An Interview with Oscar Boruchin
Owner of Licenciados and 8-9-8 Collection cigars.
Marvin R. Shanken
From the Print Edition:
Wayne Gretzky, Mar/Apr 97
(continued from page 18)
CA: You have three brands today. Can you tell us the origin of the brands?
Boruchin: The 8-9-8 Collection came about as a result of a  deal with General Cigar. We were going to do something in the Dominican Republic. They wanted to make a good high-grade cigar for us in Jamaica. Today, because of the raw material problems, we will get about 300,000 8-9-8 cigars.
CA: You own that brand?
Boruchin: I own that brand, and it is selling tremendously. We have taken orders [at the August '96 Retail Tobacco Dealers Convention] in Cincinnati for delivery in '97. Even though we are going to deliver 300,000 cigars, you know that is not enough. And, it is a very expensive cigar.
CA: What's the price range of 8-9-8?
Boruchin: Between $6 and $9. We also own the brand, Licenciados, which I started to make with MATASA and Manuel Quesada in 1987. I wanted a mild cigar because the market favored mild cigars at the time. I was smoking Diplomaticos that I used to get in the Bahamas. And I loved the look of the box and it occurred to me that it wasn't registered. I tried to register the brand, but I ran into problems with the name. But I had no problems with the design. In order to expedite the introduction, we came out with the name Licenciados, which means attorney in [Spanish]. We had some second thoughts because the name was so hard to pronounce in the American market. But then we got a 93 from Cigar Aficionado [in 1994], and the brand became extremely popular; the pronunciation didn't matter.
CA: They could pronounce Toro. [Laughter] [Toro is the name of the Licenciados corona gorda that received the 93.]
Boruchin: They could pronounce Toro with the 93. The problem was essentially a very recent problem. We were great in the late '80s, over 200,000 cigars a year. We had 40 or 50 good friends that we had in the cigar business that were helping me with the brand and the brand was a viable brand.
CA: So you created the name?
Boruchin: I created the name. And Mr. Quesada and myself created the brand. We were trying to copy a blend similar to Macanudo. I don't mind telling you. Macanudo was extremely popular and we felt that if we came out with a product mild like this, we would have an edge.
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