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Rusty Humphries is a conservative talk radio host who holds the #20 spot on the TALKERS magazine “Heavy Hundred” list for 2012. But attracting 3 million listeners every week and being considered a bigger deal than radio giants Mancow Muller, Don Imus and Jim Bohannon apparently wasn’t enough.
“I’ve been a cigar aficionado for a long time,” Humphries told me last week over cigars and steaks at Morton’s in downtown Washington. “And I always thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool to have your own cigar?’”
He’s not big on t-shirts or bumper stickers.
“If you go to cigar shops, guys are usually there talking politics all the time, and they’re usually conservative. So I thought, ‘What a great product that would go with talk radio.’”
Humphries managed to get it done after more than 18 months of learning and experimenting — seven of them working with Don Lino creator Nestor Miranda and master blender José “Pepin” Garcia. Together the two Cuban legends, both Floridians now, created a 7-inch, 56-ring-gauge showpiece of a cigar called “El Presidente.”
Another famous Floridian — Republican U.S. Senator Marco Rubio — was among the first to taste it. The potential GOP vice-presidential pick “pronounced it bueno,” Humphries told me.
The El Presidente is a mild-to-medium-bodied all-Nicaraguan smoke that’s far more seco (the aromatic leaves from the middle of the tobacco plant) than ligero (the more complex spice-bomb leaves at the top). It’s the kind of cigar non-aficionados can enjoy — not too spicy, not too plain — and the presentation is beautiful. (RELATED: Burning the midnight maduro)
“The idea was that it was something regal,” Humphries explained. “Something you would give to a president. Something that would make you feel special.”
He only made 300 boxes. Just 5,400 cigars in all.
“It’s not made to be an everyday smoke. There’s not that many of ‘em,” he added.
“I only wanted to do a limited amount. I wanted to honor a president each time. When they’re gone, they’re gone. So each cigar is a collector’s item in its own right.”
I’m not sure I’d want to collect this cigar as much as I’d want to smoke it. It’s wrapped tightly in a Nicaraguan leaf that’s on the light end of maduro color, moderately veiny, with only one soft spot that I could feel. And it’s capped off with a tiny pigtail. Not big enough to twist off like a Kristoff, but an unusual touch. (RELATED: A cheap Brazilian that doesn’t involve your girlfriend)
The first El Presidente is dedicated to George Washington, whose portrait appears on the lower of the cigar’s two bands. Future editions, he said, will feature other presidents. (I forgot to ask him if there will be a Bill Clinton cigar — but of course, there already is.)