“Geek Stick”… A Cigar for Saving, Giving, Trading, Selling or Smoking
Another editorial by David Garofalo
A “Geek Stick” is a cigar that is limited in production for one reason or another, which creates demand for a few different reasons. I’ve always been intrigued by the Geek Stick, its psychology and allure… so let’s dig in.
Limited Production cigars began (as I recall) during the cigar boom of the 1990’s by Arturo Fuente Cigars and Bahia cigars. Fuente created the marketing message “we never rush the hands of time.” Advertising, promoting and explaining that they do not have enough cigars for all those who are looking for them and they will not speed it up. The demand at that time for their cigars, and frankly all cigars, exceeded supply, but Fuente exploited it and took it to another level and I believe created what I call the geek stick.
Limited Releases occur for a bunch of reasons, one of which is a short supply of the tobacco used in the blend, therefore creating only a limited amount of cigars that can possibly be made. Another way a Limited Release can occur is simply through creative and effective marketing.
When Fuente Opus X was initially introduced to the market it appeared at trade shows on display two years before it was released, creating instant demand from retailers and consumers who heard about this “special” cigar that used Dominican tobacco as wrapper which was not done before. When it was finally released it was only available on the East Coast and in very limited amounts continuing its magnetism. To this day, they still trickle its production and scarcity despite having over 20 years to revamp production numbers.
Then you have Bahia, a cigar from Costa Rica that was released in 1992 from a man named Tony Borhani, who is possibly the very first boutique cigar-lebrity. Tony and his cigar maker and blender Douglas Perringer went to Costa Rica and made the Bahia cigars. This brand is no longer owned by either man but when it was, back in the 90’s, it was special and limited. On the boxes it had the Total Production numbers such as 100,000 which equated to just 5,000 boxes world-wide of that specific blend. The first release was the Bahia 1998 Vintage and today, Tony himself claims he will buy back every cigar he can get his hands on for $500 per cigar. I personally lit up tens of thousands of dollars of them back in the day, but that cigar is very different from the ones with the same name today… so don’t be fooled. As Bahia grew and production increased, the brand simply slowed down. Production exceeded demand the brand plummeted into extinction. This is the danger of creating a company around scarcity, you can’t grow the line or you will kill it. Fuente has been very calculated and hasn’t caught up as of yet. The Opus X brand still has its followers while still remaining scarce.
I don’t have any of the Bahia 1998’s personally but I do have a handful of boxes of the Bahia 1992 Vintage including the super-rare “A” size. I have smoked some but held on to some almost as a trophy, some bragging rights for a rare and limited, highly sought-after cigar. I know of a handful of people who store and save more Opus X cigars than they have ever smoked, and they constantly feel they need to tell me about them like they are their children. They tell me how well they smoke after 10 years, but have no idea how they smoked 10 years ago. I have been given gifts of them as their prized possessions and I always feel bad when I cut them and light them. I remember actually cutting and lighting one immediately when given it by a generous friend. The look of horror on his face when I lit it was concerning. I asked, “Did I do something wrong?” Then followed up with, “Was I not supposed to light it?” He responded with “No… no…I just never smoked one myself… how is it?” You’ve got to be kidding! That’s what cigars are for…enjoying! However, he was correct. Cigars are also for sharing and he was proud to give me the cigar and I appreciated it. Again, they are for enjoying and the best way to really enjoy a cigar is to light it and smoke it, so I did. I wish he had enjoyed one with me, it would have been even better.
I was in one of our lounges at Two Guys Smoke Shop and heard a couple of guys talking about a Limited Release cigar that was not available any longer, it was one of Pete Johnson’s Tatuaje limited releases from years ago. One guy said “I have a couple of boxes put away” and the other guy asked to buy one single cigar. The guy that had the boxes put away for years said I won’t sell it to you but I will give you one if you give me one of those M-80’s you bought last year that I missed out on… and they agreed. Neither man was willing to give, nor sell them, but a trade for something they didn’t have and couldn’t get was a fair deal, both were happy about it. I have a feeling neither of them have even tasted either cigar yet… but I’m just guessing.
Then you have the guy who helped drive the scarcity of the cigar up by buying them, then waiting till they were sold out and offering them for sale for more than market value… gouging. Hey, I’m a Capitalist and believe in the free market but I never liked that but it happens all the time. It’s the grey market and it inflates the value of the cigars and causes issues to the brand. It’s consumers selling cigars without a license and gouging true cigar fanatics who just need or want to try it. These actions are growing rampant as of late, as more limited releases have been created in the past couple years than the past twenty years combined. These action can create chaos to an industry much like what happen to Cabbage Patch Dolls, ugly, highly sought-after dolls that became collectables or Bennie Babies, small plush animals that exploded in the 90’s. The grey market destroyed their entire industries while devaluing the brands and products over a short period of time.
I for one find giving the geek stick to those who can appreciate it is most satisfying. I have a nice collection myself, and I have tapped into it on occasion. The occasions always have been when I am with someone who enjoys cigars. I have only smoked them with someone and never alone. I have given some away without having one myself and I feel good about it but to be honest, I didn’t enjoy that as much as sharing the experience with someone.
I’ve liked to stretch my geek stick smoking out for years, seeing if the cigar improves with age, but as I get older I forget what it used to be and this comparison exercise becomes useless. So I will begin to light up and enjoy these cigars with friend at a more rapid pace than I have in the past. Cigars can be for Saving, Giving, Trading or Selling, but I promise you they are always best when Smoking.