Inside the Life of Gary Griffith – Founder of Emilio Cigars and House of Emilio

gary griffith             Gary Griffith, founder of Emilio Cigars and House of Emilio, is a long-time cigar smoker who has spent a lifetime submerged in all things cigars – smoking, studying and admiring. But, it wasn’t until twelve years ago when Griffith retired from the construction industry and took a part-time job at a local brick-and-mortar cigar shop that roused his desire to start blending his own brand.

“After thousands of hours spent in cigar factories just absorbing all the wonderful knowledge I could gain, I decided to try my hand at blending,” said Griffith. “I’m very passionate about the industry, the people within it and the tobacco.”

Emilio Cigars, founded in 2010, blends some of the industry’s most flavorful boutique cigars primarily using specially selected tobaccos from Nicaragua and Honduras to create a unique smoking experience. In 2010 Griffith was invited to Central America for a blending trip where he met master blender AJ Fernandez, creator of the acclaimed San Lotano cigar, who enlightened him on the process and art of blending. Out of respect for the master blender, Griffith produced the AF1 and AF2 and sold them to a number of tobacco shops. To his amazement, the cigars took off and the rest is history.

“There’s no question it’s a lot of hard work, but my driving force is passion,” said Griffith. “You have to be willing to put gary griffith11in long hard hours, but I believe success derives more from sincerity.”

The process of choosing perfect tobacco to create the ideal blend can be painstaking and stressful at times, but the close attention to small details and top-notch quality control are what make Griffith’s cigars so enjoyable.

“It’s a matter of building a base blend knowing what each tobacco can contribute and refining the blend from there,” said Griffith. “It’s the tobacco that drives the process.”

When working with smaller factories Griffith hand selects the tobaccos himself but when working alongside someone like AJ Fernandez, Griffith relies on Fernandez’ vast knowledge and experience to come up with a blend close to what he is looking for, then asks for changes to enhance or de-emphasize certain flavors, if necessary.

The AF1 is the best-selling line of Emilio Cigars. It is cloaked in a succulent San Andres Maduro wrapper that envelopes a Nicaraguan binder and fillers. It is available in four vitolas and produces a complex smoke that combines caramel sweetness with coffee, black pepper and wood notes.

“Our AF1 has consistently been our best seller and I assume that’s because it appeals to a broad range of smokers,” said Griffith.

House of Emilio is a distribution company that supports, promotes and distributes independently owned boutique cigars like Nomad, Rodrigo, Epicurean, Guayacan, 1502, Herederos de Robaina, and Bodega Premium Blends. Many smaller boutiques look to Griffith for additional visibility and retail presence.

Despite his booming presence in the cigar industry, those close to Griffith know that he is a regular, small-town guy who enjoys spending quality time with family and friends while puffing on a premium stogie.

Gary Griffith3“I have no personal favorite cigar. There are so many on the market that I truly enjoy trying as many as I can,” he said. “As to a personal ‘style’ of cigar, I do favor cigars with a certain herbal undertone and that’s just a personal preference.”

This lover of the leaf has always been a bit of a ‘workaholic’ involved in several successful businesses. He considers himself a ‘hardcore birder’ who enjoys genealogical research and data collection. He also believes firmly in public service and dedicates much of his valuable free time on his local planning commission, local historical society and state forestry board.

For all those cigar enthusiasts out there looking for advice from a budding blender, Griffith recommends, “Find your niche and smoke within it. It’s not all uncommon for me to recommend a cigar to a consumer that isn’t even part of the House of Emilio when I don’t feel we have a good match,” he said. “My thinking has always been that you recommend what best fits the individual, and avoid being self-serving.”

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16 Thoughts to “Inside the Life of Gary Griffith – Founder of Emilio Cigars and House of Emilio”

  1. […] a little history on Gary Griffith and his cigar empire, read my interview with him. You will be excited to learn how a passionate cigar smoker turned a hobby into an […]

  2. […] One look at this daring dame and I immediately noticed how well-rolled she was. Within seconds of our initial meeting I already had my hands all over her firm body – felt well packed with very little give when performing the old squeeze test. The AF2 is of solid construction – a trademark of all Emilio Cigars. […]

  3. […] never tried one of their cigars until now.  This Jamais Vu was a gift from House of Emilio founder Gary Griffith and I owe him a million thanks for introducing me to this Nicaraguan Puro that deserves every one […]

  4. […] most of you, I had never heard of this cigar until Gary Griffith of House of Emilio introduced me to this gem. Guayacan is made by Noel Rojas who hails from Pinar […]

  5. […] Ezra Zion cigars aren’t sold by online retailers, but are available online. If a brick-and-mortar shop sells online then online sales are permitted so long as the price point is the same as the physical location. Online retailers without a physical shop are not allowed to sell Ezra Zion cigars. Cigar Federation, an online source where Ezra Zion cigars are sold, is a prime example. It is the online store for Delaware Cigars, which is a 27 store chain owned by Gary Griffith of House of Emilio and Emilio Cigars. […]

  6. […] was my first time trying a Rodrigo cigar and boy am I glad I gave her a whirl. A million thanks to Gary Griffith of House of Emilio for introducing me to this fine, classic cubanesque smoke that is a tribute to the ‘old school’ […]

  7. […] in honor of a dear friend of Gary Griffith, the La Musa (the Muse) line by Emilio Cigars features four distinct blends derived from Greek […]

  8. […] After thumbing through my humidor for a bit I stumbled upon another primo selection from the House of Emilio – Nomad Connecticut […]

  9. […] met Ruby a couple of weeks ago when her close friend, Gary Griffith introduced us. I know I am not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but as soon as I laid eyes on […]

  10. […] Premium Blends is a new brand in the industry distributed by Gary Griffith and the House of Emilio team.  The company is run by Gino Domanico (@Cigar_G) but founded by four […]

  11. […] are rarely found in most of today’s cigars. It is yet another line that successfully demonstrates Gary Griffith’s […]

  12. […] Series H was Gary Griffith’s debut cigar after creating his own company, Emilio Cigars after years in the construction […]

  13. […] was introduced the AG Azul about seven months ago when Gary Griffith of House of Emilio sent her over to me as my “mail-ordered bride”. It turns out that I wanted to wait a bit before […]

  14. […] painter of cigar art with original prints in the private collections of industry greats like Gary Griffith, Fred Rewey, George Rodriguez, Sam Leccia, Jon Huber, Scott de la Pena and Delicia, The Cigar […]

  15. […] painter of cigar art with original prints in the private collections of industry greats like Gary Griffith, Fred Rewey, George Rodriguez, Sam Leccia, Jon Huber, Scott de la Pena and Delicia, The Cigar […]

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