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Cigar Insider: Litto Gomez of La Flor Dominicana

11 Mar 2010

Yesterday, cigar maker Litto Gomez showcased his new “Air Bender” blend at two Old Virginia Tobacco locations. We caught up with him at the in-store event in Falls Church, Virginia, to try the latest release from La Flor Dominicana and get his thoughts on the ever-encroaching war on tobacco.

Litto Gomez of LFDAir Bender, formerly a blend exclusive to La Flor Dominicana events, sports an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper and Dominican binder and filler tobaccos from Litto’s farm in La Canela.  He’s been stockpiling the wrapper for a few years now to make sure that he can keep the blend consistent going forward. Not as spicy as his well-regarded Double Ligero blend, the intended profile is of “refined power,” says Gomez.

Air Bender is offered in four vitolas that retail for $7-8.25 apiece: Matatan (5 x 50), Guerrero (6.25 x 54), Maestro (5.25 x 52), and Valiente (6.25 x 60). Each name honors a kung fu warrior. “I’m enamored with Chinese culture,” said Gomez.

Some think the line’s name is itself a nod to martial arts (apparently there’s an animated television series called Avatar: The Last Airbender).

But Gomez gave us a different explanation. “When we smoke, we bend the air,” he said. “You can see smoke split the air as it leaves a cigar. That’s why I thought ‘Air Bender’ would be a perfect name for my newest line.”

We asked what fans could expect next from La Flor Dominicana. Gomez says a smaller ring gauge version of the Air Bender should be ready in time for the IPCPR Trade Show in August.  (All the initial sizes in the line are 50 RG or larger.) He was also excited about  Small Batch No. 3, due out in a few weeks.

Defending Cigar Rights

Litto Gomez, like many cigar makers these days, is very concerned about excessive taxes, smoking bans, and other anti-tobacco zealotry. “The industry is a very easy target,” he says. “It’s important that we realize the stakes in this battle: The other side wants to erase tobacco.”

The anti-tobacco lobby has always pushed for more bans and taxes, he explained, and until politicians feel someone pushing back there’s nothing to stop them. That’s why Gomez has been a key supporter of Cigar Rights of America (CRA) since its inception in August 2008.

“I’m surprised by how apathetic smokers have been…how willing they are to accept taxes and bans,” exclaims Gomez. He says even casual smokers should join CRA because “it provides the voice of the consumer and helps defend our rights.”

Patrick A & Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

12 Responses to “Cigar Insider: Litto Gomez of La Flor Dominicana”

  1. dmjones Thursday, March 11, 2010 at 4:08 am #

    Except that the other Cigar Insider reported in December that Litto says the name was inspired by his love for Kung Fu movies…at this point, it sounds like he's trying to backtrack on that. 🙂

    Whatever…the cigar is great and I look forward to seeing a smaller ring version of it that will allow that wrapper's flavor to come through even better.

  2. fishbulb Thursday, March 11, 2010 at 10:45 am #

    dnjones is right.

    It's a total Martial Arts reference. If not, why are the sizes named after "kung fu warriors.". The band even has some crossed swords on it (frankly I'm surprised Ghurka isn't upset about that). Perhaps he's trying to backtrack because he found out about the cartoon and the movie based on it this summer?

    Oddly enough, I prefer smaller ring gauges but this cigar is actually better in the larger sizes. No idea why. I've never experienced that before. I tried either the Matalan or the Maestro–I forget which. Both are essentially robustos…not sure why he made two vitolas so close in size. I tried the Guerrero and preferred it. Weird

    And if you haven't checked out Avatar The Last Airbender, you're missing out on a real treat. Even if you don't like cartoons. Some of the best writing on TV in years.

  3. Tim Thursday, March 11, 2010 at 11:48 am #

    I'm not sure why his explanation means it isn't also a kung fu reference. Maybe he came up with the airbender concept then connected that to his love of martial arts movies with the names.

  4. dmjones Thursday, March 11, 2010 at 12:37 pm #

    I've actually done some research on this whole thing (too much time on my hands, I know) and it's all very bizarre.

    The original claim was that it was a tribute to his love of Kung Fu movies. Some people claimed that the "Air Bender" was some mythical Kung Fu master, but I've also read that the first reference to Air Bender came in like 2005 with the "Avatar The Last Airbender" cartoon, which came from Japan…not really known for its Kung Fu movies. So that kind of blows up the idea that the name is based on old Bruce Lee-era movies.

    Then there are those crazy swords…which don't resemble anything I've ever seen in a Kung Fu film (admittedly, I haven't watched any in many years), but are more like something out of "Arabian nights."

    Then there are folks who are confusing "Avatar The Last Airbender" with James Cameron's "Avatar" which is just kind of comical.

    In the end…it really doesn't matter what he calls it, it's a helluva cigar, but this whole naming thing and the explanation has at least provided some fun kabuki theater for the last couple months (like how I slipped in that Japanese genre reference in there just for fun?).

  5. mighty Thursday, March 11, 2010 at 1:40 pm #

    Ive smoked a couple of these airbenders. I really like them. I would give my comments regarding the flavor profile, but I just cannot remember off the top of my head.

    Good smokes!

  6. fishbulb Saturday, March 13, 2010 at 1:56 pm #

    dmjones: just a nerd clarification. Avatar The Last Airbender is an American production, not Japanese. It's drawn in an Anime style but it's from the US.

  7. cj Monday, March 15, 2010 at 4:23 am #

    I have had two airbenders, both were o.k., and the second, a toro vitola, was almost completely plugged. I paid over $8, and I'm done with LFD stuff for a while. Not much flavor in this one to me, and I'm tired of faulty construction ruining the experience for my money. I smoked a habano perfecto after the bender and preferred the habano, for those who have not tried it!

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