Box Press Podcast

Touring Perdomo Cigars with Nick Perdomo Jr. | Ep. 68

Let’s do a walk-through with a cigar legend! Join Box Press host Rob Gagner on a tour of Perdomo Cigars with the President and CEO of Perdomo Cigars, Nick Perdomo Jr. Learn:

  • What’s a good Perdomo cigar for weddings, bachelor parties and other celebrations
  • What makes the Connecticut shade wrapped Perdomo Champagne 10th Anniversary Cigar so creamy
  • How Nick Perdomo executes comparative tastings at Perdomo (Blind cigar taste-test anyone?)

Storing premium cigars like Perdomos with Boveda humidor packs preserves the oils and sugars of the tobacco. You’ll enjoy rich flavors and a more consistent smoke when you’re ready to light up those sticks.  Shop Boveda for cigars here.

– Yeah, we even make our own staples. We make our own emulsions, paint, silk screens.

– Now that’s what I want.

– Yeah.

– I came here to get the staples. Do you have the staples anywhere?

– I, we actually do, but it’s–

What’s a Great Perdomo Cigar for Bachelor Parties and Weddings?

– I’m not here for the cigars. I’m here for the staples. There’s a story inside every smoke shop. With every cigar and with every person. Come be a part of the cigar lifestyle of Boveda. Box Press. We arrive at the Perdomo headquarters in Hialeah, Florida. Nick’s office is full of sports memorabilia, drum sets, arcade games and Nick is a passionate musician as well as a great cigar maker. We’re gonna get into a cigar blend right now. This is one of my favorite cigars. If you like creamy, buttery-smooth cigars, these are bachelor parties, weddings, phenomenal. I wanna try something new, but classics never die. Had some of these Anniversaries, I don’t know. Where’d Nick go? I need, I have questions.

What’s the Best-Selling Perdomo Cigar?

– We’ve sold over 70 million of those cigars since our inception and people always tell me, “How good does it sell?” I always say, “You know how expensive college is, “it put both my kids through college, so.”

– [Rob] Just that cigar alone?

– Just that cigar alone.

– It’s so massive that we had to retire two brands because this SKU alone sells over 9,400 boxes a month, just that SKU right there, just that one size which is crazy.

– [Rob] This is such a good cigar.

What’s that Pedromo Cigar with Connecticut Shade Wrapper and Nicaraguan Filler?

– It’s a very unique cigar because when I came up with it, people said, you, when I started with this brand, everybody used Dominican tobacco with Connecticut shade wrappers and I said, “I’m going to come out “with a Connecticut-seed wrapper with Nicaraguan fillers.” Well, you’ll never be able to mask, it’ll mask the wrappers because the wrappers are too mild, they’re actually not. If you age these wrappers, they actually have a spice to them and a creaminess to them. If not, they’re bitter, what happens is they’re so expensive, that people bring them from the curing barns, they bulk them, they give them one sweat, then they work with them, because they burn. If you did that with any tobacco, it would be tart and bitter, so I used to call this leaf the grapefruit leaf. So what it had, it’s kind of a funny story, we started buying Connecticut shade wrappers in 1991 and we would store them. And then in 1998, 1996, we had a brand called Cuban Parejo that was coming out, and my dad called me up, when my dad was alive and he said, “What could we do with all this Connecticut shade wrapper?” So at the time, I had enough to do like 9 million cigars, believe it or not, it yields extremely well, and I stopped, I don’t like it, blah blah blah, but I wanted to store it for a rainy day, because we had a lot of blue mold and black shank problems back in the 90s, which today we can combat it with great pesticides and algaecides and fungicides but back then we didn’t have it.

Why Ecuadorean Tobacco Doesn’t Mold

So I wanted to keep this and because this tobacco’s grown in Ecuador, it’s south of the Andes and the Andes Mountain actually blocks molds, viruses and spores because the mountain change is so high that’s why Ecuador never has mold or anything but it’s, yeah, it’s because of the mountains. I’m gonna go on, so if you ever want to know about tobacco, let me know, but that’s the reason, right? So I wanted to save this for a rainy day, so my dad who was really an expert. I said, “Smoke them, man, they’re bitter.” My dad, he said, “Man, this is great, they’re creamy “and they taste really good.”

Does the Color of the Wrapper Tell You What a Cigar Will Taste Like?

What people do is they look at the wrapper and assume what the cigar is. So, for example, this cigar is actually stronger than this cigar. But people, if they look at it, visually, would say this cigar is more full-bodied. But it’s not, because you have to offset the binder and wrapper combination. So if you use a thin wrapper, you have to use a thick binder, so the guts on both these cigars are very similar, but because this has a thick binder, because it’s a thin wrapper, it offsets it, so the cigar will burn, it has more nicotine. So it’s actually more full-bodied. So when we do tastings, we actually blindfold you. Perception is reality, right? But if you look and you say, “Man that wrapper’s light, that means it’s light.” It’s really not.

– So you’re taking it to the next level because you’re not even just saying, “I’m unbanding the cigar.” You want a full blindfold, so I can’t see that this is darker than this and then judge that by strength.

– [Nick] Absolutely.

– Flavor, intensity.

Why Perdomo Blind Taste Tests Cigars

– Yeah and I could prove it to you and you would smoke totally different and you would you would flip out because you shouldn’t look at the cigar before you smoke it. We’re really adamant about that. We have pictures you can see. We have, we call it our Circle of Trust and these are guys who have over 350 years of smoking experience and we’re blindfolded, so we work in teams, so if it’d be you and I, I cut the cigar for you, I put in your mouth, I light it for you. You smoke it, you take five, six puffs, you tell me what you taste. I write your tasting notes for you. You’re telling me as you’re smoking.

– [Rob] You never break the veil with being blind.

– No, never. Then I go and I give you a cigar with a different wrapper that’s actually heavier or lighter and the guys always guess right, but they’ll tell you, for example, we did one in Fort Myers, we had the chief of police there. He only smokes 20th Anniversary Maduro, okay? So 20th Anniversary Connecticut is actually heavier, so I said, which one do you like and he picked the Connecticut and when we took the blindfold off, he went ape shit, he couldn’t believe it. So you have to really know what you’re smoking, you know what I mean?

Does the Strength of a Cigar Mean How Much Nicotine is in the Tobacco?

– You said you really have to know what you’re smoking, but they don’t because of that perception already, so you said an interesting thing, you’re like, this has 4.6% nicotine, are you measuring all your cigars?

– Yeah, we do because of the European Union. We have to do it. So we have cyclometers and everything. We measure all our nicotine content, so it’s easy for us if America asks us in the future.

– If anything is helpful to me as a consumer, it would be like, okay, I know that this is stronger than this from a strength nicotine-only perspective. Now flavor, that’s a totally different thing.

– [Nick] Sure.

– But I wouldn’t mind having that at my fingertips because then I could say, “Right now I don’t want a lot of strength, I don’t–“

– [Nick] Sure.

– I would love something a little bit more mild. Or as a retailer myself, I could point people in a better direction, so they don’t get the feeling sick on their first cigar.

– We want it to be more romantic, so instead of a cigarette where the bottom will tell you the tar and nicotine contents, we’d rather put a thing where it tells you, this pairs with this, it pairs, for example, yeah, stuff like that, which are basically mobile salesman, so you can go and you go, “Well, this is what I like. “I like something that’s more medium body. “I like a little more creamy, “I like this, I like that.”

– This one started me out in your brand.

– [Nick] Yeah.

– Can I pick this up?

– That’s a good one. That one’s been out 21 years. That’s been a very good brand for us. Yeah, it’s been very good. This is the new 12 Year Double Aged Vintage. We only have 100 stores that carry this. Have you tried the new 10th Anniversary Maduro?

– No.

– That’s phenomenal, that’s won Cigar of the Year by three different periodicals and periodicals that I respect a lot because they were actually tested by cigar smokers. So “Cigar Journal” was one, and–

– Their reviews.

– They’re really excellent.

– Are like really good.

– Oh yeah, what I wanna do is, I wanna be able to keep you in the umbrella, so–

– Yeah, a lot of times for me, I smoke Connecticut-seed wrappers in the evening. I think they pair really good, I like this one Scotch called Aberlour A’bunadh. It’s a cask strength Scotch, it’s 123.9 proof and I think Connecticut pairs extremely well with that. You know what I mean? It just depends, people always say, “Morning, midday, night.” Not necessarily, it’s what you like, you know what I mean?

– Yeah, I smoked that many times at the shop in the morning.

– Try that one when you get a chance. So that got Cigar of the Year in “Cigar Journal.” They got Cigar of the Year in “Tobacco Business Daily.” And it also got Cigar of the Year at David Garofalo’s podcast, “The Cigar Authority.” which I have a lot of respect for because he sends a thousand packages out and this was tested by smokers, so when a smoker enjoys a cigar, to me, that’s like euphoria, I’m super happy about that. I like bone-in ribeyes, right? Some people like liver and onions. I’d rather eat my own leg, but that’s what people like, right? So I’ve gone to restaurants where people have ordered liver and onions at a steakhouse. Doesn’t make any sense to me, but you know what it proves to me? It proves that taste is subjective, it’s what you like. So to me, there’s really no bad cigar. A lot of people ask, someone just asked me last night, I was doing a podcast, “Do you smoke other people’s cigars?” I said, “Yeah, all the time. “If I was a Michelin Star Chef, “wouldn’t I go to another restaurant, too?” You know what I mean? So to me, and a lot of guys say I only smoke my cigars. Whatever, I just, I smoke everybody’s cigars. I mean, I’ve been in the industry for 30 years. I’m third generation. My father ran H. Upmann, my grandfather ran Partagas. My grandfather’s brother was a minister of tobacco in Cuba for 46 years. There’s about seven books written on him and I had great tutelage. In 1999, I hired him. He’s been with the company for 23 years and today he’s 92 years old. So this is him last year and he still looks phenomenal and he runs all our fermentation and he is, in my opinion, the best tobacco man alive today and he was the first guy that we hired during the vertical integration process because we decided we were gonna grow our own tobacco. Our first crop in ’99 was small, it was about 70 acres. And today we’re one of the largest. We grow almost 1,900 acres of land and he’s in charge of all the fermentation process. And I thought, “Well, this is great. “I can hire him, he can train Hamilton “and all our guys who are still with the company, “believe it or not.” Wow, and he ended up, he’s 92, he’s still with the company. I thought I would get him for five years. He’s still here and he loves it and the guy is complete. I mean he’s–

– [Rob] It’s keeping him alive because he’s got something to do.

– Yeah, and he’s actually ended up training a whole army of people because a lot of older guys don’t like to teach. He’s a great guy, he loves to teach. And he’s the type of guy, he could just put his hand on a pilón and say, “This is good.” He can tap his fingers, release and say, “This is good.” He can look at the tobacco and say, “This is good.” But that comes with experience and that comes with him having 79 years in the cigar industry. Most people aren’t 79 years old. The only turn that he took down was when my dad passed away. Him and my dad were like this.

– [Rob] When’d your dad pass?

– He passed in 2004, but that really affected him because he’s always been happy-go-lucky, but that was a big loss for him. Him and my dad were like that. My dad brought him from Cuba to Nicaragua and he’s always been super appreciative of that, but like Sarah Gonzalez, our factory manager, she worked with my dad at H. Upmann and she’s still with the company. She’s going to celebrate her 77th birthday in three months and she’s with the company, one of the few females that actually run a big production facility. I’ve been very lucky, the average worker has been with me 20 years, nine months, on average. I’ve had 698 people retire from the company. That’s one thing I’m proud about, the workforce we have, the longevity that we have, I think that’s another token of quality when you have consistency in your people. And, in reality when you really think about it, it’s your greatest asset, right? So, I’m lucky.

– Yeah you can’t move all this product without them.

– No, these guys, we all, I always say we all kind of pull the same way. Nobody here is scared to work. Like my mom’s 90 years old. She comes to work every day. I remember my father, when we moved to Maryland, when they came from Cuba, and my dad always had two or three jobs until I was in junior high school. So, I’ve been working since I was 11. But I had a great example seeing what my parents did. You know what I mean? So, this is a container, just came in from Nicaragua. Everybody’s pissed that I’m not helping. This is a 45-high cube container. We get one every single week. This will have 728 cartons and each carton has between 24 and 37 boxes of cigars in each one. All of them are staged to exactly, to the shipping department, so basically the first thing would be maybe Champagne, then it goes to Habano, Lot 23, 20th Anniversary. Goes in succession so it’s very organized because of the lack of workers in the United States, this is all automated and half of it, we’re waiting for the rest of the automation system to come in. Everything over here now is being placed, but if you look, the guy in the blue shirt runs our IT. The guy with the cross on his head, that’s Arthur, he’s our vice president. Jeff Owens runs the shipping, he’s our sales manager. Everybody works, my job is that, when you go into the retail store, and you go to work and you go to the Perdomo section, you can feel rest assured that cigar is gonna draw, it’s gonna burn, the tobaccos are gonna be fermented, the tobaccos are gonna be aged and nobody’s gonna come back to you and go, “Hey, man, you sold me a cigar that didn’t draw.” And that happens all the time.

– Right.

– And you know what? I’m not the guy that looks bad at the end, it’s you as the retail recommending, even though it’s totally my fault if I send you something inferior so–

– Your brand gets hurt the most because–

– Without a doubt.

– They go, “Oh, this wasn’t that good. “I don’t know if I really like Perdomo.”

– Without a doubt. But, and then also, if you hear that, you’re probably gonna be prone not to push the brand, too.

– People talk more about negative than good.

– Without a doubt. I’ve always said, “When people like something, they’ll tell ten people. “If they don’t like something, they’ll tell 1000.” And that’s–

– Yeah, that’s a three to one ratio.

– At least, yeah, that’s the truth.

– So I can’t tell you how much, when I knew I was coming to see Nick. I was like, I really hope I can start my day with a Champagne.

– Okay, good.

– That’s the only thing I really wanted, other than the video, I was like, I just wanna smoke a Perdomo Champagne.

– That’s a great cigar.

– With Nick.

– I’m gonna join you on that one.

Highlights from the Perdomo Cigars Tour:

  • 00:50 Great Perdomo bachelor party and wedding cigar
  • 01:15 The best-selling Perdomo cigar that put his kids through college
  • 03:40 Does the color of the wrapper tell you what a cigar will taste like?
  • 04:19 Does a light wrapper mean a cigar will be mild?
  • 06:16 Does the strength of a cigar mean how much nicotine is in the tobacco?
  • 06:40 First trip to a cigar shop? How to pick a cigar that won’t make you sick
  • 07:24 The Perdomo cigar you might have a hard time finding at your smoke shop
  • 07:55 Pairing a Perdomo with Aberlour A’bunadh Scotch
  • 09:02 There’s no bad cigar
  • 09:37 Why you should never fully retire: Aristides Garcia, head of fermentation
  • 12:08 Hiring your mom

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