President / CEO: Jim Colucci
Where did Sindicato come from?
I wasn’t at the meetings when they formed it, but a group of retailers formed Sindicato because they had gotten tired of building brands for the two big major corporations. They felt that what was happening to them was that they would build up these brands in their retail stores and the price would drop from the bottom, you know? These same brands started appearing in the big catalogs or online at heavily discounted prices. They decided that maybe it was about time they had a couple of their own brands that they built nationally instead of doing private labels for a couple of guys who have their own private label brand. They decided, given the strength of their numbers, that if they built their own brands, they could be price protected, be of great quality and sell at a good value to the consumers.
They weren’t trying to make big number brands. They wanted a quality product made by quality manufacturers. That’s why we went to Casa Fernandez. For Particulares and Sindicato, we knew that in Eduardo Fernandez we had a guy who had quality tobacco from Nicaragua and he made us three great cigars. He made Sindicato Natural, Sindicato Maduro, and Particulares. He also makes our bundled brand, Casa Bella.
Did having a cigar made by Aganorsa for Sindicato do anything to change or enhance the relationship?
Particulares is a brand Eduardo has owned since 2002. So we went to him and asked him if we could take over the distribution of this brand. When he agreed to do this with us, I repackaged the brand and I investigated the brand and looked deeply into its origins. I found that it has a long history of Cuban heritage. It was the first factory that Alonso Menendez purchased in 1933. When he purchased the brand and the factory, he got another brand that wasn’t being used called Montecristo. In 1935, he needed money to buy the H. Upmann factory and sold Particulares to Partagás, which belonged to the Cifuentes family. So it’s got some history in it.
We’ve got a great relationship with Eduardo. It creates a great relationship with the retail members of Sindicato because they feel like Eduardo is a true partner with them. And he’s created a great brand for us with Sindicato. Our biggest selling brand is our bundle, and it’s all thanks to the quality tobacco we get from Aganorsa and his manufacturing people.
How would you describe smoking Particulares to the person who has never had it?
The unique thing about the cigar is the shade grown Corojo wrapper. So it’s got this beautiful appearance because of being shade grown. It has a mild look to it, but it’s a three-quarter strength cigar with great flavor, and spice. I love it. My favorite is the Corona, which is a fantastic cigar.
Do you have any favorite pairings with the cigar?
At night, I’ll go to the back yard, sit outside, look at the lake, and have a Particulares with cognac.
What have you learned about what sorts of smokers are drawn to your brand?
I think we’re pretty lucky to be considered by a lot of people to be a boutique type of cigar. Especially the stuff that’s made by Aganorsa. Now, as far as what we get out of NACSA, that cigar is meant for most smokers; the guy who likes an Ecuadorian Connecticut Affinity.
We’re lucky that our retailers, because they have a stake in the company, will recommend it. But we sell at more non-member retailers than member retailers, and they recommend it too.