With cigar sales increasing worldwide by more than 100 percent since 2000, greater numbers of people are indulging in a time honored tradition that is as handcrafted as a custom suit. Last week Dan Carr, president of General Cigar, was at Club Macanudo for the unveiling of Comador, a collaboration between his Cohiba brand and Jay-Z, which utilizes the most expensive tobacco in the world that takes four years to create from seed to scintillating smoke.
The Connecticut Havana tobacco that Cohiba and Jay-Z chose for the Comador is grown on a 25-acre plot of land along the Farmington River in Connecticut and is handpicked 70 days after planting. The leaves are then cured for two months in barns that are designed to regulate air and light. Next the tobacco travels to the Dominican Republic where it undergoes several more stages of a four-year aging process that finally sees the leaves packed into oaken rum barrels where they will spend their final year before being hand rolled and traveling in humidors to grateful cigar devotees across both Gotham and the globe.
Here, Carr tells us what Jay-Z brought to the table for the collaboration.
How did you first connect with Jay Z?
DAN CARR: Jay is well known to have a long-standing passion with cigars. He has been involved in every step and every detail in the process of creating the Comador. Around 2011 he invited me to one of his concerts and we got to know each other backstage. Jay ask[s] a lot of questions and likes expertise. That’s where our company fit him really well because of the resources we have, our library of tobaccos and our enormous amount of talent that he got to tap into. This is the first time that Cohiba has engaged in a relationship like this. We have the biggest portfolio of brands in the industry, so we are somewhat cautious about what we do. We weren’t looking to merely put a celebrity’s name on a product. This partnership has been about working with a man who is truly an artist and understands what he likes and knows what other people enjoy.
Talk about the development of the Comador.
DC: It took over two years. What was fascinating about Jay during this process is that it was all about the product. Jay is very descriptive [and] was able to tell us about the kind of smoke he likes, the aromas he likes and the flavors he gravitates toward in food and spirits. Getting insights into his palate gave us a lot to work with in the development process and allowed us to continually refine the taste and aroma until we finally arrived at the Comador.
Jay-Z lights up one of his Comador cigars at a pre-Grammy brunch in Beverly Hills. (photo: Larry Busacca/Getty Images)
Tell me about the type of tobacco used for the wrapper?
DC: We have a 25-acre farm in Connecticut where we grow this tobacco exclusively. This plot of land sits on the Farmington River and there are times when that river will flood that land and bring nutrients to the soil. We always knew this land was special and the tobacco we were growing there was special, so about four years ago we started putting it away. When we met Jay and began talking about what he likes and enjoys we knew that this tobacco was something we could utilize.
Why is the Comador made exclusively in the Toro size?
DC: That is the size cigar that Jay-Z enjoys.
How was the design of the Comador logo and the travel humidor conceived?
DC: It all started with the Cohiba red dot and how to incorporate that into Jay’s design for his logo. He wanted to put his viewpoint into it while maintaining the integrity of the brand by creating a logo that is both modern and timeless. Though the detail of the logo is pretty substantial, it is contained within the simplicity of a cross. When it came to the packaging Jay wanted something that reflected his lifestyle. Being a person who is social and always traveling the travel humidor was designed to fit his needs. It is compact and understated plus easy to grip and carry.
Did Jay-Z’s and Beyonce’s much-reported trip to Cuba involve the Comador?
DC: The only thing I can say on that is that we had already been working together closely before they went on that trip. Jay-Z has a passion to learn everything about the projects he gets involved with.