Briar To Binder – With Kyle Gellis from Warped Cigars –

Briar To Binder – With Kyle Gellis from Warped Cigars  –

– Hey everybody, I’m Shane Ireland.
– Hey, I’m Kyle from Warped.
– And this is another
episode of Briar to Binder.
My guest, Kyle, is here to talk
about one of my top smokes,
the La Colmena, specifically
the La Colmena 44,
and it’s a really really nice cigar.
It’s one of those cigars
that I think deserves,
like, your undivided attention,
ideally with a fresh palate,
and you’ll be rewarded
with really more complexity
than you would have guessed upfront.
It’s an easy smoke to smoke all day.
In fact, I have that problem
where I go through them
a little too quickly.
– Yeah, yeah, yeah.
– So I wanted to talk
to Kyle about how this kind of came about,
and, like, the story behind it.
– So, La Colmena is
one of the first cigars
that I made at El Titan
de Bronze in Miami.
So in Miami on Calle
Ocho in Little Havana,
there’s pretty much only one
factory, one cigar factory left
and that’s El Titan de Bronze.
I’ve been working there for 13 years,
producing warps and so,
La Colmena came to be,
I was smoking a Cuban custom roll
from a famed roller
named Ronaldo out of Cuba
and I was so inspired by the cigar,
I went to Titan to try to blend
my version of it
– Yeah.
– And that came out to be La Colmena.
So La Colmena has been come to known
as the most Cuban-esque
cigar without being Cuban.
– Yes.
– And you know,
we’re very proud of it.
– Yeah.
– A lot of people love
it, but as you said,
there’s a lot of delicacy,
there’s a lot of nuance to it
and that’s not a, you know, a clean palate
but the unique aromas to it, the texture,
the smoke, the velvetyness,
the vanilla, the spice,
you know, the fruit.
It’s an ode to the old Cuban ways
– Sure.
– Which is kind of slowly
dying in the cigar industry these days.
– Sadly, sadly.
– Thank you.
– And I will say, too, that yes,
I immediately, the first time I smoked it,
I thought, “This is the most Cuban-esque
“non Cuban cigar that
I’ve smoked personally,”
and I’ll go a step further and like,
at the risk of offending
anybody out there,
I’ll say that it actually
interests me more than most Cubans
do because it’s not a
one-trick pony, basically.
– Yeah, the complexity
that’s there, it’s evolving.
So, you know, more
recent fresh Cuban cigars
are a little bit one-sided,
– Hmm-hmm.
– Whereas comparatively back,
you know, a decade ago,
they were very much better
and going back to the mid 90s, they were
– Even better.
– They were, you could,
nothing was better than, like, an old,
you know, HDM Epicure #1.
– Uh huh.
– You know, so this is like,
you get the complexity, you get the depth,
you get the texture and
you get the experience
and this way of, like,
seeing how your palate
is just picking up every
little speck of nuance
and which you don’t see these
days in a lot of cigars.
But this one-
– Well, a lot of cigars
out there these days are
spice bombs, you know,
or like, really on the heavy side
and that has it’s time and place.
– Yep.
– And I’ve smoked
plenty of those cigars
and enjoyed them a lot,
but I would, I like to think
that I’m still a cigar novice,
technically, in my own opinion
and as my tastes have
evolved and progressed,
I’ve learned to appreciate
a cigar like this much more,
whereas before, I could have thought,
like, “Yeah, that’s really nice,
“but maybe I want a little more flavor,
“a little more spice, a
little more something,”
because you’re not used to the nuance,
you’re not used to like,
looking for what’s really
underneath the flavors
that you get initially
and I find myself craving
this cigar, specifically,
but stuff along those lines
more often than I used to.
It’s like-
– Well, if you-
– It’s like the transition from Latakia
to Virginia Pipe tobacco.
– And then, like, what that,
the difference with Colmena, though,
is that I think, like, what you’re,
what is being overlooked
but shouldn’t be is where it’s made
– Yeah.
– And how it’s made.
– The skill behind the actual.
– Yeah, the skill
behind, so down at Titan,
there’s only about eight rollers.
They roll 100 cigars a day,
they’re all Cuban master
rollers level nine.
They all came from Cuba.
Comparatively, to give you an
example, Dominican Republic,
they can roll 500-600
cigars a day per person.
– Okay.
– Okay, with
– So the decision to roll only a hundred
is to preserve the quality.
– Yeah, but they won’t,
the Cubans won’t roll more
than a hundred, because
in an eight hour period
they roll 100 cigars.
– Hmm-hmm.
– And they will not roll any
more than that, because the
quality can get affected.
– Okay.
– So the time
that it takes, you know,
when you can make 600 cigars
in the DR versus 100 cigars in Miami,
the Cubans take great
pride in their cigars.
– Sure.
– And so, it shows in that.
That’s why we only produce
these in, you know,
in Miami directly.
– Yeah.
– You know, so some of the
rollers have been with us
for ten years and some of
them, they come in all the time
from Cuba when they get here
and they’re looking for work
and they worked in Partagas
or Cohiba or Corona
or wherever they were
– Oh wow.
– Previously
and they come in, they’re all level nines,
you know, and we house
them, they’re, you know,
the best rollers in Cuba come to Titan
and they, you know, they still work there.
– That’s amazing.
So tell me a little bit about
the components specifically.
Like, I’m curious about
the wrapper varietal.
– So it’s Ecuadorian Habano Deflorada,
so it’s a very unique Connecticut shade
which you can see to the colors,
it’s this beautiful yellow honey color.
– Yeah.
– And so, it’s a very light
body, but it’s about maybe a
little bit less than medium,
but it’s Dominican Nicaraguan
filler and Ecuadorian binder,
so in Cuba, when we
produce, you know, cigars,
it’s dual binders.
So there’s two binders rather than one
in other parts of the world.
– Ah.
– So we use two different
binders, though, in this
to give the complexity.
One is spicy and one is sweet.
– Ah, okay.
– So that’s where
the evolvement comes
in, ’cause in a 44 size,
you’re able to experience
every component of the cigar,
whereas in larger formats,
in like 54s, 56, 58, 60s,
you’re really only tasting one component
and that’s the filler
– Ah, yeah.
– And you’re lacking,
you know, the complexity,
and the depth and the flavor
that the wrappers may give you
and a lot of that, that
honeyness, that vanilla,
those floral notes are
coming from that wrapper
and the aroma for it is so unique
that you’ll be able to
pick it out in a room
and even looking at it right
now, you can see the blue
– Oh yeah.
– Smoke that’s coming off it.
If you look at mine,
it’s more gray, you know,
’cause it’s Corojo wrapper
versus, you know, Deflorada.
So, I mean it’s just
quintessential old, old, old world.
– Oh man, so for me,
as a pipe smoker, this really, you know,
I think a lot of you that
are familiar with my tastes,
like I’ve moved much more
towards straight Virginias
and, like, mild Virginia
Perique blends over the years
and this kind of rings
some of those same bells.
Like, it’s not a cloying sweetness,
it’s just enough sweetness to, like,
keep your palate from being too dry,
but also, like, there’s
a gentle spice there
and a complexity that
you have to really, like,
dig into and search for, which is nice
because I can smoke this
outside, relaxing with a drink,
not really paying much attention
and thoroughly enjoy it,
or I can sit down and devote
all of my attention to it
and kind of be surprised every time.
I’ve smoked a lot of these.
I’ve actually, I’ve gone thru
boxes of these myself at this point
and I can say that, like,
it’s one of those things
just like certain pipe tobacco
blends where, you know,
depending on my mood, the
time of day, the setting,
all that kind of stuff,
what I’m pairing with it,
I found something new almost every smoke.
So I think if you’re a fan
of medium to full straight Virginias,
something like Fribourg &
Treyer’s Cut Virginia Plug,
maybe even Orlik Golden Sliced,
that this is a cigar that
should be on your radar.
Now even if you’re into something
a little heavier than that,
maybe you’re smoking Haddo’s
Delight during the day,
or even like a Mild English,
you’re gonna switch over
to this and the contrast
is gonna sort of refresh
your palate a little bit,
reset it and again, sort of give you
a little bit of insight into
why pipe tobacco smokers
who only smoke straight Virginias,
why they’re so adamant about
that and why the Cuban cigar
craze kind of happened in the first place.
– Yeah.
– You know,
it’s an easy to smoke,
it’s an all day smoke,
if you can get your hands
on enough, but again,
it’s just a, it’s a unique
flavor profile as well.
– It is, considering
like you said earlier,
the spice bomb thing.
– Hmm-hmm.
– You know because people
are associating with size,
size of cigars a value, they
want more tobacco for the money
but you know, you’re
not, that’s not the way
you should be looking at it.
You’re looking at a pure experience of it.
You want to be able to
taste every component,
’cause you want everything
to come together
into one to affect your palate.
– Interesting.
– So you know, for us
when we blended, you know, Colmena
and when we, you know, any of the cigars
that come from Warped’s portfolio,
we use Cuba as the roadmap
to where we want to go.
– Sure.
– But we really look at it
from the evolvement of the
palate and what experience
is it going to bring to the consumer?
So we approach it, like, your palate
is like a football shape, okay?
So you’re starting off
the narrow, you go up,
you come down and then you end.
– Okay.
– Okay, so it’s all important
to have that entire rollercoaster ride
all the way down to the closing,
– Sure.
– To the finish.
So we look at cigars as,
you know, a pure enjoyment
place of sitting here and
much like you and I are now
and talking and, like, we’ve
been all day long talking,
– Yeah.
– Smoking, you know
and having a good time and
conversing and talking about
how much joy these
things bring to our lives
and all the work and effort
that have gone into it
behind the scenes to
get to this focal point.
You know, with you traveling the world
to look for the best of the best.
– Sure.
– You know and us,
you know, in the factory
and in the fields,
working with the farmers
and blending and consistency
– It’s a handcraft, you know.
– Handcraft, these are all,
you know, totally handmade.
So, you know, every single
cigar has a person behind it
and that person has a story.
– And that person will only roll
a hundred of these a day and no more.
– Yeah, and he does not like that.
– Yeah.
– He wants more.
– Yeah, I want more, but that’s okay.
As long as they taste the
same every time I get ’em,
I don’t care
– They have, they do.
– How difficult it is to find ’em.
– They do, they do.
– Yeah, it’s an amazing
smoke and like I said,
you know, there are some
of those vanilla notes,
the honey notes, a little bit of spice,
so if that’s the kind of stuff
that you’re normally looking
for in a pipe tobacco,
I highly recommend you try these out.
Just don’t buy too many of them,
and one other question I had about this
is I discovered this relatively recently.
I’m sort of curious, how
do you feel that they age?
– Ah, they, funny enough
as we were talking before
– Yeah.
– We got on camera,
I had a box of them
that I made six years
ago that we just opened
for the first time.
– Yeah.
– And they have aged magnificently.
They, what happens is with these cigars
specifically because it
has a covered foot on it.
– Yeah.
– So what happens
is when a cigar ages,
it releases the humidity
through the foot of the
cigar, which is normally open.
So this is closed, ’cause
traditionally speaking,
Cuban custom rolls
always have closed foot.
– Yeah.
– So it ages slowly
and it ages in itself, so the
nuances that you’re picking
up now are basically going
to be more pronounced
– And amplified.
– Amplified
– Yep.
– Pronounced down the road.
To get there, it takes a long time
because of the closed foot,
but the reward is so so worth it.
– Interesting.
– It’s a really weird thing
to be, like, six years,
like you think on such a,
unlike a lower spectrum medium cigar,
like it’ll start to die down
– Yeah.
– In terms of the flavor,
but really it doesn’t, because the nuance
and the complexity get ramped up.
– Oh, interesting, I’m
looking forward to that.
I’ll say too that even at this point
like, this cigar that
I’m smoking right now,
I got this a while ago so
it’s not exactly fresh,
but there are some of those notes
that remind me a little bit
of, like, a Virginia pipe
tobacco that’s approaching mid age,
so, you know, I really am
interested to see the parallels
between some of the straight
Virginias that I’ve been aging
for ten years and this
cigar after I’ve had it
in the humidor for a little while longer.
– If they get there, you’re
gonna smoke them all.
– Yeah, I know, I gotta
pace myself a little bit.
– I don’t know
if that’s going to work for you.
– Yeah, probably not.
– No.
– So all this talk about
experience and enjoyment
and relaxation, we realized
that it’s almost 5 o’clock
and we didn’t have a drink in our hands,
so we took a break and well,
– Cheers, buddy.
– Cheers.
Thanks for joining us.
– Thanks, thanks guys.
– Yeah, that’s pretty good.
Oh, I thought of one more thing
while I was getting about
to the midway point here.
For guys who are luxury
twist flake devotees,
trust me, this is gonna ring
those same bells for you.
Kyle, thanks again, appreciate it.
– Hey, my pleasure.
– Thanks for tuning in,
guys, see you next time.
– Thanks, guys.

One thought on “Briar To Binder – With Kyle Gellis from Warped Cigars –

  • Hey Shane, This is Johnny From San Diego Pipe Club, sent you an email and got a response from Cassie. Just wanted to thank you for the kind gesture regarding Chip and the San Diego Pipe Club. Very kind and thoughtful of you. I personally was greatly moved. Thank you.

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