Ask An Expert: Cigar Republic

Joe Miller, Owner/GM

 

What is the state of the cigar industry heading into 2022?

There was a steady growth period for cigars for several years before COVID-19, and the pandemic has simply accelerated that growth. In 2021, our industry imported more than 400 million cigars into the U.S., which is an all-time record. Part of this growth is due to infrastructure with more and more upscale cigar lounges opening around the country, which undoubtedly brings in new smokers. Most of our customers say they smoke a lot more now that they have Cigar Republic than before we opened three years ago. The female demographic is also growing as more women discover just how relaxing a good cigar can be, especially when paired with an Old Fashioned. Overall, things are great for the cigar industry and I expect even more growth in 2022. 

 

I don’t smoke often and just want something light and easy; what should I smoke? 

Probably a milder cigar with a Connecticut-style wrapper. We recommend the DBL Amarillo Fancy Belicosa. It has the best Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper, but also has a unique Maduro barber pole on the wrapper which adds another layer of flavor and complexity. I describe it as mild, but not boring! Flavored cigars are very popular for casual smokers and can be up to 30 percent of our weekly sales. The Moontrance by CAO offers a smaller Petite Corona size with clear notes of exotic fruit, bourbon and vanilla, which is very popular with the ladies. Deadwood has taken the flavored cigar industry by storm over the last few years and their Fat Bottom Betty and Leather Rose are top sellers with the men.

 

Most retail items seem to be moving online and these cigar websites seem to promote a lot of big discounts. What are the benefits of buying from a local tobacco shop?

To begin with, when you buy from a quality local shop the cigars will always be more fresh. Most of our cigars have been in our humidor for months and under constant care. Secondly, your local shops give you a comfortable place to smoke, and Cigar Republic offers you a “million-dollar” lounge with a $75,000 fresh air system where the room’s air changes every five minutes. If you buy online, you’ll need to tough out the weather in your garage or on your patio. As for price, on the top brands, your local shop’s prices should be very comparable as many top cigars are price-protected. The fact is a lot of the online discounts are with cigars they want to get rid of, not necessarily what you want to smoke. Finally, your local shop will take the time to talk to you, help you and educate you.   

 

I’m wanting to explore whiskeys and bourbons this year; what is your suggestion?

Cigar Republic has a “Wall of Whiskey” with more than 400 bottles on display. Our regular pours are 2 ounces, but we offer flights where you can choose four different 1-ounce pours, and this is the best way to discover your palate. From Monday through Wednesday every week, we offer $5 off your flight, as well. I would recommend the Colonel E.H. Taylor Single Barrel Bourbon, the Macallan 12 Year Scotch, a Redbreast 12 Year Irish and the Suntory Toki Japanese Whiskey. This will give you four unique flavor profiles, and all at a reasonable price.  

 

1315 Breckenridge Drive, Little Rock • 501-615-8040 • CigarRepublic.com