Hey! Thanks for stopping by! Let me start this by saying I am in no way, shape or form a professional writer, blogger or social media mogul. I am just a guy that got into cigars a couple of years back and it has become a passion of mine. I most recently got introduced to pipe smoking and although I enjoy it, cigars are, and will remain my passion. Not to take anything away from the pipe folks, but for me, cigars is where its at. We can debate that all later on.
So why a blog? With so much available on social media (follow me on Twitter, Insta, and FB, shameless plug right there) I wanted something more. I wanted a place where people who enjoy premium cigars and pipes can visit, learn about new products, current events, trends in the industry, updates to the FDA bull$@it that we are fighting, share reviews of products and most importantly to me, support smaller boutique brands and companies that are making some of the highest quality products on the markets but don’t have the marketing budgets that the big brands have.
I stumbled upon Black Label Trading Company through a web search about a year and a half ago and I went on a mission to find them in my local area. After many disappointing phone calls and stops at local shops, I was able to track down 1 shop that had them in stock. I took the 45 minute ride out and bought everyone they had. Why? What was it about this product that I have never tried or heard anyone talk about before that made me rush out and drop $100 + on their product? Honestly, the truth is simply their website and imagery. They looked and felt so much different from the traditional cigar companies we have all seen on every website, magazine and article. They had this dark, edgy, kind of a hip-hop/rock star/grunge, in your face type of vibe that made me want to stand out from the crowd of traditional cigar smokers. Although that image is rapidly changing, more younger people are into cigars and it’s become more socially acceptable, for me, the image of sophisticated, wealthy groups of old guys stood out to me. I personally do not fit into those stereotypes and BLTC spoke to me.
So I purchased a bunch of cigars I had only seen online before and got them home. Now what? What if I light them up and realize I just dumped a lot of cash into a garbage, gimmick cigar and I am stuck trying to pawn them off on people? Lucky for me that wasn’t an issue. From the moment I cut the cap and took my first cold draw on the Lawless cigar I picked, I knew this was something special. I lit that cigar and from that moment on, I was a fan of BLTC for life. The rest of the line-up was just as good and consistent as the first cigar I tried from them. As time has gone by, I have had the privilege of sitting down and enjoying a cigar with the man that started BLTC, James Brown, and he was by far one of the most down to earth, humble, generous people on the planet. I have met some of the Big Brand guys and although they are nice, you never get that comfortable feeling with them that they are just regular people making cigars. They always have that Big Brand feel about them. And rightfully so, as most of them have been in the industry their whole life and have built upon their families reputation and turned them into mega-brands. I will never say that the big name companies don’t make some great cigars, however, I will say that more times than not, when they release a new cigar, they dump tons of cash into marketing and advertising, branding and hype, and I finally get my hands on this new “game changing” cigar only to be left feeling like I paid for a Top Shelf Bourbon and was given Mad Dog 20/20. Not to say the effects of drinking too much of both aren’t the same, but…at the end of the day, I expected much more.
So my love affair with Boutique cigars started by accident and I was sold on a brand. Next step, find more boutique brands and see how they stacked up to the big boys. Next up for me was Crowned Heads Cigars from Nashville. Nashville? Cigars? That’s like salsa from New York City right? I figured what the hell? What’s $8.50 for a cigar I never heard of right? Ultimately unless you have been smoking cigars for 20 years, almost every trip to the local humidor is a crapshoot anyway. I picked out a Mason Dixon by Crowned Heads and gave it a shot. Again, right out of the gate I knew I had discovered another gem. Since then I have tried almost every cigar they have made with the exception of a few that I cannot find. My wife and I are heading to Nashville in a month so my plan is to stop by and visit their office and see if Jon has any unicorns he will part with. On top of making great cigars, Jon Huber is a big fitted hat guy and they make some awesome head gear. I continue to try anything and everything Crowned Heads makes and every time I think I have found my favorite, they put out a new stick and it blows my theory of “go to” cigar all to hell and I am left going online to figure out what box to order. I could think of worse choices right?
Since then I have been on a mission to try out new brands and blends as I can find them. Blk Wks (Black Works Studio) is also from James Brown of BLTC and right now they are dropping so many amazing cigars I am thinking about taking a part time job to make extra money to buy them…As I always tell my wife, I should have been born rich instead of so good looking. Yeah, she laughs at me also. FML.
Nomad by Fred Rewey is making cigars that are just incredible. Haven’t found one yet that I haven’t added to the instant favorite cigar list. 1502 Cigars, Emilio Cigars, and Ezra Zion Cigar Company are some that I have not yet had the opportunity to try, I am hearing great things about and look forward to experiencing.
Leaf by Oscar is another cigar that I am currently a huge fan of. My first impression of the tobacco leaf wrapped packaging was 100% gimmick cigar. WRONG! Wow what a smoke. I have had 3 of the 4 blends and all have been excellent.
So switching gears here a bit, I hope that you will come back and visit as I start to do this on a more regular basis as work and life allow me to. I will be reaching out to some boutique reps, owners, reviewers, and bloggers and trying to get some outside help to build this page and spread the word about everything cigar and pipe related. My goal is to make this thing a trusted resource for legit info and reviews about smaller brands and help them grow their business. I am not doing this for money or anything like that. I am doing this because I believe in the people behind these amazing products and I feel that the cigar world is missing out on some great products that in reality may cease to exist in the very near future because of the recent FDA rulings. I think it is an unfair, absolute travesty and the main reason I am an Ambassador for Cigar Rights of America. I invite and encourage all of you to at the very least, visit the website www.cigarrights.org and sign the petition, and if you like what we are about and want to help us fight, become a member. Please put my name Scott Hawkes in the referral box if you do. I would greatly appreciate that and CRA would appreciate your contribution and membership.
Again, thanks for stopping by and reading my ramblings. I hope that you will stop by and check us out as we get this started. I hope to have a lot more content for you in the very near future. Hopefully some decent reviews, maybe some guest blogs or some Q&A with some of the reps, or owners if they feel so inclined. Feel free to drop some comments, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org anytime. Until next time, light em if you got em.