Photos by Eileen Escarda
A decade ago scores of new cigar brands went on sale. Most are gone, but the few that remain have built a comfortable niche in the industry
From the Print Edition:
Antonio Banderas, Nov/Dec 2005
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The ultimate boom survivor has to be La Flor Dominicana. Cigarmaker Litto Gomez entered the cigar market in 1994 and, in the short span of 11 years, has completely transformed himself from a maker of simple, mild cigars to an acclaimed tobacco grower with a library of brands including some of the world's most creative and full-flavored smokes. Examples are his groundbreaking and strong-selling La Flor Dominicana Double Ligero Chisel.
Some of the brands that disappeared during the post-boom malaise have even tried to stage a comeback, such as Oliveros, Tamboril and Fittipaldi, a cigar named after the legendary race car driver.
Each of these newcomers is trying to achieve what the survivors already have: doing enough to get noticed by cigar smokers and set themselves apart from the rest of the pack. Each hopes to become the next Cusano, Drew Estate or perhaps even a La Flor.
Looking back at the boom, Chiusano is proud to be one of the companies that made it through the boom. "Two hundred brands started, and multiple people did IPOs. We kind of bootstrapped it, made what we liked and charged what we thought was reasonable," he says, simply summing up his business strategy. "We're really cigar consumers. We just happen to also make them."
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