Canada is cold, that’s a fact. It’s hard to find good whisky in Canada, that’s a fact also. But there seems to be no problem getting some quality cigars. Janelle aka @splitsandsticks is one of those women who loves the comradery it comes with enjoying a nice cigar. She doesn’t see herself as an influencer or a cigar aficionada, but rather the lover of the art of the stick. She is knowledgeable, forthcoming and strong woman who knows exactly what she wants. Read her full interview below.
Tell us a little about yourself and how you found yourself in the world of cigars. / How long have you been smoking cigars? Do you remember your first cigar and what were the most prominent things about that moment?
JB: My name is Janelle better known as @splitsandsticks, and I’m from Ontario, Canada. I found myself in the world of cigars after travelling quite a bit when I was younger with my family. I had always enjoyed the smell of cigars. When I turned 18, my father decided it was okay to let me try one with him. For my first stick, I had a vanilla flavoured petit robusto. Having an arts background I really loved the artistic process of cutting, and lighting the cigar. There was something really special to me about enjoying and savouring a cigar around good company.
My palate has definitely changed, and you’ll likely never find me smoking a vanilla flavoured stick, but I still enjoy my artistic involvement with the cigar world, and the amazing people it has connected me with. I have been smoking cigars for about five years now. I have been much more involved in the cigar world within the last two years. Experimenting with new blends, sizes, and regions.
What is your favorite cigar and why? / If you could smoke one cigar for the rest of your life which one would you choose?
JB: This is always a challenging question for me. It’s so hard to pick just one. I’m a fan of several brands and a fair selection of their lineups. But, if I had to pick one stick to smoke everyday for the foreseeable future it would have to be a RoMa Craft CroMagnon. There is something about that cigar that checks every box for me. It’s beautiful constructed, and packs a punch. It has a close to perfect draw, and always holds a nice strong ash. It has spicy pepper, and woody notes to it, and a unique retrohale as well. I am a big fan of most of RoMa Crafts line up, but this is my go to stick in their regular production.
What’s your favorite thing about the cigar industry?
JB: My favourite (Can you tell I’m Canadian?) thing about the cigar world is the amazing people it connects you with. I have met some of my closest friends through this industry, and its been a great adventure. Whether is meeting people virtually through my Instagram page, or connecting with people at lounges, shops, or meet ups around the world. Everyone I have met so far has been incredibly genuine, and it’s been a pleasure getting share my experiences with them. I’ve shared some great laughs, some even better sticks, and probably a few too many drinks with some pretty amazing people. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Do you think there is a misconception of women smokers?
JB: I think there are a few. But, nowadays there are misconceptions about everything, including Christmas songs. None of the misconceptions have affected me or my page personally.
The cigar industry is a typically male oriented world. Have you found it difficult to be taken seriously/had any prejudice comments/found yourself in any uncomfortable situations, or have you in fact felt the opposite of these things?
JB: I have my cigar page for my own personal pleasure, and to share my cigar adventures with likeminded individuals. I feel that because I am not actively working in the industry, I don’t encounter any prejudice too often. There are always some interesting comments, and DM’s, but nothing that I have felt uncomfortable dealing with. My personal experience has been nothing short of empowering. Being able to share my experiences, and having people virtually enjoy them with you is a pretty unique, and empowering feeling. It is always nice to have likeminded people around who support, and are interested in your endeavours. I feel like this is what my Instagram page has accomplished for me.
There are a number of great influential women on Instagram and in the cigar industry. Who inspires you the most?
JB: The female cigar world on Instagram is growing more and more everyday. It’s truly amazing to see. One of my favourite cigar ladies on Instagram has to be @cigarlover12. I love her content, and I’ve heard nothing but wonderful things about her.
Besides cigars, what else do you enjoy and can’t live without?
JB: Food, wine and my anatomy textbooks. I am a huge foodie, and will try anything and everything. Most of my adventures around the world are planned around food, and cigars. And naturally food, and wine go together hand and hand. I can always go for a glass of red at the end of a day, I usually reach for a Syrah, Shiraz, or Grenache. I also can’t live without my anatomy textbooks. If I’m not smoking cigars with friends, I am smoking a cigar, and catching up on some anatomy, and physiology. I work in the healthcare industry, and I am definitely and anatomy nerd.
When and where do you like to smoke the most?
JB: Here in Ontario we have some pretty strict smoking laws preventing us from having fancy lounges to smoke in during the winter. But, luckily I have some pretty great friends who have some heated, shops and garages. It’s usually just a group of guys and me, and they always turn out to be the most memorable nights. In the summer, my favourite place to smoke is definitely on the beach, or any where that the sun shining. I am a big beach bum, and I could spend every day lounging on a beach chair, cigar in one hand, and a drink in the other.
Also what is your favorite cigar at the moment?
JB: Currently, my favourite cigar has to be the Sin Compromiso by Steve Saka and his new venture with Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust. It has a lot of spice layered with creamy cocoa and espresso notes. Definitely pairs well with a glass of Bailey’s. It’s been my go to stick over the holiday season for sure.