The Cigar Lover's Virtual Seminars


The Cigar Lover’s Virtual Seminars is a gathering of the best in the field all around the common thread of consumer learning to maximize the cigar experience. Doesn’t knowledge make us love our fine cigars even more and make our hobby so much more interesting and intriguing?

Guest speakers:

Indiana Ortez : Blending

Bio: Indiana belongs to the first 100% Nicaraguan tobacco family. From an early age, she worked with her Dad, Omar Ortez, in hands-harvesting, creating, experimenting, developing, and producing cigars – from the classification of raw materials, sorting leaves, bunching the filler leaves, wrapping in a binder leaf, to rolling cigars and developing packagings. Within Agroindustrial Nicaraguense de Tabacos S.A. she oversees the development of new blends, the detailed quality control and the stripping process of wrappers and binders, on top of managing the factory’s social media. She works in collaboration with Ventura Cigar Company. Indiana is also Director of Digital Marketing for the Nicaraguan Tobacco Chamber since 2018.

Jacob Grier : Burning issues

Bio: Jacob is the author of The Rediscovery of Tobacco: Smoking, Vaping, and the Creative Destruction of the Cigarette, and a freelance writer for Reason, Slate, and other publications.

Constantin Heitkamp : Sensory science for the cigar industry

Bio: What started as an interest in the scientific backgrounds of wine, other beverages and food, has taken Constantin halfway around the world, earning four degrees from two exceptional institutions along the way, and expanding his scope to all aspects of experiences from a perspective of sensory science. These experiences currently guide Constantin in the creation of truly novel products. He contributed to the set up of the sensory analysis process at Cigar Sense and is now Chief Science Officer and Head of Product Development at Hawaiian Ola Brewing Co.

Michael Cappellini : The fire-cured tobacco tradition

Bio: Michael is Italian American with ancestry from Umbria and Calabria. His passion for everything Italian has given him the opportunity to become Brand Ambassador of Toscano Cigars. Michael graduated from Penn State with two majors: one in Political Science, the second in Italian Linguistics.

Amaury Borges Miranda :

1. Science or empirical knowledge for blending?

2. Sensory analysis and Cuban cigars

Bio: Phd in Chemistry earned at the University of Havana, Amaury directs the Research and Development department at Instituto de Investigaciones del Tabaco in Cuba. He is the Vice president of its Scientific Council and works in close relationship with the Tabacuba management. Amaury is a research oriented professional with solid skills in Analytical Chemistry and Sensory Science applied to tobacco, leading the Institute’s team responsible of new product development. He also contributes to other subjects such as Authentication of Cuban cigars and Leaf Integrity, as well as Plant breeding.

Claudio Sgroi : Where do the aromas in a lit cigar come from?

Bio: Claudio is president and master blender of Mombacho Cigars, as well as president of the Nicaraguan Tobacco Chamber.

Yamir Pellegrino and Miguel Macias : On gourmet pairings

Bio: Yamir and Miguel are the founders of the International Association of Cigar Sommeliers (IACS). Yamir is a renowned Cuban sommelier who worked with 100+ Michelin Star Chefs. Early in his career he was President of the Cuban Sommelier Club and Honorary Maître of Cuba. Yamir teamed up with Habanos to create what today is known as the Habano Sommelier role, being responsible of setting the standards of the cigar service and gourmet pairing. Some years ago, Yamir partnered with Miguel, a seasoned education executive and cigar aficionado, to develop a more global approach towards cigar education, focusing on service and pairing, and created the IACS. Today the association trained and certified more 500+ professionals worldwide, including hospitality professionals, aficionados, cigar lounge owners and cigar makers.

Maya Selva : On cigar heritage

Bio: Maya is an engineer, holds a Master of Science degree and has a knack for statistics. She calls herself “Cigar Designer”, as she realized her dream for 25 years now. In fact, Maya launched her first brand, Flor de Selva, in 1995, in Europe, followed by Cumpay and Villa Zamorano. Today Maya juggles her time between her company headquarters in central Paris, a warehouse in the outskirts to manage distribution in Europe, Honduras and Nicaragua, where the tobacco plantations and factories are located, plus a distribution center for Hollywood, Florida.

Glynn Loope : Regulatory myths and truths

Bio: Glynn has served as the founding Executive Director of Cigar Rights of America (CRA) since December 2008. Since assuming this position, CRA has grown into a fifty state coalition representing interests at the local, state and federal levels of government, providing communications, coalition building, testimony, analysis and related forms of support on regulatory, tax and associated issues impacting the industry. Additional initiatives have included building an international coalition of nations directly reliant on the economic impact of the premium cigar industry including Honduras, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic, as well as providers of support material and logistics throughout central and South America and the Caribbean Basin. Hallmarks of this effort has included establishing an office and staff in Washington, D.C. for the premium cigar industry, building a Congressional coalition in support of industry positions, a state legislative network on issues of significance to the sector, and providing advice and counsel on strategies beneficial to consumer, retail and manufacturer interests at all levels. Glynn is a sought after commentator on industry issues, and is often quoted or provides commentary for dozens of national and international media outlets.

Franca Comparetto : On comparative tasting

Bio: Franca created and co-founded Cigar Sense. She is a certified catador, salesforce tobacconist, professional taster (ISO 8586-1/2) and sensory panel leader. She fell in love with and started her quest in the sensory world of fine cigars in 2003. In 2013, when she moved from her home country, Italy, to California, Franca went through a lengthy and frustrating trial and error process, in the quest of non-Cuban cigars that could replace the Cuban ones that she was used to enjoy. After having identified the process that led her to find her new pearls, Franca built, together with David Wells, co-founder, the Cigar Sense expert recommendation system, which learns what characteristics a consumer loves in a fine cigar, then recommends other cigars that match them. David and Franca also led the effort to pioneer predictive analytics in the premium cigar industry, which help manufacturers plan and act based on market acceptance of premium cigars in all geographies around the world.



This page will be updated with the final schedule as we move closer to the event.

The Cigar Lover’s Virtual Seminars will take place in the week of 20 April, 2020. During the event week, seminars will be available for free to all.  Register now to reserve your spot!

Cigar Sense predicts which cigars best fit your personal taste. We are committed to preserve the highest objectivity, integrity and independence in the creation and dissemination of our analyses and industry analytics. This is why we do not sell cigars, nor cigar ads.

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