Interview with Nick Hammond. Years ago, during a cigar event, we met Nick Hammond. Hammond was at the event as a reporter for Cigar Journal and we were part of the organization. And since we are all cigar smokers, it was instant friendship.
Earlier this week, we saw on Nick’s Instagram that he was releasing a new book. Around The World In 80 Cigars. Now that’s a title that got our attention. We pre-ordered the book. And we questioned Hammond on it.
Tell us Nick, who are you?
Ha! I’m a freelance writer and author from the UK, covering food, drink, travel, lifestyle – and, of course, cigars – for a range of publications and clients worldwide.
Why and when did you start writing about cigars?
Probably about 10-15 years ago now, I took a vow to start writing about things I had a genuine passion, for rather than writing about things I felt I had to.
What cigar magazines do you write for?
Cigar Journal, Cigar & Spirits, various cigar brands, and blogs – plus I contribute lots of cigar material to mainstream high-end magazines – the like of Country Life, Country & Townhouse, Mayfair Magazine, Fieldsports magazine and plenty more.
What cigar producing countries have you visited, and what are the most striking differences and similarities?
I’ve been lucky enough to find myself in Cuban, Dominican Republic and Nicaraguan tobacco plantations and your question could result in a very long answer! Suffice to say, the similarities are a reverence for the leaf and a belief in the finished product. Differences? There are many, but perhaps the one that sticks with me the most is that in Cuba, the roller both prepares the bunch and finishes the cigar. In the ‘New World,’ there is a ‘Bonchero’ and a ‘Rolero’; one bunches the leaf and the other adds the wrapper and cap to make the final product. They work in pairs very closely all day long – in some cases are married couples – and this has always struck me as a beautiful and nuanced relationship. It’s quite unique.
What is your fondest cigar memory, after smoking and traveling for so long, and meeting so many people?
That’s so difficult to answer. In thinking back on my cigar experiences, I’ve been very fortunate to have so many and with so many people I’m proud to call friends. But the Joya de Nicaragua factory in Estelí will always hold a special place in my heart. I spent a lot of time there one way or another and there is amazing energy in that building. When the workers have stacked their chairs and left for the day and you wander through with a smouldering cigar, that energy is still palpable. It feels like a church or cathedral, something quite spiritual. Or maybe it’s just me!
You wrote the Cinco Decadas book, how did that happen? Did you approach Joya or did they approach you?
Yes, Juan Martinez of Joya asked me if I would be interested and of course, I jumped at the chance. It involved a couple of trips to Nicaragua and the chance to interview dozens of people about the country, its people and specifically the remarkable employees of JdN, some of whom have worked there for 50 years. If you are interested in cigars and people, you really need to read Cinco Decadas: The Rise of the Nicaraguan Cigar!
What other cigar books have you published?
Just these two – for now.
Around The World In 80 Cigars
You just announced a new cigar book, Around The World In 80 cigars. Tell us something about the book, what is it about? What’s the inspiration?
This is the book I’ve been thinking about writing for years. Over the years as a reporter and writer, I’ve covered just about every topic you can think of from film and sport to business and court reporting, and I’ve picked up some interesting anecdotes and interviews along the way. I’ve had a fascination with and a love for cigars for years. So, I decided to write a book about both.
Is this a typical cigar book, or a travel journal with a lot of cigars mentioned?
It’s a tongue in cheek travelogue, I hope written in a funny way but also carrying some poignancy along the route. And cigars are a big part of it; in the book, I cover visiting the tobacco factories and plantations I’ve mentioned, as well as some of my more memorable adventures, like finding myself in a minefield in Bosnia or getting stuck in a shark cage on a Great White dive off South Africa!
When all the book be released? Is it available for pre-order?
The book is published by Red Door Publishing on September 12, 2019, in the UK and Europe, November 2019 in the US. It is available now for Pre-Order and worldwide shipping at www.nick-hammond.com
Do you have any more cigar or cigar-related books in mind? What can we expect from Nick Hammond in the near future?
Yes and no. I have several book ideas already in pre-production; some of them are totally unrelated and at least one has a strong cigar theme. It’s an exciting time for me, finding this new outlet for my writing and new doors keep opening all the time. What can you expect? I’d like to think loyal readers can expect to continue to be entertained, some laughs along the way, some evocative descriptions of places they may not have been able to yet get to – but nonetheless can conjure pictures of, thanks to my words; and, of course, inquisitiveness. This, I think, lies at the heart of any writer. To find out about this amazing world we live in and get to meet more of its amazing residents.
Fe Y Alegria
Hammond decided to join the cause that is supported by Pronica and Joya de Nicaragua. That cause is Fe Y Alegria. After the interview was concluded, Hammond said ’10 percent of profits from the book will be donated to the Fe y Alegria charity (Faith and Happiness), specifically for its work with underprivileged children in Nicaragua. I can testify firsthand to the charity’s work with vulnerable young people – particularly in cigar territory like Estelí – and it’s a key tenet in the conception of the book that I give back to the places which have inspired me. Cigar people and companies are doing great work with communities in Nicaragua and elsewhere and I think cigar lovers should support them to continue to do so in the spirit of the Brotherhood and Sisterhood of the Leaf.’