When you see Yeni’s Instagram profile you know that you are looking into a world of wonderful cigars. Being Cuban, the love for the leaf really shows both on her photos and on her words. Living in Spain, Yeni is on the perfect European hub for her passion: cigars.
Thank you very much for accepting our interview, it is a pleasure to personally meet you. Who are you?
Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to be part of the @allthingscigars family. I am Yenisbel (everyone calls me Yeni) a Cuban, passionate about tobacco to whom journalism brought to Madrid.
What motivated you to start producing content for the community?
It was honestly a surprise. I didn’t think the posts would have any kind of reach. Over time people asked me where I smoked, strength, what to pair with… they asked me for recommendations, and then I began to take it a little more seriously (although not too seriously).
How is the cigar scene in your country?
Spain is a privileged place when talking about tobacco. It is a country with a great link with Cuba throughout history, we have good Canarian tobacco, there are a great variety of countries present in the market and it is smoked a lot compared to other places. But to be honest it is a country that mostly smokes Cuban cigars, although there is an increase in the number of people who smoke tobacco from different origins.
Do you prefer having a cigar alone or with others?
I enjoy my me time, I confess. But it also depends on the mood and what you want at the moment. You learn a lot by chatting about tobacco with friends, and that enjoyment is priceless. Good company is always good.
Enjoying a cigar: inside or outside?
It all depends. Summer, sun, terrace, a cigar after a good meal is glorious. In the winter you don’t feel like smoking outside, but the desire does not go away, so inside it is. Of course, if it is something new and I want to be aware of every detail (smell, ash, evolution…) I prefer indoors since there are many factors that make smoking in open spaces very difficult.
We’re going to talk about cigars, no matter their origin. However, we have to ask: What is your favorite cigar producing country?
My first cigar, like any Cuban, was a Cuban cigar, a Montecristo Edmundo. And it always happens to me that people assume that that’s why my favorite cigars are Cuban. The truth is that I enjoy every cigar I smoke. Each one offers me a totally different experience. If you want to broaden your palate and learn about tobacco and not only about Cuban cigars you have to open up to new regions. Lately I smoke a lot of Nicaraguan and Dominican.
Imagine that the embargo on Cuba is lifted. What will happen next?
I don’t think Cuba has enough tobacco and infrastructure to supply everything that is needed. However, it would surely mean economic and social growth on the island, but I don’t think that progress would last long.
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 Montecristo Edmundo more than a decade ago. It may not be the best cigar to start with because of its medium-high strength, but I fell in love with it. My first love and the one that marked a before and after.
What’s the best cigar you have ever had?
This is a difficult question, especially because it is very subjective and there are many things that influence it. I have favorite cigars because of perfect moments: Montecristo 80 Aniversario, Behike 56, my first Arturo Fuentes, Davidoff Year of The Pig… tasted like heaven… and so I have a thousand more cigars. The issue is that everything conspired so that moment and that cigar are unique.
Based on that, what’s the perfect pairing for that specific cigar?
Pairing is a matter of harmony, palate, tastes, moments… Although I confess that I am a lover of rum and good wine. I love to pair it with coffee and tea. Tea has an impressive ability to cleanse the palate if ingested in sips, even more effective than red wine or sparkling water, making each puff a new experience.
Everyone has their ritual when starting a cigar session. What’s yours?
It may sound crazy, but I even dress to smoke. In case you go to a terrace or a cigar lounge. I get dressed, I get elegant and so my ritual begins. If I’m at home I put on some jazz, soul, I light some candles, I create a whole atmosphere for that occasion. It’s my time of day. I stop at the wrapper, I smell the foot, I taste it in cold… and I think about all the history that I have in my hands, all the effort and dedication of those who make this a precious item.
Tell us about your collection. What does your humidor look like?
I have two humidors and they both look like the UN. I have cigars of all sizes, origins, custom made… 65% Cuban and the rest not Cubans. I’m not a collector at all, cigars are meant to be smoked, although I do have some rare jewels that I treasure.
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?
The friends of the leaf have given me real wonders. I was recently given a gift, I think it was the №3 of one of the Davidoff Millennium Collection boxes released in 1999. But I have something about the cigars they give me and that is that it hurts me to smoke them. So every cigar that someone has given me has a lot of meaning.
What do you think about cigars as a type of investment, like watches and cars?
I don’t believe in cigars as an investment. I don’t judge those who hoard prized cigars and resell them or anything like that. But when I buy one I think about smoking it. Maybe on a special occasion or not… but I know that at some point I will enjoy it, that is called passion, the rest is more of a business for me.
Plume and mold. Same thing?
This topic is tricky and you know it. I have read from those who say they are the same as those who think otherwise. The truth is that in view of the fact that there is no correct opinion on the subject, I stick to what science can prove. The Australia Biotech Laboratories conducted a study where it tested 10 cigars with some presence of mold/plume, the result was that all the cigars had at least 1 of 4 types of mold. In my humble opinion (which is not an expert at all) neither is a sign that the tobacco is in perfect condition and perhaps what we call plume is only the least aggressive phase of the mold that allows the cigar to still be smoked. But again it’s just my non-expert humble opinion.
Cut and light or light and cut?
I am more of cutting and lighting later.
You can have as many cigars as you want, forever BUT it always has to be the same. What would you pick?
We all made some honest mistakes on our cigar journey. Tell us about your most embarrassing one.
I don’t remember a specific mistake at this moment, but I do remember a time in a tasting surrounded by people, cutting my cigar so badly that it fell apart while I was smoking. It fell in layers and I wanted to die of shame.
As a customer, what do you look for in a cigar retailer?
Knowledge, inclusiveness and equality. Learn from someone while talking about something that you are passionate about and at the same time do not assume certain things because you are young, female, etc. who is willing to help, listen and guide you well.
With the smoking restrictions in almost all places, do you see the private club scene growing?
What’s your favorite cigar accessory?
I love cigar cases and humidors.
Are you a soft-flame or a torch lighter person?
I prefer wooden matches indoors but I usually use a torch lighter.
What is your favorite personality in the cigar community and why?
I have several but I love @remarkable_liz. Her knowledge, her personality, her essence.
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?
Educate smokers, continue learning, and report every time we come across these cases. I find it shameful that someone engages in scamming others in this way. And it is unprecedented disrespect.
How do you see the future of Cigars on social media?
Social media have become not only another way of visibility but also a market. I believe that the presence of the tobacco industry and everything that surrounds it will continue to grow exponentially. Good content is what is needed without judging how each person presents it, but good content is what is needed with no doubt.
Did something surprise you in the cigar community?
The camaraderie. Being part of a family without intending it. The friends that are made even in the distance. That really surprised me. And the huge number of smoking women. When I started I was one of 18 men in a cigar lounge. Meeting more women has enchanted me.
What brand have you never smoked and probably never will?
It is not a brand in itself but I would not smoke-infused cigars or flavored ones.
What is your “Unicorn” cigar?
I have smoked several unicorns already.
What are your Top 5 favorite cigars?
Only 5? UFFF.
- Partagas Serie D No. 4
- Oliva Serie V Melanio
- Arturo Fuente Don Carlos Personal Reserve Robusto
- Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure No. 2
- Bolivar Belicosos Finos
What are your Top 5 favourite Instagram accounts?
I have too many of them.
Finally, do you want to send a message to the community?
Just thank everyone who supports and is part of this family. Keep smoking friends.
A message to the community
Thank you very much for giving us a bit of your time by reading this article. It really means the world to have you with us. If you want to follow our daily activities head to our Instagram, where we try our best to bring the community together by sharing our love and knowledge for cigars. Have a great day.
Please note that smoking is bad for your health and we do not encourage it at all. These articles are written to show the differences between cigars and never to influence anyone to start smoking. If you are a cigar smoker, please respect others around you.