Lounge Lizards - a Cigar and Lifestyle Podcast

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Recorded at Ten86 Lounge in Hawthorne, New Jersey the lizards pair the Ramón Allones Allones No. 2 EL 2019 with Santiago de Cuba Extra Añejo 20 Años Cuban Rum. This is the second part of four recapping their Cuba trip in March. The lizards visit the Mecca of Cuban Cigars: El Laguito, the Cohiba Factory. They do their deepest dive ever on blending, sourcing and rolling tobacco from their time with the production manager of Laguito and the guys surprise Gizmo for his birthday.

Join the Lounge Lizards for a weekly discussion on all things cigars (both Cuban and non-Cuban), whiskey, food, travel, life and work. This is your formal invitation to join us in a relaxing discussion amongst friends and become a card-carrying Lounge Lizard yourself. This is not your typical cigar podcast. We’re a group of friends who love sharing cigars, whiskey and a good laugh.

website/merch/rating archive: loungelizardspod.com
email: hello@loungelizardspod.com to join the conversation and be featured on an upcoming episode!
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What is Lounge Lizards - a Cigar and Lifestyle Podcast?

Released every Tuesday, the LOUNGE LIZARDS podcast helps listeners navigate the experience of finding and enjoying premium cigars (both Cuban and non-Cuban) and quality spirits. Episodes are normally around 90 minutes long and feature a variety of different topics including food, travel, life, sports and work.

The podcast features seven members: Rooster, Poobah, Gizmo, Senator, Pagoda, Grinder and Bam Bam.​

This is not your typical cigar podcast. We’re a group of friends who love sharing cigars, whiskey and a good laugh.

Join us and become a card-carrying lounge lizard yourself! Email us at hello@loungelizardspod.com to join the conversation and be featured on an upcoming episode!

**Gizmo:** [00:00:00] Welcome to the Lounges Lizards podcast. It's so good to have you here. It's a leisure and lifestyle podcast founded on our love of premium cigars, as well as whiskey, travel, food, work, and whatever else we feel like getting into. My name is Gizmo. Tonight I'm joined by Rooster Senator Pagoda and bam bam.

And our plan is to smoke a cigar, drinks of Cuban rum, talk about life, and of course, have some laughs. So take this as your 76th official invitation to join us and become a card carrying lounge lizard. Plan to meet us here once a week. We're gonna smoke at Cuban cigar tonight. Share our thoughts on it, and give you our formal lizard rating.

We resume the recap of our trip to Cuba this week, focused on our visit to El Lato, the home of Cohiba and the mecca of Cuban cigars. We do our deepest dive ever on blending, sourcing, and rolling tobacco from our time with the production manager of a ojito. And the guy surprised me for my birthday, all among a variety of other things for the next two hours.

So sit back, get your favorite drink. Light up a cigar and enjoy as we pair 20 year aged Santiago Deba rum with Ramon Ioni. Ionis number [00:01:00] two EL 2019, an EL from Ramon Ionis out of Cuba tonight on the pod, the 2019 Ionata called the number two. The factory name is a campan and it is 52 ring gauge by five and a half inches long.

So I've uh, I've had one of these in my tower. What senator? For two years now. You gave me out of this box. Yeah. And you said, do not smoke it. Mm. It was not ready. Hmm. And here we are in 2023. This is a beautiful cigar. I'm ready to try this thing. Finally, it's, I've been staring at this. This has made it. My desktop humidor to my Tupperware, to my Remington.

That lizard Sean now has, he probably ruined it. Now it's in the vault and now it's in my hand. And I'm very excited to try this. So yeah, it's all my, so this is a very exciting tonight. Comes in a beautiful box. Yeah. Beautiful green box. Awesome. Yeah. [00:02:00] It's

**Senator:** honestly one of like the nicest design. So cool Cuban cigar boxes probably ever made.

Very cool. That's what sold me. I mean, I saw the box in Ramon Ionis. I was like, I have to get these. What's

**Gizmo:** cool is it's not a f so it's a really nice, it's an ornate, it's not ridge semi boy nature box, which is I guess painted with a matte green. Yeah, forest. Forest green color. Forest green. Yeah. And it has like a weird kind of ridge on the top, uh, middle of it.

It's really, really nice presentation

**Bam Bam:** for us. Yeah. And the language on it's embossed gold. Really beautiful. Yeah. Just careful.

**Senator:** There's sticks in there. Oh, so they don't

**Bam Bam:** move. I'll leave it right here. Yeah.

**Gizmo:** Bam. Hold on to that for you. I will. Uh, so it comes in Yeah. In a nice 10 count box. It's all it comes in.

Uh, and I'm very excited to do this tonight, boys. So, uh, let's cut this thing. See what we're getting on the cold draw on the wrapper.

**Senator:** What did you say Gizz? About us doing Liata. And this was the last one. This is the last one

**Gizmo:** I was getting there. Yeah. So we, uh, there were three, uh, SIO Liata from Cuba announced in 2019.

The, uh, Kai Doris, [00:03:00] the Monte Christo Supremos that we got from my high cigar guy. And this rounds out the trio from Ramon iis tonight. So we've done, this is now the third of three.

**Bam Bam:** Cold draw is fantastic. It's good. A little fruit. A it's a hint, a graham cracker for me and cedar. What a

**Gizmo:** great, I'm getting the fruit for sure.

Oh yeah. Hmm. My draw is much better now. Hmm. So yeah, this is the third of three. Yeah. So this is the first time we've completed a series of, uh, El. Which we probably won't get used to doing cuz they're so damn expensive now. Yeah, that's for sure. Which, how much, which, how much are now? I don't, they're 50 a stick.

Oh. And how much did you pay for them when you got them? Three years ago? Probably 30, 35. 30 30? Wow. Was it three 50 for a box?

**Senator:** I got a, i I I bought two boxes and got a discount buying too. Oh yeah.

**Gizmo:** Wow.

**Bam Bam:** I, I think we're in for a luxurious

**Gizmo:** experience here. Well, I'm very excited, boys. All right, let's light this thing.

So again, this is the Ramon [00:04:00] Ioni Ionata from 2019. The Ionis number two. It's a , a pyramid 52 ring gauge by five and a half inches long, completing the trio of IATA on the podcast from 2019 outta Cuba.

**Bam Bam:** What's interesting, it's, it's unlike the RAs, that's a very toothy Yep. It's, this is a beautiful, elegant rapper, very smooth, almost glistening.

**Gizmo:** I'm curious to see if this is even in the same family Yeah. As the RAs. Yep. Because that is such a beloved cigar in this group. Oh, yeah. I would say maybe other, I, I don't know, out of Cuba, this may be the cigar that gets the, the RAs may be the cigar that gets smoked the most. I agree. Out of almost all Cuban cigars that we smoke here, uh, in the lizards,

**Bam Bam:** we've discussed it.

You know, it's got so much utility. Yep.

**Gizmo:** Oh, wow. That's delicious on the light. That's really nice. Oh dude, [00:05:00] that's really nice. Oh. That's so good. I was hoping that we were gonna sh have some luck cuz that, uh, that Hoya we had a couple weeks ago was such a dud that we need to, we need to re redeem ourselves tonight.

This is an eye opener.

**Senator:** Yeah, I told you I've been waiting. This is the thing. Look, we love Ramona iis. We, the box was a reasonable to buy it, but when you try this fresh, when these first came out, you know immediately you should not smoke them. I think Puba actually told me he like blew through all of his and was disappointed.

I've patiently waited. I lit one of these up recently, dramatically. Different experience. I think with even more age it's only gonna get better. But these are starting to really smoke well.

**Bam Bam:** Okay, so the problem I'm having is that this is so good. You gotta slow down. I can't slow down with this thing.

**Gizmo:** Jesus.

I mean, well, what's good is Senator has more so you can just smoke

**Bam Bam:** a second. Well, the box is right next to me.

**Gizmo:** You just have another one tonight. So this, this [00:06:00] has really improved. So

**Rooster:** I too got

**Gizmo:** a box when Puba got his, how long ago was that? So we were still members at the, uh, at the other place. Okay, that's a long time.

Um, so what, three

**Rooster:** years?

**Gizmo:** Three,

**Rooster:** three to four years. Four years ago. Wow. Yeah. Yeah. And I didn't really enjoy it when we first got 'em. They, they,

**Gizmo:** nothing like this.

**Senator:** They were mild, honestly, when we first got them, yeah. There wasn't a ton of flavor. But the notes that I was picking up, you know, when we talked about Esgar previous preview Yeah.

It previewed like I knew if I could just tuck 'em away and not look at them and even try to pick him up for a few years, they'd get better and it's, this is starting to hit its stride.

**Bam Bam:** So Senator, you had one out of your box and you put it

**Senator:** away? No, cuz I was giving him out and stuff. Like people really want the, yeah, just, I mean, again, one to giz.

Okay. A couple of other friends. All right. Um, To

**Bam Bam:** other aficionados at least that would appreciate it. Yes. Close friends.

**Gizmo:** Yeah. And

**Senator:** I told all of them when I told giz, don't smoke it now. He did

**Gizmo:** hold it. He just said, just look at it. Don't [00:07:00] just, just look at it. Don't smoke it. Rooster,

**Bam Bam:** how many did you have outta your box?

**Gizmo:** Um, initially, I, I

**Rooster:** must have gone through at least four. Really?

**Gizmo:** Wow. Yeah. Uh, and then you stopped? I'm,

**Rooster:** I'm sure I, I don't know if I gave one or two out to somebody, but I remember smoking like two. Mm-hmm. And they, you know, I, I, I had like one kind of right away and then I waited like another maybe a year or so.

Yeah. And it still wasn't there, but I think this is the best version of this cigar that I'm, that you know, that I'm having

**Gizmo:** right

**Bam Bam:** now. The draw is wide open. Yeah. It's the combustion's.

**Gizmo:** Beautiful. And this is a really patch ar cigar. Nice. It's a nice aroma. A nice aroma. There's a lot of tobacco in this cigar.

Oh, it's package. Yeah. It's, it's dense. It's a heavy cigar. And on the

**Bam Bam:** line if you


**Gizmo:** yourself. Yeah. Burn smells great. It's delicious. It has almost like a, like a, it's like a floral, like ri floral thing.

**Rooster:** I wasn't getting any floral notes out of this in the beginning.

**Gizmo:** Mm. When you first got like fu got 'em like a few years ago.

**Senator:** So what you're [00:08:00] talking about the floral notes. You may remember this, the, the infamous, uh, caviar night at my place, I lit. I don't, I don't remember. Well, I know you don't remember it.

**Bam Bam:** Some of us remember it. The plumber, the plumber had to come after you were

**Senator:** done. My, my sink remembers it. But that night, the first cigar I lit when we, uh, when I savored the champagne and we started with champagne, the first cigar lit was this cigar, and I got some of those floral notes.

And with champagne, it worked wonderfully. Now, the funny thing is you fast forward a few years later, this now has picked up so much more strength than it had back then. That this, I wouldn't say is a perfect pairing with champagne like it was at that time. But that's the beauty of like how these cigars change in flavor profile and strength and all those things.

And I'm glad we're pairing this with rum now because it can actually hold up to it a

**Bam Bam:** special rum to boot.

**Gizmo:** Yeah. Yeah. This, this cigar. It does have that Ramon dna n a Yeah, it, it it, you could tell this is like the either the older brother or the older cousin. Absolutely. Yeah. [00:09:00] Older cousin of the RAs. And it's almost like a RAs on steroids a little bit.

I bet. Which I'm really enjoying. Yeah. And the floral thing that's coming in here that I don't get much on the RAs is a really nice compliment to that flavor profile I think. Sure. I agreed, you know. Agreed. Very accurate. So what are you guys getting as far as flavor notes go? Because this is really an interesting flavor thing for me.

I'm, we talked about floral. If you

**Bam Bam:** do take a moment to retro hale, I don't think any, everyone in this room does that, but if you do, you get a ton of fruit and it's, Honestly, don't laugh. It's banana forward for me. Banana. It's crazy. Now, it may not be banana, but that's kind of what I'm getting. Um, graham cracker and a lot of cedar for me and a little spice.

**Gizmo:** Not yet for me, I'm getting a little bit of spice, which I'm really enjoying. I just pushed it through my nose. I definitely got some baking spice there.

**Bam Bam:** Yeah. Oh, baking spice. Sure. Yeah. Yeah. Not peppery. No, not pepper. No,

**Gizmo:** I'm sorry. Not pepper. Right. More like a baking spice. Agreed. Like a cinnamon or something like that.


**Senator:** mostly with you. I get, I get dried fruit, I get a little floral. [00:10:00] I get a little nuttiness in this. I haven't heard yet, but I think it's

**Gizmo:** definitely rare. I was just gonna say that. Yeah. It's almost like a, like a, is it like an al Not, not an almond. Like a walnut. A walnut.

**Senator:** Walnut. That's walnut. Yes. Yes.

Yeah. Yes. Walnut. And then a little bit of spice on the finish. Yeah. Some

**Bam Bam:** sophisticated pallets in the room. Very sophisticated, very civilized. How are you, how are you finding it? Perona?

**Pagoda:** I'm loving it, man. I like, you know, the way I look at it is, The way, I don't know. I felt it was like RAs and steroids, but with a little bit more tobacco ish smokiness.

Mm. Which is what I kind of like. Mm. So I think it, it's like getting into my flavor profile with a little bit of what I like in the

**Bam Bam:** RAs. It, it definitely has chutzpah it and it's got great body. Yeah. Yeah.

**Gizmo:** I would say it's firmly medium though. Oh, I agreed. It's not, it's not a full cigar or even medium full, but it has a lot of flavor.

But it's, it's kind of just even ke it's just chilling.

**Bam Bam:** I bet it ramps up as you get through it.

**Gizmo:** Yeah. [00:11:00] I'm guessing. I hope so. It's medium. Yeah. It's definit body. That's body. There's

**Senator:** body though, that's the thing. Like Yeah. Full body. It's body like very, very firmly. Medium. Yeah. Like most cigars, when we say they're medium, I think are a little, have a little less body than this does.

Mm-hmm. This is like, yep. Just saying, buckle up, I'm gonna

**Gizmo:** get full. I'm here baby. Yeah, exactly.

**Rooster:** So there is a Ramone, uh, El that 2011.

**Gizmo:** Yes. Hat couple with the white, with the old school label. Yeah. So that

**Rooster:** cigar reminds me of this cigar will be in like another

**Gizmo:** Yeah. Five or eight years. Eight years. Wow. Yeah.


**Rooster:** same flavors, but smoother. Mm-hmm. You know, kind of like you do in rum, like it's a seven year rum and this is a

**Gizmo:** Yeah. We're gonna drink a 20 tonight. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I've never had that cigar. The 11, yeah. 11. Yeah. The white band. What's cool, and I almost wish they did it on this, but for some of the regionals and ELs, Ramone used an [00:12:00] old, older white band.

Beautiful. Or Nate. Beautiful. It's beautiful. I actually kind of prefer it to this one. Wow. You know, I almost wish they used it on, on these special releases. I mean, it's so unique. Yeah, you're It's very

**Senator:** out there. It's a eye catcher. The only band that looks like that. It's very

**Gizmo:** cool. Yeah. Yeah. But yeah, this is really delicious on the light.

And I'm hoping, honestly, the one thing I'm hoping for that I'm a little disappointed right now for the ring gauge is I wish there was a little bit more combustion. I would, I wish I was getting a little more smoke output. How's your draw? Perfect. Wide open? Mm-hmm. Interesting. Yeah. I, I wish there was a touch.

More combustion

**Pagoda:** mind up. Slightly tight. Like I'm looking at in terms of

**Bam Bam:** the draw, I'm looking at Senator with his smoke is, he got a cloud look at a good

**Gizmo:** amount of combustion out of mine. Yeah. Yeah, same. Hmm.

**Senator:** But they're all rolled differently. I mean, we've, we've learned this and we're gonna talk about this.

Yeah. Well,

**Bam Bam:** I think to piggyback on what you said about combustion it, the smoke output is high, but the, the smoke seems lighter. It seems thin, but the combustion's there

**Gizmo:** though. Yeah, it's definitely burning fine. Yeah. [00:13:00] I mean it's, uh, I'm not complaining about construction or burn. No, not at all. I would just think for how much tobacco is in this, maybe we could, as, as we get into our discussion in a bit, it's pretty razor sharp though.

You know? I, I would expect with how dense this is that I, I was hoping for a little bit more, just thicker smoke or something. You're out, you know. But yeah, this is a, this is a really beautiful cigar. Glad to be smoking this tonight. Thanks, Senator. Thank you. There's so much flavor out of this. Yeah, it's really good.

**Senator:** I just can't stress, if you would've, if you would've let this cigar 2, 2, 3 years ago, whenever I first gave you, It didn't have half as much flavor as it was harsh. Now it was harsh, but super thin. Like it just, honestly, it started mild. It was nowhere near medium. Yeah. It's just so cool to see how much this cigar has changed in just two, three years time.

**Bam Bam:** There's definitely complexity here. Oh yeah, I think, yeah, I

**Pagoda:** know. Reasonably long finish because I like the pleasant flavors in my mouth. Pagodas

**Bam Bam:** absolutely right's. Got a fantastic finish.

**Gizmo:** So these [00:14:00] came out in

**Rooster:** 2020, but it's a 2019

**Gizmo:** release. That's how you know Havanas. They announced something and then they put it a production and it takes a year or two or three after covid obviously, um, to come out.

But this one came out. What was the box date on this senator? The date is July, 2020. So I think they were probably released in the third quarter or last quarter of 2020. Finally, box cos I think 20 what? July, July, July, July. Yeah. Yeah. So they probably came out in third quarter of the year. But yeah. Um, this is really, really interesting and delicious.

**Pagoda:** So now for these ELs I don't know, I was reading some somewhere, uh, this tobacco's aged two years before they go into, before they make the

**Gizmo:** cigars, I believe. Apparently.

**Bam Bam:** I don't even know.

**Gizmo:** No one really knows. I mean, who knows? I, I, you know,

**Pagoda:** and, and then, and then they aged one year after they make it. So I think that would, that would, uh, you know, kind of, uh,

**Gizmo:** that's highly, this does not taste like a six year age cigar.

No, this tastes like a three year age cigar. Yeah. No, three [00:15:00] years, two and a half, you know? Yeah. I mean, that's just havana's marketing bullshit. Mm-hmm.

Yeah. This is really good, man. Dude. So far it's a home run. I'm happy with it. Oh yeah. So a couple weeks ago, boys, we uh, we, we ran through our first part of our, the recap from our Cuba trip. We just got back, uh, it was bam in my second trip. And, uh, the other lizards who were here with us Rooster, Senator and Pagoda, it was their first trip.

We had a great time. Amazing time. So check out episode, uh, 74, I believe it was, with the, with the Hoyo Eleg. Elegants. We went through some of the kind of the culture, the food, the wine, restaurants, our experience, kind of our, our general takeaways. And tonight we're gonna talk about a very, very special and memorable day that we were so fortunate to have at the Mecca.

At the mecca of cigars. Absolutely. The Mecca. Yeah. [00:16:00] At the mecca of cigars, elto. Coveted.

**Bam Bam:** Coveted. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, talk about how difficult it is to get an appointment there. To do a tour. Yeah.

**Gizmo:** It doesn't happen. Yeah, it doesn't. Yeah.

**Senator:** Sorry, before we get into this, just everybody please take a sip of your rum.

I just did. And then draw the cigar. I mean, when you talk about a perfect pairing, I'm not exaggerating,

**Bam Bam:** so I'm, I'm glad you said that because I was thinking about the RAs episode with the lag of esteem. Oh my God.

**Senator:** Honestly, it's outrageous,

**Bam Bam:** dude. That's unbelievable. It's unbelievable. It's, this is, I think for me, an experience that imprints for me in history like that Rass episode did for me.

For me, that was an extraordinary pairing. Yeah. This is working out to be another exceptional evening, guys.

**Gizmo:** That is a phenomenal suggestion. Yeah. Yeah. All right, so let's hold on. Illegal. Let's hold on. Let's hold on. Theto story. Let's talk about what we're drinking, because I'm gonna keep drinking it while you guys talk.

What do we have there, Senator? [00:17:00] The very eloquent and expensive, the,

**Senator:** uh, the Santiago de Cuba extra Aho s 20 years. Ooh,

**Gizmo:** 20 years. Yeah. Santiago. So we were very fortunate to not only find a bottle of this, but also to bring it home to share on the podcast. Uh, we, I we had one bottle of this one. We were in Cuba, correct?

That's right. We had one. No, no, we didn't drink it. Oh no, we drank just, we just

**Bam Bam:** purchased it Malia and put it in a suitcase.

**Gizmo:** Yeah, we had it at the Malia Kohi. Yeah. We just, yeah. Wow. So this pairing is excellent. I mean, I guess it's hard to mess up pairing something with the 20 year, but this is really special.

But the

**Senator:** reason I say that, I mean, we drank that, the Santiago 20 in Cuba, and I think I lit up a D four with it. That was right when we landed the first place we hit. Mm-hmm. And, uh, I mean, it was a great pairing. It was a fine pairing, but the notes in this cigar and the notes in this rum. I cannot believe how complimentary this is.

Yeah. For me,

**Bam Bam:** it [00:18:00] actually enhances the fruit notes of the cigar. Yep. Absolutely. Yep. Yeah, that's

**Gizmo:** amazing. There there is some,

**Rooster:** there's a little bit of like sugar sweet note true in the cigar that probably

**Gizmo:** compliments Oh, a hundred

**Bam Bam:** percent. A

**Gizmo:** hundred percent. Wow. Yeah. This is a slam dunk pairing boys. Mm. So, yeah, so we ended up at lato Man and, uh, it was our second bam in my second visit.

We were very fortunate to get connected in November, uh, with some of the folks there at Lato. That's right. We made quick friends with the production manager, uh, Daniel, uh, Dando, um, who's become a very good friend of ours and mine. Um, and we've had some really, really amazing moments and, and I was happy that the five of us were able to go there and experience what we did, um, and, and really get a tour of the finest, one of the finest cigar manufacturing facilities in the world.

Yeah, absolutely. I

**Senator:** just have to say, I mean, obviously for obvious reasons, we were excited to [00:19:00] visit Elto. This is like the premier destination to experience how this product is made at its highest level. Mm-hmm. But beyond that, the time we spent with Daniel Nilo, I learned more. About cigars from that one visit.

Then cumulatively, yeah. Every bit of knowledge or experience that's been shared with me throughout the cigar industry, that one visit surpassed it all combined. Yeah,

**Bam Bam:** and he kind of debunked a lot of our original thoughts about how cigars are made, where flavors come from, how they buy their cigar, their leaves.

It was really eye-opening in many ways.

**Gizmo:** Yeah, and I, I, I think the overarching thing for me with delo, Is how transparent and interested in educating us. He was, forget the podcast. We didn't go there with that angle. That's not how we got in. That's not what we use. We don't, we don't push that. First off, I don't even think people, I don't even think they care cuz it's a communist nation of, you know, they're just, [00:20:00] they're just going to work every day.

Yeah. But they're

**Bam Bam:** also producing the number one premier cigar on a

**Gizmo:** planet. Of course. Right. They're producing Cohiba and Trinidad Sure. And, and other brands there. But you know, his willingness in wanting to educate us and really answer the barrage of questions that we have about the process and what they do and how they do it.

Yeah. Um, uh, that really, that really struck me. And I

**Bam Bam:** have to say, the November tour that we got, I think this, this tour, the most recent tour pales in compare. I mean it's really, it was just so much more eye-opening, more information. It was much more detailed. Yeah. Yeah.

**Pagoda:** Talking about first impressions, uh, you know, just driving up to it.

It, it's a beautiful, beautiful factory. It's not like a run of the bell. It's, it's an excellent location. Manion. Yeah. It feels like, you know, oh, you're going to really high end corporate offices or something. It

**Senator:** was excellent. It feels like you're on just like a massive Yeah, yeah. Like that, like a French, French vineyard.

[00:21:00] Yeah. It's just like that beautiful main building. The architecture's awesome. And this whole spread out campus that they kind of have where, in comparison to other places where it's like one big main building that houses everything there. It's kind of dispersed and just beautiful.

**Bam Bam:** So the main house is in like a Chateau style and the buildings in the back are a bit more industrial looking.

They were probably built when, yeah, the Soviets were there and that those structures were built After that, of course, that Chateau was there. That Chateau has been there forever. Yeah. Yeah. So those buildings back, so very old mansion, correct? I mean they were, yeah, absolutely. And they were built after, of course, the

**Gizmo:** Chateau was built.

So did

**Rooster:** they move there or was that the original Lato

**Gizmo:** factory? I think that was the original Lato factory. They took a mansion and I think that's where they started in the Chateau. And I think they expanded from there as things needed to be right. You know, in increased. But I believe that was the original location that Castro Sure had them start making Ko.

In the early eighties

**Bam Bam:** and, and you know, in the rooms that they have and they're very, [00:22:00] you know, they're smaller rooms, smaller number of rollers, highly supervised unlike any other factory that you'll see I think.

**Pagoda:** But even walking into it, remember the music playing, the DJ was there, there was a dj. Yeah, there was a great atmosphere, great weather.

You got a beautiful place. Uh, like, I don't know, Senator, you might have been to so many wineries and might.

**Senator:** Mm-hmm. Well honestly the music thing really threw me off. I was like so surprised. Like you see these like beautiful buildings and I don't know why. I think especially cuz in my head I keep the mecca of cigars.

I'm here and you just expect it to be like very quiet and serious and then you just, all of a sudden you're outside in this like big courtyard and there's a DJ blasting music. You're like, what the hell? Like, am I at a rave or a cigar? Like the whole thing was threw me off. But it's so funny you talk to Daniel Nilo and understand what's going on there and it's like, you know, it's not like here where we have speaker systems in a bunch of different buildings that can all play the same thing at the same time.

They don't have that luxury. And this DJ's literally blaring music for the torsad doors. The torsad doors, absolutely. [00:23:00] Across the entire campus can hear it wherever they are.

**Gizmo:** Yeah. Amazing. Yeah. So yeah, we, we, we started the whole day. We, we said hello to Delo, uh, and, and his team. And then we started off on our fantastic tour, which started in the blending room and in the separating room of the different leaves.

And the, you know, they also, they have maturation there. They, they, they ferment the leaves there as well in the barrel. So what were some of your, you know, senator, you said you learned more in that moment Sure. Than you'd had known about cigars. Mm-hmm. We all did the entire 15 year experience. I'd love to hear some of the things that you thought were really impactful.

**Senator:** I mean, you mentioned we're sitting in this room and there are barrels that this tobacco's being fermented in, and I was so surprised, like, As someone who appreciates spirits so much, which is what these barrels are all really used primarily to make. I'm sitting there saying like, there are shortages of barrels everywhere.

Like there's a fight just within [00:24:00] spirits and wine to get their hands on barrels to age that product in. And I'm sitting there looking at all these barrels and I'm like, where did they get these from? So I asked Daniel Nilo, I said, where do these come from? And you know, he said, A little known secret.

These barrels. Most of 'em started in Kentucky.

**Gizmo:** I mean, can you imagine? We're

**Senator:** in Cuba, it's, and he's telling me these barrels originated in America in insane Kentucky. It's insane. It's insane. They were used to age bourbon. Yep. Yeah. And then they were sold. And this is why when I say there's a shortage, like.

Think of how many times these barrels get reused. That's how short we are mm-hmm. On being able to produce this to meet the global demand for all the things that are age fermented. In, in a a, a wood barrel starting Kentucky Age bourbon, they're sold to Scotland to then age single malt scotch. Mm-hmm.

They're then sold to Cuba to age rum. They're then sold to Daniel Nilo and Elto Def Ferment tobacco leaves [00:25:00] in it's a fourth

**Gizmo:** mean transaction. It's unbelievable. It's, so, I, I was doing the math, I don't know if I missed this, but what was the cumulative number of years? Did it seem like those barrels, were they 30, 40 years old?

I thought they were 20 years old. I mean, they're, they're not, yeah. 10 years, five years old. They've had them for a long. Yeah. 20 years would be right. Yeah. That's

**Senator:** what I'm thinking. Yeah. Because a bourbon would be aging there for just like a year or two. Yep. Probably two years. A single malt scotch. 12 years.

Sure. Right now we're talking 14 rum a year and then fermenting all the tobacco. I mean, on average probably 20 years barrels. Makes sense. Makes sense.

**Rooster:** Yeah. I mean, is that where it ends? The, the journey of the barrel?

**Gizmo:** That's a good question.

**Pagoda:** No, then it goes to the new world. Factories

**Gizmo:** gets sold to, uh, Dominican and Honduras and Nicaragua.

Hey, don't forget.

**Bam Bam:** Super premium. Even

**Pagoda:** the late hours, isn't it? Uh, cut. Um, yeah, like I said, leaves a fermented in one of these barrels. Bourbon.

**Bam Bam:** One thing I learned in that, [00:26:00] Room is, I didn't realize, and we didn't learn this in November, they actually go out to the farm to buy their leaves. I had no idea that was the case.

Yeah. They go shopping and we weren't told that. Yeah. When we were there in November. So they pick the leaves that they want. They're actually curating their own product. Yeah. My

**Gizmo:** my impression is that that is very, very cool and unique. Daniel or his production team and, and every factory manager, production manager and their team are going to fincas out in Pinard del Rio and are, are, have the relationships with the farmers.

They're purchasing the tobacco they want, they might have Premier, you know, he might have access to Premier Tobacco. He may have a larger budget, we don't know, but it's not some ha Bonos or Cuba tobacco. Import of, here's your tobacco, you're gonna get, these guys are going and purchasing what they want.

But you gotta think of the pressure that they

**Bam Bam:** have to do that. Yeah. I mean, I'd be terrified. I mean, I don't know what I'm doing. You really, really have to be on your game. You have to know what you're doing. That is really, that's high risk right there. Yeah. High risk

**Senator:** activity. The huge surprise there [00:27:00] for me.

So, building off what BAM is saying is just understanding through our conversations with Daniel Nilo, how big of a process blending how, how big of a role blending plays in producing each of these cigars. I think for us, the big mystery has been all of this. Tobacco is coming from Cuba. From the same climates, roughly the same Cuban seed.

How does a RGUs taste? Like a RGUs? Mm-hmm. And a Ramon iis tastes like a Ramon iis. They're all coming from roughly the same area. So what is accounting for that? And it's a mystery because you think of other regions like Nicaraguan, tobacco, it doesn't matter if we're smoking patron, some Nicaraguan, Monty Christo, some other Nicaraguan cigar.

You know, a Nicaraguan cigar as soon as you taste it. Mm-hmm. Right. There are differences, but generally speaking, you know what that means. Sure. Similarly with Cuban tobacco, so it's like how do they suddenly differentiate these brands? And it was just amazing to [00:28:00] hear. That blending is at the heart of those distinctions.

It's like, yes, like Bam saying they're going out and shopping for these different types of leaves, but the ratios of different leaves that they're using and choosing are what makes that Parus profile or that Ramon profile. Sure. Or Monty or some other brand. And so for me, I don't know why, but I feel like, and, and feel free to disagree, I feel like in Cuban CI.

We talk so much about Torsad, Doris, and Rollers and we don't talk much about blenders. Yeah. I feel like in New World cigars, we talk so much about blenders and we don't talk so much about rollers. He's

**Gizmo:** absolutely right. That is a huge point.

**Bam Bam:** It's never been mentioned. They don't talk about it when we're there.

Yeah. The first trip around, let's say. Yeah.

**Senator:** Like we don't even know. I can't even name a Cuban

**Gizmo:** blender. No. That's probably on purpose, right? You know what?

**Bam Bam:** He's probably you

**Gizmo:** cub. They're probably right. That's probably very much on purpose. It's gotta coveted. That's, I think, think about this. This guy, it's your secret recipe.

Yeah. This guy [00:29:00] is, is is blending your As Bandidos yours. Six is your Jibo Robusto and he's monitoring the crop coming in and saying, okay, I need to make this taste as close to what a consumer who's paying $80 for a cohi booster or $60. I have to make a taste. It's just like, it's like wine or scotch. It, it's

**Bam Bam:** mind boggling.

Yeah. Rooster, it's just so complex. Yeah. Across all the violas. It's unbelievable

**Gizmo:** how they do this.

**Rooster:** Yeah. That, I mean, it was an eye-opener to me

**Gizmo:** because yeah. All the tobacco

**Rooster:** is grown in the same region. It's the same soil. That's exactly right. Basically the same plants. Mm-hmm. But they're picking the tobacco.

I mean, how much different can it be from one farm to another if they're grow the, from the same soil,

**Senator:** even that's important. The same region. Yeah. I don't think we were crystal clear before talking to Daniel Nilo. He's saying that all of it's coming from Pinard Del Rio. Mm-hmm. Yeah. I think we assume. A lot of it's coming from there, but that a lot of it's also coming from other parts of the [00:30:00] island.

He's saying, no, no, no. It's all coming from Pinard Del Rio, which makes it even more of a mystery if it's all coming from the same part of the island. How does it taste different? Crazy. Across these

**Bam Bam:** brands. We kind of had this conversation in November, and what you just said was echoed several times. That it's not, it's not democratic.

You're distributed a bunch of leaves and you have to deal with it in your own way. That's what we were kind of told in November. Yeah. Not the case. Yeah. They're

**Gizmo:** going and shopping. That's, yeah. Yeah. But how, how different

**Rooster:** each cigar can taste just by alternating the blend a little bit. Yeah.

**Gizmo:** Yeah. A few grams here or there with different types of tobacco.


**Bam Bam:** Different leaves. Yeah. And we've learned, of course Cohiba has a special leaf that not oth any other market has. Yeah.

**Gizmo:** Well Beke has medi opo, which right, that's right. The behi. Only 15% of the plants produce that. Sure. It's the top of the plant. Sure. It's a very rare thing. Only beke out of the entire Right.

Ha Bono's catalog. That's the only cigar that has one

**Bam Bam:** other cool detail is when he lit the leaves on fire at the table just to show us the [00:31:00] combustion of one leaf as com as compared to another, how one barely burns. Yeah. And another one essentially evaporates the moment you put a flame to it and they

**Gizmo:** use that to balance the, the burn

**Bam Bam:** time.

And going back to what Senator said, I think it's in that balance of combustion that provides that flavor. Because if you're burning through a leaf at a faster rate than another leaf, you've gotta have different oils and, and and flavor notes that are coming out at a different rate and they're blending that.

How complex is that?

**Gizmo:** It's pretty incredible. It's mind bothering. And also think about how different a fresh tobacco leaf is just at of what do they ferment? I think for 10 or 20 days he was saying in those barrels, it's not a long time. Mm-hmm. Think about the blending decisions you're making with incredibly fresh tobacco.

Anticipating what that's gonna taste like in six months when a consumer has it, or in five years when that same consumer has it. Right. You know, it's like, you know, like scotch or wine. But the, the difference is, is it's constantly because it's a natural handmade product sitting in a [00:32:00] box, it's constantly changing.

Oh yeah. Yeah. And you know, if you think about

**Rooster:** the price of Cohibas now Yeah. But even back, even back before the price in like going back three to four years, Cohiba was always

**Gizmo:** the premier brand,

**Rooster:** much premier brand and, uh, brand. And also it was, it's sort of much higher price, almost like double or triple.


**Gizmo:** So it, it's,

**Rooster:** it's all the same tobacco in all the cigars and all the Cuban cigars basically the same thing, but the blend is a little different. Sure. So in, in Cohiba, which we are, we are paying for this special blend.

**Gizmo:** I mean, is that what it is? No, I think it's multiple things. I also think that he's able to go to the farms that he, I I'm, I'm assuming that at Lato.

Cohiba gets the cre creme de la creme, they probably have specific farms that only they get. Maybe they have a, a farmer. They really trust the process. Maybe more diligent. There's gotta be elements to that that, that do differentiate, even though it's the same plant, same soil, there has to be farming [00:33:00] elephant, el elements that matter, no question

**Senator:** there.

But, but there's also like the brand, the, the flavor profile of each brand is so different. Yeah. I don't even think it's like this big adversarial, like we're all fighting for the same stuff. Like what RGUs wants their cigar tastes like and what Cohiba wants theirs to tastes like are totally different.

Yeah. And so like naturally certain parts, certain plants, like what Cohiba is going for Parus, like, well we don't want, want all of that, that that's not our profile. So for me it just helped understand like, it, it's so fascinating. The blending process is what I think drives Absolutely. Like the Cohiba brand and all these other things.

The other thing for me that I, I'll be honest, I've always viewed Cohiba, this is just my personal opinion. I have viewed it as like just a big marketing job. Mm-hmm. I'm just gonna be very blunt, but now well, well, this is the thing. It's not about the leaf for me that now it's the experience at El Cohiba is only rolled at Elto.

Mm-hmm. [00:34:00] Nowhere else.

**Gizmo:** That's right. Right. Oh, I think LA

**Bam Bam:** there are a few mar va vis that are rolled at other factors,

**Gizmo:** but they're, they're merging them all to, to lato to leg. That's true's. Daniella was saying it's only gonna be they're

**Bam Bam:** eventually coming.

**Senator:** Yes. That's right. That's right. And the reason I say that, that now means something to me is because when you visit Elto, I mean the ex, the attention to detail, the commitment to quality, I mean, what they have going on there way exceeded any expectations I had for how this was all done.

And you contrast it with, if you visit another factory, sure. Which

**Gizmo:** we'll talk about in the future episode here, it's kinda different. It's

**Senator:** totally different. And so for me now, as someone who was always the skeptic saying like, Cohiba is really, you know, tremendous marketing of like this ultra premium product that is the same leaves as everybody else has access to and probably rolled very much the same.

And then you go there and you say, no, there is something different about the level of [00:35:00] care that they take and that they assign to that brand and that product. So for me, it's finally helped me appreciate that there is something that justifies the premium that they charge. So

**Bam Bam:** someone's a converted cohiba man.

No, no, no. Yeah,

**Gizmo:** you, you spam by the way, he spoke too soon for the listener, by the way, Senator as senator's talking Bams over there looking at me, pointing at Senator going, wow,

**Bam Bam:** wow, wow.

**Gizmo:** Now

**Senator:** the, the big butt Yeah. Flavor is why we pursue cigars. Yeah. And so the Cohiba profile is not my favorite. And that's why I still will not aggressively pursue Cohiba and the way I do parus or ottman rather

**Bam Bam:** cigars.

Yeah. Honestly, I emulate that sentiment regarding the pursuit of cohibas, except for one particular vitto, which I love, which I had in November with you. Yeah. But, um, it's hard to talk about elita without at least mentioning the other factory that it went to because they're so contrasting Yeah. In the way they produce the product.

You walk into Elto, and we mentioned this earlier, these are little [00:36:00] boutique rooms.

**Gizmo:** Yeah. Eight or 10 people.

**Bam Bam:** Yeah. And, and they're supervised and the level of control, it's just incredible. It's off the charts

**Gizmo:** Yeah. Compared to other factories. Yeah. And, and, and like I said, in two weeks we're gonna talk about Corona and our experience there.

That's the polar opposite. Sure. That is a machine. Yeah. Corona is a machine. Yeah. Pumping out cigars, uh, to me. And we, we will have very compli, we have very complimentary things to say about Corona, but Lato to me, and obviously we had a wonderful experience with Delo. And what I love about our experience with him is it wasn't during festival time.

When we were there in November, it was the Amigos de Baras. I was there, uh, prior to you guys coming where the Havanas Festival was there, which was craziness. We were there at a time that there was no expectation of visitors, tourists, tourists, et cetera. We were getting the raw deal and it, what I find with Lato is that it's really a passionate group of people, artisans really, really trying to make some [00:37:00] amazing cigars.

Sure, yeah. Like it's

**Senator:** not smoke and mirrors. Yeah. Like when I say I was a skeptic, like I literally thought like, we're gonna see some rooms that are for show and look how amazing this is, and then others where people are just making cigars like anywhere else. From start to finish. That entire operation is just, I, I, I can't say I have visited a ton of these factories in other countries to compare.

Mm-hmm. But I've certainly at least seen enough online to have some understanding of what it looks like there. On YouTube. Yeah. On Rooster's favorite YouTube. And it's just so different. Like the, they're, it, it's, again, when I say I'm not pursuing cohiba because the profiles doesn't meet what I'm always looking for, but I, for the first time can say, I understand why they ask this premium for Cohiba.

There's something behind it. It's not all just a gimmick. Like the, the way they approach that product at Lag Gedo is definitely different than every other product is about, but it's also

**Pagoda:** considered the premium brand there in [00:38:00] Cuba. Sure. Oh yeah, sure. They consider Cohiba as the premium

**Bam Bam:** brand. Sure. And they're treating it as such.

Yeah. You know, and I go back to the word curated. That entire process that they have, there is a curated process. You're not gonna get that in any other factory. Yeah. No imperfections.

**Gizmo:** No imperfections. None, none. Not to jump around, but when we, the one thing that, and to adding to what you're saying, bam. And you said it as well.

What I love is that when they talk about trying to increase production, increase the amount of cigars coming out, they're incredibly resistant to that because they're so proud of trying to make great cigars.

**Bam Bam:** Dan Nilo alluded to that. He did. The volume is

**Gizmo:** low, the volume is not their goal. Yeah. Despite any outside pressures.

Sure, sure. Which we don't need to go into, you can make assumptions about what we're talking about, but the production component of what they're doing there is separate from the sales and marketing component. We were in the, the belly of this beast that is really to be [00:39:00] respected, uh, especially after the experience we had, like, like Senator said there, it's not smoke and mirrors.

They're not trying to impress us. They really don't care that we're there. I mean, they were happy to see us, but it's not like they're trying to impress anybody. You know? We were just a bunch of guys walking around a factory watching people work. And it was really magical. It was really magical.

**Senator:** I think the other things you're asking, what was so surprising, um, at Pagoda, you could probably speak to this, but I've always wondered, you know, how many cigars have we reviewed in 70, 80, whatever episodes we've put out at this point.

This is 76. There we go. Mm-hmm. How many cigars that we reviewed? And we sit here and we look at how it's burning and we look at the ash and we're like, oh, bright white ash. Oh, yeah. Yeah. And for point, for some reason, just my eye and how it looks contrasting with the darker cigar wrapper, I always love a bright white ash in a cigar.

And I'll be honest, it always kind of bums me out that with most Cubans, you don't get that bright white ash like Nicaraguans. It's Oh yeah, patrons brightest for me for. And I [00:40:00] never understood why, but we, we learned some of that. No,

**Pagoda:** absolutely. Because there's, um, like in the Nicaragua soil, soil, there's calcium and that's what produces the white ash.

Whereas in the Cuban soil, there's no potassium, sorry, no calcium. And so, you know, you don't find that much wider. There may be just a lower grading of mm-hmm. Of, uh, calcium. But it was just interesting to learn about that because, uh, there's always been. Idea that, hey, listen, when you have a bright white ash, when it burns really well that it's a fantastic cigar.

And I think that's been debunked

**Bam Bam:** for sure. Not the case. Exactly right. Yeah. Yeah. It's the nitrogen level in the Cuban soil that actually makes that, I think the ash darker from what he said. Great. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And, and that whole process of devi veining the, the leaf, yeah. They, they re stripped the vein off recycling and then soaking it in water and then recycling it back into the soil to bring that new nitrogen back into the, what I

**Gizmo:** love, love is they not only, so what they do is they strip, so if you [00:41:00] picture a tobacco leaf for the listener, the center of the tobacco leaf has a vein that they strip out and separated into two leaves that are used for whichever purpose is necessary.


**Senator:** Uh, for that specific reason. Because unless you've had a terribly rolled cigar, you do not want that giant, you do not want that in the middle of your cigar. You're smoking. We've had that,

**Gizmo:** although we've had it, we've had it, it's been in ours. Yeah. Uh, but they take a piece of asparagus in there, but they take that vein, that, that center vein, and they.

Crush it up. Mm-hmm. And they resell it back to the farmers. Right. To use as a fertil, uh, to, uh, to use as a pesticide almost. Right. Right. To introduce more nitrogen into the soil. So

**Bam Bam:** the pesticide is actually created when they soak it in water so that water absorbs the nitrogen out of that, uh, out of that vein, and that water becomes the, the, the mode of spraying, I guess, the fields.

Ah, okay. Got it. And the vein, the vein itself is pulled back into the soil from what he said. Yeah. And it brings that, that those nutrients back into the soil. E s g baby e s

**Gizmo:** g, huh? No, but seriously,

**Senator:** I mean, [00:42:00] that, that's what's so cool. We talked on a prior episode about just like the culture and the people and how they do so much with so little.

Exactly. And Daniel Nilo was sitting there saying to us, he's like, We don't have pesticides. Mm-hmm. Yeah. They don't have access to that. Yep. Right. Their crops can get destroyed. They have no way of chemically trying to prevent that. And so just hearing how resourceful they are to reuse and recycle this one part of the plant to be able to act as a pesticide.

Yeah. And a fertilizer is like, it's mind boggling. It. It's so cool. How Clever

**Bam Bam:** Rooster, the same leaf rooster that provides that delicious flavor that you're getting right now. Also provides the pesticide

**Gizmo:** for the fields. Yeah. I

**Rooster:** mean the whole, it's incredible. The whole country is based upon the premise of necessity as the mother of

**Gizmo:** invention.

Yeah. Yeah. It's, yeah. You know, they, they do things.

**Bam Bam:** They've got Nissan engines in their, in their 1950s Chevys.

**Rooster:** Dude, I think about that. I saw, um, Yvonne, our host, he was fixing somebody's [00:43:00] faucet.

**Gizmo:** Not to go off topic, but, so I'm like, what are you doing? He goes, he goes, he was wrapping up. It was

**Rooster:** like

**Gizmo:** a

**Senator:** wrap.

This is a shower. Yeah. Shower head. So, you know what, just set it up. Was it leaking? It was leaking. Someone's shower head had a problem. And when you take off your shower head, you know that like white little plumbing tape? It's tefl thin, it's TEFL Teflon tape. They don't have that in Cuba. No. So go ahead.


**Gizmo:** he was using wrap

**Rooster:** some kind of plastic wrap. Like he, he cut like strips off and just wrapped that

**Gizmo:** around. He is like, yeah, this is gonna

**Bam Bam:** work. They're adapting and they're overcoming.

**Gizmo:** Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. You know, I, I wanted to say the other thing that's interesting about Pinard Del Rio, the tobacco, the resourcefulness.

So when they, when when they started, uh, uh, wanting to plant more tobacco, Pinard Del Rio was not a very, um, uh, wanted area of Cuba. So they, they moved all the Finka there. I mean, it's kind of out of the way. It's, it's what, two, two and a half hours from [00:44:00] Havana. It wasn't as fertile. Yeah. Yeah. And it wasn't fertile.

Interesting. Soil is like red clay. Yeah. The soil is not rich. It's not nutrient. They do not have fertilizer. And Denio said that's an absolute benefit to Cuban cigars because the plant has to work harder to get what it needs from the sun and oxygen. Dude, it, it's

**Bam Bam:** incredible. And it, it's reflective of the c of the community

**Senator:** there and how they live.

Exactly. There's an even bigger story here. Forget just the Cuban people when he said, As a wine person. There we go. No, no, no. You have No, no. I'm, I'm you. He's right. I, this is meant to be a very serious point. I know, I know. Th th this is like the genius that exists within that country because in wine, and Daniel Nilo said, he's like, it's the terroir just like wine.

And it's like my heart skipped a beat because for them with such little resources there, and even just understanding of like these complex winemaking processes that are used around the world, there's [00:45:00] no wine produced in Cuba, right? Sure. Like, it's not like they have firsthand knowledge of how this is done.

And what's amazing is talking about how hard that plant has to work in wine. When you have, especially like a really rich, intensive grape like cab, those super, super hot summers where there's very little water, that plant has to work harder. Hmm. It's not getting a ton of water. They're not irrigating it intentionally that much.

Just enough. Just enough. And it's because it produces a richer grape that some of the best vintages of Cabernet Sauvignon in Napa are from some of the hottest summers, like I was talking about, 2016. Yep. That was a hot as hell summer in Napa. And the richness that was produced in those grapes without any, without an aggressive bite to it, produced brilliance.

And for them to figure out in Cuba that it's [00:46:00] not about making the plant's life easy all the time.

**Bam Bam:** I'm getting hard, dude. Harder. I'm getting goosebumps right now. I, I

**Senator:** am not fucking, fucking

**Bam Bam:** joking. It's so, that's how I felt. It's exciting as hell because you're really learning about the process. Yeah. It's

**Gizmo:** amazing.

It was, it it quite an education. Oh. And to, and to think that this, this product, this hand rolled, handmade, everything by hand product that we enjoy so much that our listeners enjoy so much we take for granted too. And we take it for granted. Sure, of course we do. But it comes from an unwanted region of Cuba, an unfertilized, unsupported, nearly unsuccessful soil for anything else.

**Bam Bam:** Don't make me cry because I'm gonna fuck it. Burst out right now. What the fuck are you doing?

**Gizmo:** But the fact that these plants thrive because everything else is wrong, is just incredible. It's awesome. Wait, I,

**Rooster:** I have a question. So do you think the Cuban farmer tobacco farmer doesn't use pesticide because [00:47:00] it's not available or because they don.

Want to use

**Gizmo:** it. Well, think pesticide is a little bit of both. Pesticide certain. Certainly they don't want bugs, but fertilizer. Think fertilizer, that's a different story. Yeah. But they

**Rooster:** can access it if they wanted it. So maybe there's a reason why they don't want to use,

**Gizmo:** I don't. They want ize. They wanna keep it more organic.

That's true about the fertilizer.

**Senator:** PEs

**Gizmo:** a great, they would definitely use pesticide. They want to kill the bugs. Yeah.

**Senator:** Saying like how much this product is worth. Right. If that crop gets destroyed by bugs. By bugs, right.

**Gizmo:** So you wanna protect that financially as fertilizer

**Rooster:** goes. If you start feeding fertilizer into the soil, the first couple of crops are gonna be great, but the plant is gonna get dependent.

The gets dependent. Are you gonna

**Gizmo:** need more and more fertilizer? And it's not working as hard. Yeah. Right, right, right. And I think they're using fertilizer. You know, Ukraine is, is organic, organic fertilizer. And Ukraine is a big provider for them of, of fertilizer. And I think they're using that for food crop.

Sure. I don't think they're using that for tobacco because of exactly everything we, it's not Monsanto. Yeah. [00:48:00] Thank God. Thank you. God. Thank. Right God. Can you imagine how this would taste with Monsanto in it? Monsanto bastards. This is a GMO modified Ramona

**Rooster:** yo el. This

**Bam Bam:** is

**Pagoda:** yellow in color. This is

**Bam Bam:** green in color.

**Gizmo:** Uh, but yeah, it, it, you know, it, it, it really, as senators said before we even had this discussion, I mean, we're only, we're only talking about the first or second room at Lag Gita that we've, we've been through on this tour so far. But it was eye-opening Yeah. To the level of detail and education that we got on these things.

It was pretty magical.

**Bam Bam:** I can assure you, if we do it for you and I, it'll be you're, well, you've been there more times. I don't know how many you've been there, what, four times now? Yeah. Yeah. If we go again, it'll be my third time. I'll learn something new that I didn't hear. The previous two

**Senator:** tours. Yeah. Yeah.

The other thing, how we're talking about, you know, we always say cigars is a handmade product. I think until you actually see this up close, like you don't fully appreciate that. This goes back to my point, right? We're talking about handmade. What's the first thing that we think of [00:49:00] the roller, right? That's what we're always thinking about.

The person rolling the cigar, the finished product. What, you don't realize all the stages before that. Yeah. Seeing that every bit of it. Ev, the tiniest thing is all done by hand. It's like, you know, gizmo's talking about removing the vein from the tobacco leaf. Obviously in other countries and with companies that have way more resources than they have in Cuba, that could be removed by a machine in a split second.

That's true. You wouldn't need a person to, literally, we're watching a woman in Allego. Yeah. To pick up a leaf. Remove the vein. She kind of twirls it around her arm. She puts it in another pile, take another one and do that. There is not a machine present at any point in the pr. It's not like these are mostly handmade or they're hand rolled Sure.

Literally every damn detail. Yeah. To putting the glue that is also natural and from a plant on a band. Yeah. Every single bit of it is happening with your hands. That's true. It's helpful.

**Rooster:** Pet and mono made my hand.

**Gizmo:** [00:50:00] That's right. Yeah. It's on every box. And, and you know what's funny is by the time it gets to the blender or the person stripping the, that the vein out of the, the leaf and splitting them to the person, sorting them, uh, weighing them to put the, that's probably the 20, 25th person in the process that has touched that leaf, that by the time it gets to the torso door, it may be that may be the 30th person could be, that has touched that single.

You know that. And then of course it gets, uh, sorted and sorted by color and banded and then boxed. I mean, we may be talking 40, 50 pairs of hands that are touching each of these cigars that we're, that's also a fascinating

**Bam Bam:** detail. Is the color sorting? Yeah. That whole process of sorting colors so that you have complete boxes of the same color.

Can you imagine how daunting that would

**Gizmo:** be? Honestly, that it's incredible. That part of the process frustrates me. Yeah. It's very, very difficult because what I don't like about the, the color sorting, so what we're talking about, and we're jumping around a little bit, but a, a, after [00:51:00] the cigar is rolled, they're color sorted, and I think there's what, 30 something different shades of, of, of acceptable leaf color.

He said that. Yeah. Um, what bothers me about that is that because of color being the focus, you may have a box of cigars that's rolled by 20 or 30 different people. Mm. You

**Senator:** know, that's one of the big surprises also. Yeah, sure. In this trip. Yep. What you just said right there. Yep. I don't think, honestly, I don't think any of us truly realized or appreciated that in any cigar box that we purchase, you open that box and you look at them and you say, wow, that's a beautiful box.

You know? We all get excited and we get a good box. They all look really well rolled, and you kind of just instinctively assume, well man, I got so lucky. A great roller rolled this box. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. 20 different people Sure. Rolled those cigars. Yeah. They're

**Gizmo:** all from different hands because it's sorted after their rolled.

Yeah. So that's why when we talk about the frustration of smoking [00:52:00] Cuban cigars, that Hoya we had a couple weeks ago where four of. You know, didn't have a great experience, bam. Yours was the best certainly, but, and I couldn't even smoke one. You couldn't even smoke. You put yours down. Right? My roller should be fired.

Yes. I mean, you may have a cigar, you may have one of those cigars rolled by someone who's been at the factory for 40 years, and you may have someone that rolled one of those cigars that was there for 40 days, but they're sorted into the same box because of the. Yeah. Like that bums me out.

**Bam Bam:** What's interesting about that individual that sourced the color, Daniella said specifically, that's a very special person that's been trained for many years.

Oh, yeah. And it takes a, a, a unique eye to capture all those nuances in color. Yeah. Very difficult. Oh, yeah,

**Gizmo:** yeah, yeah. I mean, it's, it's, that frustrates me because it's like we are the dumb American, European, Asian consumer, whatever you wanna call it. Oh, who's looking at a box going, well, I hope the color's consistent.

And what we've learned is the color honestly has nothing to do with it. Yeah. I [00:53:00] wish it was a box made by one roller stamp with the roller or something, as opposed to the factory code, because what I'm learning is the factory code's completely irrelevant. You, you know,

**Bam Bam:** it's like, I can't speak for everyone in this room, but I've gained a tremendous respect for the product that we're holding right now.

Yeah. It's, it's incredible

**Senator:** that, that's, honestly, I just can't emphasize enough, I genuinely hope for any listener that listens to this episode. Sure. Like, A, you should visit Cuba B if you don't visit Cuba. I mean, rooster's favorite source. Honestly, like, just watch some of this on YouTube. I mean, big YouTube guy.

He literally almost

**Gizmo:** made big YouTube guy, big YouTube guy. I mean it, it literally, he has YouTube premiums. He doesn't have to watch commercials. He doesn't like commercials when he watching all his videos. But serious. This is a serious

**Bam Bam:** note though.

**Senator:** Really deadly, serious. I. It like made the respect for the product.

It made me tear up just watching the process. And the reason I say that, you know, we live in a consumer culture. [00:54:00] We consume a lot of different products. There is no product that any of us purchases or consumed, and I love watches, and a lot of those are handmade, but not even to the extent that this product is.

You look at how many hands touch this product and that a machine plays not one meaningful role in that process. There's nothing in our lives period that we purchase or consume that that's the case. And then when you go there and see these people and you understand that they're making 30, 40 at most 50 US dollars a month doing that.

Yeah. The level of appreciation you have, I will never, ever look at a cigar in the same way. I will never take a cigar for granted right the way that I did before this trip. Thank you. Right. And that's the magic of going and visiting one of these factories. I cannot recommend it enough.

**Bam Bam:** It's magic. Yeah.

And honestly, a lot of the listeners may never get a chance to go to Cuba, but they can listen to this recording. I they gain a lot of information or go

**Gizmo:** to factories in other countries too. Yeah, sure. There's plenty of factories in Mexico, [00:55:00] Dominican, Nicaragua, Honduras. Hundred percent, right? Yeah. So,

**Rooster:** I mean, it was one thing that really shocked me was I didn't realize, I thought, you know, they, they do have one machine

**Gizmo:** that's the draws.

Yeah, the draw machine. Right. That's the

**Rooster:** only machine in the whole factory that every single cigar goes through a draw machine. I was under the impression that they

**Gizmo:** take like a samples. Yeah. A box,

**Rooster:** like a random sample out of one box, one cigar and test that and assume

**Gizmo:** that, okay,

**Rooster:** this is good. This passes inspection, but every single cigar Sure.

At Lato goes through that draw

**Pagoda:** machine. No, but this is for the premium cigars only. Really? And I think that's why you, I think

**Rooster:** even at the other

**Gizmo:** place, I think the other places

**Senator:** so lot Corona both. But it's an interesting point because let's be honest, do we think that a small provincial factory is probably doing that?

Nope. No. Probably not. And that's the magic of when you get the box code from Lato or Corona or one of the big, you know,

**Bam Bam:** it's mind boggling at La Corona to think about that. Yeah. The sheer

**Gizmo:** volume to go through. Yeah. You're talking 5 million, 8 [00:56:00] million cigars a year going through that machine. That's crazy.

But they can do it really fast, you know?

**Senator:** Yeah, yeah. But, and I love that they're, they're actually like, there's a metric to it. Sure. You know, I asked, I, I honestly, it was a little facetious. I, I thought he was gonna say like, yeah, it should be somewhere around here, but there's like a huge range and this, this scale basically that it measures the resistance when the machine is basically trying to pull air through the cigar.

And he's telling me that between, I think 40 annuity 40 and 80 is what an optimal cigar is. And if it is outside of that range, they will send it back. Yeah. To be

**Gizmo:** re-roll, it goes back to that roller. Well, what's interesting, so those cigars that go in the drama machine that's pre. Right. That's true. So those are, those cigars are only bound.

Sure. Because they do not wanna waste the wrapper. So what they do is they throw a bound cigar because they say that 90% of the draw issues come from a bound cigar, not involving the wrapper, not involving caps come from a bound cigar. And what I love is they have these [00:57:00] 10, uh, 10 count, uh, plastic or wooden, uh, I guess, what would you call them, cases or sheets that these cigars are laid out in.

And each of them is tied to an individual roller. And if that roller doesn't hit the certain percentage that they require of successful draws, then they're gonna have a conversation with this person, retrain them, whatever it may be, and it might affect their pay.

**Bam Bam:** You know, uh, yeah, they've said

**Gizmo:** that. Yeah.

Yeah, yeah. So it's, um, it, it was nice to see that and I'm, I'm hoping what we're seeing, I don't know if that's new because when we were there in November, bam, there was nobody in that draw room. No. So I'm hoping that either that's a, a new, so a new development or something. La Corona, there was

**Bam Bam:** someone there, but at Lato

**Gizmo:** there was no one there.

And Lato this time they were full and Oh, yeah. They weren't trying to impress a, a havana's festival group. Like we were just random. We're,

**Bam Bam:** we're, we're the lizards by the way.

**Gizmo:** Yeah. Okay. What else is, what else

**Rooster:** was cool about that factory? And I assume it's with all the [00:58:00] factories that.

**Gizmo:** Each roller has to roll a certain amount of cigars each day.

Yeah. So based on the viola. Based on the viola, yeah. Right.

**Rooster:** So if they're supposed to roll, let's say a hundred siegler ones in a day, once that's done,

**Gizmo:** they can go home. They can go home. Sure.

**Rooster:** Yep. So they're kind of giving them the flexibility

**Gizmo:** of, you know, and if they don't finish, let, let's say they come back, let, let's say they have to take their kid to a doctor's appointment or school or something and they miss a Tuesday.

No harm. No foul. You can come in on a Saturday and get it done. Right. You just have to meet your weekly allotment to to, to make your pay. That's great. Yeah.

**Senator:** So we kind of jumped ahead to later in the manufacturing process. We started in the room with the barrels. Can we talk a little bit about the leaves that actually make these cigars?

Yes. Yeah. Cause this was super fascinating, super illuminating, extraordinary. I think one of the lizards earlier was talking about how certain leaves burn faster than others and all that. Yeah, I mentioned that. Yeah. And what was cool to understand from Daniel Nilo is, [00:59:00] One, the intentional placement of certain leaves in the construction of a cigar and how they're not only trying to, you know, blend for and control for flavor, which obviously is most important, but also combustion and burn and, and time, even a cigar takes to smoke all of these different factors.

And so I think two things that were really shocking. One, just learning that, um, Vlado, which burns the fastest, um, is on the outside, uh, of the, the outer portion of the inside of the cigar. Essentially the bound cigar, right? Yeah. The binder and filler then, uh, seco and in the very middle Lito, and he was saying that lito B burns the slowest, which is why when you're smoking your cigar and you ash it, You see like a little cone in the middle, right?

A tip. Yeah. And that's the lito that's burning [01:00:00] much slower. And that's by design. So that everything kind of keeps up and it holds the ash and builds as you're smoking. Which again, these are things absent this tour we had, none of us are thinking about. Really? No idea.

**Gizmo:** I mean, every time, oh, every the flavors and the wrapper

**Bam Bam:** that, yeah.

So that's interesting. That was that's, that's the second

**Senator:** part. The second part.

**Gizmo:** That's the second. Wanna get to that? Totally deep. That's the only thing I was thinking ever when I looked at a cigar. Beautiful rapper, beautiful flavor. Right, right,

**Senator:** right, right. And it's like now, every time I ask my cigar, look at that cone.

I said, here's that lihi. I mean, these are things you just don't think of until you actually gain the knowledge and understanding that these guys have there and how intentional this whole process is. And we talk about sometimes we're smoking a cigar and we have issues with tunneling and all these other things.

Well guess. A lot of the time that can happen because a cigar was not rolled properly. Right. It's a, the ratio was off in the binder and

**Gizmo:** filler. Or what they're doing is they're taking the cigar in their hand and they're feeling it, and they're feeling weak spots or inconsistent spots, [01:01:00] and they're shoveling more of, of different leaves that shouldn't be there into the Sure.

To get a cigar that, to to be properly weighted. To be properly distributed. But what it does is it disrupts the blend. Yeah. A hundred percent.

**Senator:** Right. So that was, that was very shocking and interesting. And then the second one that we're, we're now teeing up is mm-hmm. Daniel Nilo saying that, The wrapper is not where the flavor is.


**Bam Bam:** before you go there, he did mention, uh, the fact that, you know, the difference between using a whole leaf and partial leaves, a lot of markers will use partial leaves in their cigars, which creates an uneven burn. But the full leaf that's used creates a very consistent burn.

**Pagoda:** And you know, he talked about it in the sig Leos, he showed us that there were three leaves.

Yeah. With the leger lag, Guro contributing the most of the flavor profile. Mm-hmm. Right. And that's the center strongest, and that the center, and that's where a lot of the flavor come from as opposed to the

**Bam Bam:** rapper. And it makes sense. Yeah. It could that it burns the slowest.

**Senator:** Yeah. But that's the thing, like about the rapper, [01:02:00] when I, I think when you.

Learn about new world cigars. You're kind of told that all the flavor comes from the wrapper. And I think for certain sticks that have, you know, very dark Maduro wrappers or you know, basically darker leaves that actually have strength to them. Right. Like the longer that leaf is exposed to sun, the more concentrated that flavor becomes.

So it makes sense. Sure. In a patron Maduro, yeah. There's a lot of flavor in the wrapper just as, as much as there is in the binder and filler. But for Havanas to hear that the wrapper, what they're actually using is the least flavorable part of the plant. Mm-hmm. Yeah. That's not where the flavor, that it's really the lido in the middle that's delivering most of that flavor.

**Bam Bam:** That was truly eyeopening. Eyeopening

**Pagoda:** because it was, he said the contribution was 10% less than

**Bam Bam:** the flavor. Yeah. 10 or less. Yeah. You know, and all of us in our cigar careers coming. We were always told to wrap all the flavors in the wrapper.

**Gizmo:** Yeah. Yeah. And you know, for a ha bonos, like, you know, we always [01:03:00] talk about sometimes the rapper's delicate.

It's thin, you know, it, it, it, it certainly plays into that comment Sure. That it's not providing a lot of the flavor, you know, it's providing the, the beauty of the cigar.

**Bam Bam:** One thing I noticed about the wrapper is how elastic it is. Yeah. If you, especially when they're rolling, when they de veined it, and there the, you know, there were like six ladies in that one room that were doing nothing but de veining and then sorting them as far as the number of veins that they have.

The elasticity of the vein was really, truly very


**Senator:** to see. Yeah. It's true. And they're very wet at that part of the process.

**Gizmo:** Yeah. They like, they're like purposefully. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

**Rooster:** Very cool. How, how intoxicating was the smell dude, when he laid out like, you know, like the

**Gizmo:** four different leaves every fucking

**Bam Bam:** room we went into that factory was just a aroma, like a potpourri of like joy.



**Senator:** Want a car freshener

**Bam Bam:** all of it. By

**Pagoda:** the way, this is gonna be new one.

**Bam Bam:** It's gonna be a pori of joy.

**Gizmo:** And watching

**Rooster:** the tables where they had the whatever, I mean, they're rolling the [01:04:00] sea glow number four or the five, I mean, massive bundles, dude. Yeah. Just laying

**Gizmo:** there. It was exciting. What I think is cool too, in, in, in Havanas, I'm su I'm, as I'm assuming, Pretty, you know, worldwide, but you know, the, the peop the torso doors who are actually rolling the cigars are not selecting their leaves.

They walk up to their window and they get a bundle of cigars and they're, they're given the blend of what to blend and how to blend it. And they're told how many cigars to make and they're given this, these specific distribution of each leaf to lay that out. And they, they put them on their desk and they get to the blend and they, they roll their cigars.

Sure. I mean, that's the

**Rooster:** only way you can get the consistency of Yeah. You know, a Koji buso is gonna get, you know, that many of each leaf. So it's gotta be

**Gizmo:** consistent to

**Bam Bam:** that. What would be really cool not to go off topic, we haven't seen any of the farms when we go back, if we get

**Gizmo:** to Yeah, we gotta go. I would,

**Bam Bam:** I would love to do that.

But what I would personally love is if we were able to go with someone like Daniel. When he's [01:05:00] shopping to see what he's looking for, just to see how, what his selection process is like. That would be

**Gizmo:** spectacular, you know? Bam. That's not a bad idea. Spectacular.

**Rooster:** Just him being there and explaining the whole process of, oh dude,

**Bam Bam:** he's a, he's a, a sivan.

I mean, he's,

**Gizmo:** his wife is a microbiologist. Yeah. We need her to join us too.

**Bam Bam:** So I shook my head to my hand to senator. I mean, this is what an experience the cigar is. I am really, really loving the cigar.

**Gizmo:** This cigar is an excellent El god bless Ramona

**Bam Bam:** Onis. So we're coming into the last third. It's off the charts. Off the charts.

**Gizmo:** Right. One of the better ELs. Absolutely right.

**Bam Bam:** Can you say maybe it's the best EL that we've had

**Gizmo:** on the pod that we ever had on the pod?

Yes, a hundred percent. Yeah. Certainly out, out of 2019. Out of the three. No doubt. Just wipes the floor. Absolutely. Yeah.

**Bam Bam:** Wipes the floor. Senator's proud. I

**Senator:** I love this. No, no. You have to understand like, [01:06:00] you know, these are not cheap, right? I bought two boxes of these. The, if you understood where this started, And where this is now, like if you smoked it a lot, you know, we talk about like buy a box and try one every year.

Like I have trained myself finally to be able to do this. Mm. It's not easy and I just can't, like when I, why I'm so happy about this is like if I would, if you would've lit this up three years ago when I bought this Yeah. I guarantee you would've said, What a waste of money. This is not a great cigar.

Yeah. Yeah. But if you would've seen some of those notes and just look past, okay, this is not the experience I wanted, but there's something in there. Now, Puba, this is where I'm gonna love to talk with him about this, because he said to me, I don't think this will grow into a great, I don't think this will mature into a great cigar, categorically incorrect.

So he smoked through his box. I, I had just a fe I, you can just, even on the cold draw, you can figure out that there's something in this that's gonna mature into something great. And even the one that I recently lit up, when I first said to you guys, I think it's ready for primetime. [01:07:00] This is even better because,

**Gizmo:** let me prompt that because I said to senator, Hey, we've done the other two out of three ELs from nine 19.

Mm-hmm. I think it might be time to try the Ramon. He is like, ah, I don't know. Let me smoke it. And then he texted. He is like, all right, we're doing this.

**Bam Bam:** You know what, rooster Ready talked about this several times about how do you know a cigars going to age well and how it, and if it's not gonna age well, you're spending a tremendous amount of money.

I think if you try, like you, you mentioned you try the cigar, you get a sense of it. Honestly, it takes someone exceptionally seasoned to know that it's gonna age well or not. Yeah. But I think everyone's gonna know that. But I think, well, I think Russo has aged really well. Well, he's aging very well. Abuelo.

Abuelos looking good right now.

**Gizmo:** I, you know, I think that for me, when I smoke a young cigar, I think it's gonna preview, you know, that's previewing, well, as we always say on the pod, it's just something that's showing some youth, but you can tell that there's really interesting, complex, complex flavors there.

I don't know if [01:08:00] that was the case with this one, or, or you know, Senator just called, you know, called it's bluff. But, you know, most of the cigars that I have that I kind of say, all right, I'm gonna wait on these. It's just a product of saying, wow, these are young, but they're really, really

**Bam Bam:** gonna be the combustion on the cigars, just off the

**Gizmo:** charts.

It's gotten way better in the second half. It's unreal. Yeah. Very, very good. I'm

**Senator:** excited. And the other thing, like the biggest surprise, it's not even just the flavor profile. That's excellent. It, the strength and body that this has is nothing like where it starts. And that's the part that like, you know, we learned so much from Daniel Nilo, but I, I'll never be able to wrap my head around how the strength and body of a cigar can just dramatically change just with time, just sitting in a box in your humidor, but truly, I'm not kidding.

From start to finish, this cigar young was mild at its strongest at the end, mild medium. This started firmly medium, and I think as you [01:09:00] smoke through, gets a little close to medium full. How that happens scientifically. I can't quite explain, but it's just so satisfying. Yeah. Fits right

**Pagoda:** in my flavor profile, which is amazing.

**Bam Bam:** Overly impressed. It's fantastic, isn't it? Yep. So as we're going through it, like the, we're at the bottom Third or third. Yeah, last third. It's, it hasn't ramped up in, in, in, well the body's increased a little bit, but the flavor has gone for me through the roof.

**Gizmo:** Yeah. And the strength is kind of, it's not like, it's not, it's not gotten like an ooph to it.

No, it's, it's very pleasant. It's, it's very

**Senator:** sophisticated. Yeah. Very sophisticated. That's the age sophisticated, honestly. Yeah. I, I think this has to have, like, I think I bought this three years ago. I bought it in 2020. Late 20. Yeah. Um, so I'm sure it at least had another year. It, it's gotta have at least four years.


**Gizmo:** Yeah. This is really, really good. All right. So back to, uh, Lato Senator, you were, uh,

**Senator:** so we went through the barrels. Fermentation. Stripping. Stripping what? Um, uh, blending and kind of sorting and the binder and [01:10:00] filler. Um, I mean, from there rolling, which we saw, I mean, they have some unbelievable rollers, of course,

**Gizmo:** people that have been there for 40, 50 years doors.

**Bam Bam:** So talking about that for just two seconds. You know the other factory that we went through that, that I know we're gonna talk about, the process is identical, right? They've got their various layers that they're putting together. They pressed them. How long are they pressed for? Because they go in a press and then they continue rolling and they, they do another press.

Do we know

**Gizmo:** that? I don't know. I, it might depend on the viola maybe. Um, I, I'm not entirely sure. I don't think it's that long. I don't think it's that long, because I think it gets draw tested and right to wrap. Oh, I see. Pretty quickly. Yeah. I think they're, I think they're, you know, aging in the box or in the, in the, uh, the storage room.

Mm-hmm. In the cold rooms. Uh, I think they're going right from, from bind to draw, test to wrap compared to like new

**Rooster:** world sticks. Cuban cigars are not that aged to begin with. No. The tobacco's not that [01:11:00] aged and nor do they age them after they box 'em. Sure, true.

**Gizmo:** That's kinda just push 'em out. Yeah. Yep.

**Senator:** So, so on the, the rolling process, another kind of light bulb moment for me, um, was Daniel Nilo talking about, and we mentioned a little bit of this in saying that you get a box of cigars and they're rolled by 20 people.

They're not all rolled by the same person. But in that, um, Daniella was talking about, and we've talked, we've had episodes about this spotting counterfeit. And Daniella was saying that Attel. So he is like number one, when you open a box, they should be color matched. If they're not color matched, it's fake.

Ah, this is a great point. That was number one. Yep. He said number two, which goes to the rolling process because those sticks are rolled by so many different people. He said, look at the cap of the cigar. He says, every roller could tell you their own cap. Their own cap that they rolled. He said it's as if they signed it.

Exactly. Yeah. So he said, if you open a [01:12:00] box of cigars and all the caps, look, I almost identical. It's fake. There's no way. Yeah, because there's tons of different rollers who rolled them. They should be different. Yep. And that was where also I think we're trained to think that like you open a box of cigars and everything should.

Perfectly uniform. So

**Bam Bam:** I was gonna go to that point. It's the opposite. Yeah. So you're actually looking for slight defects. Yeah. He did mention that in some of the leaves, if you see a slight green, oh, discoloration. Discoloration, slight discoloration, you actually want to see that. That's a mark of a Of a, A normal,

**Gizmo:** yeah.

Natural, authentic cigar. Exactly. Right. And he also, even, it's a mark of authenticity, even on behi, which is their premier line. Which has the most pristine rappers. He said, you still want to see slight imperfection. Sure. Now they're gonna ban the cigars with the name of Cohiba bk, on the, the top of the cigar.

Be, you know, they want the cigars to look great, but if you take those cigars out and you look at them, if every [01:13:00] cigar is absolutely perfect, no imperfection, you've got a problem. You've got a problem. Oh yeah, absolutely. That's the thing. Tying into, that's another way because we've learned through, you know, my mon uh, Monty Fortuna bullshit with the fake box of co Hebrew bustas I bought, you got, you know, you can't trust the band, you can't trust the seal, you can't trust the, the, the warranty, uh, or, uh, the, the serial code, even the box state, it can be faked.

But this is another layer of authenticity is that if you have a perfect box of ci. It's likely fake. Yeah. Yeah.

**Senator:** And that's the thing. I just think if you're not as deep in this rabbit hole as as we are in other lizards who obviously smoke a lot of cigars, you're just kind of trained to expect or think that a box of cigars should all look uniform.

And so you're buying a box and if you see something that looks a little different, you are trained to think that that maybe is a fake box when it's the exact opposite. It's the opposite. Very eliminated.

**Rooster:** So key, key points. I mean, I, I never, even when you open a box, [01:14:00] you never look at the, you look at the cap of the cigar that you're smoking, but you never look at all the caps of every single cigar and, you know, to notice the variation.

But now we

**Bam Bam:** will. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. It's a great teaching point. Yeah.

**Pagoda:** Yeah. We don't want fairers to be listened to her.

**Bam Bam:** That's true. Fordo,

**Gizmo:** if you're a counterfeiter, please tune out Now write that.

**Rooster:** It it killed me when Dlo opened up that Beka to show us Uh oh. He

**Gizmo:** sliced it open. He sliced it open. He took a behi 54 and sliced it right in front of us. He

**Bam Bam:** said 200. He said, this is is painful, but it's necessary. That's

**Gizmo:** what he said he did.

Yeah. Yeah.

**Rooster:** He was showing us the media tepo. Yeah. And leaf should be right in the middle.

**Gizmo:** Yep. Well,

**Senator:** that's the thing. It was very clever. He was saying how with fakes, this is like his third tell in kind of this process, right? Like color matching the caps and imperfections and then this. And he was saying when you slice that open, [01:15:00] every leaf should be a long individual leaf.

A he could pick apart off holy leaf, a whole leaf, right? And he said what the best counterfeiters do. He's like, you may slice it open and you actually start to pick out the middle and you're saying, oh wow. It's whole, it's real. Mm-hmm. But if you keep going, yeah, they may at some point it's a short, shorter, partial leaf.

Yeah. And they're brittle. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. And that's the tell. And uh, yeah, he did that. Actually, I'm gonna

**Gizmo:** take, I'm actually gonna take, uh, when we go next time, I'm gonna take my fake box of Coro from Monte Fortuna. That's cool. Great idea. And I'm gonna give them to him Great idea. So that he can. Wow.

I'd like to see him dissect that in front of us. Well just bring one, pick it up. No, I'm gonna bring the whole box. What's he gonna do with the rest? I'll give 'em to him.

**Bam Bam:** Throw 'em in a garbage. You're fake.

**Rooster:** Jesus. I assume you've been compensated.

**Senator:** So, um, other things I think we saw after rolling it was cool to see they have scales to actually weigh the cigars.

Yeah. And mean, we talked about sometimes how heavily and densely packed they are. Yeah. There's a range for sure. Yeah. Yeah. So [01:16:00] that was helpful to see. I'm not sure how much that happens cuz I think we still get some sticks that are light. Yeah. Some sticks that are very heavy. Um, but it was cool to see that they had kind of the um, uh, The, the measurements for the ring gauge mm-hmm.

That were kind of all already imprinted and made that, I guess they must measure to make sure that it's meeting the specifications, which was cool. Yeah.

**Bam Bam:** You know, and, and as they were rolling, they've got trays that they can, each of the total has its own tray, so they're using that tray as a form that their works a template make surely nail it.

Yeah. It's essentially a template so when they're rolling that they're not oversizing or undersizing it. Yeah.

**Gizmo:** Right. Yeah. So I, I think

**Rooster:** Lato goes into some extra Sure. Precise details that, to make sure mm-hmm. That they come out consistent. Right. With no draw issues, no, like weight variations, so that the end result is, that's why they're able to charge Sure.

What, what they charge

**Gizmo:** for aqui, but yeah.

**Bam Bam:** Not to go off topic, but the craft room was really cool. That's where I was going next, dude. Very cool. It's awesome. [01:17:00] I personally love that because, you know, I, going through college and we were, you know, building architectural models and using glue and, and creating, you know, images that you're, you're, you're putting on boxes and presenting and creating presentations.

That was quite a beautiful room. It was pristinely. Only a few people who were in there, and those are select people that know what they're doing and they've got a great eye and a steady hand. So they were producing beautiful boxes. Works of art. But

**Senator:** it's like even that was happening by hand, dude. But that was the crazy part, dude.

Like when I say it was fucking literally emotional, the fucking process,

**Bam Bam:** the consistency is

**Senator:** off the charts. You, you have to understand when you see on a cigar box made by hand, you're thinking, okay, yes, the cigars rolled by hand. That's amazing.

**Gizmo:** They import these boxes fully finished. Exactly, yep. And

**Senator:** you're watching these women in this room, literally like superimposing of Ramon Ionis logo on like a dress box.

Like, this is crazy. This is what machines would do anywhere else. That's exactly, they're doing it by hand. Not exactly

**Bam Bam:** right in the artwork is perfectly centered on each [01:18:00] side of every panel, of every box. No deviations and the

**Pagoda:** labels, you know. Well,

**Bam Bam:** yeah. That's the, the artwork and labels are all perfectly placed.


**Pagoda:** each one of them put up to 3000 labels. Uh,

**Rooster:** each, I

**Pagoda:** don't know who the person or what they're called, but the people labeling it have to label 3000. Yeah. Labels.

**Bam Bam:** It's nuts. Per

**Senator:** day. Yeah, per day. I wrote down, said that each woman there labels 3000 sticks per day, like pagoda saying again, it's literally putting a label in some glue.

This is something machine could do instantly. And there are people doing this by hand. And again, we're talking about like the natural, organic components of this process. It is not glue that they're putting on this. It's cellulose from plants. Yeah. Natural organic material even to adhere. A label, a band on a cigar, and

**Gizmo:** each of those 3000 cigars, they're picking the best side of that cigar to put the [01:19:00] band.

So he called it

**Bam Bam:** face up, he called it the face of the cigar. Yes. So they picked the most, the, the most beautiful face of the cigar and had that band showing Yep. Right. With the logo Right center.

**Senator:** Yeah. The hairy back goes on the bottom of the books.

**Bam Bam:** Well, you're right. Yeah. You almost

**Pagoda:** fight it at the bag. Don't

**Gizmo:** do. Oh, spectacular. Yeah. It, it was a really amazing

**Bam Bam:** experience. Yeah. Honestly, it was enhanced by having you all, all you guys with us. Yeah. It together.

**Gizmo:** It really ru really, was it, it did. It did add to it, the, the fact that you, putting aside the podcast, obviously that's where this was gonna end up.

Mm-hmm. All this information, this education, but for us to be able, we're all kind of in lockstep with really wanting to absorb like Sure. Sponges, this information like, Totally like, like hit us with it. Just Yeah. Yeah. You know, asking as many questions as we can, maybe to an annoying level. Yeah. I don't know.

But no, I think God bless him. I

**Rooster:** think they enjoyed our curiosity and our [01:20:00]

**Gizmo:** passion for cigars. Yeah.

**Rooster:** So it showed, like even at the end when we were talking to the director in the room and Dank was sitting there, we had a bunch of questions they were very happy to ask. Yeah, sure. Oblige or

**Gizmo:** questions. No doubt.

Well, cuz our intent is education and tr you know, we're not asking for anything. But other than

**Senator:** time's what was, that's what was so cool. It's like we go on this tour, we're learning so much with this amazing experience and we're, we're telling dlo and, uh, Oscar, the director general there, that, you know, we have this podcast, we wanna, we wanna be a vessel, we wanna share this information right.

With our listeners, with the. And how excited and happy they were about that. Yeah. It wasn't like, well, we like to keep this stuff quiet. This is our pro. It was like, no, the world should and needs to know this. Yes. Yeah. That was really, really cool.

**Gizmo:** Yeah. And I, and I think that the, the biggest thing I took from that really, again, and I said this earlier tonight, is separating the Havana sales and marketing thing from the production side and the manufacturing and the artisanship of [01:21:00] the people who are actually producing these cigars.

Right. Those are two separate worlds. Mm-hmm. You know, and, and that was a big thing because we're sitting there with people who really give a damn. Yeah. And you know about this thing. Right. The true, they're, they're not making any

**Senator:** more money.

**Gizmo:** No. Because they're not, prices have gotten No, no, not at all. They

**Bam Bam:** really give it to him.

Yeah. Yeah. And the true eyeopening experience at, for me, the byproduct of that, I think we mentioned this earlier in a podcast, is. How much for granted we took these cigars and how much we've now come to really, truly appreciate how they're made, the passion that goes into it, the technology that they've created.

Yeah. Literally with nothing. Yeah. So it really elevates, I think the, the love and of the, and appreciation of the cigar. Yeah. I

**Gizmo:** mean, I

**Rooster:** wonder if the, uh, . Torso door actually knows what that cigar sells for. I don't know. And how much, how much she'll

**Pagoda:** have a hot tub. How much

**Rooster:** it's true. How much is making a month?

**Bam Bam:** Yeah. It, it would be better if they didn't know. Yeah. Yeah.

**Gizmo:** It's kind of a tragedy honestly. It really is.

**Senator:** Oh it is. It's shocking to them. Yeah. And we [01:22:00] had, you know, we obviously met plenty of locals while we were there. I mean, I remember someone asking like, how much do these things cost? Cause we're all smoking so many jaw drops.

I remember that. And I mean, I said like, you know, 10 to 30 us stick usually and they couldn't believe. Shocked. It's something that we would smoke and consume in an hour or two would be 10 to 30 US dollars know, I mean, what they spent

**Gizmo:** time six. Yeah. Yeah. When sometimes when I gave Yvonne our, our host, I gave him a couple cigars, you know, when we were leaving just as a thank you.

Cuz he was so hospitable. He was like nearly emotional about it. Yeah. And it's like, these are cigars that are produced 10 minutes from his home. Right. And he's never had one. Yeah. He's never had a Romeo Julietta wide Churchill. He is never had an ESP splendido. Mm-hmm. He's never had a Cobra. Like, it's crazy to

**Senator:** me.

Me, I, the same thing like we talked about on a prior episode about Cuba, the Tropicana show and how amazing it is. You go to the Tropicana show, it's all tourists. There's not a single Cuban there. That's right. All tourists, which is a tragedy. I mean, tragedy [01:23:00] performing this un the unbelievable skill level and talent and their own people can't come see

**Gizmo:** them.

But you know, you know what's

**Rooster:** cool though also the torso doors are allowed. I'm not sure if it's all of them or some of them, them, them. All of them allowed to take home

**Gizmo:** five a day. Yeah, five a day.

**Bam Bam:** Yeah. Which is amazing. Yeah. So on the first trip in November, what I learned, and we learned this, they, every Cuban citizen does get an allotment of cigars, but the cigars that they.

Gizz machine rolled. Yeah, they're blue. They're these blue band. Oh yeah. Yeah. They're um,

**Gizmo:** they're probably all, all the scraps of Exactly. That's

**Bam Bam:** on the floor. And they're truly, they're all fully machine made, minimal hands. And from what ev everyone was telling us they were awful. They're just awful

**Gizmo:** cigars.

And they're, and they don't smoke 'em. You never, I very rarely saw a Cuban National Oh. In either of our trips. I've been there ever smoking a cigar 20 days now. That's true. Ever smoking a cigar. That's true.

**Senator:** You know what's also funny to me, the fact that there are so many [01:24:00] rollers who are so skilled and have been doing this for so long, and don't even smoke cigars.

They don't smoke cigars. And the reason I say this is, um, my, my parents, it's so funny. My, my dad, um, There's some Cuban restaurant in New York that my dad, my parents both love. And, um, there's a guy there, this Cuban guy who will roll cigars there. And of course my dad's become friendly with him over the years as he eats there.

And, uh, I remember my dad saying to me, he was so confused. He goes, this guy rolls cigars. You know what he told me? He doesn't even smoke cigars. Yeah. How does he know how to roll cigars? That's strange. And I, I, I have the same line of thinking. It's just like, if you haven't consumed this product, how would you know what an optimal cigar should be rolled like, but sure.

Some of the best stuff we've smoked are from rollers who don't smoke. Don't smoke damn cigar in their life. Yeah. You

**Bam Bam:** know that. And that amazes me. It is amazing. It doesn't happen in a food industry. Every chef tastes what they make

**Gizmo:** constantly tasting. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And I would assume this's the same with winemakers.

I would think so. Oh yeah. Yeah. But not with [01:25:00]

**Senator:** cigars.

**Gizmo:** Very, very unique. So speaking of tasting cigars, we, we were able to sit at Lato. So we finished our tour, we had an amazing experience and we were able to sit down and. Sit with dlo and Oscar, the director, and we all had an incredible cigar from their private collection.

Mm-hmm. I had an ESP Splendido, I think all of you guys had Behi case, right? Case, yeah. 52. And we had such an amazing, it was great conversation with these guys. Oh yeah.

**Bam Bam:** Now amazing. For the first time Oscar let his guard down a little bit in November. He was not, yeah, yeah. He was, he was truly serious. And he had a lot of pressure at the time, this time around.

Let his guard down, had a pretty good conversation.

**Senator:** Well, Oscar let his guard down. I

**Gizmo:** knew, but he, I knew he was going there. He almost,

**Senator:** I knew he was going there. He almost had an aneurysm a few times, rightfully so. I felt very vindicated. Just for the listener. Imagine the comedy of this. You've probably

**Bam Bam:** listened this.

Oh, what did I do? Did I do something? Know me? No, [01:26:00] just me. Good.

**Senator:** If, if you've listened to this podcast, you've probably heard at some point, especially when we're recording at my, my Lounge. You've probably heard at some point Gizz, very ambitiously smoking away as he's trying to hold this, you know, two inch ash on this.

Yes. I remember on Cigar and Gizz, you, you think you need to ash that cigar. It's gonna end up on my floor or all over you. He's trying to impress the director. And so we're sitting in Elto the mecca on these actually beautiful leather chairs that they have in dark, this like main room,

**Bam Bam:** so dark blue leather with walnut grain ends.


**Senator:** beautiful chairs. And so as we're sitting there, Oscar, who's a very, very serious guy to begin with. Old. Very old. He's kind of, I just, I could, he's just staring at Gizmo and Gizmo doesn't speak much Spanish, so it's like he's staring, he's about to speak in Spanish with him. He's just staring at him.

I'm like, wow, this is strange. And he just looks at me. He points and he waves his finger, basically telling him not to ash his cigar on his chairs. [01:27:00] Right. Gizmo on the couch. Cuz Gizmo is just holding his arm arm and talking with it. Talking with it right over the couch. Or if the as falls, it's just gonna burn in this beautiful leather couch they have.

And multiple times tells him that he needs to keep his arm off the couch. That you better not ash on his couch. He's gonna get very upset. I felt so vindicated. It was wonderful.

**Gizmo:** I got scolded. I did not ash on the couch by the way. We

**Senator:** wouldn't have allowed that. We would never be invited back. I

**Gizmo:** don't know if I, I don't know if I would be here right now.

If I did, you wouldn't. Yeah, he was not. No eggs for you. No else. But yeah, that was, it was a magical day. Yeah. I, I will forever remember that day. I'm so glad we got to experience, uh, sure. Together, I think it,

**Bam Bam:** it's elevated our cigar game. It has, there's

**Gizmo:** no doubt about

**Senator:** it. Yeah. Yeah. And those behi, I will say, so again, I, I started this by saying for Meko, Heba has been more marketing than.

Um, I've never had a bahi before, primarily because I just assumed any Baca I tried to [01:28:00] source the odds that are faker so high's true. I'm not even gonna

**Gizmo:** take the chance. It's probably one of the most fake cigars in the world, period. Yeah.

**Senator:** And so to have a bahi from Elto that obviously we know is real, and that being my first one, you know, I'll smoke a cigar down, but I'm not one of these crazy guys that needs a roach clip at the end of the cigar.

I, I, I don't smoke it that far down, but that beque you select bam, bam.

**Bam Bam:** Like that. Exactly. I like my cigars, but

**Senator:** that beque, I smoked that thing down till my fingers burn. It was so creamy, so enjoyable. Just a special experience with these guys that,

**Bam Bam:** that that's high praise because most of the cigars actually, every cigar you'll get in Cuba, they're very young and usually over humidified.

**Gizmo:** I feel like what we got though was, uh, kind of a, uh, either aged or it was kept for a while from I'm sure. Yeah. I feel like we got some really nice, nice that's proud of his private

**Bam Bam:** stock, so they're kept

**Gizmo:** while I'm sure. And I had an ESP splendido and it was amazing. I'm sure you know, I just love a Churchill.

Yeah. It was excellent. Yep. So, so [01:29:00] yeah. I'm so glad we got to experience that.

**Senator:** Uh, is everyone's glass almost empty? Yeah. Yeah. Perfect. Yeah, so we had a great trip. There's another special occasion. It's a special day today. It's our fearless leaders Semos .

**Pagoda:** Indeed, it is.

**Senator:** It's his birthday. Did they turn funny today?

There's only one way to ring in a lizard birthday.

**Gizmo:** Oh, what is this sheet cake? Well,

**Bam Bam:** kind of

**Gizmo:** for the listener. I have no idea what's happening right now. Senator just disappeared. It's a box of aches. Uhoh. We got champagne boys. We got champagne. Champagne. I see. Champagne.

**Bam Bam:** It's Congratulations on celebration.

**Senator:** Special day. Just listen. Oh geez.

**Gizmo:** I hear it. I hear the saber. It was hidden from me. They hid it from me.[01:30:00]

And cake. Here we a cake too. Yeah. Holy moly. Senator here apparently has a bottle of champagne. The saber, by the way, has a, uh, tassel on it, which is new. Here

**Senator:** we go. The tassels always been there. I never

**Gizmo:** saw that before. And he

**Pagoda:** is aiming

**Gizmo:** at, uh uh, he's aiming at me, not pagoda. Whoa.

**Senator:** Oh,

**Pagoda:** happy

**Gizmo:** birthday guys.

Thank you, man. Thank you guys. Oh, yeah. This is a complete surprise. Yeah. We're not

**Senator:** gonna be the most civilized, so everyone's gotta kill their rum.

**Gizmo:** And we're


**Bam Bam:** drink outta the same a hundred percent. Absolutely.

**Gizmo:** Hit me, baby. So we got some, some champagne here. All right. Thank you Senator. Very kind of you guys.

Thank you so much. You need

**Bam Bam:** to blow out


**Gizmo:** candle. Oh shit. Hold on. Do I need to make a wish? Bam. Yes. Thank you. Does it need to involve you always.[01:31:00]

**Bam Bam:** Hold on. Oh, oh hold. Oh, hey, very quick.

**Gizmo:** Well, thank you boys. Happy birthday. Goodbye. Very kind of you. Love you, man. That's a nice surprise. You guys are good at this because we love you. That was, uh, completely unexpected. Oh yeah. Very, very happy birthday to you, dude. Thank you my friend. Love you boys.

**Bam Bam:** Thank you, sir. Keep it coming. Thank you.

Cheers everybody. Cheers,

**Gizmo:** Sal. Too many, many more to hours. Thank you guys. Cheers. Thank you. Thank you all. I love you. Our fearless leader, cheer, cheers,

**Bam Bam:** and

**Gizmo:** producer. Love you all. Love you, my man. Cheers, Senator. Thank you. Cheers. Cheers boys. Thank you guys to Gizmo. Toez. Oh, that's delicious. So what, uh, what champagne is that?

Paul Roche. Paul Roge.

**Bam Bam:** Yeah. My man. And a delicious chocolate moose silk cake. I can't

**Gizmo:** wait to dig into that after we, uh, fantastic. We end the recording.

**Senator:** I also have to say it is your [01:32:00] birthday, so there's one day of the year. I have to be nice.

I will say our Cuba trip. Yeah. Gizmo was there in November with Bam, ahead of the first trip for Rooster, myself and pagoda. It

**Bam Bam:** pales in comparison to what we all

**Senator:** experienced. He put in such a tremendous amount of. In figuring out kinda how to elevate this trip. Yep. Delay of the land, transportation, I mean, everything we could possibly need to make this already great trip.

Extraordinary. We are, we owe you a debt of gratitude still. Absolutely. I just wanna say thank you to cheer.

**Gizmo:** There was a great many more trips flawless. It really was flawless support.

**Senator:** It was a great people.

**Gizmo:** Seriously. In support of the lizard people too. Yeah, that's right. Cheers boys. Cheers. Yeah, it was a great week.

Phenomenal week. Hmm. And I'm glad we got to experience it together because I think some of [01:33:00] these things that we, you know, we did get to experience Leg Gito, Corona, these restaurants that we talked about a few episodes ago. Um, uh, I mean, we really had an intense but relaxed. Well, that's what's amazing about Cuba.

To me it was so intense as far as the experience, the education, it, it, the people. Everything that we had. Yeah. But it was so relaxed. We had such, like, I felt no stress.

**Bam Bam:** There was an overlay of the Cuban lifestyle. Yes. That really made it very smooth for us. Yes.

**Gizmo:** Yeah. But I, very enjoyable, I must say. Um,

**Rooster:** SMO, your attention

**Gizmo:** to detail.


**Rooster:** impeccable. And you know, everything that we had beforehand and made us kind of like everything went went so smooth because of that. Yeah. Very seamless. Exactly what to bring and uh, yeah. You know, like everything said from transportation to the arranging, the casa, the breakfast, the dinner

**Gizmo:** reservations.

Sure. Every day the single deck. Getting

**Senator:** the facts [01:34:00] smallest of details that end up being important to making sure we have butane so that we can light our cigars outdoors to Sure. Oh my God. Yeah. I mean,

**Gizmo:** giving us like

**Rooster:** Amazon list, get this. Don't get that. I mean, get, get this adapter, get this

**Gizmo:** lighter.

**Bam Bam:** Bring your Imodium, get your Tylenol going.

Get the amoxicillin. All of that. Yeah. Get the

**Rooster:** Z

**Gizmo:** Get the Z-pack. Get the Z-pack. Now that

**Bam Bam:** Imodium saved me one night. I know it did. It really? And a few of us here. Yeah. Yo doubt.

**Gizmo:** Oh yeah. I'll tell you. That helped you rally tremendously. That helped you rally.

**Bam Bam:** Dude, you rallied. Bam. Bam was on fire that night

**Gizmo:** every night, baby.

Oh yeah. No, but cheers boys. It was, listen, I uh, I can't wait to go back. Yeah, that's number one. Uh, I told, I told my wife when I came home that I was in like severe withdrawals. Like I am still, uh, two weeks later, still in severe withdrawals. Sure. I can't wait to go back. Sure. Yeah. But I, I

**Rooster:** must say the next, the, the baby got back and the very next day.

That was tough.

**Gizmo:** Yeah, [01:35:00] it was, man, we were missing Cuba. Right. Reality, I believe reality. Where's reality?

**Senator:** Where's Hugo De Yvonne?

**Gizmo:** Where's Yvonne? The yon guava juice for

**Senator:** the listener. It's like this amazing like guava smoothie that he would make us the house manager every morning. I mean, just little things you just missed.

I was telling my

**Gizmo:** wife, like, and if you go get some star starfruit and cut the, cut the papa pie,

**Bam Bam:** like little pieces. Don't forget his hot sauce. That almost kicked my ass. Oh

**Gizmo:** yeah. Oh, can we tell that story? Sorry. Ok. You're weak. It wasn't, it

**Rooster:** was likehonestly. It was like an oil, it was an extract of some kind of peppers.

Dude. I mean, I thought I can normally, Handle like good amount

**Gizmo:** of heat. Me too. And,

**Bam Bam:** uh, I went

**Rooster:** overboard. You said, you know, if somebody asked me on a scale of like one to 10, what, what would you rate it? I'm like, I think this is like a seven or eight,

**Senator:** which for any normal person, that's like a 20 for him.

Yeah. So I,

**Gizmo:** bam three's a three.

**Bam Bam:** It's a three's a three. So initially it was a three. Within two minutes it went to a [01:36:00] 10. Bam ba was doing jumping jobs. I couldn't literally sit in my seat and Yvonne was like, oh,

love it. Every second of it.

**Gizmo:** We were too, by the way. We were

**Bam Bam:** too. I'm sure. That was

**Gizmo:** great. It was a great week, man. Oh yeah. So for the lizard, uh, listeners out there, we're gonna continue this. So this is part two, I guess, of our recap. We're gonna keep rolling on this in the next, uh, next few Cuban episodes.

So I guess two weeks from. And, uh, continue on from there. But man, we had a phenomenal week and this visit to Lato was really one of the highlights, not only of our trip, but I, it, it's gonna stick with me for, for the rest of my life, of course. Because it was so, yeah. Absolutely. Educational, memorable. We really were in the, the thick of it.

Sure. In a way that I think that is unique. It's

**Bam Bam:** also unique because we all got to experience it as a group. Exactly. Yeah. And we were

**Senator:** together. I, I also think it has to be said, nothing like this has been done before. Like [01:37:00] th there is no, look, we're all consumers of information. Sure. Right. If I could go somewhere and get all of this information that we got from Allego, from Deni, Nilo there himself, I would go get it.

That's not out there. That's why we wanted to go there. That's why we did this. Yeah. And, um, I'm just really proud of this group that, um, and again, grateful for Gizmo and all the work that was put into really make the trip such a success that we were able to do it and share it. And that Deni Nilo and Oscar and the folks that run El Gedo are happy to have all of this shared with the rest of the world is just so incredibly cool and fulfilling.


**Gizmo:** tremendous. And hopefully

**Rooster:** we'll have Danelo on the,

**Gizmo:** on the podcast. Yeah. We've, yeah. He has agreed to come on. It's just a matter of logistics and internet. Yeah. Et cetera. But Danelo is gonna come on the podcast and that is gonna be, A really special experience for the lizards out there. Oh yeah.

Because this guy, not only does he love what he, what, what he does every [01:38:00] day, but he's really good at it. Yeah, he is. And he's really educational and transparent about it in a way that I think is very unique. He's a very good teacher. Yeah. I will say. Yeah. And he, he's a, he's an

**Rooster:** attorney. He's a lawyer by Great.

So he's got, and he gave that up and he's a, you know, production manager. Production manager. So

**Gizmo:** it's amazing.

**Pagoda:** Yeah. But Senator, you gotta tell him, he, how he talked about education being the primary thing and as opposed to hoarding information. Yeah,

**Senator:** yeah. It's like a real paradox philosophy, I think like, you know, Daniella's philosophy, it, it, it sounds like, obviously we can't speak personally to what, um, the environment was like, you know, 50 years ago among the folks that ran factories like this.

But, um, there was a real hoarding of information it seems. And um, I guess in some ways, understandably so, but in other ways. I mean, it doesn't really further. This passion and this hobby that all of us have. If people don't know and don't understand and can't learn, all these amazing things about how this product is made and what [01:39:00] makes it so special and unique and how it gets taken to the next level generations from now.

Right? We're not cigar manufacturers. We're not the ones that are gonna do it, but I sure as hell hope that as we share this information, some people are gonna be expired to generations from now. Take this industry to the next level. Sure. And um, it seems. You know, Daniel is a relatively young guy and some of the youth that's also been injected into this business, um, has really helped with just transparency and sharing information.

And, um, I'm just, I, I already can't wait for us to, you know, return there and learn even more, and share even more, and, right. Um, just so grateful for the experience we had. Yeah. Yeah.

**Gizmo:** Absolutely. I mean, I hope this pod

**Rooster:** actually inspires every single listener to go visit

**Gizmo:** Cuba. Yeah.

**Bam Bam:** I, I honestly, the more people that go, I feel like it's better for the industry.

It's better for their exposure. It's better for the education of every cigar smoker that

**Gizmo:** can possibly get there. Well, I, I, I think the appreciation for what we have, this thing of ours Well, yeah. The thing of our, yeah. It, it, it's [01:40:00] so elevated by being there. Exactly. Because we can try to explain it to our listeners every day mm-hmm.

Every episode, but it doesn't touch No. Those moments that you can have those special moments in the chaos of. Being in a communist jungle. Really those moments that you can have connecting with these human beings that are on the ground there, living there every day experiencing this. Yeah. It's really magical.

**Senator:** Absolutely. You know? Yeah. And you know, I think as much as it makes it for us, um, we talked about how much we were able to help and give back to kids and other folks throughout the, the local community there. But it's like even us just visiting some of these factories and just being able to show some appreciation and Yeah.

Some things that we had that folks need that work at these factories and that roll these cigars, um, and that their leadership are trying to provide, but they don't have everything. Right. They don't have amoxicillin, they don't have aspirin and Tylenols, Tylenol. And just crazy little things that for us, we take for [01:41:00] granted that are, you know, everyday essentials that are, are not hard to come by, that we were able to share and provide to folks there.

And I mean, man, it it, it was just wild things that are so small to us and seeing how we were able to help and folks be literally tearing up in disbelief that they're receiving something that we have access to so easily here, um, was really special. And, um, when you appreciate this product that much, these folks deserve that and way,

**Gizmo:** way more.

Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. We had a really, really amazing time there, man. Indeed. Yeah. And, uh, I wish it for every listener, I wish it, for every lizard out there, go to Cuba. Email us if you need some, some help getting initiated. You know, we're glad to help because, you know, the, the really, the crucial thing to, to tie all this together is to show up there with the intent to give, not to take and to learn.

**Senator:** That's to learn. That's the thing. My, my grandmother always said like, this will stick with me for [01:42:00] the rest of my life. Life's about giving more than you take. And I think when you go there, you'll have a tremendous experience. If your mindset is, I want to give more than I take here, and you'll leave shocked that somehow you feel like you left with more.


**Gizmo:** Yeah. And even going through the factories, if you're so fortunate to do it, it's less about taking, it's, it's really about the time and the education Sure. And the experience of meeting these human being. That are making this thing we love Yeah. And are fueling this thing that we love, that we can't make, the five of us can't make this thing that we're smoking right now.

Yeah. Yeah. You know? Yeah. And we have

**Rooster:** been smoking Cuban cigars for a long time. I mean, I've been smoking Cuban cigars since 95, 96. What I, what I learned

**Gizmo:** 62.

**Senator:** I wasn't

**Gizmo:** born abuelo. I

**Bam Bam:** wasn't born yet. I won't abuelo, abuelo's, immortal. Okay.

**Rooster:** You're only three years younger than me,

**Gizmo:** buddy. [01:43:00] So, you know,

**Bam Bam:** after I respect you like an elder, however I

**Gizmo:** do, you have my blessing.

**Bam Bam:** You're my fucking man. Don't ever forget that. Okay.

**Rooster:** So

**Gizmo:** lemme go get back to one point. Uh, so, uh, we've all been

**Rooster:** smoking cigars and Cuban cigars for a long time, but this trip was such an eye-opener that there's so many things that I did not realize. What goes into, yeah. Making a handmade cigar that, I mean, it's, it's amazing.

I mean, I, I just took a lot of stuff for granted. Like we, but there's so much stuff, new stuff that you learn and that's the experience and that's what every single listener, if they get a chance to go to Cuba and they're lucky enough to go to a factory and take a tour, go

**Gizmo:** for it. Do it. Sure. You'll learn so much.

Oh, a hundred

**Senator:** percent. Yeah. And I think the last thing I'll say, you realize just how tenuous this whole thing is, right? Like, we're so lucky [01:44:00] we got to meet Dan Nilo, Oscar. We think they obviously are doing a phenomenal job at Elto. We obviously met folks at Laona also doing an excellent job there if the wrong leader.

We're in charge of any of those operations. This whole thing falls apart. Could be so different. It never

**Bam Bam:** could, it could never have

**Gizmo:** happened. It falls apart Real quick.

**Senator:** Yeah. Quick. I, like you just, I have such a new appre for how tenuous this whole thing is. Like it's hanging on by just a few threads.

Individuals who have really made this spectacular and who have made the product that we consume so enjoyable. And if, you know, that weren't the case, we could be having a very different experience Sure. And, and never be able to appreciate these cigars in the way that we do now. So, yeah. Um, even that, it, it's just, it's special.


**Gizmo:** Yeah. Well said. Yes. So that's it on Lato, we had an amazing experience and we had an amazing night tonight. So we had [01:45:00] the Santiago. Amazing.

**Bam Bam:** I can't wait. Did we, did we

**Gizmo:** rate? No, we're about to. I can't wait until we're almost, almost two hours in and we're about to, we're about to

**Pagoda:** rate it. Listen, why don't we keep it simple and call it ten ten

**Bam Bam:** ten ten win.

Well, no, 10 win. No, no, no. We have to do our rating. Absolutely.

**Gizmo:** And the cigar too mean this Ramone. Tremendous. And, and amazing. Finish on the Ramon. And I gotta say, so we're what, about an hour 45 into the pod? Is that all I Yeah, but I, I, I feel like that cigar last. For the length of it, five and a half. It lasted way longer.

Cheers than I expected it to. Like we smoked it pretty slowly. Maybe it was because of the, the density of it, I don't

**Bam Bam:** know. But honestly, it's delicious to the very end. I

**Gizmo:** smoked it all the way down. And that's rare

**Bam Bam:** to see in senator's hand. Same hand. It's delicious to the end. And

**Pagoda:** a bu is, uh, just


**Bam Bam:** up a cigar.


**Gizmo:** The aue, well, middle finger [01:46:00] comes out. No, no, no. All the motherfuckers will get there. One

**Bam Bam:** that Ted bump? No. No. Dead. You know what, I, I've shifted my abuelo moniker on him. Oh, El Jefe. No doubt about it. Jefe, baller, connoisseur corner, everything over there that, that. Rooster.

**Gizmo:** Thank you. Bam. My man. High praise, baby.

All right. All right. So let's do the formal liquor rating on the Santiago 20. Bam. Bam, you're up. No, it's, it's a clearly a 10. I mean, clearly. Yeah. Do I have to, do I have to pull out the calculator for this? Nothing else said. All right. Yeah.

**Bam Bam:** Pagoda, you're up regardless. Let's keep it simple. Yeah. So the cost, it's, it's an expensive box.

It's 160 bucks, but the experience that you get is really unparalleled for a

**Pagoda:** rum. I, I'll tell you, I'm not even a rum drinker. This is fantastic.

**Bam Bam:** Yeah, it's really special. Just do it. It's

**Pagoda:** If you can get it. If you can buy it, yeah. You'd love it.

**Senator:** Senator. So we didn't talk about the rum as much as we [01:47:00] probably should have, so I wanna say a little bit about this.

Yeah. Okay. Santiago 20 is the smoothest rum I've ever had, period. Nothing is close. The viscosity that it has, the complexity of the flavors. Um,

**Bam Bam:** it's got great legs. It's got

**Senator:** great legs. Yeah. It's sweet, but not too sweet. Just Right. I think probably the perfect balance. Excuse a little on the sweet side, but still really, really well-balanced.

Um, there's nothing like, I, I mean it's like I don't understand why other rums don't drink like this or try to yet

**Bam Bam:** Yeah. Or try to emulate, right, right. That, that process of that,

**Gizmo:** but they might, but it's because of added sugar. Yeah. Sure. Which

**Senator:** this doesn't have, but, but they don't, that's the problem I have.

That's the funny thing. Right. So I think of like, I've been gifted, um, uh, Ron Z Cappa, xo, that's like all, it's like a $200 bottle of rum. Mm-hmm. [01:48:00] But it, even with all the additives, it doesn't drink anything like this. Right. So I I, man, it's such a special spirit. It's absolutely a. I wish it were really easily accessible in the States, I would buy this.

Sure. Uh, I wish it was by the caseload, but, um, if we haven't convinced a listener to visit Cuba for the cigars, if you drink rum, this alone is worth pursuing there. A hundred percent.

**Gizmo:** Incredible. Yeah. Incredible.

**Senator:** This was the first drink, I think Rooster mentioned the first drink that we had in Cuba.

**Gizmo:** Yeah, that's true.

Malia Koji. Malia Cohiba. Yeah. And I was

**Senator:** sitting there as if I had died and went to heaven. What a great way to start. How really is, how could it get, how could the strip get any better? I'm like, this is absurd. And

**Gizmo:** that was

**Rooster:** after being up since 4:00 AM

**Gizmo:** to the airport. Yeah, that's true. That was a long day.

All right. So Senator, what's your rating? 10. It's a 10 for me boys. Great. Absolutely a 10.0. Excellent. For the Santiago Deba. 20 years. [01:49:00] Amazing, amazing rub. Amazing. And even at 160 bucks to get a 10 at $160, that's, that's difficult. That that says something. Yeah. Yeah. Because we do, listen, whatever the Annie Lizard here says, we do factor in value.

And even at 160 bucks, this is an absolute 10.0, if not more. Sure. Perfect. Perfect. Rum. Agreed. We do, like,

**Senator:** I think of other spirits that we've rated at 10, I mean like Remy Martin xo, that's a $200 bottle. Yeah. 220 some places. Yeah. At $160. This drinks with this holds its weight with any top shelf, high end spirit, any spirit, whether it's a single malt scotch, a burger, a hundred percent.

Yeah. A cognac, anything.

**Pagoda:** Yeah. And you, you've gotta remember as a listener, right, like. A spirit is that expensive? We are a little more harsher towards the ratings. That's true. So when we go and rate it a 10 after [01:50:00] it being that expensive, it's definitely worth a try, if you can.

**Bam Bam:** Yeah. It says so much about it.

Yeah, it's true. A hundred percent. Good point.

**Gizmo:** Are you guys ready to do the, uh, formal lizard rating? Yes, sir. On the Ramone onus, onus number two, El Rooster. You're up. So good. So good. Yeah.

**Rooster:** This cigar has really changed. Yeah. I mean, it would've gotten like a six when we initially tried it in 2020, but

**Gizmo:** this cigar is a 10 now.

Wow. Wow, wow. Its, it's a 10. Wow. Yeah. Yeah. I, so, I, I completely. This is one of the best ELs regionals, Cuban cigars I've had. It's one of the best ELs I think I've ever had. I think it's the best EL I've had. Maybe. Maybe like, so we

**Bam Bam:** mentioned this earlier, it's the best EL we've ever recorded on this podcast.

**Gizmo:** Hundred percent percent. There's no doubt about that. They're most on the podcast. No doubt. They're going further. I'm going further than that's the best EL I've ever had ever. Oh wow. Yeah. Okay. Absolutely a 10 for me. Great. No question, Senator.

**Senator:** This warms my heart only because I gave the cigar to Gizmo for his [01:51:00] birthday two years ago.

Yeah. So this is a man smoking it on his birthday now. On his birthday now. Wow. And this is a man who has everything, everything, everything. This is like, that's not true. Almost everything. Right? This is one of the few cigars he didn't have that I was like, scouring my humor, like, fuck, oh, well Lucy, he's got that.

Oh this, he's got that. This was one of the few things. So I am so ha like your score alone has made this night for me. Awesome. Because the fact that I can give you something that you enjoyed that much. That's awesome. Amazing. Um, I'm also gonna give it a 10. I mean, when I had this the other day. Wow. That was a nine.

I don't know how or what, or this cigar knew we were, it was gonna be on the big stage and this was the time to prove that it was worth it. This is a 10, I mean, it was all the way through. Mm-hmm. Down to the nub. Perfect. Thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyable. Yeah. And you talk about the price point, even at what it's going now, 50 something bucks a stick, like the fact that this lasted this long, that this [01:52:00] almost provided two hours of flawless enjoyment.

It's flawless. It's worth it. I mean, that's like, you know, two sticks that would smoke an hour a piece or even 45 minutes and, and you divide that, right? That's 20 something bucks a stick. Even the value for what it's going for right now, I think is worth it. And the fact that we're giving this a 10 now, I mean it can only get better with another year or two of age.

**Gizmo:** I think this with age is gonna get, wow. It, it's gonna be even better. We shall see. Absolutely. You're a hundred percent right Poona. It's

**Bam Bam:** very simple. It's a 10.

**Gizmo:** Well, bam, bam.

**Bam Bam:** So I hate to

**Gizmo:** be,

that was, uh, that was Rooster ex exerting his, uh, so you can

**Bam Bam:** all see that. I'm smoking this down to the nub. My fingers are burning. It is probably one of the most delicious cigars I've ever had. Keep

**Senator:** going, keep going. I'm

**Bam Bam:** taking notes. But $50 a cigar. So there's, there's a value question that some [01:53:00] people will have now in this room.

You know, you, I'm not a procurement expert. You guys can get access to cigars that most people in the world. Are

**Gizmo:** we really doing this on my birthday? We're doing this on my birthday. I got a question. We're doing this on my birthday. Here's a general

**Senator:** question. We went through the accountability hours. Yes.

**Bam Bam:** I've been through all for all that. Yes. Like four hours, plural. Okay. How attainable is this cigar?

**Gizmo:** Very. If you want it, you can find it right

**Senator:** now. I can get this cigar. Do you know why you can find it? Ba. Because people like me bought this when it first came out and then you couldn't find it. That's when everyone bought it and then they smoked it right away.

Yeah. And they said, oh, this isn't that great. And then they said, I wanna move it, because they weren't patient and they didn't wait for the moment that we're having tonight. So here's what

**Bam Bam:** I'm gonna, they can't find it. Here's what I'm gonna say. So because of the price, I'm fluctuating between a nine and a 10.

It's the only issue that I have. It's Gus's birthday is the cost.

**Senator:** Ray. Hold on. 30. I paid 30. Lemme finish

**Pagoda:** something.

**Bam Bam:** A stick. Can I finish? Lemme finish. Go ahead. Because of the time that Senator put in, he kept these [01:54:00] rooster, you have the boxes of this as well. You know, I have to give it a 10. But the value proposition, it's difficult for a lot of people to go after the cigar.

I, I'm giving it a 10. You got a 10, but it's expensive. $15 a cigar. Here's what I'll say. Quite, quite the investment for

**Gizmo:** a lot of people. So we just talked about Legi for a while. Yeah. Right? Yeah. Cohiba coming out of there. The lowest price Cohiba is $10 more than this. I mean, maybe you get a signal one.

Yeah. 65

**Bam Bam:** bucks is like your entry

**Gizmo:** point. A tiny stick. I mean, you're talking about, I'm, let's, so let's discount signal ones two and Xito forget for a cohiba or a booster. It's

**Rooster:** about 60 bucks.

**Gizmo:** 60 bucks, yeah.

**Bam Bam:** 66. That's what I said. 65 is like your barrier of entry for pretty much.

**Gizmo:** And it's nowhere close to this one.

Yeah. Honestly, it's not, yeah. Nowhere close to this. Yeah. So I take a 10.

**Bam Bam:** Uh, I'm, uh, okay. I'm giving it a 10.

**Gizmo:** Done. I respect your score, but what I'm saying is that this cigar, as we spoke to tonight Yeah. It's, it, it,

**Bam Bam:** it's tremendous. It's, I'm couching it a bit, [01:55:00] but it's a 10.

**Gizmo:** Yeah, it's a 10, a hundred percent.

**Senator:** I'm glad you gave it a 10 cuz Yeah. Would've been a ride. I did not share any more cigars

**Gizmo:** with you. If you get any lower, my man. Well, you know, bam. Can't procure anything.

**Senator:** The Lucy Cabin, his tower just appeared. It did. I'm learning.

**Bam Bam:** I'm learning. Okay, Imer. Thank you. Thank you. Well,

**Gizmo:** boys, what a fantastic night. It really is. First off, thank you for the champagne and the cake and the cigars Senator and the cigars from Senator. Yep. What an excellent, excellent pairing. A 10.0.

This is the first time ever, a 10.0 for both the Santiago del Cuba. That's true. Rum, uh, 20 year rum and the Ramon Ionis 2019 el uh, Ionis. Number two. What a luxury experience we had tonight. Absolutely. Yeah. And, and to be able to share with the listeners our experience at lato, hopefully the first of many.

What an excellent way. To share that experience. Tremendous night. Yeah.

**Rooster:** I [01:56:00] mean, can a, can a listener actually go to the

**Gizmo:** Lato factory? It's

**Bam Bam:** difficult. I was thinking that, you know, it's gonna be challenging, but you gotta make an effort. He left

**Pagoda:** to go to Cuba

**Gizmo:** first, but I'll tell you, going to Cuba, going to Lato is great, but going to Cuba is not defined by our experience at these factories.

No. Which is, no, it's not. Which, why, by the way, two episodes ago we started with your first visits, our second going to Cuba. It had nothing to do with cigars. No. Because the value coming home, really, the cigars elevated. Sure. Going to Lato Sure. Having the experience we did was great, but it, it, it, it's absolutely defined by the experience we had with the Cuban people and immersing

**Bam Bam:** yourself in that culture is really critical.


**Senator:** percent. That's, that's the, that's the operative point here. Yeah. Right. You're not, not going to Lego. Leaving with stuff. Yeah. Aways

**Bam Bam:** not a single one. Yes.

**Senator:** The value of going to Lego is the knowledge. Yep. And thanks [01:57:00] to Daniella, we've been able to gain that and share that. Yep. And so if I'm a listener, you know, I don't necessarily have to go to Lego to define my Cuba experience.

All the other reasons that we've enumerated in a prior episode where we talked about the magic of Cuba. That's why you go to Cuba. Yeah, exactly. This is just to enhance that experience by getting knowledge that I hope we have shared sufficiently with listeners that they feel that they now know exactly what Daniella would want the world to know about what happens at Lato.

Right. Exactly. Right.

**Gizmo:** And and for us, it's, it was an education that we're able to share with everyone. Sure. You know, it, it's like, well, we learned, we learned a tremendous amount as if we're never able to access lato again. I, I'm fulfilled. Yeah, that's right. Every time we go to, uh, to Cuba, I'm fulfilled.


**Senator:** I'm good. Right. In the same way I said earlier, if someone had the same experience we did and shared this with the world, I wouldn't need to go there. Exactly. But it didn't exist. That's why we did

**Gizmo:** it. Yeah. And I'm so glad we did and I'm so glad we were able to [01:58:00] do it. So, all right boys, A fantastic night, a 10.0 for both the rum and the cigars tonight.

**Senator:** Phenomenal gizmo, how would you rate your birthday?

**Gizmo:** 11.0.

**Bam Bam:** There you go.

**Gizmo:** That's what we want to hear, my man. Yeah. Thank you boys. I appreciate you all. I love you all birthday. Love you. Thank you, man. Love you. All right, and we'll, uh, we'll see you next week. Hope you enjoyed this episode. Thanks for joining us.

You could find our merch store and ratings archive at our brand new website, lounge lizards pod.com. That's lounge lizards p od.com. Don't forget to leave us a rating and subscribe on your favorite podcast platform. If you have any comments, questions, do you wanna reach out? Say hello, tell us what you're smoking, email us hello@loungelizardspod.com.

You can also find us on Instagram at Lounge Lizards Pod. We really appreciate your time and we'll, uh, we'll see you next week.[01:59:00]