In August of 2021, Reinhard Pohorec joined Luciano Meirelles and Joshua Habursky to discuss their latest project, the El Politico Cigar.
More than just a cigar, El Politico is a uniting project, a heartfelt message of advocacy, and a most delicious business card from Joshua Habursky, Head of Government Affairs for the Premium Cigar Association.
Together with Luciano Meirelles, a partner in Tabacalera Pichardo as well as co-founder and president of ACE Prime Cigars, Habursky developed this special project that culminated in the creation of the first ever El Politico cigar.
Whilst samples of this new cigar line have been given away to cigar industry professionals and governmental officials, this enlightened panel discussion marks the official launch of El Politico to the public.
Habursky and Meirelles sat down with Reinhard Pohorec to discuss the inspiration behind the concept, their very personal perspectives on the premium cigar world, as well as the technical details of the highly aromatic Nicaraguan Toro.
Pohorec, founder of Light em Up World, president of Cigar Rights of the World, and proud member of the Bespoke Unit family, hosted the documentary and described the moment:
“I am honored to share this unique project with the global cigar community. I’ve always considered myself a humble servant of the premium cigar aficionado and those who create the cigars whom I have come to treasure and respect so highly. Thus, I gladly accepted this honorable invite, firmly believing in building bridges amongst cigar lovers all around the world and avidly communicating exceptional projects and products.”
On the El Politico Cigar, Reinhard added, “El Politico is not just a cigar, even though it smokes exceptionally well and is an intriguing experience by itself. First and foremost though, it is a rather unique concept and a business card, unlike any other.”
[Recently, Reinhard published an intriguing article on his site intended to serve as an ode to the local cigar lounge. In it, he details the four critical pillars that help the standard cigar bar evolve into your preferred cigar sanctuary. You can read all about it here.]
Joshua Habursky is Head of Government Affairs at the Premium Cigars Association. The PCA is the oldest, largest, and most active trade association representing and assisting retailers of premium tobacco products.
In this role, Joshua serves as a legislative and regulatory advocate for over 3,000 retailers and 30,000+ employees who belong to the PCA. He directly supports the PCA in their fight against business-killing regulations and taxes while providing professional development and trade events that help foster business relationships within the industry.
Joshua is also the founder and chairman of the Grassroots Professional Network, an adjunct professor at the GWU Graduate School of Political Management, and a cited writer in publications such as The Hill, Bloomberg, and Huffington Post, among others.
Born in São Paulo, Brazil, Luciano Meirelles had his first cigar at 18 years old. However, it wouldn’t be until many years later that he’d become involved with the cigar industry.
After founding a very successful and influential political consulting company in South America, Meirelles was hired by the Dominican Republic to serve as an advocate for Dominican tobacco throughout the region. It was in this endeavor that he met Ernesto Perez-Carrillo, founder of La Gloria Cubana.
Through Perez-Carrillo, Meirelles met Eradio Pichardo, the Cuban founder of Dhatuey Tabacos (now Tabacalera Pichardo) in Nicaragua. It was Pichardo’s mentorship that helped Meirelles become a “behind the scenes” player in the cigar industry. More recently, and with Pichardo’s continued support, Meirelles launched ACE Prime Cigars which has likewise enjoyed growing success.
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Topics Covered In This Episode
01:15; Joshua Habursky’s Role At PCA & Inspiration For Cigar
Over the past 2.5 years, Joshua has served the PCA as their chief lobbyist and more recently been promoted to the position of Head of Government Affairs.
Through his work, Joshua had become known as the “cigar guy” in Washington DC; this is what originally sparked the idea of using a cigar as a sort of business card. Additionally, the cigar would allow Joshua to share his own personality and preferred cigar taste profile with those he worked with.
03:50; Luciano Meirelles’ Take On Creating El Politico Along With Joshua
Meirelles describes the creation of the El Politico blend as a very “organic” process given that Habursky was able to describe the taste profile he wanted for this special cigar. After brief conversations and a bit of back-and-forth, both were able to agree on a final “home run” blend.
In the early months of 2021, Joshua visited Luciano’s farm & factory in Nicaragua. He was able to become familiar not only with the process but also with the employees that make the product, an experience he describes as significantly eye-opening.
With regards to the intended smoking experience, the El Politico was designed to be a medium cigar that would not be too strong for beginner aficionados such as those who may only smoke a handful of cigars each month.
09:00; Meirelles Talks ACE Prime Cigars And Recent Growth
Luciano shares his belief that his own vocation is to “work behind the scenes”; in fact, that is mostly how he has established himself in the cigar industry over the past 15 years. Meirelles has made cigars for many different brands and clients over the years, small and large, including some under non-disclosure agreements (NDA).
When first considering launching his own brand, ACE Prime, Meirelles valued the opinion of those within the industry with whom he already had relationships. Ultimately, he was humbled to receive their blessing and to feel that he was supported by peers within the industry.
11:03; Meirelles And Pichardo Link Up
Meirelles explains how he and Eradio Pichardo, his future business partner, were introduced by Ernesto Perez-Carrillo.
At that time, Meirelles experienced a personal event that led him to take a sabbatical year during which he’d simplify his life, spend time with family, and focus on his passion – cigars.
After fleeing Cuba, Pichardo and Meirelles opened a small factory that over the years would become Tabacalera Pichardo.
12:27; Habursky’s Decision To Work With Luciano For This Special Cigar
From early moments in their friendship, Joshua explains how Luciano “took him under his wing” and taught him everything that Joshua was hoping to learn about the process of making premium cigars.
Habursky also expresses how he sought a partner who would allow him to pursue his own interest. For instance, he was able to leverage his previous experience with public affairs firms to design the band of the El Politico cigar.
The El Politico will be made available later this year to the general public. Sales of the cigar will benefit the PCA in their fight against excessive regulation and taxation of cigars throughout the United States.
16:45; Cigars Establish Common Ground For Global Community To Evolve
Even though cigars aficionados often come from many different backgrounds, good cigars can serve as a perfect medium for experiences and sharing of personal stories.
Moreover, cigars are often smoked to mark important achievements in one’s life. Such moments aren’t endless, individuals have maybe two or three dozen of these in their entire lives, and enjoying good cigars in those times helps to remember them more fondly.
19:30; Joshua’s Anecdote Of Luciano Casually Blending A Cigar “On-The-Spot”
20:40; Which Aspects Of The Cigar Smoking Experience Does Luciano Consider When Creating A New Cigar?
Luciano Meirelles believes all of the elements of the smoking experience are critical to consider. Personally, he does not detach his own self from the blending process; indeed, his very personality is intended to influence the cigar he’s creating and mold the experience of those who smoke them.
25:47; Current Popularity And Future For El Politico
Habursky expresses substantial pride in how El Politico came together and finds joy in seeing other aficionados satisfied with the cigar.
Joshua also comments on the confidence that working closely with Luciano gave him, especially after experiencing Meirelle’s humility in helping him learn so many aspects of the process and industry.
29:00; El Politico’s Success & Luciano Being A Part Of Its Creation
The El Politico cigar has received great feedback from those who have been fortunate enough to try it, a fact that Luciano also finds great pride and satisfaction in.
31:45; How Is The El Politico Project Different To Other Ones?
Briefly put, Luciano comments on how his own personality and that of Joshua were very much direct inspirations for the final product. He also explains that he is not working with other outside brands for future cigars – Joshua’s El Politico was an exception.
On technical side, the El Politico is a Toro vitola (6×52) made entirely with tobacco grown by Meirelles except for the wrapper. In this case, the wrapper is a Mexican San Andres tobacco that was purchased by Meirelles years before and then fermented in a very unique way.
33:40; Reinhard’s Experience With El Politico
Finesse and elegance are two elements that stand out for Reinhard when it comes to smoking the El Politico. These are in spite of the tanginess, spice, and rich minerality that is a common trademark of Nicaraguan tobacco such as that used in El Politico.
34:10; Joshua’s Unique Take On El Politico And Its Success
When El Politico cigars were first manufactured, Joshua shares anecdotes of how he would smoke many per day. Indeed, El Politico has a unique balance that not many other cigars possess.
He continues on the sharing element within the cigar industry: different industry experts will share special cigars with one another. This made Joshua slightly apprehensive, as he knew that if he was going to be sharing his “business card” cigar with peers, it had to be good.
Now that he’s received very good feedback from those who have been gifted an El Politico, he finds much more satisfaction in sharing it with those he cares about rather than smoking them himself.
41:25; How Individual Aficionados Can Support And Advocate For Premium Cigars
The right to enjoy cigars is, unfortunately, not indefinite. Constant, persistent advocacy and defense are necessary for aficionados the world over to continue enjoying this artisanal craft.
To help make the cigar industry stronger, individual cigar smokers can join local associations such as PCA (for retailers) whose mission is to ensure the longevity and growth of the industry. Moreover, engaging in conversation with other aficionados about the perils facing the hobby is also critical – the support does not simply have to be financial. Getting the word out and raising awareness is just as important, if not more so.