Flor de Florez – a cigar brand that may remind you of the boom days in the early 1990s. It was in many a humidor in shops across the country. As time moved on, and new boutique lines started to appear on the market, Flor de Florez faded. Faded but not forgotten, at least to the man behind the brand itself, Mr. Carlos Flores Jr. This is his story. I sat down with him this past week at my friends shop – The Man Cave – in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.
Though I have spoken to Carlos a few times on the phone, I never met him in person. I entered the shop as this tall, Cuban man greets me and introduces himself. Carlos reminded me a little of an old Cuban friend I had years ago back in those boom days; dapper, in a James Bond meets James Brolin kind of way.
We sat down and fired up one of the newest creations from Carlos Flores, the Flor de Florez Broom. A 9 x 52 maduro with a shaggy foot. I will have a review of this cigar later this month.
As the Broom burned Carlos told me his story.
It all starts in Cuba where his Grandfather had a plantation, and sold tobacco to manufacturers such as Partagas and others. His father Senor Carlos learned the art of cigar rolling during this time.
Things were starting to change on the island, and his father was not sure if he should remain. He did not like the control of the dictator, Batista, and was not sure of how things would change under Castro. Señor Flores was an outspoken man, and that was not a good thing back in the time of the revolution. Carlos Jr’s mother was arrested. She was held for two weeks, questioned about his father,s involvement in the revolution. She was eventually released once the government felt she was telling the truth, and that he had no involvement.
By 1962, all hell was breaking loose in Cuba. The family fled to Miami as many of his fellow Cubans did just before the famed Cuban Missile Crisis. They spent two-years in Miami before migrating to Brooklyn, NY, and then to Hell’s Kitchen in Manhattan where he went to grammar school.
The family eventually moved to NJ where his dad saved enough to buy a house and raise 7 children including Carlos Jr. As the 1980’s arrived, his father sold everything and moved back to Miami to get back to his old trade. The market was not solid then, and he would roll cigars to sell to local shops on Calle Ocho.
In the 1990’s Carlos Jr. moved to Miami to help his father. That is when things started to change. You see, there was a movie being filmed near by, and one of the actors was Joe Mantegna, who happened to enjoy cigars. Carlos had this idea that he would bring a bundle of his fathers cigars to the movie set for Joe. Well he did and not much happened until a year later when he received a letter and signed pictures from Joe stating it was the best Maduro ever!
So Carlos Jr. moved back to Hoboken, NJ to sell the Flores line. He opened a local shop which was not a popular thing at the time, and people started to come. Cigar Aficionado had just hit the streets, and they reviewed the Flor de Florez. It was a good review, so good that it got Nestor Miranda, from Miami Cigars, attention. He smoked the cigar and loved it. They eventually hooked up with Don Tomas and created Flor de Florez distributors.
Carlos started selling cigars and doing events for many celebrities. He recalls doing events for Arnold Schwarzenegger. At one of his events Rocky Patel came in. It was a crazy time, actors and VIPs smoking his cigar – the Flor de Florez.
Carlos even connected with Robert Mondavi from Mondavi Wines for an event. Robert loved the cigar and under this big tent on all the tables were napkins with the Flor de Florez logo on them. Man, life was good.
But then things started to change. In 1998 at the RTDA show, US Tobacco (UST) which was working with Carlos on his cigars, told him they were going to stop making his brand, and use the blend for a new brand called Astral Cigars. This was the beginning to the end of the Flor de Florez brand. Carlos sued UTC and eventually won but it took a lot out of him.
Carlos went back to opening some stores in NJ and went through some mildly depressing moments, especially when he saw so many of these new brands of cigars hitting the market. He felt he could do better and pulled himself back up. He moved back to Florida and started to blend his brand again. The Flor de Florez was reborn.
You can find Flor de Florez cigars on their website: www.flordeflorezcigars.com
You can also contact him on his Facebook Page: Carlos Flores
And if all goes well for Carlos, you should see his cigars in shops once again across the country. Connect with him and experience the rebirth of something great.