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Before I Rant, Allow Me To Introduce Myself
Wow my very own blog, now all I have to do is find the time to keep it updated. Rather than peel into an immediate tirade on proper fermentation, real maduro cigars and one of my many million cigar quirks, I figured I should first introduce myself.
I remember my first cigar like it was yesterday. I was 14 and a girlfriend gave me a Montecristo No. 2 Cuban she had taken from her father’s humidor. My friends and I stared at it for a week before we got the stones to actually smoke it. We fired it up and passed it around. After several draws I remember feeling dizzy and like I was about to cough up a lung. Despite feeling a bit sick, I loved the flavor. The next day I picked up some books and started learning about cigars and all of the mistakes I made the night prior. 1. Don’t inhale. 2. Start with something mild. 3. Take your time and don’t smoke it too fast. Then I got to the etiquette section. Before I knew it, I was captivated by the cigar culture and was back at the shop later that night pawing through the walk in humidor. Being so young, my budget was extremely limited and my first humidor was an old cigar box the shop owner gave me that I converted into a humidor with a homemade humidifier. I bought some extra books as well as a sampler pack and started on a journey that would forever change my life. In fact, since that day I have smoked at least one cigar everyday.
What started as a hobby, quickly became a passion. I would sneak out onto my roof from my bedroom window every night with something special from my humidor and sometimes after school I would venture over to the cigar shop. I was not just smoking them, but I would take them apart any chance I got. Often times the shop owner would give me some broken cigars to play with and I would study everything about the components of a cigar while reading every book and article I could get my hands on. With college fast approaching, I selected DePauw University in Greencastle Indiana. I came from a long line of executives and entrepreneurs and DePauw had an excellent reputation for producing some of the world’s most respected CEOs. An economics major, my days were spent hitting the books and I still found time to unwind with a cigar in the basement of my SAE fraternity house. At the time, my ambitions were to enter the consulting field (a lucrative job at the time) and retire as soon as possible to start my real dream, a cigar shop.
It was my senior year when things started to change for me. I was on spring break in Jamaica with some other folks from my school. It was the last day and I was making a trip to the cigar shop to pick up some Mario Palomino’s (at the time this Jamaican cigar was fantastic and could only be purchased in Jamaica). While there, I encountered another person from my trip who was making the all too familiar mistake of buying a fake box of Cohibas. I stopped him immediately. When he asked me how I knew and what other cigar I would recommend, it turned into an hour long conversation about cigars. Within this conversation, the gentleman mentioned that his brother had just purchased the website www.cigar.com.
When I returned from my trip, I quickly changed gears to prepare for my interviews. At the time, the job market was terrible, especially for consulting. Feeling the pressure from my family and school to nail something down, I changed gears and started considering opportunities in banking before freezing completely like a deer in the headlights. I found myself unhappy with my career choices and found the card I got from the guy in the cigar shop in Jamaica. I called his brother to inquire about opportunities with Cigar.com and before I knew I was interviewing for a telemarketing position. The company was still young and I would be working for close to minimum wage as I cold called people to sell them cigars. The money wasn’t great, particularly with my background, and I was eating three steady meals of ramon everyday, but I was having the time of my life working with cigars. My family and friends thought I was crazy, but I could not have imagined working anywhere else.
All of my studying and smoking quickly paid off as the company grew, and overtime I worked my way through the ranks to my current position as the Cheif Merchant for Cigar.com. Today I spend my time working directly with every major cigar maker as a buyer as well as taking an active roll in product development. My cigar education has continued, but today is focused more around tobacco, processing and cigar making. Between our customers, employees and vendors, I am still learning something new about cigars everyday.
What I love about this industry is how it is always evolving. New brands come and go all the time and cigar makers are always experimenting with new ideas in aging and fermentation. Cigars are one of the country’s oldest businesses. I love the tradition, but most of all, the comradery of cigar enthusiasts. I look forward to updating my blog and interacting with everyone on the forum!
Published Wednesday, February 13, 2008 1:37 PM by
Very interesting reading...my love of cigars started in the pool hall when I was 14 and we smoked Old Port wine dipped cigarillos while playing pool on Saturdays...forty-five years later I still love cigars.
February 28, 2008 2:21 PM
Backwoods...Swisher Sweets...humble beginnings...
The world of Premium hand rolled cigars has changed my high school curiosity into my current passion. I, too, share a desire to become a tobacconist with my own shop.
March 3, 2008 11:27 PM
My brother-in-law got me started smoking premium cigars. Otherwise, I would only the Swisher Sweets from high school. Thanks B-I-L.
March 17, 2008 2:13 PM
Damn Alex, smoking cigars at 14? I give you props. If it wasn't for my own interest in wanting to learn more about premium cigars, I would probably still be smoking Phillies and White Owls like in high school.
March 26, 2008 8:39 PM
I enjoyed reading how everyone was introduced to cigars. I learned from a Cuban American that is a friend of the family. It is amazing how the culture has changed from the days of CEO types having the access and knowledge of good cigars to now, where the information is readily available. I have managed to create a good hobby of saving my bands and using an old leather bound ledger to record and rate each cigar. I can say that this practice has made life easy for those close to me to choose cigars as gifts. I applaud each and every one of you and hope that you never lose the taste for one of lifes greater pleasures.
April 1, 2008 6:56 AM
I love rags to riches (well, it kinda was for you) stories. Congrats on the success!
April 15, 2008 3:32 PM
Hey everyone. My name is Travis. I've only been smoking cigars for about a one and a half years. I bought a gun cabinet from walmart, lined it with spanish cedar and sealed it up tight. It holds between 69-72% so far, year round. I put a cigar oasis plus humidifier in it. Works great. Got about 400 cigars in it and and now needed more space. So, about 4 months later I bought a double kitchen cabinet from home depot for $70, lined it with spanish cedar and sealed it up tight. I call it my aging cabinet. It holds right at 70% all the time. I rigged up two computer fans to a plug and bought two tupperware containers. They are about four inches by 6 inches by three inches tall. I filled them both with the water crystals and cut squares in the lids and placed the fans on top. Works great. I plugged them into a timer delay and they turn on twice a day. Along with those two that I made I have one 300 count, one 150 count and two 50 count humidors. And at this point, everything is full. I have many Gurkhas, Montecristos, Rocky Patels, etc. etc. Although, I just recently replaced my favorite from the montecristo #3 to the Stadivarius Robusto Major. Yah, it's $32, but it was great. Mild, floral and nutty for me. Very, very smooth. I ended up burning my fingers on that one. I will buy a box of those soon. Anyway, thanks for reading and yall take it easy. Travis..
July 6, 2008 1:09 AM
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About Alex Svenson
I enjoy at least one premium cigar everyday and have the privilege of working directly with every major cigar maker in the industry. I love developing new and exciting cigar blends and bringing only the best this industry has to offer to our Cigar.com clients.
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