As word recently started making its way around about Meerapfel’s new “Richard” Master Blend, the first thing that jumped out – beyond the obviously beautiful presentation of the actual cigars – was the reaction that the announcement itself was getting. Even more noticeable is that nobody was in the middle of the road. The responses were either high praise and excitement, or strong opposition. Those in opposition primarily mentioned the $86 MSRP cost. While Meerapfel will be releasing other vitolas of their new blend, some with an MSRP as low as $36, these are clearly made for those who aren’t concerned with cost as much as they are with the complete experience.
So do we really need another $80+ cigar? Well, we don’t really need any of the cigars we regularly enjoy. The more you find out about this luxury blend, and the story behind it, you may find yourself at least wanting to experience this cigar for yourself.
Meerapfel is a name one may hear in passing early in their cigar journey, but there is so much to absorb at that point that most are concerned with understanding the cigars rather than their origins. Though many will know them for their Cameroon tobacco, or are familiar with their long relationship distributing Arturo Fuente cigars internationally, I will readily admit that I knew almost nothing at all about the Meerapfel’s place in cigar history other than what I’d read in The Privada Experience background info and tasting notes. Countless members of this new wave of cigar enthusiasts, myself included, just haven’t been around long enough to fully grasp the earliest players in what would become the modern cigar industry. Eager to get a better understanding of this release and the reaction it’s been getting, it quickly became obvious that this deserved a deeper look.
There are large swaths of consumers that more and more seem to equate prohibitively expensive products to being out of touch, excessive and unnecessary. If you didn’t know the Meerapfel story and just thought this was a new company coming out with a “luxury” cigar that almost certainly wouldn’t smoke like one – you wouldn’t be entirely to blame. In an industry where it often feels like every other week someone is purporting to be a descendant of a previously unknown master blender and is using the most revolutionary cigar making process that nobody’s ever heard of, it’s not really the consumer’s fault if their walls are up. There are a lot of cigar smokers who are tired of being told what they should like.
This, however, does not appear to be that. The Meerapfel’s have been trading, growing and working with tobacco for over 400 years. They’ve been doing what they do for more than 150 years before the United States was signed into being. The significance of naming the cigar “Richard,” the uninitiated may wonder? It is the name of the man who is credited throughout the industry with helping to make it possible for us to enjoy Cameroon tobacco today. Without his efforts, it’s said that Cameroon may have been lost forever to time, corruption and trade wars.
More importantly to Jeremiah Meerapfel, Chairman of the family business, Richard was his late father – “Rick” to many in the industry. To hear Jeremiah talk about tobacco, and what he learned from his father, who he still respectfully refers to as “Daddy” is to hear someone talking about their life’s passion. In addition, and exceedingly worth noting, Jeremiah frequently talks about something not always heard about when it should be: the real people who do the real work. Without people who are taken care of and treated well, he says, you have nothing. We are often told about the “300+ hands” as a way for a brand to justify high prices, whereas Jeremiah brings it up to remind people how much of an impact cigars can make in the world and how they connect us to one another – and above all else why no matter what we do we should work to be the best at it.
You can hear him talk too, because he’s one of the figures behind perhaps the best cigar show that isn’t being watched. The view counts are surprisingly low for the breadth of content being shared but that will almost certainly change as more people find out about it. On Fuente & Meerpapfel present “Meet The Professor“ – Jeremiah, Carlito Fuente, José Blanco and Melanie Sisco sit down and discuss all things cigars from the industry associations to the properties of various tobaccos. Nothing, it would seem, is off limits as long as it is brought up in good faith. There is usually a different guest each show, which helps make it even more entertaining and informative. While you won’t agree with everything they say, you’ll gain a firm understanding of where they are coming from. For instance, I personally learned more about what the PCA has been doing to serve its members from the interview with Greg Zimmerman than I have in the entire time that I’ve been an avid cigar enthusiast.
Jeremiah, Carlito and José have been around the cigar world for so long that I don’t think anyone in their positions could truly remain completely in touch with the average consumer – but they will never lose touch with the knowledge they’ve acquired and in that regard we are lucky that no matter how many years go by they still wake up every day in search of better – whether that be better processes, better blends or even asking better questions.
This cigar won’t be of interest for everyone, but it was never intended to be. Try to imagine that your family had served a larger community for centuries and hadn’t released its own product in generations. If you had the time and resources to develop a new thing and wanted to make it something that honored one of of the people you love most in the world, who taught you everything you know, would the cost be the first priority for you? Not likely.
The Meerapfel “Richard” Master blend is presented in ornamented caskets showcasing 10 Double Robusto cigars (5 3⁄4 x 52) with flagtail. Limited to 613 chests yearly per vitola and only available through specifically partnered premium cigar retailers around the globe who will be trained to provide the experience that Meerapfel wishes to curate. “A tribute to our past; respecting our future!”, exclaims Jeremiah. “The UberLuxury is an expression of tradition, values, and respect. It is the mission of MEERAPFEL to preserve and perpetuate this expression.”
Does one need to see the Eiffel Tower or the Grand Canyon? No, but one’s life is made more vibrant by doing so. Do we need these cigars? No, but it is a very special privilege to know they are being made available to enjoy should one wish to experience the culmination of a 400 year journey.