Micallef Reserva Limitada Privada
President: Al Micallef
Senior Master Blender: Edel Gómez Sánchez
Al, this is the blend that started your relationship with Gómez-Sánchez. Tell me more about how that played out.
A: I asked them to make me that first blend. They said, “You have to buy a thousand cigars minimum.” I said, “That will be fine. I basically don’t care what they cost. I just want you to build the best cigar you guys can.” And months later, I got a thousand cigars over. They were outstanding. I decided after sharing them with my friends that these guys really knew what they were doing and had a really unique process for making cigars and had some great blends, but they appeared to be short on capital. I thought, “Well, let’s just give it a shot, see if we can build this into a reasonably good brand.”
That cigar became The Micallef Reserva. It’s the highest-priced of our cigars and it’s the flagship of our product line.
Edel, what is it that you would say to a smoker who hasn’t tried this and wants to know what to expect?
E: That’s a cigar for the smoker who wants his cigar to be neither too mild nor too strong. We always smoke our blends and look for a way to make our blends well balanced and very flavorful. We want you to enjoy and feel changes over the course of the cigar.
The blending process is very involved; my brothers, my mother and I all sit and smoke together and offer feedback and notes. “This is too strong … this could use more of that.”
This blend, for me, is excellent, and it’s a cigar that should be enjoyed especially by smokers who have enough experience to appreciate everything it has to offer.
Al mentioned his instructions to you were to make a great cigar, “whatever it costs.” What does that end up meaning to the final product, especially in light of this cigar’s retail price tag?
E: Those tobaccos (in the cigar) are priceless. Even just taking into account the amount of time we have had them and been caring for them, there’s not a price you can put on it. We have had it for so long and been so careful about how we handle it — and we don’t have very much of these tobaccos either. The amount of work that it takes to maintain that tobacco is huge. It takes time and constant attention to achieve that kind of quality, which is part of why it’s a limited-production cigar.
The Micallef branding on the main bands is eyecatching. Where did that coat of arms come from?
A: Well, one of my family members came up with that in 1190. It’s really our family coat of arms. And our assumption in all the research we’ve done is that our family came from somewhere in central Europe during the Crusades and after that all settled down ended up on the island of Malta. And that went from a fighting order, or from Knights, to a hospital order. I was there a few years ago and walked around where the Knights of Malta met. The Micallef name was carved on the back of one the chairs in the, I guess you’d call it a conference room. It’s pretty cool to see something that was hundreds of years old with my name carved on it.
There are several varieties of the Micallef coat of arms but they’re all based on the law, which is the reason for that “X” in the center, which isn’t really an “X.” It’s two saws, and it’s basically a symbol meaning that as the law cuts in your favor, it also can cut against you.
We had judges and lawyers back many, many centuries ago. And that’s pretty much it. I’ve never ever branded any of my companies with our name before. But I do like the crest and I do like the fact that we really have a reasonable idea of who we came from. So I thought, why not do a cigar like that?