A Conversation with Alan Rubin
The founder of the Alec Bradley Cigar Co. talks about the reversal of fortune that put his smokes near the top.
From the Print Edition:
Matthew McConaughey, March/April 2011
(continued from page 2)
Q: Describe Trojes tobacco.
A: Trojes is in the Jalapa Valley, on the Honduran side of the border [with Nicaragua].
Q: Does it have similarities to Jalapa, Nicaragua?
A: Correct. We knew that this tobacco was special, and we felt it was perfect for Maxx. We realized it just wasn't ready, and we knew that they weren't ready for us yet. The timing wasn't right. So we told them, "Keep putting the tobacco away. Use what you need to use, but take the best of the best and put that away."
Q: How did you meet up with Raices Cubanas?
A: We had been working with them for a few years on a less expensive line, Spirit of Cuba.
Q: Describe the factory.
A: It's a small, family-run factory. The lead guy is Romay Endemaño, and there's his wife, Maria Portao, and son Hugo.
Q: How small is it?
A: Back then, 40 or 50 pairs [of rollers]. Romay [pronounced Rome-EYE] grew up in the cigar business in Cuba, became an engineer, ultimately ended up back in the tobacco business. He brought a lot of the engineering mentality: consistency and ideas. He was very exacting in his standards. From the growing of tobacco to the fermentation to how they rolled.
Q: Today they're known for making Cuban-style cigars, with mounted heads. Were they rolling that way back then?
A: Yes, everything was tubed [entubado] and triple capped. Even on a sandwich filler cigar.
Q: Flash forward—the Trojes tobacco is ready. Now what happens?
A: We went down to blend. We didn't have a name, we didn't have a concept. Ralph and I worked with Romay, and a gentleman named Luis. We came in one morning, and all these blends we had been working on were on the table waiting for us. I lit up this cigar, first thing in the morning, and I said, "I need some air." I went to walk down the steps and I almost missed one.
I said, "I think we have something here—it has strength, it's well balanced. Tomorrow I'd like to smoke this again, but we need to smoke it outdoors—I need to breathe." We lit up the blend, and I had everyone light up before me, so I could smell the aroma in the air. I absolutely fell in love with the aroma of the cigar. I lit up my cigar, I didn't say a word, and I looked over at Ralph. I nodded my head, he nodded his head, and we knew we had it.
Q: Why the name Tempus?
A: Tempus is Latin for time. We knew about the tobacco many years before this. We waited, we were patient. We allowed the tobacco to be what it is. The whole line is about time.
Q: How was the reaction?
A: Absolutely over the top. The cigar smoking community was waiting for Alec Bradley to do something special.
Comments 6 comment(s)
stantine972 — May 2, 2011 9:19pm ET
Chris A — May 2, 2011 11:00pm ET
Matt Turner — Prince George, British Columbia, Canada, — May 15, 2011 7:55pm ET
Robert Martin — Flushing, New York, Queens, — September 30, 2011 5:46pm ET
firstname.lastname@example.org — November 10, 2011 10:17pm ET
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