, but I’ve heard about that. Yeah. And it’s like, it’s like eating hot pizza.
RG: Right. Just spicy food, yeah, yeah, yeah.
CM: It burns it out. It’s even, like, now I tell people when you smoke my cigar, like, what did you just, what did you?
What do you smoke today? Like, don’t smoke my cigar today. No.
CM: Wait a day. Or two.
RG: You tell them not to smoke it.
CM: I do. I go to events and like, Hey, what’d you smoke? “Oh, I just smoke. You know, some double ligero.” I’m like, please do not smoke my cigar today.
RG: That is interesting.
CM: Because you can be like, I didn’t taste anything. like, cause your palate is burnt up and you just wasted your money.
How Cigar Pros Manage their Palates
RG: How do you manage your palate?
CM: I don’t smoke a lot. I’ll smoke uh, one. A day, maybe one every other day, sometime I won’t smoke for a week or so, like up to the show. I didn’t, I I make maybe two cigars in the last two weeks. Cause I know I was gonna smoke all day. Even to be honest with you, I’ve only smoked about five cigars over the last two days. One because I’ve been talking all day [laughs].
RG: Yeah, yeah.
CM: And I know like now I’m talking and my cigar goes out, you know, after, after two minutes, they’re gonna go out anyway.
CM: You know, so, and then I’m just like, you know what? There’s no need to impress anybody that I’m smoking. They wanna know what is, what is it about? We’re not talking about the first, third, second, third, you know, you just wanna know about cigars. So I just, you know, have a smoke with the guys in the morning and I’ll probably smoke one or two later tonight. And that’s it. You know, the most I’ll smoke is is factory I’ll smoke, maybe 15 a day, you know. I do about 15 cigars.
RG: Do you smoke the whole cigar or you smoke parts?
CM: I smoke the whole cigar. About 15 cigars. I’ll get to the factory, like about seven o’clock in the morning. And I won’t leave until like eight o’clock and I’m smoking every hour. Every hour.
Some are shorter. Some are longer. Yeah. I average about, yeah, about 12 cigars a day. And that’s why I know, what we have, it doesn’t burn the palate out.
RG: Really. And you blend specifically for that reason?
CM: Blend for that reason.
RG: It’s called palate fatigue, right?
CM: We don’t, we don’t anything we make, will not burn your palate out.
Because I want you to go smoke something else. I want you to go smoke something else of mine. That is what I want you to do. And If I burn your palate out, either one, you’re like, oh, I’m gonna smoke this once a week.
RG: Yeah. To be honest, now that you say that, and I’m already down to the band and I could keep going. And I’m not feeling any palate fatigue at all.
CM: But you should be taste a lot of flavor.
RG: Oh yeah. Oh yeah.
CM: That’s what we want. We want you to enjoy what the island has to give you. I want you to enjoy that experience.
RG: I appreciate that.
CM: That’s what I want you to do. I get full body smokers. Like, Hey, I want a full body. I’m like, okay. So I asked them, I piss people off. When I do this, what are you tasting when you get that full body? What are you tasting? like, tell me what you’re tasting “It’s strong.” [laughs].
CM: I’m like, what are you tasting though? Like, give me a note “It’s strong.” Like, I don’t have anything for you, man. You’re not my customer.
RG: Where do you think other people that are blending and they don’t have these, they’re not keeping their eye on that flavor through the whole cigar. What do you think is why, why not?
CM: I, I mean it’s, a lot of people. Some, I, you know, I don’t know, like the percentage of who or what, but I think some people just like to smoke just to smoke.
RG: No, I meant the blenders.
CM: Oh, the blenders.
RG: Yeah. The cigar makers and blenders.
CM: Oh, the blenders.
RG: Focus on that.
CM: Um, It just…
RG: …that seems so rudimentary of like, yeah. I want people to enjoy it and I don’t wanna burn their palate out.
CM: Well, you got some that are blending for volume.
CM: They know that consistency is there. They know the blend, they keep it. Keep it going, they’re smoking like, okay, that’s what we got. Some blenders like mine will smoke the whole thing down. They’re like, okay. Yes. Like mine or give it to me like Chris, said, tell me what you think. ‘Cause they get honesty. I tell my people all the time, don’t give, don’t give this cigar to someone that you know, that comes in every Saturday. Cause every Saturday we may open up a factory for a couple of hours. People will come in and smoke. All the staff have gone home. We’re in there just cleaning up.
And they’re coming and smoke something. I’m like don’t give those guys something new, because they’re not gonna be honest. It’s free. Who gives your honest opinion for a free product? Who appreciates a free product?
RG: All the cigars that are free, tastes better in my opinion.
CM: Tastes better. But for I mean you’re a different, you’re in a different business. You’re more in the industry. If I give a bunch of guy, well, we’ll use here. For instance, I told I told the factory like, look, nobody will ever get one of these Limitadas for free. Like I will never hand out one of them unless they’ve bought a good amount of cigars. So let’s make one sample.
That’s what we’re supposed to give out. A sample. 44×4. It costs me very little to make. If you want a sample of what we do? That’s it. So, cause you’re gonna go around here and you’re gonna grab all you can grab, or you may not smoke it, but you might just give it to… .Hey, I got this at TPE. You know, they don’t know who I am.
Hey, try this Carolina Blue. I don’t know who he is. So you just lost out to … so if I give you the Limitada or I give you the Habano and you don’t know me, like here take it.
CM: It’s free. You just toss it. But if you just spent a nice penny on what you just bought, even if the cigar is crap, you’re gonna treasure that cigar. I like it. [laughs]. I’ma smoke it all. I have a [crosstalk 01:12:10]-
RG: You’re looking for that investment.
CM: Yeah. You invested in a company, You’re at least gonna smoke it.
CM: And you’re gonna critique it. But if I gave it to you, oh, I got it for free. Oh, I didn’t like it it’s gone. But if I pay for it, you’re like, you know what? I’ma keep I’ma see. Let me see, even if you get down to the second third line. Okay. Okay. It Is what I thought. Eh.
Making Hors d’oeuvre Cigars
CM: You put more time into it. So I’m like, you know, I take that, you know, I tell them all the time, “Hey, people don’t, you know, I know that’s the business that we’re in. I said, but we don’t have to give them the full, we can give them a taste of what we have to offer.” Hors d’oeuvres.
RG: Hors d’oeuvres.
CM: We’re gonna give you hors d’oeuvres-
RG: I love it.
CM: … while you are here? And I told them, I said, I wish I can chop the cigar up in pieces and put a toothpick in there. You want a sample? Here is a toothpick. You get your little too little, there’s your sample. What’d you think?
CM: I wish I could. [laughs]. That’s your sample, right there.
RG: A whole new way of marketing.
CM: Yeah. Like yeah, toothpick, sample.
RG: What are these? Oscar Mayer …?
RG: … like pigs in a blanket? No, those are cigar samples.
CM: Yeah. Sample, right? Yeah. Oh yeah. I got that. Okay. But our version of that. Something very small.
RG: All right.
CM: That’s what we do and it’s, and it saves me a lot of money. [laughs].
CM: It saves me a lot of money, so yeah, that’s, that’s, that’s, that’s where we’re going.
RG: I like the investment part of it. I think people do, obviously. Yeah. They’re gonna cherish something that they invested in. So they’re gonna sit through it longer, but even this, I mean, even though you gave this to me for free, I’m cherishing this.
CM: Oh yeah, but we invested in each other.
RG: Well, that’s true.
CM: You invested in me as Carolina Blue. I invested in you as, as, as the, you know, my, my pack for my humidor and my, and my, and my boxes. So we invested in each other.
CM: We have a mutual thing going on, but Joe walking up to me, I heard about you. Okay.
CM: And [laughs] You know.
RG: So do you give your cigars out to uh, influencers out in the, or no? They gotta buy them.
CM: The only way I’ll do an influencer is, if you gotta commit to me. And I, and I have some people that you know, have brand ambassadors. And I don’t mind them. You know, smoking, I don’t say like only post Carolina Blue. No, I know there’s other cigars. I can’t even say that. I will never post anyone. And I have friends in the business. Please. Don’t take it personal. I won’t put their cigars on my website or on my Instagram. This is Carolina Blue.
RG: Yeah. You gotta brand to uphold. But you smoke them.
CM: I love the cigars. Huh?
RG: But you smoke them.
CM: I smoke them.
RG: And you enjoy them.
CM: I enjoy them. And I tell him like, yo, man, I love that cigar. I’ll send you a picture, but it’s not gonna go on my Instagram. Yeah. People send me shirts. I’m never going to wear it. I might wear it cutting grass, but I’m never gonna wear it.
CM: Don’t take it personally. Oh, I understand. People understand that about me. It’s like, I have a brand, I’m small. I have to keep it consistent of what I’m doing, you know.
CM: Nike doesn’t advertise Adidas.
RG: Yeah. That’s true. Very true.
RG: No need to, right?
CM: There’s no need to.
RG: Yeah. Gotta stay on brand.
CM: Very true. Very true [laughs].
RG: I love it.
CM: Gotta be gotta be real. It’s a real business. Real product.
Why Cigar Makers Package with Boveda
RG: This is a treat to smoke something that is constantly keeping the flavor present. I’m enjoying it. Really good construction.
CM: I’m surprised though, from the, how cool it is in here and the heat. And I was, I was a little leery of that, of, uh, I was afraid it might dry out, you know, it was like, ah, it’s cool. It’ll be fine. You know, even when we pack up and send them back, I don’t have to worry about it getting all spongy or just falling apart. So they held up pretty good. Good. You know, of course we packed everything with your product and it kept it nice and uh-
RG: It definitely helps when it’s sitting on that warehouse.
CM: At uh… yeah. We sealed it up and uh…
RG: Baking in the Vegas sun.
CM: Yeah. Oh, Ooh. And I, and I like it hot, but, uh.
RG: Yeah. Right, right, right.
CM: … a little too hot, but I like it though. I like it though. Yeah. Yes, yes. Yeah. I, I’m like humbled at the whole experience. It’s been great. Great so far.
RG: It’s awesome.
CM: Great, great. You know.
Where You Can Buy Carolina Blue Cigars
RG: It’s great to hear your story. It’s great to actually sample the product, taste it. I would suggest anybody out there, where can they go to grab your cigars?
RG: Shout out to Oxford out of Florida, man.
CM: Yes, yes.
RG: They, uh, they like to pick up boutique brands.
CM: He does. He does.
RG: He’s got your cigars in his portfolio.
CM: He does. Um, I know people were ordering this week and I’m like Oscar. I mean, Lucas man. I’m tied up.
RG: Yeah, yeah.
CM: You know, so, but I hopefully he understands it. And I usually take care of them. They have to wait a little bit, um, several shops in, in, in Charlotte, we got um, Tailored Smoke. Um, Smoking and Barrel. You have some shops up in, uh, the Philadelphia area—Vintage Cigars. The only shop in Pennsylvania that carries the full line.
I told him, you know what, you’re gonna be the only shop in Pennsylvania to carry my product. Took a chance on me.
RG: They stood by you.
CM: You got it. I won’t sell it to anybody else in Pennsylvania.
CM: I’m gonna stick to it.
RG: You think forever?
CM: Stick to it.
RG: All right.
CM: I’m boutique.
RG: Do you just always wanna stay boutique?
And it’d be great to do that. It’s years away. Then, yeah. And I would, I know that the, brick and mortars would understand. Hey, he’s growing. You can’t stay in one spot, you know, like at one point Chick-fil-A. They was very small. You know, strategically placed-
CM: Now you can find three in one area.
CM: Before you find one, you’ll drive 10 miles to go get a chicken sandwich.
CM: There’s a Chick-fil-A like 10 miles away. Let’s go, you know?
CM: But you know, growth. Yeah. And I’m gonna do it very slow and strategically place them in different areas. Like Atlanta is a big market. I just told told people like, Hey, I only want three shops. I don’t want 15 in Atlanta.
RG: Really? Atlanta has like the most shops per capita.
CM: Yes. I don’t, I don’t want 10 shops in Atlanta. Why most of you guys frequent the same shops.
CM: It’s a circle. They go, all the shops. Everybody goes, somebody’s going to all these shops because of how their community is. Why do I need to get all 10? If you really want to go back to those, go to the shop and go buy some.
RG: All right.
CM: It’s like everybody doesn’t have a Nordstrom’s in their, in their city. Only one on this side of town. I mean, I bet you live way on the other side of town. What’d you do you go all the way to the other side of town, you go to Nordstrom’s if you wanted.
CM: You’ll drive and get it.
CM: It’s the same with cigars.
CM: You find out where it’s at, you drive like, oh, that’s not far. It’s 30 minutes away. Uh, we can take a trip. We go there and smoke.
RG: I’m a, I’m a creature habit. I just keep going to the same smoke shop.
CM: I do too. [laughs].
CM: I do too. You know, and again, if you keep liking something, the guy has to say like, “Hey, you always ask for this product. This is why I gonna bring it in.”
CM: Even if you’re the only one buying it, it’s moving.
RG: Right. Absolutely.
CM: That’s how the business should be, it’s moving.
RG: Sure. Yeah.
CM: So, and that’s what I keep, you know, and I’m patient like, you know, I talked to my good friend Kevin. Shout out to Kevin. And he’s been like an advocate of mine from the beginning, like from the give out days.
CM: And he came into the booth today. He’s like, wow, Chris, you have actually said, what you gonna do?
You started with three. Revamped the brand, and now you have 14, you know, or more.
CM: I have more, I have stuff that we just have not put on the shelf yet. I have stuff that is like, nah, this is never going to make the shelf.
CM: People’s like, what? And they get like what? I’m like, yeah. Some stuff we use at events because I’m like the customer is, this is not what the customer wants.
Like, are you crazy? I’m like, I’m telling you, this is not what the customer wants. It happens all all the time I had different SKUs and different sizes. I had a Corona, um, before the box press. Like, man, you have to sell this today. Like, nah, they don’t want this. Let’s go to the box press, because I would have ran out of tobacco,
CM: And I’m like, let’s go to box press.” And now to box press, I can’t keep that on the shelf. So now I’m looking at two more sticks. I gotta go back and fix because ’cause I want you to have that experience.
CM: Even if for a short term, I can build upon that. I’m always looking, lurking.
CM: Lurking around.
RG: Persistent. Patient.
CM: Yes. Yes.
RG: Ever taking steps forward.
CM: Yes. Always.
RG: Small ships.
RG: Small ships.
CM: You gotta keep it like ’cause The customer is gonna get tired of it. Like owning, we can always say is one cigar that nobody’s ever going to get tired of. We all know what it is. Right. But Padrón. Padrón’s been making the same cigars forever.
RG: Industry legend.
CM: …It’s a it’s a basic blend. It’s nothing. It’s nothing over the top about it, but it’s very consistent.
CM: It’s no secret what it is, but nobody makes it like him.
CM: Me, after always do something a little different to make you like, “Oh, wow. Did you taste that? Let me try that again. I don’t think that’s true. I mean, we had some, we had an event in, uh, Phil- no New Jersey, a couple of, couple of weeks ago. The blender came, uh, the roller came. He bought some, he bought some samples down, I’m like, “Oh, let me try it.”
So I’m trying to make a new stick. I’ve been trying to make this stick that I came up with about four years ago that we just cannot get it tobacco. It’s Brazilian Arapiraca. Cannot find it, just hard to get it. Cause everybody, whoever the big guys just buy it up.
We had some wrappers that just but long story short, uh, he bought some Corona sticks.
I’m like, all right, let me see. Smoked them. I’m looking at him. I’m like, what in the fuck is this? It was so good.
RG: So good?
CM: We both like, I don’t, I don’t believe that happened. In my mind, I’m like, I don’t believe that just happened. Let me smoke another one. I don’t usually smoke cigars, back, the same one back to back.
CM: I said, give me another one of those. I don’t believe you just did this. Smoked it again. I’m like, holy shit. This is uh-
RG: So now you gotta figure out how to produce it. Good luck.
CM: From all the people that like flavored cigars. It wasn’t flavored. It was naturally sweet.
CM: Naturally sweet. I said, I will take all the flavored-cigar smokers and convert them all. I was like, how can we get this done?
CM: It’s just it’s crazy. And I, and I call our factory, the cigar bakery. You know, bakeries come up with all kinds of new stuff.
CM: That’s what we do.
CM: New stuff. It’s just a matter of we have something new, will it sell in a long term? Because I don’t wanna be like, oh, I gotta short run.
Uh, I got 50 you know, boxes. Oh, It’d be gone. I don’t wanna do that.
CM: I wanna give you a good year or two work for the same product, the same thing. They’re like, “Oh wow. Then they like Carolina Blue. Like, oh, you know, they came out with this new Maduro. If there’s anything like the last one, we gotta get this one.” Because I can be the one trick pony and give you, you know, 2000 sticks and run out like, “Oh, we sold out.
RG: And you don’t wanna be limited.
CM: I don’t wanna do that. It’s easy to do that.
CM: I don’t wanna do that.
RG: Because you can find enough tobacco to make enough to get it out, but then you can’t follow it up.
RG: So that’s your challenge.
CM: Right. What you got next? And if that next one is like, “Oh, and we’ve all smoked something that we smoked the original one…”
CM: …And the second one is like uh, that just did not work.
RG: Right. Absolutely.
CM: I won’t do that. I try my best not to do it. I know it can happen because it’s a natural product.
CM: But if it, if I get to the point, like, it’s just not the same one. We just would not make this one.
CM: I’d rather pull it off the shelf.
RG: So there’s a guarantee there.
RG: Brand guarantee that you’re gonna hopefully pull the same thing off the shelf and it’s gonna taste the exact same way you wanted it.
CM: It’s gotta happen. I can’t afford it.
RG: Yeah. You’re right. Those steps you need to, yeah.
CM: I can’t afford it.
RG: …you can’t afford to make those bad steps.
CM: Right. I’m not at that level where I can just throw a stick out there and it’s like, “Oh, such such is the new Blue Sky, because I’ve already made it to the top.”
CM: That they’ll just run out, and smoke it just because I made it. I’m not at that level yet. Nor do I wanna be to where you’ll just run out and buy anything I make.
RG: That’s interesting.
CM: I don’t want you to do that. Because that got away from my vision. Because you may not enjoy what I give you. You go, “Oh, like it’s not the same.”
I don’t. You know, I wanna give you that experience that that you’re gonna like, “Wow!” He’s keeping it going.
RG: That’s your vision. So always keep the experience unique.
CM: Yeah. Keep it, keep it going. Keep it going.
RG: I like it.
CM: Yeah. We boutique. I want you to have that nice suit every time I make it for you. Yes.
RG: Keep you looking good.
CM: You’re right. That’s what I wanna, That’s what I wanna do. I want you to have that nice cigar. And no, you’re not gonna like them all. No, but you’re gonna find one that you like. And it’s going to be the same. Like yeah. You know, I have people buy boxes of one. They’re like, I just love this one. Like, “Hey, buy all you want.”
CM: That’s what I, that’s what I want you to do. That’s it? That’s the story [laughs].
RG: Hey, man, appreciate it, Chris.
CM: That’s the story.
RG: This has been a pleasure.
CM: Yes. It’s been an honor. It’s been an honor.
RG: So thankful. Thanks for making these great cigars.
CM: I’m humbled.
RG: And being passionate about it enough to make sure that consistency stays the same.
CM: We have no choice legacy in this thing. You know, legacy.
RG: I love it. You’re, you’re in it for the long haul.
CM: Very long. I gotta, gotta 20 year old, 20. Well, he’s 23. He’s over there now learning the business. So, uh, hopefully one day I can say, all right, your turn. [laughs].
RG: All right. Pass it onto the next generation that we’re coming up, man.
RG: Here we are. We wanna experience cigars. So thank you very much.
CM: It’s been an honor.
And uh, I look forward to the longevity and uh, the products you guys provide. I appreciate it.
RG: Absolutely. We’re in it for the long haul, man. We’re not going anywhere.
CM: Oh, definitely. Definitely.
RG: 23 years and still counting.
CM: Ooh. That’s what I’m talking about.
RG: So, here we go.
CM: That’s right. To the next 23.
RG: And if you guys need any Carolina Blue Cigars, shopcarolinabluecigars.com.
CM: That’s right.
RG: And if, obviously, if you need Boveda, you know what to get it, bovedainc.com.
RG: If you liked this story and this episode, hit that like button. Subscribe. We wanna be here for the long haul, continuing to bring you guys exclusive interviews with the cigar makers in the industry. Thank you all for watching. Have a great week.
Rob and Chris are smoking the CBC Limitada. Like many premium boutique cigar brands, Carolina Blue boxes with Boveda to protect the flavor, condition and burn of your cigars. Keep yours smoke-ready—use Boveda to protect cigars in your humidor.
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