Owner: Luís Cuevas
Let’s give people who don’t know a sense of where the brand comes from, where you come from and where you sit in the market.
The brand comes from a long family history in the tobacco trade. My great grandfather and grandfather were both tobacco growers in Pinar del Río, Cuba. My grandfather was able to take it to a very successful level. Then 1959 comes, everything stops, things get confiscated, we leave and go to the States. My dad and my uncle opened up shop in the Dominican Republic, with my dad working from the States. This was in the late ‘80s. In 1997, during the boom, my father makes a full move to the Dominican Republic. They started Cuevas y Hermanos and that factory was going well. They started making stuff for Toraño and Dunhill and Peterson and Gurkha’s first cigars came from there actually.
My father and my uncle had a falling out. So my dad’s alone and he’s waiting for an investment to return and then I jumped into the fray and I bought 50 percent of the company. Tiny at that point. Through the Toraños, who had gone and opened their own factories, we were able to get Gurkha to jump on board with us and that helped us gain some resources financially.
All that time, we hadn’t launched a brand other than Cuevas Habanos because I hadn’t found a way to get the cigars into the market without a salesperson. There’s just no way. We launched Casa Cuevas and right when I’m launching that, Gabriel Álvarez becomes available.
Now that we had everything we needed to get going, we launched Casa Cuevas with three sizes. I did market research on the three most popular size in the United States. I didn’t come up with four or five or six because I thought that would overwhelm consumers. It was simpler to keep it this way.
How would you describe the Connecticut to the person who’s never tried it?
It’s going to fit the bill of a Connecticut in the sense that it’s not going to knock you on your chest, and we wanted that. By the same token, I didn’t want a bland Connecticut, so if you are a smoker and you pick up that Connecticut, you’re still going to get enough hints of the spice and the strength so it’s worth your while. If you’re a novice smoker, it’s a good cigar to start with because it’s not so strong or spicy that it turns you off. It sort of straddles both those sides.
It’s heavier than a lot of Connecticuts on those notes of earth and nut.
It’s a lot heavier on Nicaraguan tobacco than Dominican. I added the Colombian for a little bit of sweetness. The idea was that we would just use the Dominican tobacco for combustion, so it’s seco. All the ligero is Nicaraguan. It’s about a 50/50 blend. Some people have opted to go 60/40, 40 being the ligero for the spice. We went the opposite direction and interestingly enough, the idea behind it really was influenced a lot by Gabriel; when I first blended it, I wanted a really strong Connecticut and he’s the one that goes, “Look, people aren’t looking for that in a Connecticut.” But it’s still not a mild Connecticut by any stretch.
Where does this sit among the three in terms of preference for you and your dad?
My dad’s palate and mine are different. He really enjoys the Connecticut a lot more than I would. He’ll smoke the Connecticut all day long and he’s fine with that. He’s fallen in love with the Maduro now, but he likes the classic cigar. The Connecticut is his go-to of the three.