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5 Minutes with Alan Rubin at Big Smoke 2009

Posted by dabyrdman33 on December 20, 2009

Big Pimpin’ and I had the pleasure of sitting down with Alan Rubin of Alec Bradley Cigars for short chat and a cigar. Here’s a transcript of the interview.

B&B: First of all we want to thank Alan Rubin of Alec Bradley Cigars for sitting down with The B&B Cigar Club. I am Ashley Byrd, the Byrdman, Big Pimpin’ Paul Ballard is here snapping the photos. Alan, question #1, what is the most challenging aspect of being a boutique brand?

Alan Rubin: I think for me it’s more than one piece. I think one is being able to listen, understand what the consumers are asking for, and then going out and trying to produce that. One of the things I think we do well for our company is utilize new, unique tobaccos and try and blend “outside of the box” a little bit try and do new and creative cigars. I think the other thing is going out and meeting the people. There’s just not enough time to be in the factories and try and run the operations and meet everybody and if I could do it all I would.

B&B: What do you see as the next “big thing” in the cigar industry?

Alan Rubin: Oh, I wish I knew.

B&B: Is it a size, is it a strength, a particular blend?

Alan Rubin: Well you know this industry goes through changes. A lot of times I think mild cigars sell very well, but people don’t really talk about mild they talk about stronger cigars. I think the strong cigars have maybe gone through it’s time. I think people are maybe looking for balance. I think people are looking for cigars that are balanced that enhance their experience when they get to whatever event they’re attending or whether they’re by themselves I think what they want is a nice experience. Our job for our company is just to be a part of that experience. My whole feel is that if you’re looking for what the next great thing is in the cigar business, I think people are back to balance, back to complexity, back to smoothness. I think they’ve gone through that “stronger is better” phase.

B&B: What should I expect when I light up a Prensado for the first time?

Alan Rubin: Greatness. Dude I’m talking to Da Byrdman, what do you want me to tell you. Prensado is just out of the box right now. We just launched it, and the responses have been spectacular. I’m walking around kinda with a permanent smile on my face right now coming off of Tempus, SCR, and Vice Press that all hit and now Prensado. I think when you smoke Prensado what you’re going to get is balance. You’re gonna get complexity, you’re gonna get smoothness. It’s gonna be one of those cigars where you’re gonna look down and say “did I just smoke that whole cigar?” You’re gonna wonder where did it go because I just lost myself. I think that’s what you’re gonna get out of Prensado.

B&B: If I were a first-time cigar smoker looking at the Alec Bradley brand, which one would you recommend and why?

Alan Rubin: As a first-time cigar smoker I would say that you want something that’s going to be mild in terms of strength, but still has some flavor and smoothness and creaminess to it. I would say our Occidental Reserve line which uses a Connecticut wrapper. It’s smooth, it’s creamy, it’s got some nice flavor to it, and it’s not over the top strong so it’s not gonna put you into that “ozone” atmosphere. It’s really a nice cigar. As a matter of fact, one of my best friends is a doctor, never really had cigars before and he said to me, “hey I want to try a cigar”. We sat down and smoked an Occidental and at the end of the evening he said, “hey you think we could do this again?” It was about enjoying the experience and the time with my friend over a cigar that didn’t overpower him.

B&B: What should we expect in the future from the Alec Bradley brand?

Alan Rubin: In terms of brands, we are creating new things. We are trying and experimenting with some new tobaccos. I’m actually in the middle of testing some blends right now for some new things coming out in 2010. You’ll probably see the same momentum that we have right now and that is coming out with some unique blends, using some interesting tobaccos that are not really in the marketplace. After that, I could tell you, but then I gotta kill you and you’re bigger than me so that’s not happening, but if you hit the ground I’m taking the hat.

B&B: What is the perfect humidity for storing & smoking Alec Bradley cigars?

Alan Rubin: I can tell you that humidity is such a huge component. One of the tests is to take a cigar and leave it out for 4 or 5 days and take the same cigar at the proper humidity and smoke those cigars. Those are different cigars. Right now we’re doing more testing. I just bought a humidity gauge that’s extremely accurate. Even samples that come in, I will put the humidity gauge on that sample before I smoke it and see where it is. I would say that Tempus smokes best at 65% R.H. because there’s so much thick tobacco and a lot of oils you don’t want to over-humidify that because then the humidity doesn’t have a chance to escape. SCR right now is also at 65%. We are testing Prensado and I think that will be at 65% as well. Some of the lighter cigars can stand a little more humidity, so I would say 69% for those. Most cigars, if you smoke them at over 69%, they hold a little too much humidity and you may get an acrid taste and a little bit of harshness. As that humidity builds and that heat builds, you’re gonna get a little bitterness. To me 65%, 67%, and up to 69% would be the proper humidity to smoke the cigars that we make.

B&B: Alan, thank you for your time.

Alan Rubin: My pleasure.

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