Regular readers of “The Caucus Brief” will know that our top ranked cigar for 2022 was the Paul Garmirian (P.G.) Gourmet Series Lonsdale (rolled in 2012).
What you may not know is that Georgetown Tobacco’s relationship with Paul Garmirian dates back to 1965, when a dashing young Armenian was conducting post-graduate work at Catholic University. Eager to discover the best cigars to be found in Washington, D.C., Paul stepped into our store and met Georgetown Tobacco owner, David Berkebile, for the first time.
Paul and David formed a beautiful friendship that spans decades, and it all began with the shared love of a premium handmade cigar.
“There is no question the mystique of a good cigar has provided spiritual delight to cigar smokers for over 150 years. In today’s hectic world, where the word stress has become an indispensable part of the contemporary high-tech world that we live in, a good cigar after dinner has come to symbolize a form of soothing consolation and companionship.”
The passage above is from the book that started it all, “The Gourmet Guide To Cigars,” first published in 1990 right before we launched the P.G. Gourmet Series cigars right here at Georgetown Tobacco.
Paul spent many a Saturday afternoon in our store as part of his research, a thorough study that took over seven years to complete. While it’s unfortunate that over 30 years after his book was first published we can still identify with the “stress” and “hectic world” he mentions, we can all still find solace in that after-dinner cigar. Better yet, over that same 30 years, P.G. has released some of the best cigars we turn to for that “soothing consolation.”
What is it that earned P.G. not just one, but two coveted spots in our Top Ten List for 2022? For everyone on our team, the reasons for the individual rankings may differ, but there is undoubtedly a common thread: consistency, quality, and taste.
P.G. cigars are made in the Occidental Tabadom factory in the Dominican Republic. Known for their rigorous quality control, the result of which is exceptional consistency in the cigars they produce year after year. Paul worked with industry legends Henke Kelner and Eladio Diaz to create each blend, and it’s fascinating to hear Paul discuss the influence music has for him during the blending process. For example, the 20th Anniversary Symphony line was blended so that the experience of smoking the Connoisseur size would align perfectly with a specific piece of classical music.
Later joined in the business by his son, Kevork, Paul has always paid a particular emphasis on aging. While the manufacturers of the best cigars age tobaccos prior to being rolled, P.G. also insists on additional aging of the cigars in their cedar boxes. As he details in “The Gourmet Guide To Cigars,” this allows for the fourth stage of fermentation, during which “cigars are developing their bouquet, thus gaining and enhancing their aromatic quality. Moreover, as the cigars age after the fourth stage of fermentation, they release oils contained in the wrapper to the surface.” Have you ever noticed a tobacco colored hue on the cellophane of a cigar… yes, it’s a good sign of age.
There are many other reasons to appreciate what P.G. has created and brings to the market. Despite an industry that has grown to thousands of blends competing for shelf space and ratings, Paul does not advertise. He knows that he has created something special, and customers and tobacconists will share that knowledge with one another.
P.G. also doesn’t seek to expand into thousands of accounts. He is committed to making sure that every account he supports never hears the words “out of stock” or “backordered,” which as a retailer and a consumer, is frankly unheard of in today’s climate. Paul also refrains from yearly price increases, despite the fact that as the manufacturer, his costs do go up annually, sometimes quite significantly.
In essence, P.G. cigars are a reflection of the family that has created them: classy, classic, and deserving of respect.
Author’s personal note: In 1996, David Berkebile took a chance on me as a young woman new to this industry. It wasn’t always easy being young and female in this business, particularly in Washington, D.C. (remember the Monica Lewinsky scandal?) Like David, Paul always treated me with nothing less than kindness and respect. I’ve learned a great deal from him over the years, and will forever be grateful for the lessons he has shared and our continued friendship.