Meet Jayson — best known as @thestogielife on Instagram — one of the most mouth-watering cigar photos on the planet. His take on cigars is very unique. Each week, Jayson features one cigar and makes it the absolute star. Photo after photo of pure cigar heaven produced with an amazing quality and always with great cigars.

Thank you very much for accepting our interview, it is a pleasure to personally meet you. Who are you?

It’s such a pleasure to be featured here for All Things Cigars. I’ve loved the People Behind the Profile series for quite a long time now and is really cool to get to know who’s behind some of the accounts that I follow! My name is Jayson and you all probably know me better as @thestogielife where I try to bring my love of cigars and photography together!

What motivated you to start producing content for the community?

Well, by profession I am a marketeer in the social media space, and by hobby, I am a photographer & cigar enthusiast. My idea was to put my experience together with a primary goal of creating beautiful content where the focus is on the cigar rather than the person. I also wanted to create something a bit unique, so I came up with a concept where I feature a cigar for an entire week.

How is the cigar scene in your country?

Well, I’m in the United States and there are a lot of anti-tobacco initiatives at the federal and state levels that definitely make cigar smoking not as mainstream (or even socially accepted) as say Europe. Luckily, the cigar community tends to find each other on social media and in local cigar lounges.

Do you prefer having a cigar alone or with others?

Wow, this is a tough question because I love both options equally. Having a cigar alone is almost like meditation to me — it allows me to organize myself and reset. But then again, one of the best experiences of enjoying cigars is the social aspect where you can really connect with others that share the same passion. If I were pressed to choose one option, I would say I’d rather enjoy cigars with others.

Enjoying a cigar: inside or outside?

I would have to say that I love enjoying cigars outdoors when possible. My biggest pet peeve is a smoke-filled environment with poor ventilation. It causes this constant negativity loop in my mind that just picks at me the entire time I’m there, thus not allowing me to fully enjoy the experience or the details of nuanced flavors.

We’re going to talk about cigars, no matter their origin. However, we have to ask: What is your favorite cigar-producing country?

Another tough one. I originally fell in love with Cuban cigars. That’s all I smoked for many years. When I finally expanded my palate to what some call the “new world cigars”, my mind was blown by the many different flavor profiles and characteristics they had to offer. I think if pressed, I will still stick with Cuba as my favorite cigar-producing country.

hoy de monterrey double coronas reserva

Imagine that the embargo on Cuba is lifted. What will happen next?

Can you imagine?! Well, I think that this will be a shock to the cigar industry initially — I honestly don’t think Cuba would be able to keep up with the production needs (we’re already having production issues as it is). As a result, quality would suffer dramatically and costs would increase, and in some cases become astronomical in the secondary market. Over time, things will fall into place and we’ll see a bit more harmony in the cigar world. I do think that eventually down the line it would reduce the counterfeit market.

Usually, people have two first-time moments: the first cigar and the cigar that ignited the passion you have today. What were yours?

The first cigar I ever smoked was a San Cristobal de La Habana. I was in my early 20’s and a friend’s dad was into cigars and gave us each one in celebration after his favorite football team won a game. I had no idea what I was doing, but it was a fun experience. The cigar that ignited my passion for cigars was a Montecristo №2 as enjoyed with a group of co-workers that knew and enjoyed cigars. They showed me how to properly enjoy a cigar and I was even able to understand the flavor notes. Lucky for me, I have a pretty great palate and have an uncanny knack for being able to taste nuanced flavors.

What’s the best cigar you have ever had?

As of right now it’s the Montecristo 520 Edición Limitada 2012. This is a magical cigar to me that I’m in love with.

Based on that, what’s the perfect pairing for that specific cigar?

Definitely a delicious aged rum and sparkling water. Specifically, I love Ron Zacapa Centenario XO and Topo Chico. Sometimes I get really involved with a pairing experience where I will pair the first half of the cigar with the Zacapa and the second half with an espresso and dark chocolate. Throughout the experience, I will use Topo Chico to cleanse my palate. My mouth is watering just thinking about this…

Everyone has their ritual when starting a cigar session. What’s yours?

I typically smoke in the evening, so that gives me some time to think about what I want to smoke and drink. I also try to get things done so that my mind is clear and I am not stressing about anything. When it’s time to smoke, I pull out the cigar that I’m going to smoke and thoroughly inspect it and cut it carefully. I then tend to inspect it again — to admire the beauty of it. They are pieces of art.

Tell us about your collection. What does your humidor look like?

I have a pretty substantial collection. I have 2 standing temp/humidity controlled cabinets — one for Cuban cigars and one for Non-Cubans (mainly Opus X). I have 2 beautiful wood desktop humidors — one dedicated only to Drew Estate cigars and the other to Cuban Seed Cigar Co. cigars. I also have a variety of tupperdors I use for overflow and aging.

When we meet someone, we usually give away one cigar as a gesture of good faith. What was the best cigar you have been offered?

I was given the Montecristo 520 Edición Limitada 2012 by a friend in Los Angeles back in 2018. Since that night, it has been my favorite cigar.

Montecristo 520 EL 2012 and Coffee

What do you think about cigars as a type of investment, like watches and cars?

I think they are only worth what someone is willing to pay for them. In my experiences, I have acquired quite a few unicorns that get top dollar, and I know some guys that move tens of thousands of dollars per month as collectors, so that’s all intriguing to me. I love to collect and smoke. I love the thrill of the chase and finding those cigars that not many people have seen. The difference is, I smoke them. I guess to sum it up, I’m not really into the idea of selling what I collect, nor do I have the time. I recently had someone reach out to consider bartering some of my collection for high-end watches…now that’s pretty interesting to me. I love watches.

Plume and mold. Same thing?

Plume is mold, yes. There are varying acceptable levels of it in my opinion. This is a very polarizing conversation I always see on my posts — especially if I post a very old, crusty dusty cigar.

Cut and light or light and cut?

Whatever makes you happy. For me, I cut and light, but I won’t judge.

You can have as many cigars as you want, forever BUT it always has to be the same. What would you pick?

As much as I love my Monte 520, if I could ONLY have the same forever cigar, I would have to choose a Lost City. I’d choose this because in my experience (and in my collection), Opus X cigars really evolve in complexity with age. I think my palate might get bored with a Cuban flavor profile as the only thing I smoked.

OpusX Lost City

We all made some honest mistakes on our cigar journey. Tell us about your most embarrassing one.

So, this one is kind of funny — for my Instagram profile, I shoot all my weekly photos in one photoshoot and archive them in folders ahead of time. I was planning on doing an April Fool’s takeover where I feature fake Cohibas. I mistakenly posted the fakes as a takeover without thinking and kept getting endless DM’s about how I had fakes. I still laugh to this day, and they may or may not still be on my profile. I still never made any public statement on the matter. Until now.

As a customer, what do you look for in a cigar retailer?

I look for great customer service where they try to build a relationship with their customers and make you feel welcome. There are a handful of retailers that I will wholeheartedly support over and over, even if their prices are a bit more than their competitors.

With the smoking restrictions in almost all places, do you see the private club scene growing?

Yes, I definitely see this happening, and I welcome it with open arms.

What’s your favorite cigar accessory?

I absolutely love my Les Fines Lames brass cigar knife. The patina looks so damn beautiful, and I just love the weight of it. It’s also very handy as a daily carry. I use it all the time.

Les Fines Lames OpusX

Are you a soft-flame or a torch lighter person?

Since I smoke outside more often, I am a torch lighter person. I do love lighting cigars with matches though — usually, that happens on those warm, still summer nights for me.

What is your favorite personality in the cigar community and why?

I love unique content and people that are passionate rather than clout chasers. I really like @sistersinsmoke’s profile. She has positivity, enthusiasm, and class. She’s out there sharing her passion and opinion on cigars without feeling the need to sexualize it. Also, I really love to see that more and more women are joining in on enjoying cigars.

Fake cigars are a real problem, we see them popping everywhere. What’s your take on the counterfeit industry and what can we do to minimize the damage?

I don’t think there is a perfect answer on this topic. As long as there is a market for expensive, luxury items, there will be a market for criminals to take advantage of it. The best way to minimize it is to educate people on the counterfeit industry — that it exists, and how to evaluate potential counterfeits. Sometimes it is quite hard these days.

How do you see the future of Cigars on social media?

Well, I don’t think there is much of a future for cigars on social media. By using free social platforms, we are beholden to conforming to what advertisers want and don’t want to see. Sadly, tobacco is on the naughty list these days. Lucky for us, there is a passionate community of people that will self-organize, and figure out creative ways to continue to connect and share with each other.

Did something surprise you in the cigar community?

The overall generosity of the cigar community. There are a lot of really great people in this community that will go out on a limb to help a brother or sister when they need it.

What is the most overrated cigar for you? And he most underrated?

Luckily, everyone’s palate is different and there is a cigar for everyone! I would have to say that some of the crazy unicorns that I hunt have been a bit overrated in terms of comparing the cost and time I spent to acquire it to the flavors. One of the most underrated cigars I smoke is the Bombay Gaaja Maduro. Such a uniquely great smoke!

Bombay Gaaja Maduro

What brand have you never smoked and probably never will?

I try everything at least a few times before I make up my mind on whether I’d never smoke it again.

What is your “Unicorn” cigar?

I am looking for a full box of the Cuban private label cigars made for Jack & Charlie’s “21” Club. Of course, they would have to have been properly stored and smokeable for me to seriously consider them.

What are your Top 5 favorite cigars?

  1. Montecristo 520 Edición Limitada 2012
  2. Romeo y Julieta Wide Churchills Gran Reserva Cosecha 2009
  3. Opus X Lost City
  4. Fuente Opus X 888
  5. Cohiba Edición Limitada 2006 Pirámides

What are your Top 5 favourite Instagram accounts?

Do you mean besides @allthingscigars? Well, in no particular order:

Finally, do you want to send a message to the community?

First off want to thank each and every person that follows me and supports my account. I really really appreciate the feedback and enthusiasm.

Please keep supporting all of the great creators and s/botl’s out there that you follow — make sure to engage with them, like their photos, save them, comment on them. Not only will it help the algorithm, but it also eventually can send a message to the platforms of: “hey, there is a very large, active community out there that we shouldn’t shut down”.

Also, I will have a special announcement coming very soon that has been years in the making!

Stay safe.