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Editorial: A Thank You

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Before you read this next post, you should understand I try my best. I try my best to find flavor nuances, I try my best to take pictures, I try my best to research, I try my best to describe cigars. In some ways it’s rather idiotic – as it’s all subjective. My palate is not identical to yours, my preferences are not mirrors of yours and my knowledge and experience (however greater or lesser) is not to the same degree as yours. I try my best. Oftentimes many (including myself) choose to criticize people who journal their passions. Before you start, I’d like to preempt it and explain myself as best I can. It starts with I try my best, this is a passion, this is not a science. It is entirely subjective and these are solely my thoughts. While I attempt at making every post unbiased within reason (blind tasting would be a huge pain in the ass for a single person like me on every cigar) – there are no doubts biases every time I take out my purple pen to write down notes. There are biases of what I expect, what I enjoy and ultimately what I think. What you are about to read, like every other post, is not something I was paid for, not something I was contracted to do, but rather what I feel like sharing. I hope it is not the case that your opinion changes of me, that you chose to cast doubt over my future reviews or look at the site as a whole differently.

At heart, I’m still an Oliva fanboy and a Lancero whore. Those are the facts. I still don’t like things of the larger ring gauges and the Davidoff barnyard is something I cherish. I like complexity over boldness and find smoke production to be of greater concern then burn line. All that being said, the La Aurora 107 Lancero is special for me and it will always be more than just a cigar. Here’s my story on what started as one hundred and forty characters, in something like seventy-six hundred characters.

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I was not there at the beginning, despite what a lot may think. In all honesty, I have no clue when it was started or who started it. For me, it was after I smoked my first La Aurora 107, a Robusto. There was already talk with Guillermo León regarding making a Lancero and I figured I’d open up my mouth and throw gasoline on fire. It went from just a simple “plus one” to “I’ll take the first box.” Guillermo then tweeted something along the lines of putting “Box #1 to Charlie Minato.” Mike at Buckhead Cigar Club reminded Guillermo that he wanted the first order, twenty five boxes, if I recall correctly. I quickly compromised and said that I would buy the box from Mike. (Not that Mike cared) Mike then suggested the first box be a hundred count cabinet, I figured that was just more cigars to smoke – not really a problem.

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We are in July, early August at this point – the La Aurora 107 Corona is supposed to be out soon. Suddenly, Mike and Boram have “test” blends of the Lancero, while seemingly no one has Coronas – in the course of a weekend they are all gone. I have no clue what the test blends were like, what they actually were. The wrappers seem right, but the noticeable pigtail is absent. The show was approaching and the Corona was still not at retailers. I asked Guillermo, who said to ask Jason Wood at Miami Cigar & Co., who told me boxes weren’t ready and wouldn’t be until right before or after IPCPR. Fortunately, some retailers had some in bundles. I bought a few from Jackie at Bonita Smoke Shop and smoked them shortly thereafter. It was clear that the smaller ring gauge was the way to go for the 107 blend.

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The next chapter is the show. It took me three minutes to find Jason and José Blanco, three days to speak with Guillermo. Finally, hours before I was supposed to depart, I sat down with Guillermo, Jason and Mike. (The only things missing were José, some Presidente and a Waffle House) What simply cannot be avoided is that all of my interaction with all four of them was via Twitter. Whether DMs or in public, the only time I had ever spoken with any of them was my one phone call regarding Coronas with Jason, and I’m pretty sure he had no clue who I was. Rumors were already floating, but as José had always said, you have to talk to Guillermo. He had a grin on his face, slightly different than the one he had in the picture on the wall behind us. It had worked, Tweets, begging retailers and a general buzz had meant that La Aurora had commitments for a few hundred boxes of a cigar that no one outside of maybe two tobacconists at one retailer had smoked.

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Over the course of the next few weeks the details were worked out or confirmed for the cigar. Things like the pigtail, distribution method and launch date were finalized. It seemed daunting: a. Get a product out that quick (to retailers on October 7th) and b. the distribution method. Flood Jason Wood’s inbox with DMs was the idea, but after all, it was the Twitter Cigar. The name never stuck with me until now. When I think about the seemingly hundreds of messages sent between Team 107 Lancero and those like myself that wanted the cigar to be produced, it seems only right.

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On October 7th, I shared my thoughts with the Twitter world. This was long after press releases, mentions by print publications and a few weeks after José and Guillermo taunted us with empty boxes. The cigar was young, as of a few days ago, it was still a bit young. But for what likely will be the only time in my life, I could say to some minute extent, it’s partially my baby. Actually, it’s a lot of people’s baby.

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The cigar was created for a group of individuals who desperately wanted a blend in an under-appreciated vitola, and their persistence paid off. In a world where seemingly everyday brings a new cigar to market, for once at least a few could say, “this cigar was for me” instead of exclusively, “this cigar is for me.” Because like myself, many were there from the start, many had similar pleas to Guillermo and José and many had similar joy on September 10th and October 7th, the announcement and arrival of the La Aurora 107 Lancero.

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The cigar itself was for me and will always be for me. Every week seems to bring it one step closer to a more perfect union with my palate. Yet everyday, I am reminded that this isn’t just a cigar. For everyone involved, this represents a historical moment of the cigar industry where social media literally made a cigar. For La Aurora and Miami Cigar & Co., José and Guillermo made a perhaps unparalleled commitment to their customers. And for me, it’s quite a bit more. It brought me four friends in the cigar world. I still remember the bit of shock I had when Guillermo first informed me that I was now “family”, at the time it was a bit surprising for a person I had only really spoken in person with for forty-five or so minutes. Now, it’s a bit clearer, although a bit difficult to explain how we got here. Seemingly everyday I talk to all four: Guillermo, Jason, José and Mike – probably all to their disdain, but that’s another story for a different time.

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When I gave my thoughts on the cigar itself, I borrowed the phrase, “every cigar has a story.” It’s doubtful that I’ll be able to explain this story every time I light up a 107 Lancero with a fellow smoker, but I least will get the joy of being reminded of all this cigar represents. So often we treat cigars as solely consumables and not works of love. It’s not that hard to see why when you take a step back: there’s the comical names, the constant focus on price and the secrets that serves as a façade as to why each one is so unique. Yet, the reality is – a cigar in a coffin is the wrong message. It’s not dead tobacco, rather hundreds of years of passion and art, grown and cured from the ground and most importantly, representative of the people who created it.

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The collective group from La Aurora and Miami Cigar & Co. that were responsible for making the 107 Lancero, honored me with a box signed by all those involved. What’s written above is my story of how the 107 Lancero was made, my experiences over the last few months and my way of saying thanks to all of those who made a cigar for myself. – Charlie

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Charlie Minato
About the author

I am an editor and co-founder of halfwheel.com/Rueda Media, LLC. I previously co-founded and published TheCigarFeed, one of the two predecessors of halfwheel. I handle the editing of our written content, the majority of the technical aspects of the site and work with the rest of our staff on content management, business development and more. I’ve lived in most corners of the country and now entering my second stint in Dallas, Texas. I enjoy boxing, headphones, the Le Mans 24-hour, wearing sweatshirts year-round and gyros. echte liebe.

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