The more I learn about cigars, the more I realize how little I truly know about them. I love that feeling, it’s like finding new pages added to your favorite book every time you open it – each better than the last. For those of us who are as fascinated with the stories as we are with the products that exist as a result of them, the world of cigars presents endless wonder. The Nat Cicco name has been around nearly 60 years and in that time has amassed one of those collections of stories that leave you wondering just how it is you’ve never heard them before.
One of the ways the real value of an idea can be measured is in how often and for how long that idea is duplicated. By that metric alone, it could be argued that Nat Cicco helped to start a revolution that’s reach can still be seen today. At one point they were at the front of an industry altering movement, but today – as is the experience of many storied and upstart brands alike – there is a whole new wave of cigar lovers who are becoming too far removed to confidently pronounce the names of even the most iconic cigar makers.
I became interested in learning more about Nat “Seek-oh”- as their clean new website helps visitors to pronounce – by way of Epic Cigars, which became part of the Zander-Greg family of brands in 2019. I heard Epic’s Founder, Dean Parsons, liken the art of blending a cigar to that of blending wine and this struck me as a wonderful parallel. Even the very little I know about wine tells me that cigars are far more complex than many will ever take the time to appreciate. Like a veteran Sommelier may be able to tell you what region a particular varietal comes from with only a quick swirl and a sniff, there too are rare blenders who can draw from an unbanded cigar and tell you everything down to what corner of a specific field the binder came from and what part of the year it was harvested in. Few get to that level, but just knowing it exists is not unlike finding out Sherlock Holmes is a real person.
Where a brand shines the spotlight can often say way more about who they are than their words can, and anyone that continues to look into Epic doesn’t take very long to notice that people are the brand’s focus. Epic’s social media feeds are filled with real people. The bunchers, rollers, and others who work so hard to make the cigars get just as much love as the shop workers and fans of the brand. The team does a great job of connecting to followers on an individual level because, before anything else, it’s really just cigar lovers talking to cigar lovers.
There are so many unique and flavorful boutique blends constantly becoming available today, made by some of the most determined and passionate people to have ever been involved in this industry. It’s actually bordering on overwhelming how many options we have right now. It can often feel as though it would be impossible to get to them all. This is an amazing problem to have for the many among us who are always eager to try something else, but it also means that more stories – have to share the same amount of space as before no matter how many more stories continue to build up. We often lost sight of what came before in favor of what’s coming next, but 57 years ago Nat Cicco was the next big thing.
Anyone who has been on the internet looking for cigars in the past couple decades has undoubtedly seen value cigars advertised as having been rejected by a factory for small visual blemishes, or as having been created using the production remnants of other cigars. I just assumed it had always been a way that factories used as much of the material as possible, didn’t you? Nat Cicco’s “Rejects” became available in 1965 and were the very first cigars to be brought to market as a bargain-priced, machine-bunched, hand-rolled “medium-filler” option marketed using the ‘factory rejects’ theme. The Rejects line dominated the space for nearly 30 years before supply chain issues allowed alternatives to replace them atop the very market they had created.
Today, Nat Cicco represents far more than their their value-centric legacy might trick you into assuming. Their premium Nat Cicco Aniversario 1965 celebrates the year that The Rejects were created and pays special attention to what cigar heads look for in boutique offerings of exceptional quality – such as extra aging, a pigtail cap, and a closed foot. Not long after, they doubled down and created the Super Premium HHB, which we just reviewed earlier this year. I love what these cigars represent, for the future of the company and for us as consumers. I especially enjoy the reference to 1965. It’s a bit of a maverick move, and for me that adds authenticity to the boutique spirit at the heart of Zander-Greg’s vision.
Zander-Greg, the family owned business leading Nat Cicco’s resurgence, has leveled up the brand every single year since they took ownership of it in 2007. The premium and super-premium offerings that compliment their value lines are evidence of the family’s passion not just for the history of cigars, but also for the craft. At no point was there a greater display of this than 2019s acquisition of Epic Cigars. With the resources of a larger company now available, and with Parsons even more involved than ever and still making retailer visits personally, Epic has never been in a better spot. Keep an eye on Nat Cicco, because if the team’s track record is any indication, they’re about to level up again.
Editor’s Note: While researching Nat Cicco and learning about their history, Cigar Public corresponded with the company. As a result of that correspondence and due in large part to the level of interest and engagement always shown by the Cigar Public community, Nat Cicco has become Cigar Public’s first sponsor. What this means is that we’ll be collaborating with them to provide ways for the readership to have new cigar-centric experiences. The cigar world is full amazing cigars that so many people would love if they only knew about them, these sponsorships are intended to be an effort to help make that happen and will continue to evolve as we keep trying new and innovative ways to keep cigars exciting.
Do you have a favorite Nat Cicco and/or Epic Cigar? Is this the first time you’ve ever been introduced to them. I’d love to hear about it all in the comments below!