An Interview with Christian Eiroa
The man behind Camacho, La Fontana and Baccarat cigars from Honduras.
From the Print Edition:
Emeril Lagasse, Sept/Oct 2005
(continued from page 6)
A: We could, but we don't want to grow the factory and the farms anymore. Looking at Fuente, it's very admirable the way they've disciplined themselves to maintain their production at a certain level. Currently our production is 14 million sticks. We'll be happy if we can keep that many sticks and maintain the consistency of each brand.
Q: Take us through your company's brands.
A: We have Camacho Corojo. We have Camacho SLR and SLR Maduro, which is doing very well. We just extended the line. We have the Camacho Liberty, which will come out every so often. We have Baccarat and La Fontana. We have Don Felo. And another one I'm real proud of is National Brand, a bundle cigar we pulled out of the market during the boom. The retail price is about two, two and a half bucks. During the boom, people were coming in, buying them and rebanding them. So we pulled it from the market. And we came back with it in '97, '98, and last year we hit the million-cigar mark. We have a couple of smaller brands. So Camacho sets off, in my opinion, makes the whole full-bodied cigar thing explode. Camacho comes up against 17, 20 brands competing for the full-bodied cigar smoker. And maybe four, five of those brands stick. And unfortunately, as our competition gets heavy, our quality dips.
Q: What happened?
A: The demand was so high. When we grow and come up with a brand, we try to keep at least two years of tobacco. And we ate up all the gravy, we ate up all the good stuff. To keep production as the next crop came in, we used second primings, the light ones. It was too much production.
Q: Was that a mistake?
A: A huge mistake. We paid the price for it. So finally we said, Let's nip this in the bud, stop production. We froze it from November, December . January we started producing the new stuff, and didn't ship Corojo again until March, April. We established a limit. A cigar can't just be strength -- and that's something corojo delivers. Corojo is one of the only leaves that you can blend 100 percent of itself and it's going to taste good.
Q: So the Camacho Corojo blend is all corojo?
A: It's all corojo.
Q: Filler, binder, wrapper?
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