The Covid-19 pandemic of 2020 completely changed most people’s lives, and typically not for the better. However, there there those who see any challenge as an opportunity. Oliver Mueller of Vita Nova Cigars is one such individual. Oliver had been working as a retail associate of a local St. Louis Cigar lounge – and was also involved in the launch a new local Tequila company – when the pandemic brought everything to a screeching halt. As Mueller explained, “I found myself with more time than I knew what to do with, and I had always wanted to sell cigars of my own. This seemed like the best opportunity for me to go for it.”
Oliver has been friends for some time with local cigar roller, Marc Gwynne, who would introduce him to the likes of none other than Indiana Ortez. It is with Ortez and her family’s factory, Fábrica Agrotobacos, that Mueller’s brand of cigars is produced. “I am not a blender,” says Mueller, “but Indiana is someone who can understand my vision for the cigars I want and has been wonderful in bringing the best out of her factory for Vita Nova.” Thus, in 2021, the first cigars of Vita Nova were created.
At the brand’s core, Vita Nova features the “Twelve Apostles” line of cigars, currently consisting of 3 different blends: Apostle John, a 6 x 52 Toro, the Apostle Peter, a 5 x 54 Robusto, and the Apostle James, which is a 7 x 38 Lancero. “Eventually, there will be 12 different blends to correspond with the 12 Apostles of Jesus in the Bible,” continued Oliver, “but I want to be sure that we don’t grow this thing too fast. I would rather things get made well and done right before expanding too quickly.”
Mueller would go on to tell about why he chose the 12 Apostles as his theme for his cigars. “I wanted my cigars to tell a story, and I can’t think of a better one to tell than that of the Apostles. Each cigar is unique, just as the Apostles were. All of the Apostle blends, just like the biblical Apostles have something in common but each also have their own specific blend specifics and their own vitola.”
Having tried the first 3 blends of Vita Nova, I was very much impressed. I started with the Apostle John, which features Condega Nicaraguan long fillers, a Japala Valley binder, and an Ecuadorian Maduro Oscuro wrapper leaf. The construction of the cigar was quite good, with a relaxed feel to the draw, and a thick and pleasing texture to the smoke. Not once did I need to reach for the lighter for a touch up. The smoke was medium plus in body with a satisfying balance of flavors. The notes ranged from dark cocoa, espresso, black pepper, dark chocolate, sweet coconut, yeasty pastry, and charred oak. Even towards the end of the cigar, the flavors were rather dessert-like, reminiscent of almond joy candies and chocolate mousse. Not bad for a fledgling brand! With passion, a vision, and the Ortez family’s involvement, how could they go wrong?
Listening to Oliver express his passion for his newly formed endeavors was encouraging to say the least. Not just because there is new cigar company blossoming from my very own hometown area (that surely is fun for me!), but also to see something so successful and well executed start its rise from out of the depths of the covid lockdowns. Despite ongoing regulatory threats, social stigmas, increasingly expensive costs, and even a global pandemic, the cigar industry continues to puff right along, blowing smoke in the face of adversity. Vita Nova continues to overcome every obstacle, continuing to tell its story and helping to bring new life to the cigar world.