I have been enjoying premium cigars since 2001 and have been writing about them for over five years. I will try almost any cigar once and have a habit of returning to leaves that haven’t impressed me much in the past just to see if someone else’s blends can do the trick. I am constantly curious about new blends hitting the market. I’ve been on cigar-company-sponsored factory trips to the Dominican Republic (La Aurora and General Cigar) and Nicaragua (Drew Estate); each time I was able to absorb a wealth of knowledge from those I met. I founded Tiki Bar Online as something other than a cigar blog, but through over 5 years of evolution, it became very much a cigar-oriented blog. The other members of Team Tiki Bar and I discussed how to improve the site and the result was Leaf Enthusiast.
I live in East Tennessee. My home shop is Burns Tobacconist in Chattanooga, where I also work two days a month. I am also the founder and organizer for the annual Chattanooga Tweet-Up and Cigar Festival, which Burns has been gracious enough to host for four years.
I’ve been enjoying cigars since late 2003 and Dave was the one who got me interested in cigars. It was during Cigar Fest 2010 that Dave asked me to join him in writing form the blog. My “regular” job is a telecom analyst for a credit union here in Southern California. I really enjoy trying almost any new cigar I can. However the cigars I enjoy most are in the medium to full range.
I have been enjoying various strengths and makes of cigars since my first introduction to them in the summer of 2004. A contributor to the now-retired Cigar Spy cigar blog, I am always happy to offer an opinion on cigars to family, friends and business colleagues.
Having grown up in the South, The Hippie was no stranger to tobacco. Although a city boy, his farming cousins were anything but, and visiting them frequently allowed him to watch the process of tobacco grow from seedling to harvest to curing in the barns. Both grandfathers enjoyed a pipe, and that opened up a new door to a more fragrant and sophisticated way to smoke. The smell was intoxicating. Then in the 90s, prominent athletes and actors really started to endorse cigar smoking. Just like pipe tobacco, the smell was unique and enjoyable, and promoted a more cultured way to enjoy tobacco. Remembering Michael Jordan and Scotty Pippen smoking cigars after winning another championship for the Chicago Bulls, or seeing actors like Jack Nicholson made cigar smoking mainstream. Friends, too, were enjoying cigars and the passion had started. Everything else is, as they say, history.
Vern grew up in the Bronx, but has spent the last 40 years in Southern California. A good friend introduced him to cigars at a church function…a Barn Dance, actually. Being the best-dressed man in attendance, the friend said, “With an outfit like that, you need a good cigar!” To which Vern replied, “You got one?” The rest is a bit of SoCal cigar history as Vern took to cigars quickly and suddenly it was hard to go anywhere without someone already knowing him. He loves attending big cigar events and meeting new people; he has been to 9 Las Vegas Big Smokes, a CI CigarFest, and the 2012 Chattanooga TweetUp. He is also known for smoking his cigars past the nub…a point at which most people would toss the stogie, he still has 15 or 20 minutes. The practice of getting every possible bit of smoking pleasure from a stick has long been termed “Verning” a cigar.