President: Al Micallef
Senior Master Blender: Edel Gómez Sánchez
Al, how was it that you became interested in getting involved in the cigar industry?Al, how was it that you became interested in getting involved in the cigar industry?
A: I’ve been smoking cigars for God knows how long — 20, 30 years, maybe longer. But, we’ve only been in the cigar business for about a year and a half now. And that happened when Edel and the Gómez Sánchez guys had car trouble and they were out selling their cigars in Texas. They wandered into the Silver Leaf Lounge here in Fort Worth, Texas, and I spent some time talking with them and smoking some of their cigars. They spent two or three days there and, in talking to them, I found out they could build a cigar for me.
E: That’s right. We chose the name Herencia — which means Heritage or Inheritance — as a tribute to my grandfather.
When we met Al, we were making several blends, and now those blends bear both our families’ names since we are partners. The names of the lines are also the same, but the important thing is we’re working together and making a great product, which is important (for us to be competitive) because there are a lot of good cigars on the market these days.
How might you describe this cigar to a person who hasn’t had it?
E: Our goal is always for our cigars to be very flavorful and aromatic, and this cigar is no exception.
The Maduro Pennsylvania and the Habano are obviously different wrappers, but the rest of the blend is the same. That makes all the difference. They’re different flavors. To me, the Habano is more aromatic, but the maduro brings all those maduro characteristics that smokers are familiar with.
So how has the expectation of being involved in the industry compared to the reality after the first year and a half or so, Al?
A: Well, my expectations were that it appeared to have a reasonable margin and that it was something we could handle. I didn’t realize that, even if you have a great product, to establish yourself as a strong brand is very expensive. It’s a blessing in disguise. The blessing is that not everyone in the world who has a cigar has the capital to make it a leading brand.
What can you tell me about your own palate and cigar sensibilities?
A: I don’t offer much on the blending side. But, I’ve had some input on the construction side of the cigars. There are a few unique things that I really can’t share because our patents haven’t been issued. [The Gómez-Sánchez family] give me a hard time; when I introduced the first product, they looked at me and said, “How long have you been in the cigar business, Al? Two weeks? And you’re already designing a product?” But, you know, they were being funny about it but it’s a very, very good product. So, we’re having fun doing that kind of stuff.
What would you suggest as a pairing for this cigar?
E: That cigar, for me, is best paired with a Scotch whisky — especially the box-pressed Habano.
Edel, what would you say have been Al’s biggest contributions to this company and for this new chapter in your career as a cigar maker?
E: He’s given so much. He’s got the resources, he’s an extremely hard worker, he’s highly intelligent. We are very happy to be able to work with this man. He’s the best and he has a special team. God bless him. We’re incredibly lucky. We’ve all come together to join all our knowledge, and that’s what’s going to make us successful. We needed this to show the world what we’re capable of.