Interview With Hernando Caicedo – Caldwell Cigar Company

 

Caldwell Cigar Company is creating some of the best cigars on the market, and they have many cigar enthusiasts stocking their humidors full of their cigars. Thick Ash recently was able to meet up with Hernando Caicedo, Caldwell Cigar Company’s Director of Operations, to discuss the Caldwell Cigar Company and their products.

 

Thick Ash:

How did you get started in the cigar business?

 

Hernando Caicedo:

“My business partner, Robert Caldwell, kind of dragged me into it. I seen what he had been doing, and the opportunity presented itself when he parted ways with Wynwood Cigar Factory. Robert and I have been friends for a very long time. It was the right time to get into the business, and Robert has been a visionary in the cigar business. I thought he was the right person to get into the business with, and that is how we got here. I wouldn’t have done it with anybody else. Robert definitely has a good eye for cigars and a good palate for blending. We have been having fun with it ever since we started.”

 

Thick Ash:

How long have you been smoking?

 

Hernando Caicedo:

“I have not been smoking very long. Robert has been smoking since he was about 10 years old. I have never smoked anything. Not a cigarette, not a joint, I have never smoked anything in my life. When we got into the cigar business, I got passionate about it because Robert’s passion kind of bled over to me.

I smoked my first cigar in April 2014, and it has been a huge learning curve. Having Robert and all of the others in the business I have learned a lot. More that just becoming a cigar smoker I have learned to appreciate the different flavors and the different cigars. Now, I consider myself a very knowledgeable cigar smoker by being able to learn all of this in a very short amount of time.

I didn’t smoke anything until we had our first customer. So, it was in April when we signed our first deal. I said I wasn’t going to smoke anything until we got the labels done and the cigars where ready. I was 32 years old at this point, and I waited this long. I wanted to wait until we had everything done right. So, when we got our first account that’s when I was like alright lets start this thing.

The guys were down at the factory and I would show up. I wouldn’t smoke a cigar and the guys would look at me and make fun of me. They would say, ‘Ah whats wrong with you? How do you not smoke. Are you crazy?’ It has been interesting. Now I have a huge love for the industry, and love for the cigars, and it has been wonderful. We make great cigars and there are a lot of great cigars out there that I love smoking as well. So, I am definitely into it.”

 

Thick Ash:

Could you tell us about the Caldwell cigars and the Caldwell lines that are available?

 

Hernando Caicedo:

“We have 3 lines. Caldwell Collection, which is our pride and joy and our premium line. We have Blind Man’s Bluff, which is our intermediary price point cigar. It is made in Honduras at the Agroindustrias Laepe S.A factory. We have the Iberian Express, which is our more budget friendly cigar. It is a phenomenal cigar all graded tobacco, long filled, and it is just a spectacular smoke.

Caldwell Collection has 3 lines. We have Long Live The King, The King Is Dead, and Eastern Standard. The Eastern Standard is a medium cigar, King Is Dead is a medium to full-bodied cigar, and Long Live The King is a full bodied cigar. There are 5 sizes in each one of those, and they come in 24 count boxes.

Blind Man’s Bluff we have 3 sizes. A robusto, a toro, and a 660. It is a Honduran Habano, so it is a medium to medium plus cigar. It is a wonderful smoke.

Iberian Express Collection has 3 lines. We have the Sevillana, Gibraltar, and Murcias. The Sevillana is a Conneticut, the Gibraltar is a Dominican Habano, and the Murcias is a Arapiraca Maduro which is Brazilian. It is a wonderful smoke.

There is a story behind why we call the Iberian Express the Iberian Express, and why we chose those names. It is an ode to where cigars came from. The first region to cultivate tobacco as a crop was the Dominican Republic. At that time Cuba was growing sugar, coffee, and other things. So, Spaniards would grow their tobacco and bring it to Spain. As they came into the Mediterranean they would pass the rock of Gibraltar, they would drop it off in Murcias, and from there the barge would take it up the river to Seville, Spain. Seville was the first cigar factory in the world. If you go to Seville today the cigar factory is still there and it is a museum. It is definitely worth checking out. So, it is kind of a story about where cigars came from.”

 

Thick Ash:

Do you have any new cigars coming out in the near future?

 

Hernando Caicedo:

“We do have a limited edition. We announced it last January and delivered in May. We only made 500 boxes of that. It is called the Last Tsar, and it went to the first 49 retailers; the first guys who supported us. It is a great cigar, it is the strongest one we make, and that cigar came in 10 count boxes of belicoso and cost around $18 a stick. It was phenomenal, and it sold out like crazy. People were going crazy about it everywhere. We really loved it, so we did another run.

The next one is also called the Last Tsar, but it will come in a  Churchill size. The stores will get that on November 7th. We only made about 1500 boxes of that, so it’s limited. We are going to release a cigar about twice a year in a different size, and that will be our limited edition. We are working on a couple of other things, but we haven’t released anything on that yet to anybody.”

 

Thick Ash:

Caldwell is based out of Miami. Could you tell us about Caldwell Operations, the factories, and the people behind the incredible cigars?

 

Hernando Caicedo:

“Robbie and I are both from Miami, and the company is based out of Miami. Our main manufacturing facilities are out of the Dominican Republic. The Caldwell Collection and the limited edition stuff all gets made by William Ventura and his son Henderson. We just expanded the factory, so we have a bigger factory with them where they now only make our Caldwell Collection. William is really a magician when it comes to cigars. He is a really great guy who is super humble, and he is the most knowledgeable guy in the cigar industry when it comes to making cigars. He used to be the quality control manager for about 22 years at Davidoff, and before that he was one of the original blenders for Davidoff in the Dominican Republic. So, we have a lot of experience coming out of our factories, and they really know how to make good cigars.”

 

Thick Ash:

Is there anything you would like to tell the Thick Ash readers before we wrap this up?

 

Hernando Caicedo:

“You guys should smoke Caldwell because you are going to like it. If you don’t, you’re wrong (haha).

It is definitely a cigar worth giving a shot, and I am not being biased because I make the cigar. I really do think it is a wonderful cigar, and all of the fans that we have out there have been supremely appreciative of it. They have been raving about the cigars and showing us a lot of love. That has been great. We don’t look at other cigar companies as competition because we respect everybody who is out there. We are all in the same business, we all love the business, we all love the tobacco, and the leaf of the cigars. More than anything I want people to put my cigars in their rotation and start smoking some of that stuff. They will not be disappointed once they try a Caldwell cigar.”

 

Thick Ash:

Thank you for taking the time to meet with us. It has been a pleasure, and you have been extremely informative. We cannot wait to try all of the Caldwell Cigar Company lines.

 

Please visit our friends from Caldwell Cigars at:
www.caldwellcigars.com
www.facebook.com/caldwellcigars

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