When it comes to unsung heroes in the cigar industry, Michael Giordano is high on the list, and he likes it that way. He’s the guy your local cigar shop owner knows, but you might not. Giordano built his home in the industry by stocking the country’s shelves with top-notch cigar accessories through his wholesale business Quality Importers. If you own a humidor, travel case, humidification crystals, ashtray, lighter, or cutter, there is a good chance Mike got that piece created for you. But building accessories wasn’t enough of a challenge, if you know Mike, it never is. We sat down with Mike to talk about Blood Red Moon, a blend that combines two of his passions: cigars and art.
Bryan Ott: Mike, thanks for taking the time to chat. Tell us about the beginnings of Cult Cigars and Blood Red Moon.
Michael Giordano: Like most of my best decisions in life, it just kind of happened. To keep it short, I partnered in a cigar factory in Esteli named TACASA with my friend, and cigar maker, Carlos Sanchez. Our first brand was Cult in 2012. Around the same time, through Carlos, I met the Cuban artist Hector “Chino” Perez. I first commissioned him to make a few paintings to hang at the office. I came up with the idea for Blood Red Moon while looking at one of Chino’s paintings.
BO: Why did you create a 4.7”x44 perfecto when the rest of the industry was busy pumping out 60-rings?
MG: From our first day in business, we’ve been going against the grain. We fill gaps. It takes a lot of time to figure out what everyone else does, and even more time to do it better. When I see something unique and we believe in it, we run with it. Carlos brought me this cigar and I loved it. There was really nothing similar on the market, and I liked that aspect.
BO: Why the name Blood Red Moon?
MG: I’ve always been intrigued by cryptic things. They write about the Blood Red Moon in the bible. It wasn’t one of those things where I needed a name, and hat to sit down to figure it out. It just kind of came to me while looking at Chino’s painting.
BO: You can spot a pack of Blood Red Moon from a mile away due to the artwork by Hector “Chino” Perez. Can you tell us about your connection to the artist?
MG: My partner Carlos is native Cuban and met Chino there. He was sending Chino art supplies he couldn’t get in Cuba. Soon Chino wanted a way out of Cuba so he moved to Canada before visiting in Miami where we first met. I was never an art collector, but I liked his stuff. We started Embargo Collection by Hector Perez and I commissioned bigger pieces to sell. My thought was if we don’t know enough about the art world, I could offer the paintings to the tobacconists that I work with.
BO: As an artist, what was Chino’s biggest challenge?
MG: Chino was naturally right-handed and a fantastic painter. He lost his right arm in an automobile accident in the 1990s. Through his love for painting, he recreated himself by learning to paint with his other hand. It’s amazing really. If you ask Chino, the accident only made his abilities stronger.
BO: Back to the Blood Red Moon. Why go with sleeves of five instead of wooden boxes of 20 or more?
MG: I thought it was something the boutique cigar world was missing at the retail level. Blood Red Moon is a shorter cigar experience, so there is a good chance of fitting one into the day. Just because it’s a premium handmade cigar doesn’t mean it can’t be portable. Plus, simple packaging keeps the price down. You can’t smoke the box!
BO: What is on the horizon for Blood Red Moon?
MG: I’ve been around the business long enough to know making cigars isn’t easy. Lots of people try, but few succeed over time. When we started production I thought, worst comes to worst, I’ll have a lifetime supply of cigars I love. Probably the same reason we released a Blood Red Moon wine. That said, it’s been a better start than we would have ever dreamed. Blood Red Moon is all over the country, and we’ve already added a Connecticut and Maduro option. We even made a standard Robusto in the original blend because customers were demanding it. Soon we’re releasing a Culebra with one of each wrapper. There’s even Blood Red Moon pipe tobacco and accessories. The success has been exciting.
BO: What is the secret to your success?
MG: I never really took the time to think about it. I just go. One thing I will say is we concentrate more on the details than the results. If you can master the details and processes, the results will take care of themselves. Not sure that’s a secret, but it’s worked for us.
BO: Is there anything you’d like to mention to our CIGAR.com customers before we go?
MG: First and foremost, I want to thank everyone for taking the time to hear me out. Being behind the scenes in the details has always been a comfortable place. That said, there was a story to be told with Blood Red Moon, and another one yet to be written. Thank you to CIGAR.com for supporting us!