Alex Goldman, president of Royal Gold Cigars, grew up as a fourth generation descendant to the tobacco business. He began visiting his family’s tobacco shop in New York City when he was just two years old, and he fraternized with industry legends where he gained invaluable knowledge as a budding youngster.
His family owned a large distribution company as well as Mom’s Cigars online and retail stores for many years. After selling the family business in 2010, Goldman spent his days consulting with various companies including Rocky Patel until Swisher, parent company to Royal Gold, approached him about renewing the company’s interest in premium cigars.
And now, in just over one year in existence Royal Gold has four distinct blends on the market representing Nicaragua, Dominican Republic and Honduras.
“When we started the division, we wanted to show that this was a real company and become a valued partner to brick-and-mortar and mail order companies,” said Goldman. “So we set an ambitious goal to have at least one premium brand from each of the major cigar producing countries.”
Royal Gold teamed up with Drew Estate for its latest blend, Nirvana, which was released earlier this year. Goldman has been great friends with Jonathan Drew and Marvin Samel of Drew Estate since childhood and their families were very close for many years. So it was a no-brainer that the two would team up to create Royal Gold’s Nicaraguan blend.
“When I decided I wanted a product from Nicaragua my goal was to have Drew Estate make it,” said Goldman. “It took a bit to convince them to do it but at the end of the day, I think they are happy they did it and I know I am.”
Nirvana is produced at Drew Estate’s La Gran Fabrica in Esteli, Nicaragua, which currently produces 95,000 hand-rolled cigars per day and is best known for producing the acclaimed Liga Privada, Undercrown, ACID and Herrera Esteli lines. The Nirvana is clothed in an African Cameroon wrapper with a Mexican San Andreas Negro binder and fillers from the Esteli and Jalapa regions of Nicaragua plus Honduras’ Jamastran region. From blend to packaging, Nirvana took just 10 months to create.
“It was a long process, it took 10 months, which is actually very short but seemed like forever since we were so excited to get the product onto the market,” said Goldman. “The end result was worth the wait.”
“We have a lot of new projects in the works. We have blends picked for maduro versions of Kismet and Casino Gold H.R.S. as well as for a new Dominican cigar,” said Goldman.
Finding the ‘perfect’ blend can sometimes be an exhausting, even impossible task given the different palates of the millions of cigar smokers around the globe.
“I do not think there is such a thing as the “perfect blend”. What I like, you may not and what I find strong someone else may find mild, said Goldman.
Despite the tiresome efforts, Goldman is very involved with the blending process of all of his company’s blends. He personally smokes all of the test blends along with the manufacturer and other people who work for Royal Gold and Swisher. Everyone’s input is considered but Goldman has the final say.
“All of our manufacturers are people who I have had long relationships with and that I know can produce a quality product,” he said.
Then he looks for someone that has deep resources of quality tobacco. And, finally he concentrates on the construction of the cigar – the draw, the burn, and the fill.
“If the cigar is made right every time that is the ultimate goal,” he said. “Some people will like the blend, some will not but I want everyone to know that Royal Gold products are well made.”
Despite the company’s early success, there are several challenges that Goldman must face as the president of a premium cigar company.
“Personally, the biggest challenge has been learning to work within a bigger organization,” he said.
When he had his own business he made decisions and lived with them but now he has a whole team to support. As for the company, “One of the challenges is to balance the needs of our different customer bases – it’s hard to keep everyone happy,” he said.
Royal Gold is quickly becoming a popular cigar among aficionados as they find their way into humidors and blanket the shelves of hundreds of cigar shops and catalogues around the country. They are reasonably priced sticks made from quality tobacco with pristine construction.
“The people that make my cigars – Drew Estate, Nestor Plasencia and the Reyes family – make me a good product and they know I will represent the products the right way,” said Goldman. “These strong partnerships and relationships result in great cigars.”
For those who haven’t heard of or smoked a Royal Gold cigar Goldman thinks you should give them a whirl.
“We offer great quality, well made, tasty cigars at reasonable prices. I think that is a good enough reason to give Royal Gold cigars a try.”