Felix Assouline has been in the cigar industry for over twenty years. He was first introduced into cigar smoking by a family member who loved cigars and wanted Felix to go into business with him. Felix resisted for quite sometime, as he never had smoked before. He finally gave in and gave his cousin an ultimatum. Felix told his cousin that he would try a cigar, but if he hated it he was never to bother him again about cigars. His cousin agreed to the ultimatum and gave Felix a Davidoff Robusto. He fell in-love and has been smoking ever since. Felix and his cousin eventually went into business together and opened a wholesale business in Los Angeles. After a year, he had realized that the market was going to change dramatically because of all the tax changes being proposed in California. So, Felix decided to leave the wholesale business and move to Florida while his cousin remained in L.A. He opened up his first store, Cigarros Del Mundo, in Dania Beach, FL.
After being in the cigar wholesale, distribution, and retail business for many years, Felix wanted to make his own cigars. He had been selling and representing everyone else, and he felt it was his time to experience the joys and sorrows of starting a cigar factory. For his first experience, Felix chose Danli, Honduras. He enjoyed Honduran tobacco and took notice to numerous cigar companies and cigars that came out of there. They built a factory right in the middle of cigar paradise. They were based across the street from Camacho, a few blocks away General Cigar Company was rolling their cigars, and numerous cigar giants were carefully crafting their products. Felix was living his dream and was in cigar heaven.
For the next six months Felix worked on his first blend. Having never blended tobaccos before, he had to learn everything first hand. Felix stated, “We had many friends from other factories come by and they were astounded by the fact that we had put together a whole factory and yet no cigars were being produced. My cigar cronies would say, ‘What a waste. Just make cigars, any cigars. You’re wasting a lot of money here.’ My answer, each and every time was, “I know how to smoke cigars and how to sell them. I have to learn how to make them now. If I’m not satisfied with my own blends, how can I possibly smoke them, much less sell them?” For many months, Felix would fly to Danli, make cigars for a couple of weeks and take them back to Miami to smoke with his friends so they could vote on the best blends. This process continued for over six months until CSB was born, and the following year, it was Ego.
After a couple of years, Felix had sold the factory, the stores, and the whole lot. He had built-up and was living his dream, but he felt he was missing out on a bigger part of life. “It was time to spend time with my family. I am blessed with a wonderful wife and five children. One of my sons is handicapped. The reality is that time flies, babies turn into children and then into teens, and you’re left wondering, when did they get so big? Where was I? I have missed so much. Spending time with my family has been the greatest blessing a man could ever have,” stated Felix.
A NEW START AND THE BIRTH OF A GREAT CIGAR
After many years, Felix Assouline has made his way back in the cigar business, and he has come back in a huge way. He has built a factory in Esteli, Nicaragua with the capacity to produce 15,000 cigars per day, and it is complete with a box factory as well. “Making a good cigar and depending on somebody else to make boxes was horrendous, so we imported all the machines necessary from the states and then designed and produced our own boxes. We also grow our own tobaccos in land that we own in Jamastran, Honduras and in Jalapa, Nicaragua,” stated Felix.
At their first appearance at the IPCPR (International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers) Trade Show after re-entering the cigar industry, Felix Assouline Cigar Company had set up their booth across from S.T. Dupont and A.J. Fernandez. At the end of the show’s first day, Felix was approached by a gentleman wanting to try some of his cigars. The gentleman, named Frederick, happened to work at S.T. Dupont, and he was overwhelmed with the people raving about Felix’s cigars as they made their way from booth to booth. Felix began explaining the different blends to him and quickly learned that Frederick did not like strong cigars. So, Felix lit a Havana Sunrise Reserve Prelude and sent him on his way. Fredrick came back early the next morning and raved about the cigar he had smoked. So, Felix lit a Ringo Bullet and again sent him on his way. By lunchtime he was back at the booth raving about the Ringo Bullet and wanted to try more cigars. Frederick said that Felix had told him that the blends were medium to full bodied smokes, but he found them flavorful so the cigars being full bodied was not as bad as he thought. He wanted to know whether he could try an Ego since Felix had told him it was the fullest in the line. Felix lit an Ego Perfect and sent him on his way again. Frederick came back one hour later. He loved the Ego and wanted to buy a few boxes to take back home to France, and he even showed Felix a picture of the Ego Perfect he had smoked with the longest ash that he had ever seen that he sent to the CEO of S.T. Dupont. Frederick then explained to Felix that he was a jeweler and was working with S.T. Dupont to create elaborate and ultra-expensive lighters, ashtrays, and other fine accessories. In fact, he had just made an jewel encrusted Dupont lighter that was sold for over $500,000.
IPCPR was over, and a few weeks had passed. Felix had received an unexpected phone call from Frederick explaining that he had been looking for the past three years for a cigar maker to make a cigar with the name II Saints; which is the name of the company he runs in France. Not only had he been disappointed, but the European market is flushed with Cuban cigars and people would have a hard time trying a cigar from Honduras or Nicaragua. He wanted to partner up with Felix to make a cigar. Felix was extremely interested in the offer. “I liked Frederick very much. Not only is he a good man, but he is a craftsman and he produces beautiful works of art,” stated Felix. “I told Frederick I was going to blend a cigar and that I would sent him a box within two months. The blend I sent Frederick is the blend we now produce as II Saints. Suffice it to say that the French love smoking our II Saints.”
II Saints (Box Pressed)
Wrapper: Jamastran Criollo 98 Ligero
Filler: Jamastran and Jalapa
The II Saints cigar is produced in the Felix Assouline Cigar factory in Esteli, Nicaragua. The tobaccos that make up this unique smoke are grown from their farm in Jamastran, Honduras. The valley in Jamastran is known for its flavorful tobaccos which feature a sweetness and strength inherent in each puff. Every II Saints cigar is boxed pressed, like most other Felix Assouline products. The II Saints cigar features a Lijero dark wrapper, marking the cigar as a unique find in the cigar world.
This cigar comes in five shapes:
La Douce Nuit 5 x 50
La Petite Mort (Perfecto) 52 x 5
La Nuit Blanche at 6 x 54
Les Copains D’abord 6.5 x 56
L’ange Noir (Perfecto) 56 x 6.5
The II Saints cigars are full bodied smokes, and are very well constructed. They present with a phenomenal flavor from start to finish, and the construction is second to none. The cigar burns evenly and no touch-ups were required during our smoking experiences. We recommend this cigar to anyone who enjoys a full-flavored smoke. Thick Ash Cigar Magazine reviewers smoked the II Saints La Nuit Blanche (54 x 6), and the cigar received a rating of 93.
NEW FROM FAC
Felix Assouline Cigars is teaming up with cigar giant Meier and Dutch. Felix Assouline Cigars will be available for sale by Meier & Dutch Whole Sale Cigar Distributors through stores, catalogs, and websites.
For more information on Felix Assouline Cigars please visit their website (www.felixassouline.com) and follow them on social media.