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Cigar Insider: Ernest Gocaj of General Cigar

23 Oct 2017

For anyone interested in cigars and tobacco, CAO’s Fuma Em Corda is a fascinating release. The sight of its Arapiraca ligero filler leaves fermenting in thick ropes resembling coiled anacondas is unlike any other.

I was, of course, curious about the cigar, the tobacco, and the process, so I reached out to Ernest Gocaj, General Cigar’s director of tobacco procurement who’s deeply involved in the company’s adoption of many exotic strains from around the world.

Gocaj said he came upon the special tobacco used in the Fuma Em Corda in Alagoas, a small Brazilian state on the eastern coast. The rope fermentation process is used only in Alagoas and only for ligero leaves—those at the top of the tobacco plant often characterized by spice and strength.

Tobacco farmers in Alagoas use more conventional methods of fermenting the lower leaves to allow moisture and ammonia to dissipate.

“The tobacco from Alagoas is Arapiraca, a native seed that’s only grown there,” Gocaj said in an email. “For CAO Fuma Em Corda, we use only ligero leaves which are harvested and sun-cured, and we use this tobacco as filler.”

“Once the tobacco turns brown, the natives make it into a rope and twist it regularly to expel the juices of the tobacco. At this time, ammonia is released and the flavor is softened. In other words, the harshness is removed from the leaf. Everything is done in sunlight. The tobacco becomes very pure and refined through this method.”

Gocaj has been with General Cigar for about 20 years after earning a degree in agriculture in his native Albania and moving to the U.S. He has worked at the company’s Connecticut farming operation and has been instrumental in developing General’s vast tobacco library.

For CAO’s Amazon Basin series, the blends include tobaccos from numerous countries in addition to Brazil. Fuma Em Corda, the second in a planned trilogy, features a Cameroon binder and a Honduran wrapper. It is a limited release with a Robusto (5 x 50, $8.99) for brick-and-mortar retailers and a Toro (6 x 58, $10.49) for online sales.

I’ve smoked several of the Robustos, and they definitely stand out. From the rich, leathery pre-light aroma to the spicy, cedar start, the cigar makes a statement. Along the way, I also encountered chocolate, coffee, and some nuttiness. Strength is medium, with a good burn and strong smoke production.

“Curing under the sun and rope fermentation in an open environment has many advantages,” Gocaj wrote. “The result is tobacco with subtle flavors that blends well with other tobaccos. These methods produce a tobacco that is very pleasant to smoke.”

Like a lot of cigars containing unusual tobaccos or using different production methods—fire-cured tobacco is one example that comes to mind—the smoking experience is distinctive. Some will find it to their liking. Others won’t. I doubt many will be neutral.

For me, Fuma Em Corda is a cigar I’d reach for when I want something different, not on a steady basis. That’s not a knock. I’ve enjoyed those I’ve smoked and would certainly recommend any experienced cigar smoker give it a try.

–George E

photo credit: General Cigar / Stogie Guys

Cigar Insider: Steve Saka of Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust

26 Oct 2015

Last week I found myself in New Hampshire and had a chance to sit down with Steve Saka. Saka is head of the newly launched Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust (DTT) and former CEO of Drew Estate—where he played a critical role in growing the company into a Nicaraguan juggernaut that makes some of the most sought-after cigars in the world.

Steve Saka

We met at Twins Smoke Shop in Londonderry (about 40 minutes from Saka’s home in Dunbarton), an outstanding tobacconist/cigar bar that’s home to Kurt A. Kendall’s 7-20-4 brand. It was a great opportunity to talk tobacco, try the new Sobremesa (it’s outstanding, as you’d expect), and get caught up on all things DTT.

Stogie Guys: It seems like your debut brand, Sobremesa, did well at the IPCPR Trade Show in New Orleans this summer. How many inaugural accounts did you open?

Steve Saka: We currently have 108 active accounts, and 126 on an active waiting list. We have inquires by another 19 accounts pending.

SG: What does the current production for Sobremesa look like? Are you planning to ramp up output to meet the high demand?

SS: We are currently slated to produce 1,000 boxes per month. Even though we are grossly oversold, we will not be increasing this production in the near term. The reason is not to limit the brand; I am a capitalist so my intent is to always make and sell more cigars. The reason for the limitation is twofold.

First, I want to ensure we maintain steady production. In my opinion, great cigars are crafted when the torcedors are working on the same liga and same vitola every single day at a steady pace. I personally do not believe in “batch” handmade cigar manufacturing or spiking production to satisfy a short-term demand. Doing so sacrifices quality.

Second, I currently have enough properly fermented and aged materials available to make about 300,000 Sobremesa. I never want production to outpace ready-to-use leaf and force us to cease rolling to wait on leaf. Sometimes things happen beyond your control tobacco-wise that force you to stop production for the integrity of the brand, but in this case, I know what we have and it is critical to me to do my best to plan accordingly. In Feb./Mar. 2016 the second pilon of ECH Grade 1 Dark Rosado capa should be ready to use. If this ends up being the case, we will then begin to increase the production accordingly.

SG: Have you already begun thinking past Sobremesa on other blends?

SS: I have secured tobacco for the second liga DTT intends to release and it will be made with Connecticut Broadleaf capa. I am in the process of working on this blend. There is no release timetable—when it is right we will offer it.

SG: Do you know what this new blend will cost?

SS: There is not currently a pricepoint on this second release. I never think about crafting cigars in the terms of trying to hit a particular market segment. My approach is simple: I start with tobacco I like and an idea of what type of cigar I wish to create: strong, mild, sweet, peppery, nutty, rustic, refined, etc. I then work with the leaf to come up with a blend I find satisfying to me, and sometimes during the course of the blending process the leaf can take me in a totally different direction, but to an unexpected great destination.

This is the reason I never like to talk about what a cigar “will be” or even share the blend with others to taste test during the process. Once the cigar itself is 100% done I then figure out what it costs to make it on an ongoing basis and add reasonable profit, and that is how I come up with the price. Then it is up to consumers to decide whether they feel the experience it delivers is worth its cost. If they do, I am grateful and continue making the cigar. If not, I continue to work hoping they find my next offering worthy of their hard-earned dollars.

I think most new cigars being made today are being made to hit a certain pricepoint, or to appeal to a certain consumer demographic. Way, way too many cigars are being created in conference rooms first these days, rather than by artisans in tobacco and cigar making. I think they are totally missing what makes handmade cigars so magical and, in turn, are unlikely to be successful long-term.

SG: Will this second blend also be made at Joya de Nicaragua?

SS: I am working on this particular blend at the NACSA factory. It is best known for making economy price handmade cigars, however we are working together to create a cigar that I would personally smoke daily. They are very committed to this project and have hired Raúl Disla to join the team and work in the factory with me. Sr. Disla is the former general manager of production at A.J. Fernandez; happens to be the brother of Esteban Disla, the much heralded master cigar maker from RoMa Craft; and is an extremely talented master cigar maker in his own right.

It meant a lot to me to get people to think about Drew Estate as much more than just an infused cigar maker, and I feel the same way about NACSA. I believe this factory is capable of producing something totally unexpected in the premium handmade segment and I am honored to be working with them as we strive toward doing so.

SG: What else does the future hold for DTT?

SS: I am in the process of sourcing tobaccos for a future third liga. I have not formally decided where I will be crafting this blend, however I am so incredibly impressed by the workmanship and dedication to my exacting standards that Joya de Nicaragua has exhibited in the execution of Sobremesa that it is my sincere hope it is with them. Whether they agree, I don’t know because I am, admittedly, a total pain in the ass. joins cigar fans throughout the country in eager anticipation of Sobremesa arriving at their local tobacconists. We wish Steve Saka the best and thank him for his time.

Patrick A

photo credit: Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust

Cigar Insider: Pipes Magazine Radio Show Host Brian Levine

10 Feb 2015

With the success of his Pipes Magazine Radio Show, Brian Levine has become one of the most prominent people in the hobby. The weekly show—available on iTunes and other podcast hosts—is a lively mix of education, interviews, and fun.

pipes-magHere Brian talks about how it began and what goes into it, as well as a bit of advice for cigar smokers thinking about taking up the pipe.

Stogie Guys: How did the Pipes Magazine Radio Show get started?

Brian Levine: It was a dark and stormy night. A tree had fallen and knocked out the power to my house. We had used the last candle, and the fire was getting low so I decided to go outside and try to cut the tree down hoping it would clear the lines. A bolt of lighting hit near by and I saw it, the logo for The Pipes Magazine Radio Show… Well, not really.

Kevin Godbee (owner/publisher of called me in June 2012. He said he had an idea for an audio show based on pipes and pipe smoking. He said he had asked two people for recommendations on who would be good to do this, and both of them had no taste whatsoever and recommended me. We met a couple weeks later in Kansas City at their annual pipe show to discuss the idea.

Kevin and I spent the summer learning software, researching style, gathering sound bites, and setting the tone and format for the show. We finally hit on the basic formula we wanted. We both committed to do the show each week for one year no matter how successful it was at the start. We set a start date in September 2012 and the rest is history.

SG: What is your goal with the show?

BL: I hope that each episode is sometimes educational but always entertaining. I feel like The Pipes Magazine Radio Show is my way to also contribute to the electronic library of information on pipes and pipe tobacco. I am not much of a writer, so doing a blog was out. I have a distant background in television and film so I understand the issues involved with video but always loved old radio.

So, the idea is one hour a week where you can sit down with your pipe, or take it on the road and listen to me, the guest that week, some music or entertainment, and maybe hear me pop off about something, all the while celebrating that we are pipe smokers.

I also make it a point to not just have guests on that are in the business. About half of the guests are pipe smokers that I have met or became aware of and have ranged from a friend who performs one-man shows as Thomas Edison to a collector of pipe-smoking Santa Claus figurines. We have also had pipe smoking clergy from all sects. There are also interviews with individual pipe makers and the biggest factories, as well as tobacco blenders big and small.

Either way, no matter who the guest is that week, I hope to learn about them as a person as well as a pipe smoker. If I do what I want, it will sound like you are listening in on two people having a conversation. I also don’t care what kind or cost of pipe or tobacco a guest smokes, as long as they enjoy it.

SG: Do you know how many listeners you have? Any idea how many are younger pipe smokers?

BL: At least one, his name is John Seiler and he is always the first to comment on a show when we are done. Really, we average 14,000 downloads per episode. Some of the more popular episodes have over 200,000 hits on the file. Obviously the older shows have more hits then a new one. Thanks to the sponsors and we are able to keep all 125-plus episodes online and available to be played. That is a whole lot of data and me jabbering for over 125 hours.

The podcast of the show is also sent out through iTunes,, Podbay, Podkicker, Spotify, Stitcher and another eight or ten online sources, so it is hard to tell our demographics. The show has a Facebook fan page and I can tell you from that, 54% percent of the listeners are under the age of 44. That number is much lower then I thought it would have been. Women represent 8% of our fan base, and it is not because I am so sexy. About 30% of the listeners are outside of the United States. I have heard from six continents including all the major countries except for some reason we don’t have any listeners in North Korea. Go figure.

SG: What’s been the biggest surprise since you began the program?

BL: There have been several including the fact that the older demographic has embraced the show. The countries that the show reaches shocks me because we only do the show in English.

The biggest surprise has come from the feedback that we receive. Many of the comments we get say how the show is the listeners’ weekly “Pipe Club.” A large amount of pipe smokers do not know any other pipe smokers so this is their one chance each week to hear from me and other pipe people about the hobby, and that means a lot to me. I am glad we are connecting people in a digital way. I was also surprised at the beginning that anybody would want to hear from me, but they do and they wanted more.

SG: If you would, tell us a little about your favorite pipe and pipe tobacco.

BL: Nope. I don’t talk about my favorites for two reasons. One, I am in the business and my full time job as the National Sales Manager for the Sutliff Tobacco Co. makes me biased towards what we make as well as the other brands we import like Mac Baren and Brigham. However, being in the business gives me access to people that others would not get.

The second reason is really the biggest. I do not want to influence listeners or turn them off because of what I like and smoke. I want each pipe smoker to go on their own journey to find those pipes and tobaccos that are magic to them. I am happy to have every guest on the show talk openly about what they like.

I can say that I have a soft spot in my heart for my Disney pipes, and if anyone wants to learn more about my collection of Disney-related tobacciana and the fact that Disneyland and Walt Disney World had full service tobacconist on Main St. USA, they can see my entire collection on Facebook.

I will say that I enjoy some of the older pipes, especially the English factory pipes from the first half of the last century. I also think we are in a golden age right now as far as the quality of pipes and tobaccos that are on the market.

SG: What’s your advice to a cigar smoker who wants to get into pipes? How should they approach pipes and tobacco?

BL: First let me say to anyone getting started, the tobacco goes in the big hole and your mouth goes on the small hole. But, seriously, pipe smoking is a completely different experience than a cigar. I have smoked cigars for over 20 years so I know what I am talking about, yet I prefer my pipes.

Think of smoking a pipe like a martini and a cigar like a single malt. The martini takes preparation and tools to make and enjoy. A single malt is ready to go out of the bottle. A pipe is dramatically more personal then a cigar because you can pack your pipe using different methods. When you buy a cigar it is ready to go. Pipe tobacco tastes differently in different sized pipes.

If a cigar smoker wants to try a pipe I suggest they do the following: find a pipe that they like the look, feel, and style of. Find a few tobaccos that you like the smell of. You will also need a tamper, a soft flame lighter, and pipe cleaners. Get some advice on different pipe smoking techniques. These can come from forums, YouTube, or your tobacconist. Give it several tries before you give up. It took me six years of regular pipe smoking to find my pipe smoking style and preferences, so don’t give up after a few bowls. Listening to the Pipes Magazine Radio Show will help (or hurt) as well. I am also available to answer questions at

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Insiders: Dale Cahill and Darcy Cahill, Authors of ‘Tobacco Sheds’

23 Jun 2014

Dale and Darcy Cahill’s interest in tobacco sheds grew naturally, from observation and a simple question. When they began dating some years ago, Dale would drive down from Vermont and, along the way to her home in Connecticut, he passed quite a few big barns.

Having an engineering mind and a history of hands-on work, he was curious and asked Darcy what was in them. “I said, ‘I don’t know. Let’s go look,’” Darcy recalled. “Luckily, it happened to be the end of September, October. We walked into one of those places and… it smelled so good. And it was full of tobacco. It was just beautiful. He said, ‘We’ve got to start taking pictures of these.’”


That was the beginning of what’s become a seeming flood of photographs, calendars, note cards, even tobacco leaves themselves—dried, preserved, and mounted on barn board. You can check it all at their website.

Now, the couple is embarking on a new project, courtesy of a Library of Congress Archie Green Fellowship, recording the oral histories of everyone they can find involved in tobacco in the Connecticut River Valley.

Their second book on the valley’s tobacco sheds just came out. It reflects their efforts to document and preserve New England’s tobacco heritage.

Dale estimates there are currently between 5,000 and 7,000 tobacco sheds still being used, whether for tobacco, vehicle storage, or something else. He’s glad to see that because, he explained, Thomas Visser, a professor of historic preservation who Dale considers a mentor, taught him that the first way to preserve things is to keep them in use. “It’s when you quit using them, they fall apart,” Dale said.

And, Dale added, even a few new sheds have gone up in recent years.

As should be obvious, New England’s agricultural heritage in tobacco is important to Dale and Darcy. It’s easy to understand when they talk lovingly about the structures they’ve toured, the people they’ve met, and the work they’ve done.

Their enthusiasm for the subject seems nearly boundless. Last year, for example, they performed—she plays fiddle, he plays guitar and mandolin—at the Luddy/Taylor Connecticut Valley Tobacco Museum’s annual cigar barbecue, which includes a farm tour and appearances by cigar company reps. “It’s very small scale,” Darcy said of the event. “It’s very sweet.”

With the Cahills keeping their eyes, and cameras, trained on the landscape, there’s no doubt that the tobacco sheds, old and new, have someone watching over them.

Contest: Win a Free Copy of Dale and Darcy’s New Book

One lucky reader will win a free copy of Dale and Darcy’s beautiful new book, Tobacco Sheds: Vanishing Treasures in the Connecticut River Valley. Just submit a comment below and we’ll select a winner at random next week. Be sure to include your email address so we can contact you if you win (we will not publish your email address; just make sure you provide it in the space provided when you submit your comment). Here are all the contest rules. Good luck.

George E

photo credit:

Cigar Insider: Jeff Mouttet of Riverside Cigar Shop and Lounge

28 Apr 2014

Recently, Jeff and Sara Mouttet, owners of Riverside Cigar Shop and Lounge in Jeffersonville, Indiana, across the Ohio River from Louisville, sent us a couple of samples of their new House Blend.

Jeff Mouttet

I always find the story of a new cigar intriguing, so I posed some questions about this venture to Jeff via email. And, indeed, it turns out to be an interesting story.

Stogie Guys: Your website shows a very extensive selection of top boutique cigars. What made you decide you needed to add your own line?

Jeff Mouttet: There were several factors that led us to the decision, but first and foremost, we always wanted our own blend and always planned on doing one as soon as the time was right. Additionally, we’ve made good friends with many outstanding boutique cigar makers (Skip Martin and Mike Rosales, Sean Williams, Gary Griffith, Chris Kelly, Enrique Sanchez, Noel Rojas, Sam Leccia, etc.) and we wanted to work with them to do something for us. Lastly, it’s a good business move. We’ve been fortunate to build a loyal clientele over the last three years, and it’s surprising how many people ask if we have our own cigars. Well, now we do.

SG: Walk us briefly through the process of going from idea to cigars on the shelf.

JM: It’s kind of funny, because I had Manny Iriarte design the band over two years ago, but the cigar just now happened. Noel Rojas came through the store on a trip through the area and House of Emilio asked if we minded if he stopped by for a night and did a quick rolling demonstration and, being up for most anything, we said yes. So during the course of the night, after everybody raved about how good Noel’s cigars were, Noel and I sat down and talked numbers, blends, volumes, etc., and we decided right then and there to go ahead and do it. As far as the process, I leaned pretty heavily on Noel’s expertise. I’m a cigar smoker—have been for 30 years—but I’m no blender. Not even close. Maybe one day, but at this point, we left most of that to Noel, and I’ve got to say, I’m glad we did, because he did a fantastic job.

Riverside House Blend

SG: Did you have a specific profile in mind from the start, or did you explore a variety of blends until you found one you liked?

JM: We did have a specific strength profile in mind, not so much a flavor profile. We tried several blends, and ended up with the Ecuador Habano with Nica filler and binder.

SG: What has been the most difficult part? The biggest surprise?

JM: Waiting, shipping, customs, and “Central American Time” have been the most difficult parts of the equation. Well, those, and getting the bands to Nicaragua. The biggest surprise has been the reception of the cigar. We’ve sold nearly 1,500 cigars (all we had made for the first run) in a little less than a month, and that’s just on-premise sales.

SG: Do you have a plan to produce more cigars, maybe distribute them, or will this be it?

JM: Our goal over the next 2 years is to introduce at least two more cigars to the market. We’ve talked to both RoMa Craft and Tesa Cigars about an ongoing manufacturing relationship and both are receptive to the idea. Ideally, we’d like to have “house blends,” or Riverside exclusive blends, make up around 30-40% of our boutique line sales. Distribution is a little trickier if we keep the Riverside name on the cigars, but that may be something we address in the future. I know I would have trouble justifying somebody else’s store name in my humidor, so let’s just say we’re sensitive to that issue. At the same time, I think the quality of the cigars we’re making merits distribution, so we’ll explore that when it looks more feasible.

SG: Are you doing any mail-order or telephone sales for those outside your area who want to try the Riverside House Blend?

JM: Yes. You can call 812-284-6198 or email me at and we’ll be glad to ship. Given all the recent credit card issues we can only take Visa over the phone, but we do have a PayPal account for the store, too, so we have a couple of ways you can pay.

George E

photo credit: Riverside Cigar Shop

Cigar Insider: Michael J. McFadden, Author of ‘TobakkoNacht: The Antismoking Endgame’

24 Oct 2013

[Editor’s Note: See the end of today’s article to learn how to win a free copy of this book.]

Michael J. McFadden’s new book, TobakkoNacht: The Antismoking Endgame, is an in-depth, carefully documented exploration of how tobacco opponents work. With an Ivy League education and no financial interest in tobacco, McFadden presents technical material in an engaging and understandable format, mixing humor, statistics, anecdote, stories, and surprises. We recently exchanged emails for the following [edited] interview.

TNcoverStogie Guys: Can you tell us a little about your background and how you got involved in researching and writing about tobacco?

Michael J. McFadden: The issue of scientific integrity and telling the truth was always important to me. Seeing people unjustly gain at the expense of other people on the basis of lies always angered me, and it’s something I’ve seen throughout the antismoking movement.

My concern with what drives human conflict and allows people to tolerate the suffering or killing of others goes back to my college years and my Peace Studies program. Yes, thermonuclear war is a much more important issue than a smoking ban at the local bar, but they’re both based on people being led to believe lies that lead them to feel it’s OK to attack some other group of people… a dehumanizing of another group.

I first became aware of and concerned about this issue in 1976 when a housemate showed up at our West Philadelphia nonviolence training center with a fistful of leaflets from ASH that were clearly filled with lies and exaggerations. Those lies split our community and helped to eventually destroy our training center altogether, but I didn’t have the background knowledge to be able to fight them effectively. That was really when I began researching the issue.

SG: Your new book, TobakkoNacht, has a somewhat unusual structure. How would you describe it? And how does it differ from your earlier works?

MM: TobakkoNacht is structured to appeal to and benefit several different audiences simultaneously. It has some sections of very serious and fairly complex material, and others of a more relaxed design for quick reading in small units or in environments where one might be distracted during one’s reading.

It’s a book that a less-serious reader can enjoy jumping around in while benefiting a lot along the way, while a more knowledgeable activist or researcher will still find new perspective and knowledge from sections like the extensive “Studies on the Slab.” The opening story sets an emotional tone that is later justified by the explorations of science, and the closing “Endgame” section wraps it all up and provides suggestions for the future. Finally, over four hundred detailed endnote citations thoroughly back up its material while opening the door for further research.

SG: What do you want readers to come away from your the book with?

MM: I hope my readers will come away from the book with several benefits: (1) a greater appreciation of the harms and dangers of the antismoking movement and how they can extend far beyond smokers and far beyond the particular question of smoking; (2) a greater appreciation of how their perceptions, feelings, and behaviors have been consciously manipulated by a strategic distortion of science, language, and statistics; and (3) a better idea of how to fight this sort of misinformation and an appreciation of why it’s important to stand against the special interests that promote it.

SG: Is there a single activity or individual that worries you most in terms of attacking smoking?

MM: I don’t think I could pinpoint any particular person or group as standing out as most “worrisome” in their attacks on smoking. The ones who are the most honest tend to have little money and may be the most effective in educating people about actual smoking hazards and reducing overall numbers of smokers, but I don’t see that sort of honest education as an attack.

The ones living off the mega-millions in grant money may get the biggest microphones and have the most persuasive propaganda broadcast over TV, but they also tend to be the ones telling the biggest lies, and are thus easiest to fight successfully. Free Choice activists are not trying to get more people to smoke, we are trying to ensure that those people who DO decide to smoke are treated fairly and that their decision, and their treatment by society and by people around them, is based upon accurate information and understanding.

SG: What are your own smoking preferences?

MM: My own smoking preferences lean toward smoking about 10 to 15 cigarettes a day, non-filtered, with a preference toward roll-your-own tobaccos.

SG: What actions do you recommend for individuals who want to do something?

MM: As an immediate recommendation I’d point people to my website at where they can read selections from the book and to the website where they’ll find a wealth of information and articles throughout 730+ weekly editions of its newsletter. I’d also recommend visiting and reading the material at,,, and the many Free Choice sites and blogs those links will lead to.

I’d also urge readers to get active in local politics whenever questions of smoking bans come up, print out and share copies of my short and superficial, but sharp and free, “Lies Behind The Smoking Bans” (, and to join and support the various groups active in the fight: Big Tobacco is fighting for its own interests, not necessarily ours. We need to fight for ourselves.

TobakkoNacht: The Antismoking Endgame is available through Amazon and other online book sellers. And in an effort to help spread the word, Stogie Guys is going to give away the inscribed copy McFadden sent us. Just comment below and we’ll select a winner at random after a week.

George E

photo credit:

Cigar Insider: Bob McDuffee of DogWatch Cigar Radio

3 Dec 2012

As cigar podcasting pioneers, Bob McDuffee and Dale Roush caused quite a stir when they announced last month that they’ll cease regular programs of DogWatch Cigar Radio at the end of the year. With more than 400 shows, the podcast has explored just about every aspect of cigars and expanded to a wide-ranging website, They’ve also introduced numerous smokers, retailers, manufacturers, products, and cigars to a world-wide audience.

I’ve been a listener since the show’s debut back in 2005 when it wasn’t quite so cigar-centric. I finally met Bob and Dale, as well as Bob’s wife, Liz, earlier this year when they held a DogWatch Herf across the state from me in Melbourne, Florida. So, when I heard the announcement I decided to follow up by email with Bob.

Stogie Guys: First, I understand Dale recently suffered a mild heart attack. How is he doing?

Bob McDuffee: Dale is well. The issue was minor, although he is looking ahead to surgery. For now he is resting at home and doing well.

SG: What are your cigar plans after the show ends?

BM: My plans are open-ended. After almost eight years of being on the show every Friday night (there were two shows I missed), it feels strange. Kind of like retiring and having lots of time on your hands. There have been several requests to continue the show in some format, and I am considering those. I hope to do more writing on the site as Cigar Curmudgeon and perhaps do short video/audio segments for release as well, but on an irregular schedule. I also have some comedy video ideas in my head that I cannot seem to get out. I recently began riding a bicycle again and have an idea for making your bicycle smoker friendly. Also, Google+ has become my micro-blog and it pushes out to Facebook as well as Twitter.

SG: You and Dale built up quite a following through the years. Are you planning to keep in touch through other ventures?

BM: Cigar Curmudgeon has always been a vehicle that I wanted to do more with, since writing is an activity I enjoy. Liz and I are planning to attend more events now that we have some free time. I think that after a short hiatus I will be longing for ways to reconnect. We have made so very many friends over the years, and I want to stay in touch with all of them. I will miss getting to talk with so many wonderful people from all over the globe. We have listeners in France, Great Britain, and the Middle East that we have never met in person but feel like they are part of the DogWatch family.

SG: Any idea how many weekly listeners you have?

BM: Our most recent statistics indicate about 20,000 downloads per month.

SG: What’s your biggest takeaway from DogWatch? What things have made the biggest impression on you?

BM: DogWatch opened the door for Liz and I to become certified through Tobacconist University, meet many friends, and be a part of a wonderful industry. It is difficult to name one single takeaway, but if I had to I would sum it up as the people. Manufacturers, retailers, and cigar passionados all made the effort worthwhile. Dale has been a great partner in this, and I will miss our weekly get-togethers.

SG: A lot of cigar podcasts have come and gone since you and Dale started. What’s the secret of your longevity, and what advice would you offer someone who wants to start?

BM: My advice would be don’t underestimate the time and work required. It helps if you have no social life, and you must have the support of the significant people in your life. Without the support of Liz all these years I could not have given up so many weekend trips, Friday nights, and money to make this happen. You have to really enjoy what you are doing to make it last. We have sincerely enjoyed DogWatch and the people involved in it. Life takes its own direction sometimes. Over the course of this show Dale and I have changed and grown in so many personal ways. Since starting DogWatch in 2005, I have lost my mother, one brother, grandfather, both in-laws, and been blessed with six grandchildren. I have smoked thousands of good cigars and a few not so good cigars. DogWatch has forever made an imprint on my life. would like to thank Bob for taking the time to talk with us, and we wish Dale all the best for a speedy recovery.

George E

photo credit: