“Cigars? Nobody was really into them when I was growing up. Especially me.”
This confession from avid hunter and author Doug Giles may seem strange considering he now owns his own cigar company but every story has a beginning and Doug’s began in a bar in Miami, Florida. “I was hanging out with my friend and American Airlines pilot Cameron Hitchcock and his flyer buddies, drinking, having a good time – this was probably back in 1996 – when I noticed just how much these guys were enjoying sitting back roasting a really nice stick. I gave it a try and have been hooked ever since.”
Fast forward 17 years and as Doug explains, “Probably 10 million cigars smoked” later to 2013 when Doug heads into his favorite tobacconist to stock up on his favorite brand only to find they were out. “They were out of Padrón and I’m sitting there freaking out,” Doug explains with the same fervor as he did nearly twenty years ago. “I’m shaking like a fiend trying to go cold turkey and the guy that ran the cigar bar said, ‘You like Padrón, Doug, you’ve got to try these’ and he had all these unmarked cigars in this kind’a cash register type very non-sexy humidor. He grabbed a stash of them and said, ‘Trust me, they’re great cigars.’ And I said, ‘Why do you have them up here?’ and he goes, ‘Just trust me. I’ll give you six and if you don’t like them I’ll give you your money back.’”
Doug went home, tried the unlabeled cigars, and hurried back the next day to buy all the shop had in stock. “I told the owner just how phenomenal they were and through our back-and-forth he told me that the creator of the smokes, Alberto, frequented the shop often.” Doug insisted that the owner call him the next time Alberto was in the store. The shopkeeper did and Doug rushed to the shop to meet him. The two men hit it off almost immediately.
Alberto turned out to be Alberto Medina, a master cigar blender and owner of PIO Cigar Co. in Little Havana. Doug was so impressed with Alberto’s work that the two quickly partnered to form Safari Cigars shortly thereafter. These premiere smokes come in a variety of sizes and are named after classic safari calibers. All are hand crafted in Nicaragua and feature a San Andrés maduro wrapper, an Ecuadoran binder, and are complemented by a Nicaraguan filler. The result is a smooth cigar with notes of molasses, coffee, black pepper, and roasted nuts. And they are almost as beautiful as they are flavorful with near-zero seams and few if any veins.
Safari Cigars offers five choices of cigars with the possibility of a new one premiering in January. “We’re working in conjunction with John Rigby Gun Company in London,” Doug excitedly details. “We are going to do a joint venture with them with the .416 Rigby Cigar and of course with their branding on it and again it being a collaboration between them and us. I just received the .416 cigars today – they look beautiful man. They got the Rigby gold-layered on the dark navy blue label and of course they’re going to roll them out if everything’s hunky dory with the powers that be which if they know anything about cigars they’re going to be tickled pink and they’re going to be hooting n’ hollering over there in London and doing backflips that they have such a premier stick at their disposal.”
If Safari Cigars’ new .416 Rigby is half as good as the rest of their catalog, I might be doing backflips myself.
.450/.400: Robusto · 5 x 50
.375 Mag: Churchill · 7 x 48
.500 Nitro: Toro · 6 x 52
Wildman: Torpedo · 6 x 52
.600 Nitro: Mondo · 6 x 60