PHOTO: MARCUS DANIEL AND HIROCHI ROBAINA
Hirochi Robaina, head of the legendary Robaina family tobacco plantation, Est. 1845 in Cuba, visited the U.S. for the first time this week and met with fellow cigar connoisseurs at Marcus Daniel Tobacconist, Naples, FL.
A reception by invitation only provided insight into the friendship among those who value a fine cigar similar to a patron of the arts or appreciation for a fine wine from the best vineyards.
Marcus Daniel, tobacconist, vitolier and cigar maker for nearly 20 years compares a vitolier to a wine sommelier in a fine restaurant. It’s his responsibility to share expertise and advise clients regarding the most exquisite gourmet tobaccos available.
“The founders, the great tobacconist-cigar makers of yesteryear have all passed, Mr. Zino Davidoff of Geneva, Mr. Alfred Dunhill of London, and Mr. Nat Sherman of New York,” said Daniel. “I’m here to put the romance back into fine cigars.”
Robaina, 37, shared his expertise about the delicate aspects of growing and curing fine tobacco and the hours of handwork that creates the highest level of quality in tobacco production.
"A fine cigar is enjoyed throughout the world," said Robaina. "I am the ambassador of cigars, sharing the experience with friends. I’m enjoying my visit to Naples. Everyone is friendly.”
At the helm of the most famous tobacco farm in the world, Cuchillas de Barbacoa in San Luis, Pinar del Rio, Cuba, Robaina is also the proud father of four daughters. A daughter in charge one day is fine with him. At a recent birthday, a family signet ring was passed to him, one of only two in existence.
Common to the gathering at Marcus Daniel Tobacconist, was the passion for perfection, the desire for the perfect cigar. This passion is shared by members of the worldwide Club Alejo, the official Alejandro Robaina Cigar Club organized in honor of Robaina's grandfather.
The first United States Chapter is located at Marcus Daniel Tobacconist where camaraderie extends to thirty members at present and growing. Daniel’s classic brands of handmade cigars are manufactured in the United States, Dominican Republic, Honduras and Nicaragua with the most sought after cigars produced in limited quantities.
“We are a boutique operation,” said Daniel who believes in brick and morter stores where customers lounge comfortably and enjoy their cigar with a cup of fine, Cuban coffee. In addition to the luxury retail cigar store and mail order house in Olde Naples, Florida, he is President and Founder of Bidwell Cigar Incorporated, located in Northern California.
Over the next five years, Robaina looks forward to additional visits to Naples, perhaps bringing family members with him, to meet with friends who share the love of fine cigars. He extends an invitation for them to return the visit. When tobacco production meets cigar manufacturing, cigar smoking is more than enjoyable, it’s an experience with stories to share.