PCA 2024 Day Two Recap

Military Cigars at PCA

The cigar has always been present in military culture. The allure of the “smoke pit” has brought us Service Members into times of reflection, paired with the conversations of our comrades. Veterans of all branches and backgrounds have come to know this bond through smoke and have pierced themselves into the cigar industry as manufacturers, distributors and more. 

Angelo F. Founders Cigar Company

Founders Cigar Company has a humble booth this year as they crest into their third year of business. Angelo F. the co-founder of the company stated that their pandemic start was inspired by the lack of smoking sessions during the pandemic. He and the other co-founder decided that the cigar smoking experience carried so much weight with them that they decided to start their own brand.

Their label is a silhouetted head of George Washington, with all of their product line paying homage to the founding fathers of the United States. At PCA this year, they are preparing for their  new release. 

When discussing the veteran aspect of the company, Angelo stated that “Veteran suicide rates during the pandemic and still are atrocious, that’s why we donate a portion of every sale to charity.”  

Angelo offered me a Maduro from their product line, and the intricate blend of tobaccos was prevalent from the start. This company has only begun to tap into their expertise, and we should be expecting them to get even greater over the next few years.

Jon Simmons: Warfighter Tobacco 

Warfighter Tobacco is one of the most prevalent veteran cigar brands currently in the market. Their brilliant advertising; eloquent blending of military terminology with subtle hints of mutual experiences of the veteran community make this brand memorable. 

Jon, a former Army infantryman during the Iraq invasion, highlighted that after a night of heavy drinking, he and his co-founder decided to dive deep into the cigar business. Their product line now has a number of cigars as well as humidors, cutters and other accessories. Simmons mentioned that he and his colleagues diligently test all of their products because; “if I can break it, some random dude can break it, and that is against everything we stand for” 

Don Boggan, Boggan Cigars

“Smoke it like Your Downrange,” the company tagline encapsulates the mutual feeling that many veterans experience in the smoke pit, and after many long days on deployment. The Don is also newer to the cigar scene, starting in the business just a number of years ago. After a recent rebranding he is preparing to release his new cigar which he is debuting at TPE in Chicago in just a few short weeks. 

PCA Day 2 Recap: Serving Those that Serve

Part II: Norman Hooten and Jarrod Miles

Norman Hooten: Hooten Young Cigars and Whiskey 

Operation Gothic Serpent was an operation that occurred in Mogadishu, Somalia, from 22 August to 13 October 1993. For some, the events of that fateful Battle of Mogadishu on 3 October 1993 are reflected in the book Black Hawk Down by Mark Bowden and brought to the screen with the all-star film of the same name. For Norman Hooten, co-owner of Hooten Young, they are a distinct memory of honorable people going above and beyond the call of duty. 
Norman Hooten and Tim Young of Hooten Young started in 2018, providing gifts to a “very special group of people at Fort Bragg, NC.” The duo never intended to turn the project into a business, but as demand grew, it grew continually. Their release of The Gothic Serpent 25, made to commemorate the Battle of Mogadishu, was their initial line and encompasses their motto, “Made to Remember.” Hooten explained that he has had many commemorative cigars in his lifetime, but “…in general, a lot of them weren’t great cigars. We wanted to make something that was very special to remember that event and something that would be an exquisite cigar to smoke.”He explained that the commemoration of one event began to snowball into another, and from there, the Whiskey line came to fruition. “When we were smoking cigars, we were almost always drinking whiskey to go with it,” he proudly stated. He emphasized his dedication to creating a memorable product while honoring the special group of people that it was created for. Hooten Young makes most of their cigars in Estelí, Nicaragua, but their Gothic Serpent 30 is created in the Dominican Republic. Their whiskey is sourced to meet the demands of distribution and product consistency. The arduous process of creating a whiskey they thought would serve the company ethos was assisted by Master Sommelier and business partner George Miliotes which led to the decision to create the base product, the 12-year light whiskey. Norman took the time to tell me the story which genuinely got him into cigars. His son attended West Point, where it is tradition to smoke a cigar on special occasions. Hooten recalls the smell of cigar smoke outside, where he found his son smoking and subsequently joined him. “What I realized is that I raised this wonderful young man for eighteen years of his life, but I’ve never really sat down and had a four-hour conversation with me and him before. It was just very, very special for me to be able to do that… and it all happened because of a cigar.” He said while drawing from an eloquent cigar. This was the experience that solidified his experience with the relationship-building aspects of a cigar. He also professed that he had many cigars during his military career to celebrate successful missions. He acknowledged that the history of cigar smoking in the military has superseded him by many years and that it has lasted long after him as well. 

This is Hooten’s second time attending PCA, and they are showcasing The Operator, a “nod of a head” of special operations forces globally. He stressed the importance of not attempting to monetize events but describing them as a “labor of love” to showcase the extreme dedication of these incredible people globally. The extreme dedication that Hooten Young provides in their products reflects not only their brand but also their upstanding character. Hooten Young cigars are currently available in 36 states and growing every day.

Jarrold Miles: NOMOS Cigars

NOMOS cigars arrived in Las Vegas for their third PCA and continue their already-established greatness going into 2024. Jarrold Miles, co-owner of NOMOS, highlighted that their products are made from an African Cameroon wrapper, an Indonesian Sumatra binder, and Dominican and Nicaraguan Secos as fillers. In 2024, Cigars and Spirits named their Lonsdale 23 of the 25 best cigars 2023. This rating has solidified the brand’s quality and what this team will continue to do. 

Miles recalls the immense number of good times that were had around cigars while vacationing with his business partner. After many conversations, these New York-based attorneys decided it was time to launch their brand. The cigars are manufactured in the Dominican Republic, where they homed in on the presentation, ingredients, and overall “silky-smooth” smoking experience with Manuel Inoa of La Aurora. Miles described a general uneasiness with the close proximity of the last PCA but exclaimed that the beautiful setup and the number of attendees made him even more proud of their upcoming debut. 

This year at PCA, they are debuting their Homecoming line to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the Navy and Marine Corps team in 2025. A committee has been tasked with creating a memorable experience to celebrate this gigantic anniversary in Philadelphia next year. Homecoming is a 6×56 toro for pre-order in a red or blue box. Upon its release, a portion of these cigars will also be donated to veteran support charities. 

“…It’s an enormous opportunity; …if your country comes calling to do something like that, you jump on it. It’s an honor,” he stated. He added that his father served in the Marine Corps during Vietnam, and his relationship with his father has served as an additional, sentimental context for the dedication of the upcoming release. 

The NOMOS team utilizes vivid imagery of their backgrounds in practicing law, and their extreme dedication to manufacturing a product that encompasses their continued striving toward perfection is remarkable. They have created a product that will surely be celebrated for years. Their Lonsdale, Toro, and Robusto lines are available nationwide and their Homecoming Toro is set to release sometime in 2025. 

Erick Huertas