5 Boutique brands that are likely to make it. After suggesting to get rid of the term boutique, since the value of the word has diluted so much, the discussion started. Podcast Protecting the Legacy replied, to which we answered. And we were guests during their 5th episode. We published a list of boutique brands that faded into obscurity. We published a list of boutique brands that stood the test of time. Both articles resulted in enough feedback to update the lists.
There are still more brands out there that fit the boutique definition. Whether you base it on size, or on meticulous care of cigar producing, it does not matter. Ministry of Cigar went through the number of Boutique cigar brands and manufacturers. We selected five brands that we think will make it if the FDA and other legislation let the cigar industry be.
The brands we selected come from Honduras and Nicaragua. Mostly Nicaragua, as that is the country with the most activity when it comes to premium handmade cigars. Some of the brands mentioned have their factory or are a partner in a factory, others are private labels.
We start the list with the one brand that has its own factory. In Honduras. And not just a cigar factory, but also a box factory and a cellophane factory. Except for growing tobacco, Dr. Gaby Kafie controls everything. Dr. Gaby Kafie was a successful physician in South Florida but with his family background, he could not avoid his true calling. For generations, the Kafie family has been involved in the tobacco industry. When Dr. Gaby Kafie saw the decline of the Honduran cigar industry, he felt he had to help to protect the legacy. He started Tabacalera Kafie y Cia. That factory produces Kafie 1901 and San Jeronimo for Kafie Cigars, but also several private labels for other brands. Next to that, Dr. Gaby Kafie is also producing Honduran coffee. We reviewed the Kafie 1901 Don Fernando Maduro Toro Bello, Kafie 1901 San Andres Toro, and the Kafie 1901 Sumatra Robusto. And we reviewed the San Jeronimo Maduro Robusto.
Jas Sum Kral
Talking about an innovator with a big set of balls. As an avid Cuban cigar smoker, the Macedonian American Riste Ristevski grew tired with the quality of Cuban cigars. Not just with the construction, but also with the quality of the tobacco. So he started Jas Sum Kral, which means I Am King in Macedonian. Due to a strong social media campaign, his first release Red Knight created a loyal following. A fall-out between Ristevski and Noel Rojas, who manufactured the cigars for him, forced Ristevski to partner up with Roniel Aragon. Together they started Tabacalera Aragon. But in 2019 Ristevski shocked the cigar industry. He engineered and patented an ingenious way to inject cigars with CBD. The Jas Sum Kral Nuggs are a huge success, and the patent could secure Jas Sum Kral to be a powerhouse of the future. We reviewed the Jas Sum Kral Nuggs Habano, Jas Sum Kral Nuggs Maduro, Toothpick 2.0 Habano, and the Toothpick 2.0 Maduro.
Hiram & Solomon
Two friends and freemasons, both passionate cigars smokers, discovered that there weren’t any masonic cigars. So they ask for approval to use the Freemason logo on a cigar that they wanted to release for charity. The cigars were sold out in a heartbeat and people asked for more. More were created, and that was the start of Hiram & Solomon cigars. The initial release came from the Dominican Republic, but production was moved to Nicaragua. And that’s where all different Hiram & Solomon cigars are manufactured today. The brand is not only popular within the Freemason ranks, but also with cigar aficionados that have no connection to the Freemasons. The growth of the brand over the last few years makes it very likely that Hiram & Solomon is here to stay. We reviewed the Hiram & Solomon Traveling Man and have a review scheduled for the Hiram & Solomon Fellow Craft.
Only founded in 2015, but Foundation cigar is a fan favorite amongst the fans of boutique cigars. The brand also received recognition from important cigar media such as Cigar Journal and Cigar Aficionado. That is mainly because of the man behind the brand, Nick Melillo. Melillo is the chief of the broadleaf, a nickname he deserved when he was the director of tobaccos and production at Drew Estate. His first job in the industry was working for a retailer, but when Jonathan Drew asked him to be his right-hand man in Nicaragua, Melillo took the opportunity with both hands. 12 years later he left Drew Estate and founded Foundation Cigars. With his skills, knowledge, and connections, plus the raving reviews and the support of cigar media, Foundation will most likely be in the ‘brands that stood the test of time’ list of 2030.
Cubariqueno is a name that might not mean a lot to most cigar smokers. But when you say Protocol things change. The brand is the brainchild of two police officers, Bill Ives and Juan Cancel. One with Cuban roots, the other with Puerto Rican roots, which explains the Cubariqueno name. For the pursue of their dream, they went to Erik Espinosa and his Tabacalera La Zona. All the brands from Cubariqueno are inspired by law enforcement. It started with the protocol, followed by Probable Cause. Then there are the John Doe and Jane Doe cigars, named after unidentified bodies. And Sir Robert Peel, named after the founder of Scotland Yard. With cool ideas, cool packaging and Cancel’s funny Facebook feed, we expect to see more of the two law enforcement officers.