When enjoying an old favorite, or something new, It is difficult not to imagine all the things that had to happen just right for a particular cigar to have arrived at the end of your lighter. As consumers in general, we like knowing where a thing came from and who made it. In cigars specifically, some of us like knowing as much about our favorite cigars as we do our favorite TV shows, movies, food and music. As eager enthusiasts, many of us are just as interested in the people and processes behind great blends as we are the actual cigars.
Rare is the smoker that hasn’t, for at least a moment, wondered what their ideal blend might be. There is something exciting about imagining the adventure of testing different recipes until you’ve found a blend that makes you say “this one!” Taking the dream a little further, maybe you imagine what the band might look like on this cigar, the sigil you will use to sign your work.
This little dream that many have dreamt has now been made real. Privada Cigar Club’s Regional Cigar Groups project offers one of the most immersive experiences available to cigar heads today. To date, 17 finished blends have been released to the public through this program. Of the 17 releases, over half have already sold out completely. Many groups, like The Midwest Misfits, Cigar Cowboys, Scruffy Herf Nerders and Kinzua are taking full ownership and have created websites, merch and full social campaigns!
The way it works is that once a group has committed to seeing things through from concept to release, and has been accepted, they can begin requesting blends to test. These blends come from some of the most renowned blenders currently operating. Once a cigar has been selected, the group then completes a band design and gets the bands printed. The chosen cigars are banded on-site at PCC and then each group gets to determine how many they want for themselves, how many they want to put on the PCC shop, and how many need to go to any local brick and mortar shops the group has developed relationships with. It is an amazing exercise in gathering resources, delegating duties, and marketing your product to real people.
When I say there is nothing like this anywhere in the industry, that isn’t hyperbole. Others are beginning to attempt their own versions, but PCC are the only ones providing a realistic playground for people to learn and grow safely. Earlier this week it was announced by another company that members of the public can now pay to offer that company feedback on iterations of a new blend, one that the company then plans to release at some point in the future. I’m sure that some will find that to be a fun process, but it’s not having your own cigar brand fun.
Phil Murphy, a Founding Reviewer for CigarPublic.com and one half of the team over at The Herf Locker, points out that one of Privada’s most substantial contributions to the industry is education. The regional program really exemplifies this. Short of starting directly at the field/factory level, there may be no more realistic a way to learn about the many moving parts of the industry. PCC has removed much of the risk typically associated with starting a new endeavor, and as a result the regional members have more protection than if they were trying on their own. Any profits the group makes can then be shared with the members and/or put toward the next release.
Phil and Ken, Herf Locker’s founder, are among the many who have shared their enthusiasm with Privada’s initiatives and are great ambassadors for the whole cigar community. As part of The Herf Locker’s current fundraising drive for Cigars for Warriors, the Privada community has been doing what they do best – over the past month the drive has gotten over 1800 cigars on the path to their 2,000 cigar goal. These aren’t pallets and pallets of 2nds and value bundles either, so far the estimated dollar value of the donations has reached beyond $32,000.
That’s what it really seems to be about with Privada, and by extension these new regional groups – community and fun. An innovative example? Privada turns over the keys to their 56,000 follower strong instagram account so that the regional groups can host social media takeovers. Between social pushes like that, and making the group’s selections available on the popular Privada shop, the exposure these groups get for their products is unmatched.
I’m always hesitant to cover Privada given that we share a founder, but since nobody else is reporting on these giant strides I feel compelled to give recognition where it is deserved. The Privada Cigar Club Regional Cigar Groups are redefining what it is to be a cigar fan, and in the following weeks we’ll be covering the Regional Groups more in depth. You’ll get to peek inside their different approaches and see how they each overcome obstacles.
Meeting you at whatever level you want to participate, the club keeps coming up with new ways not only to engage with existing enthusiasts but also to introduce new people to the community.
A common sentiment I’ve heard from well known cigar brand owners is that if anyone really knew exactly all the time and work it would take to create, produce, band, package, sell and market even just one cigar blend – most people would never have even tried. Thanks to the Regional Cigar Groups, this may no longer be so true. Now, you can find out for yourself!
Don’t miss out, go take a look at every Regional Cigar Group release that’s dropped so far!