When cigars and music meet: The Oliva Serie V Melanio Gran Toro Limited Edition 2024
When cigars and music meet: The Oliva Serie V Melanio Gran Toro Limited Edition 2024
Image: Supplied

According to the report, “Cigar Market Size & Share Analysis — Growth Trends & Forecasts (2024-2029)", by India-based market intelligence and advisory firm Mordor Intelligence, “the cigar market size is estimated at $53.64bn in 2024, and is expected to reach $88.28bn by 2029”. It also lists the largest market as North America and the fastest-growing market as Asia-Pacific.

As a result, we’re seeing a lot of attention being placed on gaining a foothold in both markets, including with interesting collaborations and partnerships, such as rapper Nasir “Nas” Jones buying into Escobar Cigars and using the global reach that he has built over the past two decades to expand Escobar’s distribution network.

In 2022, after some years in the tobacco industry, former investment banker Luciano Meirelles cofounded Luciano Cigars with Brazilian-born former NBA player Tiago Splitter. And, in keeping with the basketball theme, Meirelles recently released the Underrated brand with five-time NBA champion Ron Harper, initially as a silent partner because, as he said in a Cigar Aficionado article, “both wanted the brand to stand on its own without the need for celebrity hype”.

Produced at Luciano Cigars’ factory in Esteli, Nicaragua, Underrated is said to be made with a Mexican San Andres wrapper, Nicaraguan wrapper and blend of Connecticut Broadleaf and Ecuadorean Habano filler.

Like Escobar Cigars, two brands that are looking to harness the hype around two well-known personalities are Avo Cigars and Gurkha Cigars.

Avo Cigars was established by jazz musician and composer Avo Uvezian in 1987. Davidoff signed an exclusive distribution agreement with Avo Cigars in 1995, and in 2015 undertook a refresh of the brand. At the end of 2023, Avo Cigars announced the release of what it called “Avo Expressions 2024”, a collaboration with producer, DJ, photographer and former rapper D-Nice, which will be available in the US towards the end of April 2024. If you weren’t into hip hop and Boogie Down Productions in the late 1980s, you wouldn’t have heard about D-Nice. Many people learnt about him through his Club Quarantine early in the pandemic.

A limited number of the wooden boxes of 15 cigars have been created. The boxes are engraved with DJ tools such as speakers, records, headphone jacks and needles. According to the release, the cigar is a toro with an Ecuadorean wrapper, Mexican binder and filler blend of Dominican Republic and US tobacco.

Meanwhile, Gurkha Cigars saw the release of a collaboration with marketing and branding company LGNDS called Tyson 2.0 Undisputed. Tyson 2.0 is Mike Tyson’s brand, which has been very active in the cannabis space since 2021, and the Undisputed looks like his first foray into cigars.

A Gurkha Cigars and Mike Tyson collaboration
A Gurkha Cigars and Mike Tyson collaboration
Image: Supplied

Gurkha stated that the cigars come in Habano and Maduro, in Toro and Churchill, made by El Arista Cigars in the Dominican Republic. With the Habano, we are looking at an Ecuadorean wrapper, an Indonesian binder and a Nicaraguan and Dominican Republic filler while the Maduro has a Mexican San Andrés wrapper, Cameroon binder, and filler from the Dominican Republic and the US.

Taking a different angle, Oliva Cigars partnered with French classical pianist Paul Montag, who did not collaborate on a specific cigar or get involved in the business of the cigars. Instead, he brought what he does best to the table. Said to have been prompted by a moment of extended reflection, while he was playing the piano and smoking an Oliva Serie V Melanio, Montag later had a conversation with the CEO of Oliva’s holding company, Fred Vandermarliere, about the possibility of a collaboration between cigar and classical music.

The result is the 5 ½ by 60 ring gauge Oliva Serie V Melanio Gran Toro Limited Edition 2024 made with an Ecuadorean Sumatra wrapper and both Nicaraguan binder and fillers. And a classical music album called #dontsmokebutenjoy. Coming in at just more than an hour long, the album is a great companion for a cigar, especially in those moments of introspection and reflection.

Increasingly, cigar manufacturers, big and small, are collaborating outside their respective industries and long may it continue. I am all for anything that makes cigars more accessible and breaks down the stereotypes that generally follow cigars.

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