Out of the Humidor
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I have been a satisfied subscriber to your fine periodical for over three years. I am now compelled to write regarding my extreme displeasure with your choice for the cover story of the December 2001 Cigar Aficionado.
A feature story on "professional" wrestling is something I would expect from [lesser] magazines, but certainly not from you! Surely you can find a subject matter more deserving of your periodical than the societal abomination that is the WWF (or WCW, or whatever).
The cover of your magazine has been graced previously with such noteworthy cigar smokers as Winston Churchill, JFK, Groucho Marx and any number of other historical and celebrity figures who represent the best of our culture. Stooping to provide Vince McMahon with the same exposure is a disservice to your readership.
I was mildly disappointed with the soap opera diva featured on the cover of the last issue; I find this issue's cover disturbing, to say the least. Please don't dumb down your outstanding magazine in an effort to pander to the lowest common denominator of our society.
David K. Tarr Baltimore, Maryland
My business travels frequently take me to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. On my previous trip there, I had a free afternoon and decided to hire a taxi to take me to tour the cigar factories in Santiago.
After taking the two-plus-hour ride to Santiago, we went to three factories (MATASA, General Cigar and Fuente); however, we were denied entry into all three. I explained to the young ladies at the reception desk that I had traveled over two hours and that I was returning to the United States the following day, but nevertheless they would not budge, citing company policy. I found it interesting that an individual could tour the White House, the Pentagon and the FBI, yet touring a cigar factory was like attempting to get into Fort Knox. Come to think of it, we can tour Fort Knox as well.
The taxicab driver suggested that we go to the nearby León Jimenes factory, and I must say that they were the exact opposite of the other three factories. They were cordial, friendly and accommodating. Not only were they happy to give us a tour, they provided us with free refreshments and cigars!
I have been a regular cigar smoker for 19 years and I would venture to guess that some 10 years ago, before the cigar boom, the other three factories would have rolled out the red carpet for me. Since this experience, I have vowed that when purchasing cigars from the Dominican Republic, I will only purchase those that come from the León Jimenes factory. You can grow the finest tobacco, have the most sophisticated curing barns, possess the latest technology, and age the tobacco for many years, but the number one ingredient is still customer service.
Jerry Najman Massena, New York
Editor's Note: It was fortunate that the Jimenes staff was able to accommodate you. Your letter didn't supply the details, but I see no indication that you wrote or phoned ahead before showing up on the other manufacturers' doorsteps. They are, after all, running businesses, not tourist centers. Perhaps if you had given them more advanced notice, you may have gotten a different reception.
I've been reading your magazine for almost five years and I think it is time to give some feedback about what a French reader thinks of a magazine dedicated to cigars.
To be honest, I have found it very interesting, and more than that I'm still amazed about the passion of Americans for cigars.
For a long time, we French thought that everything linked to good taste and enjoying exquisite wines and distinguished food was only part of a European education. But I can testify that your magazine and also the number of people I have met while traveling in the United States are really passionate about good taste and savoir vivre, whether it is wine or cigars.
Your magazine brings me in every issue the enjoyment to find out about new cigars that we don't know about in Europe. Americans are very open to novelties, and reading your magazine, we can easily feel that a passion for cigars is not only reserved for a strictly closed society but for all classes.
It's something we should learn from your country.
Andre M. Collome Cigar Aficionado Online