@remarkable_liz is a Cigar Sommelier and the founder of Remarkable Afficionadas. She is also one of the most influential female personalities in the cigar community. Her charisma and dedication to the cigar world is a blessing for all of us. We really hope you like this interview as much as we enjoyed doing it.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. Who are you?
My name is Elizabeth — aka Liz. I was born in New York but raised in Santiago, Dominican Republic. When I was 13 my parents decided to move to Sunset Park, Brooklyn, New York). I am married to Eddy and I am a mother of three boys.
Give us some detail about your collection, what do you have in your humidor?
I am not sure if I want to call it a collection, but what I do have in my humidor is a great diversity of cigars, as I don’t consider myself a brand smoker. You will find cigars like Ramon Allones, as well as Quai D’Orsay, Partagas, LFD, La Aurora, Plasencia, Padron, Nova, Carrillo, just to name a few.
What’s the best cigar you have ever had?
Mmm, this is a hard one. I always believe that the moment and the mood has a lot to do when you enjoy a cigar. With that in mind, I will have to say that Montecristo No 2 is one of the best I have had.
Based on that, what’s the perfect pairing for it?
I love my Montecristo No 2 with a latte. The creaminess, cocoa, and cedar of the Montecristo go well with coffee.
What’s your honest take on the eternal debate of Cuban vs non-Cuban cigars?
I don’t feel like there should be a debate between Cuban and non-Cuban cigars. If we think about it, we will need to go back to where everything started: in Cuba. Until 1960, Cuba had a monopoly on premium cigar tobacco because no one else in the world was growing it. It was only after 1960, when many Cubans, including some of the country’s most respected tobacco growers and cigar masters, left Cuba. That premium tobacco was cultivated in other countries such as the Dominican Republic, Honduras, and Nicaragua.
Some Caribbean and Central American countries have soils that are very similar to Cuba and, although not the same, they can produce tobaccos that are equally rich in flavor, strength, and depth. But to be clear, because the soil impacts the flavor, nothing tastes like a Cuban cigar other than a Cuban cigar, just as nothing tastes like a Dominican cigar except a Dominican cigar. It’s all about what you like!
Cigar smoking can raise some unwanted attention. Do people in your area still get surprised to see a young person having a cigar?
Well, I live in NY where everything is possible. In NY is not that surprising to see a young person having a cigar. I get unwanted attention from people surprised because of a female smoking a cigar.
Usually, people have two first-time moments: the first cigar and the cigar that ignited the passion you have today. What were yours?
My husband is a cigar smoker. I always saw his passion and how he loves cigars. At the beginning I didn’t feel any interest in smoking until he brought me a box of Ashton Senoritas Cigars and little by little, he got me some La Flor Dominicana… Next thing I know, I graduated to medium-full body cigars. I never knew cigars will become a passion but the more I smoked the more I wanted to know everything about it.
Everyone has their own ritual when starting a cigar session. What’s yours? Yes, we want all those little details.
Depending on what we are drinking at the moment I pick my cigar. Love to sniff the foot and the wrapper of the cigar. I touch and feel the cigar looking for tight spots. I carefully cut my cigar, take a dry draw, toast, and light the cigar. I also make sure I have music. I love to hold the smoke in my mouth just to open up my palate. If I am by myself, I just love to reflect on everything, if I am with my husband, I love to have a nice conversation and if I have a few friends around, I just have fun and enjoy the smoke.
You can have as many cigars as you want, forever BUT it always has to be the same. What would you pick?
Another hard question… I will say Ramon Allones and La Flor Dominicana Double Ligero.
We all did some nasty mistakes on our cigar journey. Tell us about your most embarrassing one.
I think it would be just like everyone else, cutting too much of the cap and burning the wrapper, ruining the cigar. Lucky for me I have a pretty good teacher: my husband.
What do you look for in a cigar retailer?
As a woman, I love when I feel welcome. It can be a very intimidating experience for some woman who doesn’t know what to expect or how to act around a male-dominated lounge or retailer. Also, we don’t have to be addressed in a different way than a man, we want to be treated the same as any other male smoker. Don’t assume because I am a female, I want certain flavors or strength of a premium hand-rolled cigar.
Imagine that the embargo to Cuba is lifted. What will happen next?
Unfortunately, I don’t think Cuba would be able to keep up with the demands. At the moment, quality control is not the best so imagine if the embargo is lifted… Cuban cigars will suffer. Somethings are better to leave the way they are.
With smoking restrictions in almost all places, do you see the private club scene growing in your country?
I currently live in NY and there are some restrictions. I see private clubs growing.
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?
I think people need to be aware of the problem, We to educate the consumer and more and more I see posts on social media on how to spot fake cigars. Don’t buy cigars from strangers or places that you don’t feel confident about. Everything starts with the consumer.
What’s your favorite cigar accessory?
At the moment, there are too many to pick one.
Are you a soft-flamer or a torch lighter?
Torch lighter, making it easier to evenly light indoor and outdoor. It is easier to maneuver as well.
What is your favorite personality in the cigar community and why?
Well, this is an amazing community there are many awesome SOTL and BOTL is impossible to pick one favorite.
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?
Sometimes I feel it would be better with no likes, so people don’t focus so much on likes or the need to have a certain number of them. I feel we live in a digital world and forget to live in the real world. For me, my Instagram page is more about the engagement, the connection I can have with each of my followers. I want to be available to reach every one of them with my posts and try to respond to all their messages. Everything is up to the person and how they feel. I understand that feels good to get a bunch of likes and feel like you fit in, but do we need to fit in or be accepted by others? Think about it…
Liz, thank you very much for your time and availability.
I want to thank you for this interview. Stay humble, stay focused and of course stay smoking. Stay remarkable!
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