Welcome back to another episode of Smoke Rings. As many of you know, at the end of each year, we release a curated list of our favorite cigars from the past year. These aren't necessarily the best-selling or most popular cigars on our site, but they're blends that just fit a certain spot in our rotation and became go-to smokes for us. On today's episode, we're proud to host a very special guest — Ian Reith, founder of Dapper Cigar Company — here to talk to us about the #1 cigar in our list of Smokingpipes' Top 20 Cigars of 2020: the Dapper La Madrina Corona Gorda.
Note: The following transcription has been edited for clarity and brevity.
[Ian Reith]: Hi, everyone. This is Ian Reith at Dapper Cigar Company. I just wanted to shoot a quick video for all of our fans, particularly the staff and customers at Low Country Pipe & Cigar and Smokingpipes.com.
Firstly, thank you all for including La Madrina Corona Gorda in your top 20 cigars for 2020. The list is scattered with great brands, great cigars, and great companies, so to even make the list is humbling enough. But to take the top position... well, we're all extremely humbled and flattered by the gesture, and it means a lot to us as a small company. So thank you for that.
Secondly, I wanted to discuss a little bit about La Madrina as this brand itself — a little history about the line and what the cigar is from a tobacco component aspect. The brand was started in late 2015/2016 by Dan Gretta and me. Dan and I worked through what the brand would eventually become. Believe it or not, it didn't start off as La Madrina. I don't even remember all the naming revisions we made, but it morphed its way into La Madrina over about a two-year period. From seed to printing of the final printables in Holland took us about a year and a half to two years.
The imagery and the theme of La Madrina stemmed from my fascination with the Day of the Dead holiday — the iconography, the heavy religious aspect of it, and the nostalgia of remembering passed friends, family, and acquaintances. It's a theme we all can relate to, and there's a certain beauty in the remembrance of those past. So we really wanted the brand to capture that essence.
For the final design, we settled on the skeleton hand with the rose. In the cigar business, even from those who don't know we make the cigar, the design has struck a chord with a lot of people and has resonated with them. And I think that is part of the reason why the cigar has been so popular, aside from the fact that the cigar really is a great cigar. It was heavily influenced by Day of the Dead artwork, and Dan Gretta and I worked tirelessly to make sure that the brand resonated in that way.
When we started on La Madrina, I was starting to transition from very light cigars to more full-bodied and complex cigars. And in that process, La Madrina became the first cigar that we really blended to be on the fuller side of things. Prior to this cigar, I blended Cubo Claro and Cubo Maduro: two very light, medium-bodied cigars that were very limited in the tobacco that they use. And so La Madrina was something of a departure, then, because it took advantage of a lot of different types of tobacco and many different flavor profiles that we didn't have previously in our cigars. The wrapper is an Ecuadorian wrapper from Olivia Tobacco; it's a Cuban-seed Habano varietal that's a Cafe-plus shade, so it's right below Maduro. It's a beautiful wrapper, as everything Olivia Tobacco grows is. The wrapper itself brings a little pepper and a little bit of woodsiness to the profile of the cigar.
The binder is a San Andres, Mexican binder. We felt like we had to have some sort of Mexican leaf in there, given that it is a Day of the Dead themed cigar. And it turns out that the Mexican binder that we used is the same leaf that we actually use on the El Borracho Red, which is our San Andres varietal El Borracho. It brings a creaminess and a sweetness to the cigar that we think really balances very well.
The fillers are a combination of Dominican, Nicaraguan, and U.S leaf. The Dominican leaf offers a little bit of sweetness and a little sourness, and the Nicaraguan components bring a little bit of pepper and add a little bit of strength; then the Pennsylvania broadleaf offers an additional level of smoke production, alongside the level of strength that Pennsylvania broadleaf is known for. When all of these components are blended together, it makes for a really great, pleasurable smoking experience that's maybe on the medium-plus to fuller side the strength and flavor spectrum. That said, it still remains very enjoyable and approachable to almost any smoker.
The blend itself is consistent and extremely well executed. We work very closely with Raul Disla, the folks at Nicaragua American Cigars (NASCA), and our partners at Oliva Tobacco to ensure that every time we make this cigar, the experience is consistent from one production run to the next. Guys like Raul, who do the tireless work of making sure our production is consistent, don't get enough credit. Without them putting in all that legwork, the cigars themselves would not be as consistently great as they are.
So that's a rundown of our La Madrina brand; I hope you found it informative. If you haven't tried La Madrina yet, you should let us know what you think; we always appreciate your feedback. And of course, if you're new to Dapper Cigar Company, we hope you'll try our cigars. We're a small company making boutique cigars, but it's our hope that you'll find at least one cigar that's enjoyable to you within our portfolio. And hopefully La Madrina is that one. Thank you to everyone at Low Country Pipe & Cigar and Smokingpipes.com. We appreciate all your support. It allows us to keep doing what we love doing, which is making great cigars.