There is a new cigar being shipped out soon that few will ever have the opportunity to experience. It’s not being distributed to a network of retailers, nor will it be made available to the public once it arrives. This cigar is the OGT Green Label, and its intended audience consists only of members of the Oak Glen Tobacconist Cigar Society. The story of how this cigar came to fruition is simple, but one in which many things had to go right at all at once.
Eric Drazin, proprietor of Oak Glen Tobacconist, is constantly working to form strong relationships with the people behind the cigars his customers love. OGT’s Cigar Society was formed as an extension of those relationships, providing unique experiences to a select group of dedicated cigar enthusiasts. In their monthly allocations, sometimes the membership will receive a new take on a favorite – like last month’s custom size of an existing Chaffiot blend – or be the first to try a blend that is scheduled for release. This is the first custom installment in partnership with Privada, so it had to set a standard.
Describing the earliest parts of the journey, Drazin explains that “I started working with Clark on blends back in the Spring, trying to locate a cigar that embodies what our Members enjoy; flavor, balance, construction, medium to medium plus strength, etc. There were a few I liked…but I didn’t fall in love with any one in particular.” Based on what he’d tried so far, Eric spoke with Clark Thornton, Director of the Limited Cigar Association, again and requested specific attributes. One Saturday morning, not long after that conversation, Eric was surprised by a package from Privada. Inside that box was a bundle of cigars wrapped with a green label reading simply, “Oak Glen Tobacconist.”
Knowing how much Eric enjoyed the Subterraneo line and how much he appreciated AJ Fernandez’s attention to quality, Privada provided exactly what he was hoping for. The cigars in this box were been created and produced at Tabacalera Annex, the new AJ Fernandez x Privada Cigar Club factory in Estelí, Nicaragua – the very same factory that Subterraneao came out of. Drazin’s initial reaction says it all – “this blend is what I was after; flavor, strength, the whole nine yards. It demonstrates the quality of Tobacco AJ has and the talent he possesses.”
The OGT Green Label takes its name from the Whiskey World, simple and easy to track across versions and vintages. When asked if this means we can expect more “label” releases, Drazin shares that we may or may not see that happen, but confirms nothing. That question was posed to him before everything sold out, so I hope the overwhelmingly positive reaction drives him to explore more blends for a wider series. For now, Drazin details the Green Label’s blend -“this cigar is a Nicaraguan Puro, featuring a Maduro hybrid wrapper. The appearance is nearly black with very tight seems and a decent vein structure running the length of the stick.” His description of the experience he personally has when enjoying this blend is a billboard all itself as he shares there are “so many things about this stick that I love; the rich Nicaraguan flavor, the vitola, the fact it is a hybrid seed like Arsenicum or several of the other Suterraneos. This whole cigar represents many things I have come to love in my cigar smoking journey.”
To the few who will get to cut and light the Green Label, Drazin suggests a single malt with enough body to stand up to it but not overwhelm. Dalmore 12 or Cigar Malt are great choices. Perhaps Balvenie Carribean Cask or even an Aberlour. About AJ Fernandez, he says “AJ has a nearly unrivaled consistency that speaks volumes for his blends. He also has the dynamic diversity that makes up his portfolio. Not to mention what a prolific blender he is. AJ is basically the Stephen King of tobacco, he never stops working.”
For anyone curious about how dedicated Eric is to providing his membership with the best experiences he can, I share with you his approach to choosing each month’s offerings. He says “you can’t get distracted. The temptation is to get starry eyed and think any custom blend is special. That is not the case. You must remain focused, accept nothing but the best when you are on the hunt of something truly special.” Cigar lover or not, we’re all looking to find something special. That is what I think attracted so many people all at once to fill up the Society’s remaining spots, the sense that it was special. While you can no longer sign up as a member, there is a waiting list, and as a small consolation for those who missed out – Drazin teases next month’s drop…”So our next drop will involve a 5150 on a 6×58 Maduro that has been Clowning around.”
Are you an OGT Cigar Society Member? Have you tried any of the other projects that originated out of Tabacalera Annex? I’d love to hear about it all in the comments below!