Armando’s love for the cigar world is contagious. Just by looking at his Instagram profile — which we recommend you go follow — you can see the happiness and dedication he puts in his work. Born on the beautiful island of Cuba, and now living in Madrid, he truly is a great ambassador for Cuban cigars.
Thank you very much for accepting our interview, it is a pleasure to personally meet you. Who are you?
My name is Armando Díaz Dones. I’m from Camaguey, Cuba. Now, I live in Madrid, Spain since 2015, I am graduated in Tourism Business in Cuba and work on the Food and Beverage Direction at the largest Hotel & Conference Center in Madrid.
What motivated you to start producing content for the community?
After two years of living in Madrid, I discovered the Passione Habanos Club and start going to the “after works” every Monday. Motivated by my Habanos passion I decided to create the Instagram profile cmg_habano (cmg in honor of my hometown Camagüey) and post all my Habanos moments, then I change to @armandocigars to make it more personal and share more with the community.
Spain is an amazing country and with a great tradition regarding Cuban cigars. How is the cigar scene in your city?
In Madrid, there is a lot of cigars culture. We have, as I said before, the Passione Habanos Club that is open to members from Tuesday to Saturday from 16 to 24 hours where you can enjoy a cigar alone or with friends.
In Madrid, there are many specialists in Cuban and non-Cuban cigars. My favorite place is the Cava de Magallanes Cigar shop where I feel at home. There are many young people who want to learn a lot about the world of enjoying a good premium cigar. And there are also many connoisseurs who share their knowledge.
Do you prefer enjoying a cigar alone or with others?
I really enjoy being in the company of people who share the same passion for cigars as I do, being able to talk about notes and aromas, sharing good smoke, and knowledge.
What’s your honest take on the eternal debate of Cuban vs non-Cuban cigars? Also, are you a Cuban or a non-Cuban cigar smoker?
It is a new debate for me because I come from Cuba and we all know that Cuban tobacco from Vuelta Abajo in Pinar del Rio and the rich aromas that the soil provides are unique in the world. Now living in Europe there is a premium cigars culture and of course, non-Cuban cigars are also included. I have had the opportunity to try many brands and get to know other nuances and aromas, but in my personal opinion there is no flavor that leaves me happier than a good Habano, that’s why I am a Cuban cigar smoker.
Imagine that the embargo to Cuba is lifted. What will happen next?
It is a delicate subject for me. I have not been to the USA but I have very good friends who enjoy very good cigars even with the Embargo still going.
Cuba could obtain many more millions of sales each year from Habanos in the United States if the economic embargo did not exist.
The world market for Premium tobacco is in the order of 400 million units, and the United States is the higher consumer with 260–270 million, a figure that represents almost 70 percent of the total.
American cigars smokers buy Habanos in other nations, as it is not available in the network of shops, tourist facilities, or international airports.
Usually, people have two first-time moments: the first cigar and the cigar that ignited the passion you have today. What were yours?
My first cigar was a Cohiba Siglo I the perfect and sweet factory name Perlas from the Cohiba brand.
What’s the best cigar you have ever had?
Cohiba Talisman Edición Limitada 2017.
Based on that, what’s the perfect pairing for it?
For me, it is the Havana Club Selección de Maestros.
Everyone has their ritual when starting a cigar session. What’s yours?
I like to analyze the cigar’s construction. I always observe the foot and the head. The oil of the wrapper and the cold smell is something that transports me to my country.
Tell us about your collection. What does your humidor look like?
In my humidor, I always have regional editions of Cuba and other countries that I treasure on my trips. I like to keep some limited edition cigars for about 2 years to enjoy them and find new flavors. I have a humidor at home for my daily smokes of about 100 Habanos approximately. In it, I always have a variety of Habanos brands and formats for each moment, I really enjoy the Robusto size. I am also aging some custom rolls that have been twisted especially for me in tobacco plantations and in Casas del Habano back in Cuba.
When we meet someone, we usually give away one cigar as a gesture of good faith. What was the best cigar you have ever offered?
The Habano that I have offered was a very difficult one to find. It was the San Cristobal de La Habana La Cabaña ER Cuba.
What do you think about cigars as a type of investment, like watches and cars?
Investing in good and original Habanos cigars is an investment to win because the good harvests and the cigars of some brands improve exponentially with about 15 years and since many are limited in time, their value grows.
You can have as many cigars as you want, forever BUT it always has to be the same. What would you pick?
I would stay with Cohiba Pirámides Extra all my life.
We all made some honest mistakes on our cigar journey. Tell us about your most embarrassing one.
A few years ago, I was smoking a cigar and I made the mistake of leaving it wrongly placed in the ashtray and when I went to smoke it I put the part of the ash on my lips causing burns for a few weeks that I will not forget! That got hot!
As a customer, what do you look for in a cigar retailer?
When I walk into a cigar shop I like to see the organization and the variety of the humidor. I love the personalized attention of someone that is capable of answering my questions in an honest way. I like to see how they keep the cigars on the shelves and the care they take in handling them with respect. Regarding online retailers, the first thing to avoid is being scammed with fake cigars. I also like to see if they have good reviews and offers for regular customers.
With the smoking restrictions in almost all places, do you see the private club scene growing?
I really like private smoking clubs that allow all of us to smoke without restrictions or bother non-smokers, and it is like a house that allows the full enjoyment of a premium cigar.
What’s your favorite cigar accessory?
For me, the accessory that allows me to travel with my cigars is the Xikar 15-cigar Travel Humidor, as well as the torch lighter and the double-blade cutter.
Are you a soft-flame or a torch lighter guy?
Regarding my favorite flames, whenever I can use them indoors, it is always the soft flame of a cedar leaf or cedar match. For outdoors, I really like the torch lighter because it is very practical and direct, allowing the ignition and the wrapper not to be damaged.
Enjoying a cigar: inside or outside?
It depends on the occasion and on the weather conditions. Indoors you can control more your ignitions and the combustion of your cigar.
What is your favorite personality in the cigar community and why?
There are two personalities that inspire me in our community of cigars who are Dominic (@domberga) and Alex (@alex_cigar_dandy). They are two friends who represent a lot of knowledge and respect towards the world of Habanos, sharing their Habanos moments in magnificent posts that inspire everybody.
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?
Fake cigars are a real problem that affects the enjoyment and health of consumers of premium cigars. It is an industry that must be denounced and its actions must not be allowed worldwide. Consumers have to train and communicate with everyone about how to identify these types of counterfeits. On my Youtube Channel Armando Cigars, I explain how to identify these counterfeits.
How do you see the future of Cigars on social media?
In social media, regarding cigars, there may be some restrictions. The importance of marketing they have achieved in our days is increasing.
Did something surprise you in the cigar community?
The most surprising thing about our community is that it allowed me to share my Habanos moments with friends from all over the world.
What is the most underrated/overrated cigar for you?
For me, the least valued of Habanos is the Vegueros brand which has magnificent cigars at a very good price point. The most overrated at this point I’ll have to say it is the Romeo y Julieta Year of the Rat. It is clearly overpriced for the value it represents.
What brand have you never smoked and probably never will?
I have not tried many brands of non-Cuban cigars. From current Habanos brands I have yet to try La Escepcion but I will try it in the future.
What is your “Unicorn” cigar?
Cohiba Majestuosos 1966.
What are your Top 5 favorite cigars?
- Cohiba Piramides Extra
- Trinidad La Trova LCDH
- Trinidad Vigia
- Romeo y Julieta Wide Churchills
- Bolivar Libertadores LCDH
A short message to all the community
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!