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Cigar Insider: Rafael Guillen and Andy Wood of GDW

13 Jan 2010

Known in Nicaragua as “the kids of Estelí,” Andy Wood and Rafael Guillen are committed to making their mark in the rough and tumble cigar world. As with many cigar makers, there’s a family history in tobacco, but that’s about the only conventional aspect to the story of GDW Cigars.

Miraflor photoThe pair met in Oregon when Rafael was attending college on a scholarship. They later worked to put together a farm and factory in Nicaragua, only to be crippled by Hurricane Felix in 2007. They persevered, and their Reserva Miraflor has lately received several positive online reviews and comments.

Intrigued by their story, I exchanged several emails with Andy and Rafael to get some details about their company.

“It’s definitely a family operation,“ Rafael says, listing off the brothers and sister involved, as well as Andy, the sales manager who is “like my brother.” They all took a risk, sinking their money as well as their economic futures into the project. They recognize the difficulties, but refuse to be cowed.

“We still have the same determination in our work because we know that even if the economy goes down, if the product is really good, as the Reserva Miraflor, people will buy,” Rafael says. “Because we are small, and we are not producing a lot of cigars, we have 11 people making cigars: five of then rolling, five bunching, and one selecting the wrapper and binder. But we hope to grow and give more people jobs in the near future.”

For Andy, the significance of marketing and how difficult it can be to get their cigars in people’s hands has been an eye-opener: “Our products are great, but unless people pick them up…no one will know.” Right now, he’s focused on getting their website up and running. The cigars are also at some shops, which you can find by searching for Reserva Miraflor. (You’ll also likely find the firm referred to as Guillen Cigars.)

The name Reserva Miraflor, incidentally, came from a nearby park known for its beauty and diversity. The cigar is a Nicaraguan puro blended to be a medium- to full-bodied, flavorful smoke. They’re also producing a line known as Goviado and have done a few private labels.

I chanced across the Reserva Miraflor at a local shop and wrote about it in a Quick Smoke this summer. You’d have to be pretty hard-hearted not to pull for a small operation like this. They may lack some of the experience and big-money backing of others, but I can’t imagine any operation could best GDW on enthusiasm.

I, for one, hope they find great success.

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

4 Responses to “Cigar Insider: Rafael Guillen and Andy Wood of GDW”

  1. Padronnie Wednesday, January 13, 2010 at 1:34 pm #

    Never heard of them before. Thanks for the article George, I’ll be on the lookout for these.

  2. Guillen Cigars Tuesday, February 2, 2010 at 2:41 am #

    Hey George, I just wanted to say thanks for taking an interest in our small yet dedicated company. I hope your readers enjoyed learning about us as well. If any of them had any more questions Id be more than happy to answer what I could.

    Guillen Cigars (GDW)

  3. JC Melton Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 1:21 am #

    There is no doubt about it. These are great cigars and if you get an opportunity you should try one. My last one is in the humi since September, and I can’t bring myself to smoke it. I want to get some more before I give it a fond farewell!

  4. Jack Lo Cicero Friday, December 21, 2012 at 3:39 pm #

    Andy is back at pushing for GDW Cigars again.
    I recently purchased a couple bundles from the 3rd Gen. Reserva Mira Flor and Habano Rose from him.
    These are exceptional quality smokes that rival many of the major kown brands out there.
    Raffael, I wish you and Andy much success!