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Written by Kevin Godbee

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

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It’s not that long since we experienced what many here in the United States refer to as the boom time in cigars. That period of growth for the cigar industry saw the appearance of a large number of new manufacturers who wanted to take on the world, but sadly most of them failed to survive and few would even remember their names these days.

One cigar manufacturer who did survive the boom times and has gone on to become very well-known in the industry is Cusano Cigars. That’s a little surprising when you consider the background of Michael Chiusano, the company’s founder. He came from the world of finance and it was only due to his love of a good cigar that we have the company today.

 

While visiting the Dominican Republic to look at investing in a sugar cane operation, Chiusano was introduced to the local cigars and was blown away by the taste and the overall quality. He was so impressed he ordered a batch of 100 and had them shipped off to his local cigar shop back in the States. Little did Chiusano know what those first 100 cigars would unleash.

 

The store owner was impressed and Cusano Cigars was born although Michael was still mainly focused on his investment business. Even the cigar bands on those early cigars came courtesy of the investment company, for Michael fashioned the early ones from his investment company’s letterhead.

 

Before long Chiusano was back in the Dominican Republic sourcing what he thought of as his first major shipment of cigars. Of course ‘major’ is a relative term and that first ‘major’ order was for just 50 boxes, but soon Chiusano was filling orders was for 10,000 cigars at a time, for Smoke published a review of his cigars and the orders came flooding in.

 




In 1997 Chiusano met with Henkie Kelner – the cigar maker for Davidoff – and soon Kelner was doing all the rolling for Cusano Cigars. At the same time Chiusano began looking to expand his range of cigars by adding cigars made from some very exotic tobaccos that could be included as filler in longer cigars that had previously been made with those tobaccos.

 

The Cusano 18 was the first of these cigars to appear and it featured tobacco that was 18 years old for the filler, combined with a sweet Connecticut shade binder. That line of cigars has proved very popular and Michael continues to source some of the most matured tobaccos on the planet for his cigars.

 

Cusano Cigars are always looking to expand into new areas and all it took to get Michael Chiusano interested in flavored cigars was a request from a retailer. But in typical fashion, Chiusano didn’t follow the lead of other cigar makers when it came to sourcing the leaf or producing his flavored cigars.

 

Instead of using poor quality leaf for the filler and simply adding some flavoring to try and improve the taste, Chiusano arranged for quality leaf that had been specially treated to be used. Instead of soaking the tobacco in the flavoring, the leaves Chiusano uses are placed on racks and the flavoring is released into the air during humidification. The end result is a tobacco rich in flavor that won’t stain the wrapper.

 And there is one of the secrets to the success of Cusano Cigars. Michael Chiusano became interested in the business of making and marketing cigars because he was a cigar smoker himself. Instead of following the lead of all the other cigar makers out there, Chiusano went out to create a cigar smoker’s cigar and he has certainly achieved his goal.






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