I’m taking a little break from my usual anarchist ramblings to update you, my beloved readers, on a wonderful development in the cigar world.
The other evening I stopped by Top Shelf Cigars in Evans/Martinez (Augusta), Georgia for a very special event. Patrick’s cigars are available at better shops across the nation. 23 special shops nationwide were chosen for this inaugural rollout – being the best in Georgia and the Southeast, Russell’s place was a natural tour stop.
Patrick Vivalo, the namesake of Vivalo Cigars, graced Top Shelf with his electric presence and his fabulous smokes.
(Russell Wilder with Patrick Vivalo.)
As an added bonus Patrick’s dad, Bob, was on hand. He recalled Patrick’s early years – the living room fire, the arrests, the drugs – no, wait, that was me. Actually, this very personable fellow beamed with pride as he acknowledged his son’s achievements.
Patrick got his start in cigars working retail at JR’s in New Jersey. He quickly progressed to Rocky Patel’s outfit in the early 2000s (then known as Indian Tabac). Under Rocky’s tutelage he developed his own sense of flavor and integrity and blended some of the finest sticks in the industry.
A short while back he crafted his own personal blend as a matter of curiosity. Sensing genius at work, someone demanded to try Patrick’s proprietary smokes. A legend was born. In March of this year Patrick launched his own label.
(I smoked a Gordo Maduro and loved it. Look for these babies at your shop soon.)
“I have always waited for the day to do my own thing and the day is finally here,” said Vivalo to Halfwheel. “I just want to make great cigars for people to enjoy. After that, I don’t know much else to say except that I hope people enjoy my creations!” Vivalo, quoted in HalfWheel (2015). There are a “total of five vitolas (Vivalos), as the original Vivalo Serie Exclusivo Lonsdale (6 x 44) was joined by a 5 1/2 x belicoso, 4 7/8 x 50 robusto, 6 x 60 gordo and 5 1/2 x 54 robusto grande, all of which are sold in boxes of 20.” HalfWheel, Id.
“The cigars are a blend of a Jalapa Colorado shade wrapper from Nicaragua, binder from Estelí, Nicaragua, and Nicaraguan filler from Estelí and Jalapa.” Id. As I understand things, Rocky kindly allows assembly of these beauties at his Honduran facility.
“I believe with my passion, dedication and my attention to detail that I will succeed as a cigar maker. Again, I can’t express my gratitude enough towards those who have paved the way for me to be the person I am today.” Vivalo, in The Cigar Authority (2015). The cigars speak for themselves. Patrick’s humble yet excited demeanor (with his Dad cheerleading) speaks to his honest gratitude and excellent personality. I think he will succeed and I wish him the best.
(Patrick even has the humor to tolerate grinning, semi intoxicated bloggers.)
I did a short video interview with Patrick. Should the technology gods smile on me, you may be able to view it some day.
Patrick blends ever size of cigar with a slightly different taste and experience; this is a nod to the great Cuban tradition. He described the importance of the process:
Nine times out of ten, with the non-Cuban market, you could pick up a 38 ring-gauge, a 50 ring-gauge, and a 60 ring-gauge and the bigger you go the mellower you get. The smaller ring-gauges are going to be more of your powerhouse. I felt that blending each size to the specific ring-gauge and length really brings out the subtle nuances in each size.
– exclusive Vivalo interview with Perrin Lovett.
My Gordo was exceptionally smooth and even throughout with a very Cuban-like mellow, delicious flavor. The stick drew perfectly and burned well with no touch-ups needed. I was very impressed with this first effort. A new line is under development. If it is half of the original is, it will be a knockout. Try one soon.
(Vivalo’s current offerings with T-shirts.)
(The Top Shelf crew enjoying Vivalo’s magic and Russell’s usual hospitality.)
Former Mississippi State Baseball standout, Kent Daniel, described the Vivalo Robusto as one of his favorites. His absolute favorite is Patrick’s Bellicoso. “We are very proud of [Patrick] for bringing his blends to Martinez, Georgia,” Daniel said as he puffed away on the Robusto.
If you’re in Augusta, visit Top Shelf; tell them Perrin sent you. If you’re at any decent shop, look for a Vivalo. Your good taste will set you apart.
As a post script, I am now friends with Emma Viktorsson, of Cigar Fantasia. Emma is a veritable Swedish Valkyrie – far better looking than young Vivalo (sorry, Patrick, she is). If you’re familiar with Jose Blanco and Senorial Cigars, you probably know her work. Should I make a press appearance at the IPCPR International show in New Orleans next month I intend to interview her (or at least drool and stutter politely). Time will tell.
(She is smokin! cigarfantasia.com)