Guest Post: Interview with Max Myers of ACC Cigars by Sascha Illyvich

max-and-his-boxes

Max and his boxes

Achievement Cigar Company is the world’s leading luxury producer of cigar tobacco, luxury and vintage cigars, the world’s largest collection of famous brand vintage single malt scotch as well as exquisite, beautifully designed accessories and related products. From the sophistication and elegance of Don Cervantes cigars and scotch, the modern and socially conscious PROPIO to the ultimate collection in rarities and age represented by ACC Special Edition, fast lifestyle cigars of Pi and the largest unbroken collection of Macallan Single Malt Scotch ranging from 1910 to 1986 – our growing collection of brands is sure to impress the most refined tastes and experienced connoisseurs.

Over the years, Max and I have become good friends, exchanging cigar talk among other things. For Of the Leaf, we spent some time together getting to know more about ACC and its brands.  We sat down with Max for a quick five questions about his cigars.

  1. Tell us about ACC Cigars and what we can expect in the US Markets when ACC comes stateside?

Well ACC is making very specific steps into the US markets through the casinos. We are selling through the US owned Casinos, as well as many outside the US. What is more convenient for the average cigar/whisky connoisseur is to download our “ACC Global” app from Apple’s app store. This allows anyone anywhere to buy whatever they want, regardless of what may or may not be available in their area.

  1. Your production is located in Ecuador.  How much does experimentation play in creating new blends?

Well experimentation is in our DNA. As you may know, since you recently authored an article on the tobacco history of Ecuador, we, via the Aray family essentially launched commercial cigar tobacco growing in Ecuador in the early 1950’s. Jose Aray, together with Guillermo de la Portilla from Cuba created the breed of cigar wrapper called Ecuadoran Sumatra back in the late 1960’s, which is the gold standard for wrapper leaf.  Back then we and the American Tobacco Company were growing and supplying leaf to all the guys who are now the big growing families, like Oliva, etc. All those guys now have their own farms, some of which came from us. Perez, Plasencia, Oliva, are all there now growing Connecticut, Habano, etc. All of their leaf is exported. We are the only ones who also have a cigar factory rolling in Ecuador. We like to experiment with leaf at the source, by the factory so we can change things and try new things, then test it out and see how it works. We are not so much interested in the simple commercial trading of leaf for others to roll. We want to control what you smoke from seed to your hands. We feel this way you are not going to get any compromised product. It’s the best it can be.

  1. You’ve done a handful of cigar events in the US, how were your cigars received?

Without a doubt our cigars got high compliments. I think you covered one or more of them. People seem surprised to taste what they are tasting. It’s something that cannot be duplicated because we have the patience to do what we do with our tobacco. We do not produce for maximum commercial output, but for taste. As you know, we blend our cigars out of our stockpiles of old vintage leaf. This gives us both decades and breeds to experiment with. We are not at the mercy of what someone else grew last year, in order to produce a cigar. The other factor is our almost lost art of fermentation; natural barn fermentation that lasts 6 months to a year. Other growers will cook their leaf for 30-45 days and ship it out. There is no way to get a taste like ours if you do that.

  1. How versatile are your cigars when it comes to pairing with food and wine?

Luckily for us, the variety of leaf, age, and unique processes we employ give us a large variety of tastes. The difference between a PROPIO Diademas blend and a Don Cervantes Masterpiece Black Label cigar, are night and day. It’s something that really lends itself to pairing. Chocolate is #1 for me to pair. I like generally stronger dark chocolates, and French brands have tended to come out on top for smoothness, and rich complex flavor. Brands like Chocolat Bonnat, Michel Cluizel, and the Belgian Pierre Marcolini. For American chocolate my favorite would be Chocolove’s Organic/Fair Trade 73% dark chocolate. Not because it’s organic or fair trade but that bar tastes better than all their others and has a rich fruity long finish.

For drinks it is hard to say. My most recent notable drink pairing was a 1974 Glen Grant Single Malt. The taste combination was tremendous. Glenfarclas has a 1980 Single Malt which is also great to pair with our cigars. I found these to be very enjoyable together. I also often drink tea. It find green teas especially, cleans your pallet while you are smoking, leaving you a fresh tasting experience with each puff.

  1. Lastly, what trends in the industry are you watching closely, if any, and what are you glad to see for long time and new cigar smokers?  (I’d mentioned the barber pole trend and Nubs as an example)

 At ACC we do not really watch trends. We create cigars and blends to meet the needs of our clients, and our own personal tastes.
Take “Nubs” for example. We have a cigar brand called π, which as you can guess, is the size of π in 3 ring gauges. π/44, π/50, and π/52.
This cigar is not the first “nub” cigar on the market, nor the latest, (I think we released it about 5-6 years ago). It was created entirely to meet the needs of our clients, who in many cases want to smoke cigars without spending 1-2 hours. Some of them have 20 minutes after breakfast before work or meetings, or a short break in the afternoon and want to have a rich, full bodied, long filler cigar with no compromise. This is where π fits in.

You also brought up the “barber pole” trend. I was not aware this was a trend. We made barber pole cigars about 10-12 years ago. We discontinued it after we felt it had run its course, at least for our purposes.

We are not really trend setters or followers. We have a large variety of blends and tastes, and feel like we can fit almost anyone.

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