Meet Eric aka @brothercigar_ on Instagram. Co-Owner of one of the funniest cigar podcasts on the internet. Very active on social media and a fun and easy-going personality. Always sharp, both on the fashion side and on the ideas he shares with all of us!
Thank you very much for accepting our interview, it is a pleasure to personally meet you. Who are you?
My name is Eric, I am 29 years old, I’m from New York and I have a podcast called The Burn Down. A weekly podcast that aims to bring the comradery and conversation of a lounge to the internet audience.
What motivated you to start producing content for the community?
It all started in 2017 after I attended my first Cigar International Cigar Fest in Pennsylvania. I came home with over 100 cigars! I lived by myself at the time in Connecticut and I needed to find a new hobby. I have a marketing background and a nag for pictures, I thought it was a good idea to start documenting and trying to take “artsy” pictures with and of cigars. It’s taken off ever since.
How is the cigar scene in your country?
The cigar scene in the United States is truly special. Anywhere you go in the US you will find someone who likes to enjoy a cigar. If you can’t find someone you can definitely find a cigar lounge in your area. The biggest thing I noticed in the United States compared to others is that we’re allowed to smoke inside. Other countries can’t enjoy that and it’s hard to imagine. I was in Toronto Canada once and I went to La Casa Del Habano. It was beautiful inside, however, I couldn’t enjoy my cigar until I was off the premises and on the sidewalk.
Do you prefer having a cigar alone or with others?
For me, it really depends on the mood. I thoroughly enjoy both. I enjoy a cigar alone because that’s the time I decompress, reflect, collect my thoughts and think about goals and the future. However, I really enjoy having a cigar with others because typically your around good people that you relish, which creates great memories and great conversations!
Enjoying a cigar: inside or outside?
Being that I am in New York I have the pleasure of enjoying all 4 seasons. I enjoy both! I like the outside because it feels like there are no restraints, you can enjoy your cigar anywhere you go. However, I enjoy the inside as well. It’s a controlled environment you don’t need to worry about the inclement weather plus it makes smoking a cigar look a lot cooler when the smoke comes out slower!
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 person?
In my experience, I have smoked Cubans and non-Cubans. To me, I don’t see much of a difference? There are so many great non-Cubans out there that provide so many unique flavors and aromas it’s hard to get involved with Cuban cigars. Especially being that Cubans are more difficult to come by in the states.
Imagine that the embargo on Cuba is lifted. What will happen next?
Great question. To be honest, I can see retailers (online and brick & motor) taking on Cuban lines to offer a more exclusive variety to their consumers. However, I am not sure if people will fully hop on the Cuban cigars train. Some will try new things of course but I think a lot of people for the majority of their life with cigars have always enjoyed and liked what they’ve always had, which are non-Cuban cigars. Most people don’t like change. I can see the transition being difficult. I think a good amount of the “hype” behind Cuban cigars is the embargo and the exclusivity that they are sold outside of the US.
You recently started a podcast. How is it going so far?
The Burn Down podcast is going great, better than we could have imagined. It will be 2 years in July 2021. The premise of The Burn Down is when you go into a cigar lounge, you go for two things: a good cigar and an enjoyable atmosphere. That’s exactly what we bring. Justin and I strive to make our podcast relatable, informative, funny and we do that all by just being ourselves. That’s what really separates us from the rest. We deliver the feeling of that friendly conversation you get in a cigar lounge that we all enjoy while smoking a variety of awesome sticks. The experience is designed as if you’re sitting right there with us! Cigars are our passion but now podcasting is our passion as well, combining these make the endeavor so much more gratifying. We’ve been able to have on the podcast all walks of life enjoying great conversations over a cigar. To name a few, Ed Reed, John Starks, Ruben Studdard, Ray “Cash” Care, Ibis Lu plus so many other great people!
If someone reading this wants to start a podcast also, what is your main advice?
My main advice is: if you want to start a podcast is don’t wait any longer and just do it! The hardest thing in taking on something new is the initial act of starting it, the longer you wait and contemplate the longer it takes to get the ball rolling. Embody yourself in it and just learn as you go, that’s exactly what we did. YouTube and Google are your friends. If you watch or listen to our very first episode, it was terrible. Actually hilarious to watch and listen to but we’ve grown so much from that. It’s all about the journey and what you put into it.
Usually, people have two first-time moments: the first cigar and the cigar that ignited the passion you have today. What were yours?
I will be honest. I do not remember my first cigar. I do know it was some time in high school and I want to say it was a Black n Mild! However, the first cigar that ignited my passion was coming back from Cigar International Cigar Fest in Pennsylvania. It’s when I first started my @brothercigar page. The first cigar that I smoked and my very first post was with the 5 Vegas Limitada. I haven’t looked back since.
What’s the best cigar you have ever had?
That’s a tough question, it’s like picking your favorite child. However, I can tell you 5 cigars that I always really enjoy are first, the Arturo Fuente Don Carlos Edicion de Aniversario. This is my favorite Fuente, hands down. The second is the Padron 1926 Series. Third, the Oliva Serie V Melanio. Fourth, I recently had my interview on The Burn Down with NFL Hall of Famer Ed Reed which was the Plasencia Alma Fuerte. Man, what a cigar. Smoked that for almost 2 ½ hours. Last but not least would be the Drew Estate Liga Privada No 9.
Based on that, what’s the perfect pairing for that specific cigar?
My favorite pairing with a cigar is coffee. Cigars and bourbon, next. The first thing you have to look out for when pairing is making sure your cigar is prepared for the specific pairing you’re about to dive into. What I mean is, if you’re having a light beer like a pilsner or a coffee, it’s probably best with a mild or mild-medium cigar. Bourbon or Scotch will definitely be best with a full-bodied cigar. You don’t want to take two poles of the spectrum and put them together. An Oliva Connecticut cigar will not pair well with an Eagle Rare Bourbon.
Everyone has their ritual when starting a cigar session. What’s yours?
My thing is making sure my environment around me whether it’s outside or inside is to my standard. Meaning, no surrounding factors that could hinder my cigar smoking experience. After that, I will indulge my cigar using all my senses. The feel, look, aroma, etc. That pre-light ceremony anticipation is the best.
Tell us about your collection. What does your humidor look like?
Earlier in the fall of 2020, I just started using the NewAir 250 Count Thermoelectric Cigar Humidor. This is my electric humidor and it’s great. I typically keep the small cigars and sampler boxes on the bottom. The middle shelf is for all the cigars that I wouldn’t mind giving away to people who come over that want a cigar. Then we have a draw that’s inside my humidor and that is for all my Cuban and high-end cigars. Lastly, we have the top shelf that has all the other cigars that I enjoy (Olivia, Drew Estate, LFD, My Father, etc.).
When we meet someone, we usually give away one cigar as a gesture of good faith. What was the best cigar you have been offered?
I typically will do the same! For me, the best cigar I was ever offered would have to be two Davidoff Year of the Pig.
And the worst?
There are no bad cigars, only better ones. I was told once by someone “just because you don’t like the cigar doesn’t mean it’s bad, it just means it doesn’t fit your palate.”
What do you think about cigars as a type of investment, like watches and cars?
I think that’s a personal choice. For me, I don’t look at my cigars as investments like a nice watch or a vintage car. I never really thought about it too much, to be honest. I smoke cigars all the time, the only ones that really increase in value are my high-end ones, and eventually, I plan on smoking them. When you’re investing in a watch or car you are looking to increase the value over time to make a profit. With cigars, you invest in them and you know eventually you are going to smoke em!
You can have as many cigars as you want, forever BUT it always has to be the same. What would you pick?
Oh boy… One cigar forever… It’s going to be either the Arturo Fuente Don Carlos Edicion de Aniversario Robusto or the Plasencia Alma Fuerte Robusto. At that point, I would just flip a coin and let the cigar gods decide which one is my fate.
We all made some honest mistakes on our cigar journey. Tell us about your most embarrassing one.
It’s funny you ask that because typically people will say they’ll be embarrassed when they drop ash on or all over themselves. On The Burn Down Podcast, we call dropping ash on yourself #rookiemove now this doesn’t mean you’re a rookie or don’t know how to smoke a cigar. We’re trying to take a negative/embarrassing stigma and make it into a positive one. When you drop ash on yourself we cheer you on and clap. In our opinion, if you don’t drop ash on yourself every once and a while, do you even smoke cigars? It happens to the best of us. When people post and tag us on our social media about their #rookiemove we get excited and encourage it!
As a customer, what do you look for in a cigar retailer?
What I look for in a retailer are 3 things. The atmosphere, the selection of cigars, and the knowledge of the tobacconist. Those 3 values make my experience a time to remember.
With the smoking restrictions in almost all places, do you see the private club scene growing?
It’s hard to say. In the tobacco industry, I think it varies with the laws and restrictions constantly trying to change and certain things are put into place. Thank god we have the PCA (Premium Cigar Association) and the CRA (Cigar Rights of America) that fight for our cause, make things happen, and give us, the cigar smokers a voice!
What’s your favorite cigar accessory?
My zippo lighter with the single torch insert and my long cedar wood matches.
Are you a soft-flame or a torch lighter person?
I like both. I enjoy long wooden/cedar matches and also a nice single flame torch.
What is your favorite personality in the cigar community and why?
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?
This is something that I would like to acquire more knowledge on. I can’t say much. It is a shame people take advantage of others selling them fake goods. A family member of mine was a victim of this in Cuba when they bought a box of Cuban cigars.
How do you see the future of Cigars on social media?
It’s only going to continue to grow. I see more and more cigar pages pop up every day and I see even more younger professionals getting into cigars and posting about it. Cigars are a social event you have some of the best conversations over a cigar. If someone has a cigar social media page more than likely you can have an interesting conversation with that person. All of our social media pages still continue to grow every day. A large part of it is because we are very active and engaging with people on it. People forget the word “social” in social media.
Did something surprise you in the cigar community?
When I first joined this community almost 4 years ago, I was surprised by the number of people that enjoy cigars, before social media I would never know. And also the kindness and welcoming with open arms. I never felt out of place, people in this community are always willing to talk, give advice and answer any questions. It is truly the best.
What is the most overrated cigar for you? And he most underrated?
No overrated cigars for me, but an underrated cigar that comes to mind is the Punch Diablo. A truly solid stick at a less than $10 price point.
What brand have you never smoked and probably never will?
I will always try something once. If I don’t try it how will I know if I like it or not? You have to expand your horizons and be open-minded in today’s world.
What is your “Unicorn” cigar?
When I find it I will let you know!
What are your Top 5 favorite cigars?
- Arturo Fuente Don Carlos Edicion de Aniversario
- Padron 1926 Series
- Oliva Serie V Melanio
- Plasencia Alma Fuerte
- Drew Estate Liga Privada No 9
Finally, do you want to send a message to the community?
First and foremost, thank you All Things Cigars for giving me this opportunity. Thank you everyone for reading and checking out my article. I hope everyone stays safe and stays blessed. Tune into The Burn Down Podcast every Friday on YouTube, Spotify, Apple & iHeart Radio for a good smoke and an even better time. Cheers!