Meet our Tobacconist

Meet our Tobacconist

A tobacconist’s role is typically defined as a merchant – a buyer and seller of tobacco. However, at, we prefer to see them as fervent connoisseurs. A certified tobacconist lighting up and smoking a Nicaraguan cigar is akin to a sommelier swirling and sipping a fine French wine. With one sniff, they know the components, they have foresight into the impending flavors, and they can savor them with each passionate puff. If they are really good, they are historians who can illuminate the histories and cultures of each cigar growing country. They can dissect into detail how each country’s tobacco and growing methods differ and why. The knowledge of these go-to cigar gurus is the foundation of an exceptional cigar retailer, and we take great pride in ours.

Meet our certified tobacconist: Chris Gwaltney.

Christ Gwaltney

Chris Gwaltney
Certified Chief Tobacconist

Why did you become a tobacconist?

CG: I have been smoking cigars my entire adult life, so based on the gray in my beard, it’s been a score and a half. I became certified in 2013 through Tobacconist University. I wanted to be able to share my love and passion for cigars with others and felt the best way to do that was to become a tobacconist. Because of that decision, I have been able to assist numerous cigar smokers over the years, new and veteran smokers alike.

What is your favorite thing to inform beginner cigar smokers about?

CG: My favorite thing to tell new smokers is “welcome to the culture.” It’s so much more than just something you do; it’s a lifestyle. I also make sure they understand that it’s important not to get wrapped up in what all the experts are saying. Smoke what you like and be patient if you don’t immediately taste everything experts are saying they taste in their cigars.

What is your favorite thing to tell cigar aficionados?

CG: Conversations with folks that have been smoking a long time are something I view as an educational opportunity. Just when you think you have heard it all, there is someone else with a cool nugget of information that you were missing. It’s also cool to “geek out” and talk tobacco and the places it comes from with those who share in your knowledge and experiences.

What is your approach when selecting cigars for

CG: My first rule when deciding on cigars is the reputation of the manufacturer. Do they make quality cigars and are they going to be a great, long-term partner? This industry is all about relationships; you should never enter a business partnership with someone that you can’t have a good personal relationship with.

What is your relationship like with cigar makers?

CG:I really like all our cigar makers; they are all very personable. I make it a point to visit them as often as possible, including traveling to the factories. Like I said earlier, it’s a relationship business and it’s so important that you treat each other like it more than just a buyer-seller arrangement.

What do you love most about smoking cigars?

CG: That is an easy answer. I love the social aspect of it. Smoking cigars is relaxing and serves as therapy but enjoying cigars with others is what the culture is all about. The people involved in the cigar industry, in all phases from manufacturer, retail, to consumer are some of the coolest people on the planet.