Another week, another interview. This time with one of our Brand Ambassadors — @noblecigars — a wonderful person and a true friend of the brand since the beginning. Hope you enjoy this read and thank you for your time. Your support just by reading this means the world.
Thank you very much for accepting our interview, it is a pleasure to personally meet you. Who are you?
My name is Jon Gjebrea. I’m from Tirana, Albania. I have lived in Vienna, Austria, for 7 years where I did my undergrad for International Management. I lived in Boston for 3 years where I graduated for International Relations, and now I’m doing my MBA with a specialization in Supply Chain & HR.
Based on your Instagram profile, it is obvious that you are a Cuban cigar guy. Do you also smoke other countries or just Cuba?
I like the quote “There are no bad cigars, only better ones”. I do smoke cigars from the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, and Honduras. I know better Cubans, as living in Europe we mostly smoked those ones. When I moved to Boston, I started to expand my knowledge of other brands such as Padron, Perdomo, Arturo Fuente, Almanova, DrewEstate and others.
What’s your honest take on the eternal debate of Cuban vs non-Cuban cigars?
I love both Cubans and Non-Cubans. There are some Fuente, or Padrons which out would smoke over some Cubans. I guess it is a matter of taste.
Cigar smoking can raise some unwanted attention. Do people in your area still get surprised to see a young person having a cigar?
Every time I visit a cigar lounge or store and present myself as the guy behind @noblecigars, they are surprised not because of the popularity of my page, also not to the fact that I smoke at such young age, but to the fact that how a young person like me knows so much about cigars.
Usually, people have two first-time moments: the first cigar and the cigar that ignited the passion you have today. What were yours?
In one of my posts, I stated that the first cigar I smoked was a Cohiba Siglo II. I still remember the aromas, and the notes of that smoke. I guess my two moments relate to that cigar.
What’s the best cigar you have ever had?
It is hard to say, but I remember the last time I said this phrase was when I tried Cohiba Siglo VI.
Based on that, what’s the perfect pairing for it?
Cohiba overall has complex cigars which for me you can easily pair with strong liquors or coffee. I don’t like to pair my smokes with beer or wine.
Everyone has their own ritual when starting a cigar session. What’s yours? Yes, we want all those little details.
Every time I’m about to light my cigar, I smell the wrapper and the foot. This process lasts at least 1–2 min. Afterward, depending on the cigar I either cut it straight or use a v-cut. I say depending on the cigar because I use a v-cut for long smokes such as Fuente Opus X or Trinidad La Trova. The final process is to light it up using my lighter and slowly toasting it. I light it slowly as I want my smoke to save the notes.
You can have as many cigars as you want, forever BUT it always has to be the same. What would you pick?
This is a hard question. I usually have 2–3 smokes a day. I start with a small one which I pair with my morning coffee, and by night I go with a full-bodied cigar with my whiskey or scotch. I would pick Cohiba Siglo VI. It is a great smoke which can be enjoyed at any time of the day.
We all did some nasty mistakes on our cigar journey. Tell us about your most embarrassing one.
That is true. I remember once, many years ago, I wanted to show my dad the whole process of how to cut, light and smoke a cigar. It all went wrong, I cut it very bad, burnt almost half of the smoke and inhaled my first puffs and felt very dizzy after. It was so bad I needed two full days to recover.
What do you look for in a cigar retailer?
When I enter a cigar shop, I always look after the smell, and the accessories. I believe that having good accessories is an indicator of the cigars you sell too. Unfortunately, in Boston there are not many cigar lounge and stores. Regarding online cigar retailers the only thing I want is to not sell fake boxes because it hurts the feelings of every smoker. It happened to me and I didn’t have a bad day, I had a bad week!
You are one of our first Brand Ambassadors, how’s that going for you so far?
I’m truly thankful for making me part of your family. It means a lot to me that you made me part of your journey.
Imagine that the embargo to Cuba is lifted. What will happen next?
The consumption of Cuban cigars will increase tremendously. I think that the consumption of non-Cubans cigars might fall slightly, but the ones who already smoke them will continue to do it.
With the smoking restrictions in almost all places, do you see the private club scene growing in your country?
It is almost impossible to find an indoor place to smoke. The restrictions are becoming harder as now even outside there are special spots where you are allowed to smoke.
Fake cigars are a real problem, we see them popping everywhere. What’s your take on the counterfeit industry and what can we do to minimize the damage?
Sometimes online cigar retailers are third parties. They take the order, and their suppliers make the delivery. Of course, is the suppliers’ fault, but their people have to make sure the product is original as they might lose their clients. It happened to me, and it was a bad experience as I had to ship back the boxes and wait almost one month to be refunded.
What’s your favorite cigar accessory?
I’m a fan of Xikar cutters. I have also Colibri and ST Dupont, but Xikar is my first love. Regarding cigar travel case I use ProjectCarbon, VSB and SonSonEngland. I recently got a new cutter from Les Fines Flames, and I love it.
Are you a soft-flame or a torch lighter guy?
I use both depending on where I smoke, outdoor or indoor.
What is your favorite personality in the cigar community and why?
I like to smoke alone, especially morning ones as it is very relaxing and helps me to plan my day. Sometimes I smoke with my friends when we gather for a dinner or to play poker. Regarding the community and the great people I had the chance to meet throughout Instagram, I would say each one of them is great. I love the ideas we share, the suggestions, concerns, new releases for cigars and accessories.
Instagram is one of your main digital platforms, how do you see the removal of the Like counts that is already live in some countries?
Of course, “likes” are a crucial indicator that helps any new client to see if the company or retailer is trustworthy or not. For me, as an influencer, blogger, and reviewer it doesn’t affect much as I believe marketing our brand properly will help you either way.
Did something surprise you in the cigar community?
The warm welcome by everyone in the community, and the uniqueness of everyone that is part of it.
What have you learned with our community in the past year?
The involvement, the support, and the love of everyone since day one
What is the most overrated/underrated cigar for you?
I think every cigar has its own characteristics. Overall I would say that Cohibas are overpriced, but we live in a world where marketing its everything.
What is your “Unicorn”?
Still don't know to be honest. Until now had the chance to try all the cigars I wanted to try.
What are your Top 5 most affordable cigars?
- Quai D’Orsay No. 50 is my all-time favorite;
- Nova Cigars are amazing too and I hope they make it to the top of the list soon;
- Montecristo Open series is also great especially Eagle;
- Partagas Series D No. 4 is perfect for a morning smoke;
- Any cigar from Bolivar is outstanding.
Thank you for your time to read this profile interview. It means the world that you dedicated a bit of your time to do it. Share your thoughts on the comments. We are eager to listen to you and bring you value every single day. Have a great one!