Micallef Gómez Sánchez
President: Al Micallef
Senior Master Blender: Edel Gómez Sánchez
How did this line get its name?
E: Leyenda was named after my grandmother, because she’s a legend to us. It’s an homage to the first generation.
Leyenda comes in an interesting format, and it’s packaged in an unusual coffin, which doesn’t have a top and sort of wraps tightly around the cigar, acting almost like a hybrid between and coffin and a tube. Where did the idea for this line come from?
E: The packaging idea was one my siblings and I came up with. We don’t like cigars packaged without cellophane because I don’t want to risk the cigars being damaged. In this case, we wanted to do it differently and arrived at this idea of putting the cigars in these special coffins. It’s a unique vitola that our grandfather came up with.
Back to the pairing question. What would you recommend a smoker drink with this cigar?
E: Port wine. That is a cigar with an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper that’s very good. We really liked it when we tried it. It gives the cigar great balance. The cigar is for smokers who like to go above medium strength. It’s got great flavor and you feel its strength. It lets you know, “Hey, take it easy.” For that to work, you have to have great balance. We use tobaccos in that blend from several countries.
You don’t hear that recommendation often, but it makes sense. You need a big drink to stand up to it.
E: Exactly. It’s the perfect drink to pair with a Leyenda No. 1. It’s important that you have a drink that you’ll be able to appreciate even though the cigar is strong.
Do you have a personal favorite cigar from among the four we’re talking about here?
E: I’m constantly smoking all of them to maintain the blends. Sometimes I decide not to smoke a Leyenda No. 1 because I don’t have time to smoke it all the way down, but when I’m relaxing with a drink, I usually opt for that.
Now, for daily smoking, I like the Reata (not in this Brand Breakdown) 48×7. That’s something special to smoke all day, every day. But I love them all.
What’s in store for the future for the brands and the company?
A: Well, I would think that we’d have to expand our plant. There are about 40 pairs right now. 80 people total. Based on our projections and inventory, we could easily go a year, a year and a half with this plant facility. But my other businesses are manufacturing rubber parts, and if you want to expand a rubber plant, it takes a lot of planning and a lot of heavy equipment. In the cigar industry if you have a space with tables and cutters and molds, then you’re in business. It doesn’t take a lot to expand. Obviously, the hardest part for us is training people to make cigars with our construction in mind as well as the triple cap. It takes a little bit more to train individuals than just the run-of-the-mill low-end cigars.
Does your experience in other industries give you a different view of cigars than others who might have been in this world for much longer?
A: Maybe in the cigar industry this doesn’t scare people, but in the automotive business, if you’re a minute late on an order, you get fined about 100,000 bucks. So, I hate being late and I hate not shipping to a customer. We’ve got a million cigars in inventory right now. We have two humidors, probably about ten thousand square feet. So we bought ourselves a little time if we need to expand or get caught by orders that are above and beyond our capability.
As for what else I see in our future, I have a strong feeling that we’ll be in the top ten cigars next year in one or two magazines. At least the top ten. Maybe higher.