Rob took some time and answered several of the questions we didn't get to last week on CigarChat.
Q: What type of parameters do you use when determining how to blend a new cigar?
A: First thing I look at is my own personal taste and what I want the cigar to be. Second I sit with the master blender and discuss what I am looking for in the cigar. I let him know the strength I’m looking for, the wrapper that I want and a cigar with god complexity and flavors. After he puts together about 15 different blends together we sit and smoke like there’s no tomorrow. After narrowing it down to about 3 blends I pick the final blend and then our work begins. We go through the leaves in the cigar what region they came from binder, filler etc.. I then figure what I want the final product to be and let him know whether to make it stronger or not and that’s how each and every blend is determined.
Q: The White Label leans towards the medium/full profile. Do you anticipate blending a mild/medium cigar in the near future? Are you sensing a trend for milder cigars with fuller flavor profiles?
A: We do have a mild to medium cigar ( The Blue Label ) which is the first blend that came out of “ La Zona “. I am personally sensing a trend for more fuller bodied cigars with good flavor profiles. I get a lot of request for stronger and fuller cigars That’s why I decided to make the new “‘Red Label “that’s coming out at the IPCPR in July 2014 stronger and fuller.
Q: Do you feel like cigar brands with Z in their name have a better quality smoke?
A: I haven’t looked at it that way. Every manufacturer has its his/her own taste and style of working. We all have different taste and different palats . That’s what makes this world so interesting.
Q: Do you plan on rolling some smaller gauge cigars like petite coronas and lanceros?
A: I do, That’s in the works for a new project in 2015.
Q: How did you come up with the name, Arandoza? And does it have some special meaning?
A: I used to have a partner when the company first started, My last name is Arango and my x-partners last name was Mendoza, So we sat and put both names together and that’s how “Arandoza “ came to be.
Q: What would you say has been the biggest challenge/hurdle you've encountered since jumping in to the cigar industry?
A: I think the biggest hurdle has been getting your cigars into BM shops and having the shops to give you shelf space for a name brand that’s not known.
Q: Should your cigars be smoked relatively early after purchase or given a few months rest ?
A: They can be smoked after purchased. They cigars have already been cured and have been sitting in humidors for months before they get to the BM shops.
Q: I tend to like cigars with a lot of flavor that will not knock me out with strength. What in your line would fit that bill? Also what are the challenges in blending a cigar of that profile?
A: Both the Blue and the white are full of flavors and neither one will knock you out. I think the challenges are to blend a cigar that consumers are going to like, we try to make every cigar better than the previous one.
Q: Just curious with this big RG craze going on now......what is your take on this and what is your favorite vitola?
A: It’s a craze like anything else and we are just riding the wave. I happen to love my 6x60 in the Blue but, I am more of a Toro smoker.
Q: Now that you have the white label and blue label do you plan to expand your lines further or to continue to focus on these two core lines ?
A: We are expanding. We are coming out with a “Red Label” for the 2015 IPCPR show. In this industry you always have to have something new in the works to keep everyone interested.
Q: Who in the industry do you look for guidance? How have they impacted your company?
A: I really look up at Erik Espinosa. He has helped me along the way and has helped me in many aspects of the business.
Q: I've seen comments regarding some ammonia odor from the cigars during the cold draw. Is this an indication that the cigars need more resting time?
A: I hope it hasn’t been with my cigars! Yes, that means the leaves have not been cured long enough and the leaves have not completely cured.
Q: I know you guys are centered around family, I thought it would be cool to ask how many family members total you have working for the company.
A: Everyone in my family is involved in the business in one way or another. Right now, my wife does all my social media; My oldest son does my computer technical stuff along with some graphics. My youngest son graduates now in May from UCF but he attends all my events and helps me out at the IPCPR shows. My daughter attends and helps out at all my events and of course I do as much as I can.
Q: What kind of work goes into label design? Did you hire a guy to do it and tell him what you wanted or did you do it yourself? I'm always curious how companies go about deciding on what is basically the face of their cigar.
A: We hired a very talented guy by the name of Ricky alias( Cigar band Man ). I give him the go ahead and the main color I want on the band he just runs with it.
Q: You mentioned giving back to the community, can you talk about some of the things you are doing to make your community better. Do you think it is something missing from larger companies?
A: We are very heavily involved in charity work. We have a friend who has a special needs child and we support them 100% “ Samanthas Purpose “ we also support “ the Autism Society”,” Cerebral Palsy”, “ The Edge “
Q: What is it about the Esteli region that makes for such great tobacco?
A: Must be the soil, and a lot of old cigar people that have migrated there, who at one time or another were involved the cigar industry.
Q: Are you gonna make a Corona size for your Daughters Cigar line.? I hope as it is my favorite Vitola.
A: We have not determined the sizes yet but will keep it in mind.
Q: How awesome is your job to sit around and smoke cigars all day and visit with others who love cigars as well?
A: That is the best part of the job and I also get to meet a lot of interesting people.
Q: I had the discussion today with my local B&M that online sales will be the death of local shops. What is your opinion as a manufacturer towards marketing for online vs B&M's. Do you aim for one or both?
A: Right now I’m sticking with the BM shops . They are the ones that are supporting me and I have to do the same for them.
Q: If you could describe, in 5 words or less, what sets you apart from other companies, what would you say? Or, put a different way, convince me to buy your cigars in 5 words or less.
A: Family, Integrity, commitment, work ethics and consistency.
Q: How did you talk Erik Espinosa into becoming the first boutique blend to come out of his La Zona Factory?
A: When Eric and I were introduced he was working on a few blends at the time and I happened to like one of them and talked him into letting me keep it.
Q: The cigar is a real flavor bomb. Did you have a goal in mind to attain that myriad of a flavor profile..or did it come naturally, as a matter of blending the tobaccos you wanted to use?
A: Actually it came that way based on the tobacco that was blended. I think it was a hit we just had to tweak very little.
Q: How were you able to keep the costs down so that the price point is so affordable?
A: It’s based on the price of the tobacco and how many different leaves are blended. I think our price point in right on target for a boutique blend.
Q: What is the plan to go into regular production so that the big conglomerate online stores can carry you?
A: Right now we’re sticking with the BM shops. When we decide to go with the big online stores we can always talk about a different blend just for the online stores.
Q: Your band art and box art are classy, and aren't over-the top. Who does the artistic design for your bands and boxes?
A: Rickey (Cigar Band man) does the box art work and Pick out the box color and type.