An Interview with Christian Eiroa
The man behind Camacho, La Fontana and Baccarat cigars from Honduras.
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Q: Now was there ever a temptation to make the cigar stronger?
A: The Diploma. We did the Diploma that way. [It's stronger] because it's made with the corona leaf. Diplomas are what I smoke. I had them made for myself. So when guys came down to Honduras, I gifted these to them at [the Retail Tobacco Dealers of America trade show]. People showed up and said, "What is this, my diploma for going down to Honduras?" And that's where we got the name for the cigar. Diploma did very well. It's always limited-production. The corona leaves get the most punishment, breakage, the wind, the rain and the sun.
Q: You make your cigars in Honduras. What do you think of the typical consumer's reaction to cigars made in Honduras as opposed to those made in other countries?
A: I think people expect a full-bodied cigar out of Honduras. No bells, no whistles. A hard-core cigar. I think the image was probably damaged a lot in the '80s, when a lot of cheap cigars came out of Honduras.
Q: Last year, you came out with two brands not made at Tabacos Rancho Jamastran, not made in Honduras. What happened?
A: Jericho [made in Nicaragua] and Baccarat Dominican. I think my salespeople didn't trust the other factories. I think it could have been that my people weren't excited about the product. The blends were good. The launching was no problem -- it was the sell-through. And Baccarat Dominican didn't do anything. I'm not saying it was a mistake, it just didn't stick.
Q: Still, was last year a good year for you?
A: Last year was a very good year. The products are better, we're more organized, all the companies are more organized.
Q: Do people know how much you have going on in Honduras? The factory -- big factory -- a big farm, you grow your own tobacco. Do people know the whole story?
A: No. We have not been very successful in delivering that message. My father and I, we don't like to brag. We're not a big company.
Q: You're not small.
A: For this industry, no. In size, in premiums, we're probably number five or six. I think the growth has been in better quality products. There are better cigars out there. I think consumers want quality. They're willing to pay for quality. If you want stuff to mow your lawn with, there are people you go to for that. If you want something good, you're going to pay a price. You look to pay a price.
Photo by Gary John Norman