This new year marks a shift in our communication strategy as we want to give out even more relevant content and information to the cigar community. 2019 was a great year and we learned a lot from everybody in the cigar world. Our brand recognition is getting greater and we feel like we have to give back.
We thought it might be fun to know the real people behind the Instagram profile and this set of interviews will do just that: a sneak peek on the lives of each person behind it.
We have to come clean about this idea as it was not entirely ours. A couple of months ago we asked the community what type of articles would be interesting to read and immediately we got flooded with the same response over and over again: to know who’s behind each profile that is relevant in the cigar world.
For those of you that gave us this feedback, we thank you. For those of you that accepted to answer our questions, we feel honored, it really means the world that you took the time to receive us.
Our first guest
In this first interview, we get to know a bit more about one of the purest hearts in the cigar community: @ralfster91 — Ralf.
Ralf, thank you very much for accepting our interview, it is a pleasure to personally meet you. Who are you?
Who am I? I am Ralfster91 an avid Cigar smoker who loves the finer things in life. I would consider myself a true hedonist. I am exploring the world of cigars one smoke at a time.
We’re going to talk about cigars, no matter their origin. However, we have to ask: Are you more of a Cuban or a non-Cuban cigar guy?
I am definitely more a Cuban guy. I smoke a lot of non-Cubans as well, but those just don’t hit the spot the same way an aged Partagas does.
What’s your honest take on the eternal debate of Cuban vs non-Cuban cigars?
When it comes down to taste, a Cuban is my preference. For me, it is not that important which cigar you smoke or which is its country of origin, the most important thing is the experience that it gives you.
My honest take on the Cuban and non-Cubans is about quality. Cuban tobacco is among the best in the world (if not the best). Taste is never the problem with a Cuban cigar, but rather the draw and quality of how the cigar was rolled. I have had a lot of Cuban cigars that had no draw at all, I have had no non-Cuban cigar with a draw issue.
You are a pretty young guy. Do people still get surprised to see a young person having a cigar?
A lot of people are surprised when they hear I enjoy cigars. I am often the youngest person in the lounges I visit. However, from all the people, my friends are the people that truly do not understand why I am a cigar aficionado. Go figure.
Usually, people have two first-time moments: the first cigar and the cigar that ignited the passion you have today. What were yours?
The very first time I had a cigar was at a Barbecue at a friend's house. He arranged everything from the food to the very good beers and, as dessert, he bought a box of cigars. The cigars he picked up where Don Tomas and we all smoked one. I liked it from the start.
Since we had one cigar leftover from our evening he ended up giving it to me. I had just stopped smoking cigarettes and, a couple of days later, I remembered that I had that cigar laying around. I smoked it while I sat next to my motorcycle and I recall it being a very relaxing experience. On the next day, I went to the local cigar shop and picked up another cigar, which I did not like at all.
About a year later, I won a giveaway contest on Instagram. @Mr_Okic sent me a lot of cigars from his private collection and let me tell you this: this man knows a lot about cigars and aging! This was my first ever aged Cuban and immediately I realized why people are always searching for these cigars, they are just incredible!
What’s the best cigar you have ever had?
The best cigar I ever had was a Partagas Series D No. 4 from 2011. To this day, this is my all-time favorite.
Based on that, what’s the perfect pairing for it?
The perfect pairing depends on a lot of things for me. In the morning I like to drink a strong black coffee preferably made in a Perculator. In the evening I like to pair my cigars with either coffee or a nice Belgian beer.
Everyone has their own ritual when starting a cigar session. What’s yours? Yes, we want all those little details.
It all starts with me not knowing which cigar I want to smoke. I have gathered quite a collection in the 4 years I am smoking cigars. When I finally made my choice I make a picture for Instagram. Then, I go outside and light my cigar (which I have cut beforehand). I always listen to music when I smoke and usually, I post my picture during my smoking session — this also depends on what cigar it is. For example, when I smoke a fine aged Cuban I try to not get distracted so I can pick up all the notes in the cigar.
You can have as many cigars as you want, forever BUT it always has to be the same. What would you pick?
Very easy choice: Partagas D4.
We all did some nasty mistakes on our cigar journey. Tell us about your most embarrassing one.
Oh, man… hard question. Probably when I post a cigar and I get the name wrong, or the country of origin, which is usually pointed out very fast by one of the followers who knows more about the cigar in question. An even better mistake happened quite recently. I had to wait for my friends in Amsterdam before going to a concert and I went to a lounge that only had Nicaragua cigars. I picked up a quite big and fat cigar, smoked it until I turned 50 shades of white and off I went to my concert, sick from the nicotine and with a bunch of bad cigars in my pocket (the cigars being bad obviously being my taste in cigars).
What do you look for in a cigar retailer?
For my local retailers, I look simply for the availability of the cigars I want. I do think I am lucky since I live in the Netherlands and we have 3 beautiful La Casa Del Habano in our small country. It is always nice to visit and pick up some aged cigars. When I order online it is different, the first time with a new retailer I just order a small box to see if it arrives and if it does how it is sent out and packed. After that, it is all about communication. I like to know what the box date is on the cigar boxes I buy. I like it when the retailer answers fast and is honest. In the end it is all about the trust you have in the retailer.
Imagine that the embargo to Cuba is lifted. What will happen next?
We all are going to have to share Cuban cigars with our American brothers and sisters, so cigars will be harder to find and prices will go up, which will not mean anything since prices always go up, and the rare cigars are hard to find as is.
With the smoking restrictions in almost all places, do you see the private club scene growing?
I do not see anything growing in the private club scene, primarily because I am not in a club, unfortunately. If someone from the North Holland region is reading and has a private cigar club going on let me know.
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?
As long as money can be made from counterfeits people will make them. The only thing we can do is educate people on this. the more you know the better. I used to tell people they had fake Cohibas but the reactions are usually that I don't know anything about cigars and should f*ck off because his/her cousin brought them from Mexico for a good price… so yeah, enjoy your floor sweepings while I light up a decent cigar.
We know about your love for motorcycles, is there a cigar community inside the bike community?
There probably are clubs like this, I do not know them, unfortunately. I have met some people while riding bikes who enjoy cigars. There is something special about riding all day long in the beautiful scenery, coming back to the house and lighting up that wonderful cigar that you have been looking forward to all day. The experience gets even better when I can share a cigar with my newfound buddy and talk about motorcycles and cigars.
You are one of the founders of the Ralberto Cigar Case, tell us the story and the motivation behind it?
The motivation behind starting Ralberto was that I met Dr. Robbert through Instagram, and we shared the same passion. Both wanted to add something to our community and have a little side project.
What’s your favorite cigar accessory? And no, you can’t say Ralberto.
This year I have bought 2 cigar cutters: a Xikar straight cutter and a Colibri V-cut. I used shitty cutters for 3 years until I came home after a long stressful day and just wanted to smoke the last Partagas Series D No. 4 from 2011 and my cheap cutter broke the wrapper. It also broke my heart at the same time and that was when I decided to get better tools. I am very happy with my Xikar cutter, the cuts are very straight and clean.
Are you a soft-flame or a torch lighter guy?
Definitely a torch lighter. I only use soft flame when I lose my torch lighter. I think this has a lot to with me smoking outside on my balcony usually and a soft flame is hard to use when it is windy.
What is your favorite personality in the cigar community and why?
I have met so many great people through Instagram and that makes this question very hard to answer. I think I will just go with Arnold Schwarzenegger, I would love to smoke a cigar with this legend.
You’re big on Instagram, how do you see the removal of the Like counts that is already live in some countries.
The likes have not yet been removed in my country. What I do notice is the cap on reach I get now. My views per post have declined by at least 60% in the last year alone. This is a shame because I really liked when a lot of people commented on my posts.
How do you see the future of Cigars on social media?
I really hope that we as a community do not get silenced, there is a lot going on with smoking and not influencing young people online. I am all up for protecting future generations, I just do not think cigars should be placed in the same category as cigarettes.
Did something surprise you in the cigar community?
When I just started to smoke cigars I did not expect that this hobby would connect me to all these different types of people and with that I mean I have spoken and smoked with people I normally would never meet. People from all types of socio-economic backgrounds.
It is when you connect with someone on a personal level you find out it really doesn't matter how many boxes of Behike you have or how rare some of the pieces in the collection are. And by the way, people who have epic collections usually do not brag about it to strangers on the internet.
We all love cigars and this is what binds us. Also, if you told me a year ago I would go and meet people from around to world just to smoke a cigar with I probably would not believe it. It did happen a few times and I loved it. Meeting up with fellow cigar smokers and trade a few cigars that we both enjoy is always a good idea!
What have you learned with our community in the past year?
Since I am still very new to cigar smoking, I learn a lot from my fellow cigar smokers. I learned a lot about aging cigars and how to properly keep them. I also learned that some people are really crazy about reselling cigars at insane prices. The best thing I did learn is that cigars connect people, it does not matter where you are from, how much money you make, what color or religion you have. When we smoke cigars we are all connected.
What is the most overrated/underrated cigar for you?
The most overrated cigar for me is a Padron 1964 series. I did not even finish it because it was boring. Most underrated is the Partagas Millefleur. Such a powerhouse of a cigar at a very good price.
Enjoying a cigar: inside or outside?
I like smoking inside a bit more then I do outside. This has probably to do with the fact that where I live it is usually bad weather. Somehow I have more pleasure in smoking when I can see the smoke clouds.
What brand have you never smoked and probably never will?
I have never smoked a Gurkha cigar. I hear a lot of bad stories about them so I never thought of getting one for myself.
What is your “Unicorn”?
A Cuban Davidoff is a cigar I would love to get my hands on.
What is the next update you would like to get for the hobby?
Since space is a constant problem I would like to invest in a bigger humidor. I have 3 desktop humidors now, and I would like to swap it for a bigger one where I can also store boxes and control the temperature.
What are your Top 5 most affordable cigars?
- Partagas Millefleur
- Rafael Gonzales Perlas
- Por Larrañaga Monte Carlos
- Fonseca (any size)
- H. Upmann Half Corona
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!