Cigars have been available across centuries in one format or another. So it is not a surprise to anyone that they have been able to withstand the tides of time. Today more and more women are finding themselves immersed in the world of cigars. And why shouldn’t they, it is 2018 after all. With all the regulations now strictly enforced onto the tobacco industry, particularly the cigars sector, it is no surprise that the allure of the smoke still lures people in.
Today we have a very cool interview with Ibis aka @cigarlover12 on Instagram. It is so rare to meet and speak with knowledgeable folks who are really passionate about this lifestyle. We are not endorsing or promoting cigar smoke in any way. What we are doing is offering a small glimpse into the lifestyle of #SOTL.
Let’s kick things off with you telling us a little about yourself?
IL: I was born in Cuba. My heritage is a peculiar mix of Chinese and Spanish. Since I was a little girl, I’ve absolutely loved the smell of cigars. I was raised in a mostly non-smoking family, only my aunt smoked, so every time she visited I was definitely sitting next to her. When I was 7 years old, I lit up my first cigar trying to be sneaky about it but got caught by my mom. Even though I didn’t have time to really smoke it, I already knew it was for me.
How long have you been smoking cigars? Do you remember your first cigar and what were the best and or worst things about that?
IL: The first cigar that I got to really finish and enjoy was a Cuban Romeo and Julieta when I was 18, which I got as a Christmas gift. I found it deliciously perfect, maybe helped by the Havana Club rum I was drinking too, who knows. Even though I couldn’t appreciate cigars like I do now, that first pairing let me know that I wanted to learn more about this world.
What is your favorite thing about the cigar industry that draws you in?
IL: My favorite thing about the cigar industry is the way it brings people together. It doesn’t discriminate against gender or race; it’s just one big family. When you are in a cigar lounge it feels like home. I have met some of my closest friends in cigar lounges. Back in the old days, Indians had the same tradition; they would sit around a bonfire and smoke. I also see a cigar as a work of art. Literally 200 hands have passed through your cigar before you smoke it.
Women make up 50% demographic of our society, yet it still seems that both tobacco (particularly cigars) and spirits are still targeted more towards men by the brand ambassadors. What can the cigar manufacturers and brand ambassadors do to grow their female base?
IL: I think everything is changing fast… it’s getting to a point where everything is equal. Cigars and spirits have been a man’s world since forever, but we have a lot of women in both industries doing a great job right now to help grow the female customer base. I personally would love to see more girly cigar accessories. Can’t forget about the #SOTL!
What is your favorite cigar and why?
IL: Right now I really love the La Galera 80th Anniversary Maduro. It’s medium to full-bodied, and uses three different Dominican fillers including Criollo ’98, Olor, and Piloto Cubano. The binder is Dominican Corojo and the wrapper is a beautiful dark brown Mexican San Andres Maduro. To me, a good wrapper is really important and this one has been aged to absolute perfection.
When it comes to brand awareness, what are the cigar brands and retailers doing wrong when it comes to marketing to women?
IL: Now, as soon as you walk into a cigar store, everyone assumes you don’t know about cigars. All these magazines showing beautiful models smoking cigars that you can tell don’t even know how to hold a cigar. It can look so fake and forced and obvious, and instead of trying to count on sex appeal, the cigar industry should instead collaborate more often with real aficionados that know their stuff.
We agree! So as a seasoned and knowledgeable cigar aficionado, there seems to be a lot of back and forth on how to pair cigars and spirits. What are some tips you would offer beginners who are looking to get into pairing cigars and spirits to make their experience more enjoyable?
IL: Don’t start off too crazy. Start with milder cigars and spirits, especially if you don’t drink and/or smoke a lot, and always do this after a meal. And don’t be afraid to experiment.
What do you think cigar brands need to know about women who smoke cigars?
IL: That we’re out there! Don’t be afraid to create more cigar lines with females in mind. Themes, colors, names, all that stuff. The amount of women smokers is growing every year. Innovate.
When it comes to cigars do you lean more towards the classic Cubans or do you like the bolder fuller flavors that come from Dominican and Nicaraguan leaf?
IL: I can honestly say I like them all, but if I HAD to choose, I think I prefer Dominican tobacco the most.
Many would consider you an Influencer in this field. Would you say your life has changed in any way by being an Instagram influencer in the cigar industry?
IL: Yes, it’s definitely changed for the best. I’ve met so many wonderful souls because of it, and since I’m always posting #inspireothers, I get a lot of messages thanking me and telling me about how I inspired them in some sort of way, so that always makes me feel good in return, feeling like I’ve made a positive impact.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
IL: It doesn’t matter how many followers you have, or how long you’ve been smoking, or how big your humidor is. All smokers are a family and cigars are works of art that can be enjoyed by absolutely anyone. Stay humble, enjoy them in whatever way you like, and spend some quality time with both old friends and new ones.
Tastethedram: We wanted to thank Ibis for speaking with us on this topic. She is full of inspiration and knowledge of this industry. Follow her on Instagram @cigarlover12 as she brings you closer to the seductive world of cigars. Follow her on the journey of a lifetime, and just do not look back. As her motto says #Inspireothers.