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60 minutes | Jun 15, 2022
Episode 83: On a Zoom with John Laurendi of Peter James
I sit down, via Zoom with Peter James founder, John Laurendi. John and I discuss how he got into his cigars, and John shares with us his very first cigar experience. John tells us how Peter James came to be and the some of the obstacles that the company faced upon its inception. We then talk about his new cigar line, Los Estoico, that includes a Habano and a Maduro, his vision behind them, and how they were blended. John and I get into the weeds on coffee, before John talks about being an entrepreneur. Look for his podcast coming soon!!! Peter James is a company that is synonymous with class, style, and luxury. They have a wide variety of high end products for any cigar aficionado or enthusiast. Check them out at peterjames.ca *NOTE: We did have some technical issues later in the podcast where some audio was lost due to signal degradation. It has been edited.
84 minutes | Jun 1, 2022
Episode 82: The Cuban Sub-Series: The Innovators of Cuban Cigars
I am joined by Nick Syris, owner of LH Cigars, my co-host for our Cuban Sub-Series. We discuss the latest news from Cuba: The explosion near Hotel Saratoga in Cuba, the Biden Administrations change in Cuban policy, and Habanos S.A. dramatically raising Cuban cigar prices. We then talk about the innovators of Cuban cigars: Christopher Columbus, Fidel Castro, Zino Davidoff, and more.
63 minutes | May 24, 2022
Episode81: Bonus at My Old Kentucky Herf
For this bonus episode, I chat with Luciano Meirelles of Ace Prime Cigars, Andy Yaffee of Micallef Cigars, Oscar Valladares of Oscar Valladares Tobacco & Co, Nick Syris of LH Cigars, Greg Free of Fuerte y Libre Cigars, and Dwight Adkins of FatAsh Cigar Lounge and My Old Kentucky Herf. We find out why Dwight started the My Old Kentucky Herf and FatAsh Cigar Lounge, and also discuss what makes them both so successful. Dwight shares with us his vision and what's in store for the 3rd Annual My Old Kentucky Herf. The manufacturers tease what they'll bring to the 2022 PCA Trade Show, why cigar events like these are important, and much more. To contact Dwight Adkins for information on The Munchies Continental Breefus or if you're a manufacturer or B&M wanting to attend next year's My Old Kentucky Herf call: (606) 254-0484
65 minutes | May 15, 2022
Episode 80: Patina Cigars’ Mo Maali
I sit down with Mo Maali, the man behind Patina Cigars. We talk about the behind-the-scenes of running a cigar company. Mo opens up about lanceros, limited edition, and tobacco availability. We discuss how he gets into new shops and how he knows if a shop is the right fit. We talk about the economy, his podcast (Sultans of Smoke), and of course Patina Cigars!
94 minutes | May 1, 2022
Episode 79: The Cuban Sub-Series: The History of Cuban Cigars
Nick Syris, owner of LH Cigars, joins me for the next installment of the sub-series this year, while we look at the history of Cuban cigars. We start from when they believe the tobacco plant arrived on the island and go all the way to present day Cuba. Of course, we stop a little along the way to discuss modern issues: the FDA, marketing, censorship, and why cigar reviewers breakdown their reviews by thirds. As always, Nick is a wealth of information. Do not miss this look at the history of Cuban Cigars. You can follow Nick on Instagram, and Twitter.
81 minutes | Apr 15, 2022
Episode 78: The Cuban Sub-Series: Cuba Now
James welcomes back co-host Nick Syris, a Master Blender and Cuban expert, to discuss his latest trip to Cuba. Is Cuba ready for tourism as the pandemic (hopefully) winds down? Nick talks about what he saw as he visited the island nation in April of 2022. From the changes in currency to the amount of inflation Cuba is now seeing, it does not bode well for those looking to travel to Cuba anytime soon. Nick discusses the ongoing exodus from Cuba and where they are all going, as well as how that won't affect Cuban cigar production. It's a very fresh look at a nation in the middle of a perfect storm of crippling inflation and effects of a 2yrs pandemic. You can contact Nick Syris on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.
79 minutes | Apr 1, 2022
Episode 77: The Cuban Sub-Series: The Cuban People
I welcome back to the show Nick Syris of LH Cigars. We return to our sub-series on Cuba and discuss the Cuban people. Nick explains their daily lives, what they go through, how they live, and how they work to steal. We talk about their views and general attitudes towards Americans, racism, and the impact of a Communist run economy that sees 77% inflation. It's an eye-opening look at a proud people. You can contact Nick Syris on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.
72 minutes | Mar 15, 2022
Episode 76: Nick Hammond: A Chat with an Epicure
I am joined via Zoom by journalist, author, podcaster, and cigar aficionado Nick Hammond. Nick is the author of Around the World in 80 Cigars: The Travels of an Epicure. Nick and I discuss how the book came about before diving into some of the great stories found in the book. From his travels to Tunisia, Bosnia, Cuba, Nicaragua, and a safari in Africa Nick seamlessly weaves tales of his travels while bringing it all back to his love of cigars. Nick tells of his love affair with different countries around the world and how cigars have played into those experiences. I even put Nick on the spot to find out if he's a Star Wars fan. This was one of the most fun and informative interviews that I've done, and I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did. Go and buy his book; I promise you won't be disappointed. Click to purchase Around the World in 80 Cigars: The Travels of an Epicure Or visit Nick's website Listen to Around the World in 80 Cigars Podcast
64 minutes | Mar 1, 2022
Episode 75: The Cuban Sub-Series: The History of Cuba Pt. 2
This episode is a continuation of Episode 73, where Nick Syris (owner of LH Cigars and Cuban cigar expert) continue our discussion of the history of Cuba. We begin with the infamous Fidel Castro coming to power and how that changed things for the Cuban people and the geopolitical landscape. We discuss how the Russians helped prop up Cuba and talk about China now propping up the Communist regime in Cuba.
64 minutes | Feb 15, 2022
Episode 74: Christopher Moore of Carolina Blue Cigars
I am joined via Zoom by Christopher Moore, owner and founder of Carolina Blue Cigars. Christopher calls in from a cigar lounge (I apologize for the audio quality and background noise) to talk about his brand Carolina Blue Cigars. We discuss how his 30yrs in the military impacted his blending process, as well as how cigars in the military brought his fellow soldiers together. We talk about his vision for Carolina Blue, where he sees it in the next few years, and the challenges of a boutique cigar manufacturer. This leads us into a discussion around the TPE and PCA, the differences between the two, how boutique cigar companies may have to choose between them, and how Christopher would rather market directly to consumers. To order Carolina Blue Cigars and taste the difference, visit Carolina Blue Cigars' website or order from Oxford Cigar Company.
49 minutes | Feb 1, 2022
Episode 73: The Cuban Sub-Series: The History of Cuba Part 1
This is the first of a new sub series of podcasts where myself and Nick Syris of LH Cigars will discuss all things Cuba. For Part 1, Nick and I discuss the beginnings of the island of Cuba, its Spanish colonization, and how the island of Cuba has been a political pawn for centuries. We make it through the Bautista era in this episode. Join Nick and I for an in-depth look at the Cuban island, its people, and their cigars, once a month through most of 2022.
33 minutes | Jan 15, 2022
Episode 72: 3 Year Anniversary, Cigar Aficionado’s Top 25 Problem, and PCA News
Thank you all so much for your support these past three years!! This is now the longest running podcast and most successful podcast that I've ever done. None of this would be possible without you, the listener. THANK YOU!! I break down Cigar Aficionado's 2021 Top 25 and why it's still problematic. I also cover the PCA's announcement of adding manufacturers to their board and why that's a good thing. LINK: https://halfwheel.com/pca-adding-more-manufacturers-to-boards-creates-new-mission-statement/403663/
76 minutes | Jan 1, 2022
Episode 71: What the Hell is Paprika with Devin Ashley of Bad Ash Cigars
I sit down with Devin Ashley, owner and founder of Bad Ash Cigars. Bad Ash Cigars is an ultra-boutique cigar company that is just getting off the ground. We discuss the challenges that face small cigar manufacturers, where he sources his tobacco, how he started rolling cigars, super tasters, and how he handles being in the cigar industry and the healthcare field.. We talk about the FDA, rules and regulations, and a lot more. Visit Bad Ash Cigars' website here!
68 minutes | Dec 15, 2021
Episode 70: PCA Legislative Update with Josh Habursky and Glynne Loope
I am joined via Zoom by the PCA's Head of Government Affairs, Joshua Habursky, and State Advocacy Director, Glynn Loope. We take a look back at the legislative victories of 2021 and then look forward to the legislative fights coming in 2022. We discuss the how the PCA approaches the Federal Government fights, and the multi-faceted fights at the state and local levels. We also let our listeners know how they can become involved in the fight, by going to cigaraction.org, staying up to date on the fight, and letting your local, state, and federal lawmakers know where you stand. You can even have your local B&M reach out to Josh and Glynn to have them appear in-person or over Zoom to educate and help with grassroots efforts in your area. You can email Josh at firstname.lastname@example.org You can email Glynn at email@example.com
65 minutes | Dec 1, 2021
Episode 69: The One and Only Tommy Zman
I chat, via Zoom, with the one and only Tommy Zman. Tommy "Zman" Zarzeki is a writer, producer, voice actor, humorist, and content creator. While he has worked on projects outside of the cigar industry, Tommy is well-known for his work in the cigar industry. Tommy talks about how he broke into the cigar industry and where his journey took him. Tommy recalls his time at JR Cigars and Famous Cigars, among other, and what it was like working with guys like Steve Saka. Tommy also talks about his arrest after leaving Famous Cigars and how the case was dismissed, all charges dropped, and his record expunged. We also touch on how "PC" and cancel culture has an affect on humorists and comedians, the politics of cigar smokers, and much more. You do NOT want to miss this episode. You can see what Tommy is up to and some of the things he's worked on in the past by going to his website tommyzman.com. You can check out his Facebook group Cromag Nation here.
55 minutes | Nov 21, 2021
Episode 68: Bonus with Lucas Da Silva of Oxford Cigar Company
I welcome Lucas Da Silva, owner of oxfordcigarcompany.com, back to the podcast. We discuss the state of cigar retail, what it's like to do business during the second cigar boom, and how Oxford Cigar Company chooses what new cigar manufacturers to carry. Lucas also talks about the current logistical problems plaguing the industry and why it may be harder to find your favorite cigar on store shelves and online. Lucas tells us what hot new products and cigars will make the perfect Holiday gift for that cigar smoker in your life. We talk about Oxford's huge Black Friday sale (Nov 21 - Nov 28, 2021). And Lucas announces the Oxford Cigar Company Airstream Mobile Lounge. A mobile cigar lounge and walk-in humidor that is perfect for your next event! To inquire about having the Oxford Mobile Cigar Lounge at your next event, email Lucas at firstname.lastname@example.org
75 minutes | Nov 15, 2021
Episode 67: The Cuba Episode with Nick Syris of LH Premium Cigars
I welcome Nick Syris, the owner and Master Blender of LH Premium Cigars and a Subject Matter Expert on all things Cuban cigars, to the show. Nick and I run the gamut of Cuban cigars, as we discuss the U.S. embargo on Cuba and some of the effects on the Cuban people, the changing U.S. stance on Cuba from administration to administration, some of the challenges Cuban cigars face, how the rest of the world views Cubans and "New World" cigars, what Cuban cigars might look like in a post-embargo world, and what is currently allowed and not allowed under the Biden administration. Nick is a wealth of knowledge about Cuban cigars. Over the last 12yrs Nick has visited Cuba countless times and has worked hard to create a bridge cigar in his LH Premium Cigar lines. Don't forget to visit Oxford Cigar Company and use coupon code "SimplyStogies" for 10% off your entire order!
52 minutes | Nov 1, 2021
Episode 66: Getting to Know Alec Rubin from Alec Bradley Cigars
I travel to Capital Cigar Lounge in Lincoln, Nebraska and sit down with Alec Rubin of Alec Bradley Cigars. Alec and I discuss what it was like growing up in the industry and his unique cigar journey. Alec describes what it's like working with family, what he believes makes a cigar manufacturer "boutique," and his opinions on vitolas and accessories. We touch a little bit on how the global pandemic has affected the industry, how it affected their business, and that leads to a discussion on the meaning behind the Kintsugi (and why it was 6mos behind schedule). A huge thank you to Jeff Fry, GM of Capital Cigar Lounge, and owners Tony and Austin for allowing me the opportunity to sit down with Alec Rubin and talk with him.
50 minutes | Oct 15, 2021
Episode 65: Return of the Reinado Empire
I chat, via Zoom, with Antonio Lam of Reinado Premium Cigars. There are things in the world that are more important than cigars and more important than business. Antonio and I discuss one of those things: family. Antonio explains where he has been for the past seven years and the reason for Reinado's long hiatus from the industry. We talk about the cigar industry, what it means to be boutique, and where Reinado's seat at the table is. Antonio also talks about the future of Reinado before we have a bit of fun. Reinado Cigars is a proud supporter of the Dementia Society of America. Visit Reinado Cigars website. Halfwheels' article on Reinado's return. Cigar Coop's article remembering Reinado.
58 minutes | Oct 1, 2021
Episode 64: A Conversation with Andy Sweis of Cedar Room Fine Cigars & Lounge
I am joined via Zoom by Andy Sweis, owner of Cedar Room Fine Cigars & Lounge in Scottsdale, AZ. We talk about how he got into the cigar industry and how it is a family affair for him and his brother. Andy talks about staying on the bleeding edge of boutique cigars and new releases. We talk about both the physical space and their online space and the challenges of competing in an online market. We find out how Andy sees his customers as family and how that translates into one of the best experiences I've had in a cigar lounge. We learn about their Cigar Text Club and how they are innovators in the industry! Andy announces the Simply Stogies Sampler on both their website and via the Cigar Text Club! The Simply Stogies Casdagli Sampler - $90 value for $69.99 - add to cart and priority shipping will be included. You can join the Cigar Text Club and order the Simply Stogies Casdagli Sampler by texting keyword "stogies" to 1-833-855-6464 The sampler includes: Traditional Robusto Gran Mareva Super Belicoso Grand Cafe Maduro Cottontail Follow Cedar Room Cigars on Instagram Follow Cigar Text Club on Instagram
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