A pioneer in cigar making and high-end humidors, Daniel Marshall has crisscrossed the globe in search of innovative techniques while sharing cigars with politicians, celebrities, and jet-setting CEOs. Here, he reveals just what makes the perfect cigar, how best to age them, and who he’d most like share a cigar with.
DM cigars are meticulously crafted with tobacco that is fermented four times. How is this a game-changer?
The complete journey of a fine cigar from seed to fragrant-tasting smoke is a combination of art and time. Fermenting the choicest tobacco leaves is equivalent to filtering of vodka. It removes impurities, releasing natural occurring elements in the growing plant, and is part of the road to create a DM Cigar that has the hallmarks of smoothness and richness.
You are one of the only cigar makers who ages your cigars in a humidor for a full 12 months prior to release. What is the result?
As with wine, whisky, rum–and with age-worthy tobacco–time is a most crucial element to accomplish my quest to create a cigar that is more than a cigar. A level above that is immediately recognized. It creates the smoothness, body, and balance that our cigars are known for. Time is impossible to replace and top-quality tobacco is vital.
How was a mentor influential in helping shape your career?
It was my girlfriend’s grandfather, Joseph D. Bain (aka Papa Joe, as his family called him) who saw my future and connected opportunity to reality through an idea, when he saw the gift of a unique designed, three-cigar case in teakwood I made for him as a thank you gift for believing in my childhood dream of building a sailboat.
Your passion for cigars was fueled by a spontaneous trip across the globe. Where did you travel to, and what did you discover along the way?
The global reach of what I call the Modern Day Campfire occurs every day of my life. It’s what I love to share with fellow cigar tasters around the world—our common love of connection and contemplation over a fine cigar. My first trip overseas was to London as I was on a quest to get my humidor quality reviewed by the design and brand team of Alfred Dunhill of London, supplier to the Crown, to get their stamp of approval.
The DM Red Label is a Cuban-esque cigar. How have the cultures in Cuba and Nicaragua influenced your passion for cigar making?
The cigar master who blended our cigar grows the tobacco and hand rolls our cigars is from Cuba. The heritage of the finest cigar making traces back to Cuba, where for countless years tobacco and cigars have been woven into the fabric of culture and life.
Your exclusive Golden Cigar, wrapped in 24-karat gold, is famous. Is there a specific person or event that is most memorable in sharing it?
Golden moments with the golden cigar are priceless. This victory cigar has taken on a life of its own. It’s found its way into the hands and humidors of some of the world’s most discriminating cigar lovers, from Nick Jonas and Demi Lovato, to President Bill Clinton and Steve Harvey, to Royal Highnesses around the world, including HSH Prince Albert of Monaco. The exclusive launch of the golden cigar with Davidoff of London at the Bulgari hotel was a truly incredible moment, with a packed room of hoteliers, business tycoons, two crown princes, Hollywood and music agents, and investment bankers. They all enjoyed the Nicaraguan—hand-rolled in California and in pure Italian gold by myself in the Cuban- centric city of London, where I got my start. It was truly a golden moment for me.
Each DM Humidor is designed and handcrafted to leverage the maturing process. Why is humidor time essential to fine cigars?
To create the balance, harmony, and smoothness that every cigar connoisseur appreciates. Time for the cigar to rest, to merry, and to allow the essential oils to come out of the leaf enhances the taste of the smoke.
The first cigar you ever smoked?
We don’t smoke. We taste. We are tasters of smoke. That is why we are not addicted to our passion. Cigars are victory, cigars are celebration, and cigars are for contemplation. We never inhale. First cigar was given to me by Papa Joe’s son, Michael.
The finest cigar you’ve ever tasted?
The finest cigar I tasted is when I’m sitting about the modern day campfire as I call it with new friends, old friends, and loved ones. Every cigar has a magic and beauty to it. As with music, it relates to being present and in the moment.
Who would you most like to have dinner and then share a cigar with, and where?
I am one of the luckiest guys on the planet, as a few of my longtime friends that I regularly enjoy cigars and dinner with are considered the most famous cigar aficionados in the world. I have not had dinner and a cigar yet with Rihanna, Jeremy Irons, and Al Pacino—all would be in the top 10. Where? I will invite them to a very special Cigar Dinner we do at the Beverly Hills hotel once a month. Next January, there’s a one-of-a-kind cigar experience called “The Campfire,” where 200 of the world’s greatest cigar lovers will attend a fundraiser for Governor Schwarzenegger’s environmental foundation called R20. It will take place in Kitzbuhel, Austria. Anyone interested can contact us at [email protected].