Interview: Brad Mayo, Jameson Cigars

Today we are joined by Brad Mayo of Jameson Cigar Company. Be sure to visit them online or give Brad a follow on Twitter; he is one of the few that personally chats with the smokers.


brad mayoQuestions About You:

Where did you grow up?
Huntington, WV

Where do you currently live?
I Currently live in Huntington and travel to Miami on a monthly basis.

When did you first get introduced to the joy of cigars?
Around 16 I had my first cigar, a Garcia y Vega. Thankfully, I stuck with it and progressed to premiums rather quickly!

What is it you most enjoy about a great cigar?
I enjoy the entire experience a great cigar provides, from the flavors and aromas to the opportunity for relaxation and contemplation.

What are some of your favorite smokes?
Mine, of course! I’ve been smoking a ton of Declarations lately.

How many cigars do you smoke a day?
Most days 1 or 2, others 4 or 5.  t just depends on where I’m at and what’s going on.

How would you describe your palette?
My preference is a medium bodied smoke with an emphasis on flavor.  However, variety is the key.  It’s important to experience a variety of profiles and tobaccos to educate your palate.

Questions About the Industry:

How did you get involved in the cigar industry?jameson_headshot
I basically got involved through a passion for cigars and a desire to create.  A relationship with Luis Sanchez of La Tradicion Cubana propelled my vision to reality.

When did you first begin blending your own cigars? How has that process evolved for you?
We released the Red and Black Labels around 2 years ago. Blending and creating has definitely been an evolving journey. What we try to do is incorporate our own ideas along with ideas we get from customers to come up with a blend that works. There is always something to be learned and you’re only limited by the tobacco in which you have access.

What is it you enjoy most about the cigar industry?
I enjoy a lot of the aspects, however I most enjoy the relationships forged and the creative process in creating new blends and brands. Every day is a new experience and inspiration is everywhere.

You recently relocated to a spot on Calle Ocho. Can you describe your new factory for us? Will it have a lounge for people to drop in?
The store on Calle Ocho is a showcase shop in which we display everything made at Tabacalera LTC in Santiago, DR.  We wanted to have a store that people can drop by for a smoke and see what we’re all about, a home base, if you will.  If you or your readers are in Miami, feel free to stop in, grab a smoke and a rocking chair, and hang out for awhile.

Are you working on any new blends for the future? Are you working with any other companies?
I love to create, so new projects are always on the horizon.  It’s just a matter of having the time and the money! We work exclusively with Tabacalera LTC because of our great relationship.

Describe the perfect day for you.
The perfect day would be hanging on Calle Ocho, smoking, and working on my Cuban slang with the characters that drop by.

Questions About the Cigars:

Jameson Red_1
Where did the idea come from to begin your own blend? Who helped you through this process?

The idea came from just wanting to create my own cigars, share them with others, and see what I could bring to the industry. Luis Sanchez and his factory manager, Oscar, work with me on all the blends.

Was there some trial and error involved in the blending process? Can you explain that a bit for us?
There’s always trial and error in the blending process.  Sometimes you hit the blend on the first several tries, other times it takes longer.  The key is to have patience and develop a blend that you’re happy with along with those whose opinions you trust.

How do you feel your blends are set apart from what other blenders and companies are releasing?
I honestly can’t say I know what everyone is doing, as much as I might try. So we do what we know best and that’s make cigars that we love. I wouldn’t release something I wouldn’t smoke on a daily basis.

You have three different blends. Would you briefly describe each of these blends for us and the original idea behind each of them?

Jameson Red_2The Red Label is a medium bodied cigar with an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper, Honduran binder, and Dominican filler. The Red Label was developed as a mid morning to afternoon smoke without being overly mild, perfectly paired with a cup of coffee I might add.

The Black Label is a Brazilian maduro with a Honduran binder and Dominican filler. It comes in on the medium to full bodied end of the spectrum and I basically wanted a robust maduro to round out the day with.

Declaration, our newest blend, is a Dominican puro with a Habano ’98 wrapper, Criollo ’98 binder, and Dominican filler. It’s a medium-bodied cigar that’s intended to showcase Dominican tobacco. As far as the brand, Declaration, goes, we wanted to make a statement about not only the passion we have for what we’re doing but the state of affairs that surrounds smoking in general today.

Is there a particular region you prefer when selecting a tobacco for your cigars?
We make use of a lot of fillers and binders from the Navarrete region of the Dominican Republic. We’re always sampling new tobaccos, especially wrappers, to see what we might be able to do with them.

How do you bring a cigar from initial concept to production and into the hands of retailers—what is that process like, step by step?
Well, it starts with an initial plan as far as the style of the blend and the artwork, brand, etc. Then the blend is worked on and finalized, at which time production is began. After initial production the cigars are aged, then packaged, and shipped to Miami. From Miami they are shipped to retailers and customers around the country.

Why do you think people like your blends so much?
I feel it’s because our cigars are well balanced, accessible from a pricing standpoint and give the smoker a consistent experience. I also hope it’s because our love for the business and artistry of the craft show up in everything from the blends, to the packaging and artwork.

rockstoneQuestions About the Coffee:

You recently introduced RockStone Premium Coffees. Where did the idea come from to start selling coffee?
We’re a company that simply does what we love to do. My day is more enjoyable when I start it off with fresh ground coffee paired with a cigar and I wanted to share that experience with others.

What has the response been from the cigar community?
We’ve had a great response to the coffee, tons of excellent feedback.

Do you plan on releasing new regions?label_sumatra_bluebatak
We’re in the initial phase of it, so more coffees are to come along with blends in the future. Every new coffee we want to have a pairing suggestion with our cigars.

How has this process been different and similar to the cigar industry?
It’s different in the fact that it’s a fresh product that needs to be delivered as instantly as possible; it’s similar in that it’s a premium product with an array of flavor nuances according to the region.

What is your favorite coffee from the RockStone line?
I’m a big fan of all the coffees, but lately I’ve been drinking a lot of the Sumatra Blue Batak.

Thanks for joining us today Brad, it was a blast.
No problem, thanks for having me.