Daniel Marshall Red Label
Owner: Daniel Marshall
People associate it with your humidor products, but there’s also that gold cigar. I remember seeing Steve Harvey recommend it to Jerry Seinfeld saying matter-of-factly, “It’s gold!”
I loved that! It was a nice surprise when it happened. Jerry Seinfeld answered, “I want one. I’m a pimp!”
What’s your background and how’d you get into this?
My father’s dream was to take his family sailing from Marina del Rey to Tahiti. We did this when I was 10 and I fell in love with the ocean. I said, “I’m going to build a boat and sail around the world. I have to start saving money.” When I found and bought the boat I was 18 years old. Happiest guy in the world.
I was dating a wonderful woman. Her grandfather had built one of the first life insurance companies in Santa Monica. He would always ask about this boat. He thought it was the craziest idea. One evening, he escaped from his guests to smoke a cigar. He said, “Danny come here. I want to hear the latest with the boat.” And this is what changed my life. He gave me great encouragement. I said, “How do I thank him for that? He loves those cigars.” I went to Dunhill, bought him three cigars, made him a three-cigar case in teak wood, which is what I was making my boat out of, and brought it to him two weeks later. He said, “I really like this. If you want, take this to Dunhill. I’m convinced they will buy it and you can set up a factory, sail around the world; you can really do it all.”
He was right. When I finally got an audience with the buyer, the question was, “These cigar cases are OK, but can you make a humidor?” I said, “What’s a humidor?”
He sent one up that had been broken. He said, “If you do a good job copying this I’ll give you an order.”
I copied it, I brought it back, and he gave me a $250,000 order. I went to Papa Joe, as I called my girlfriend’s grandfather, and said, “You were right. But now I don’t know how to make so many of them.” And he said, “Well, now we have to set up a factory.” So we went to Costa Mesa and took over Quicksilver’s first factory, which was super fun for a surfer. That was in 1982.
And then there are your cigars. Tell us about how you got into that.
From 1993 to 2000, I met the greatest cigar legends of our time. You become buddies and have an opportunity to taste a lot of different brands. I was always looking for the benchmark cigar. And people would say, “Marshall, you make the best humidors. Where’s your cigar?”
So I decided to make a limited collection to put into some of the humidors. I asked my buddy Manuel Quesada, “Any chance you could make me some cigars?” And he said, “For you, I’ll do it.” He could not, in 1996, make enough for himself. Nobody could make boxes, but that wasn’t a problem for me. So we made cigar boxes that looked like humidors. Manuel would send me 5000 black labels a month and we would trade. He said, “You make me special packaging for our cigars. We have a plan to make a special limited cigar. Make them in black lacquer.” Fifteen years later, I’m at Nat Sherman in New York and someone asked me to sign a box. I said, “That’s Quesada 40th Anniversary. Why would I sign that?” Turns out our name was printed on the bottom because we had made it 15 years before!
The Red Label is made with five-year-old Nicaraguan tobaccos and the cigar is aged a year after being boxed. We’re limited by time (because I insist on aging the cigars that extra year) and the supply of quality tobacco, because I don’t want to use anything but the best.