There are few things that I enjoy more than a quality cigar. But I will tell you that one of those things was having the opportunity to smoke a quality, fine cigar with its Master Blender.
On what was a rare visit as only a few specially retailers are able to carry Davidoff Cigars, Davidoff Master Blender Hendrik “Henke” Kelner stopped by Uptown’s Smoke Shop in Nashville, TN to do more than meet and greet customers, but to really speak knowledge into those that had an interest in the industry and his cigars far beyond the finished product.
During this visit, I enjoyed one of the newer additions to the Davidoff line, a true fan favorite, the Davidoff Nicaragua Toro (5 1/2″ x 54). I almost felt a little pressure as I smoked it in his presence as I was prepared to break down what I was tasting and experiencing just in case he asked! he didn’t however, and I was able to really just focus on his expertise and insight.
It’s was incredible to hear and see in the simplest form every aspect of Davidoff’s production, blending process and manufacturing, as I and a handfull of attentive participants had a conversation so intimate and informal that Henke was drawing diagrams and formulas for us on whatever he could find nearby, napkins! Henke also broke down for us his philosophy on blending by sketching out a tongue and explaining to us which tastes and sensations he hopes to trigger and deliver in each of his blends.
While we casual cigar smokers know of what goes into the production of what we enjoy, it was another lesson altogether to have the simple, yet so the complex science behind one of the cigar industry’s most prominent and consistent companies spelled out from the “chef” himself. Seeing inside his head and hearing what he is trying to accomplish with a particular blend takes my appreciation for the brand to whole different level, as they don’t create merely according to what they like, but they create to give cigar lovers what they want.
As the patriarch of a “tobacco family”, Henke proudly spoke of his family, which has deep and critical roots in the cigar and tobacco industries as his wife and daughter both own tobacco farms, one of his sons has a critical role for an international tobacco and cigar manufacturer and another of his sons blends cigars for multiple companies. One of those companies his son blended for is based here in Nashville, and he had the pleasure and honor of smoking that cigar for the first time while he was sitting there with us! It was interesting to hear his opinion and to see his reaction to his son’s work!
If you ever hear that Henke Kilner is coming to a Brick & Mortar near you, drop what you are doing to go meet him. As humble and as personable as they come, Henke will quickly make you feel comfortable and will immediately begin to share what he knows. Talking to him, you feel and understand his passion and his eagerness to share it with those that are willing to listen.
…oh, and the cigar was great by the way. Tasty, consistent with medium body. Go out and buy a few!