Yesterday, cigar maker Litto Gomez showcased his new “Air Bender” blend at two Old Virginia Tobacco locations. We caught up with him at the in-store event in Falls Church, Virginia, to try the latest release from La Flor Dominicana and get his thoughts on the ever-encroaching war against tobacco.
Litto Gomez of LFDAir Bender, formerly a blend exclusive to La Flor Dominicana events, sports an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper and Dominican binder and filler tobaccos from Litto’s farm in La Canela. He’s been stockpiling the wrapper for a few years now to make sure that he can keep the blend consistent going forward. Not as spicy as his well-regarded Double Ligero blend, the intended profile is of “refined power,” says Gomez.
Air Bender is offered in four vitolas that retail for $7-8.25 apiece: Matatan (5 x 50), Guerrero (6.25 x 54), Maestro (5.25 x 52), and Valiente (6.25 x 60). Each name honors a kung fu warrior. “I’m enamored with Chinese culture,” says Gomez.
Some think the line’s name is itself a nod to martial arts (apparently there’s an animated television series called Avatar: The Last Airbender).
But Gomez gave us a different explanation. “When we smoke, we bend the air,” he said. “You can see smoke split the air as it leaves a cigar. I had been bouncing this name around for awhile and thought it would be perfect for this cigar.”
We asked what fans could expect next from La Flor Dominicana. Gomez says a smaller ring gauge version of the Air Bender should be ready in time for the Trade Show in August. (All the initial sizes in the line are 50 RG or larger.) He was also excited about his new Small Batch III due out in a few weeks.
Defending Cigar Rights
Litto Gomez, like many cigar makers these days, is very concerned about excessive taxes, smoking bans, and other anti-tobacco zealotry. “The industry is a very easy target,” he says. “It’s important that we realize the stakes in this battle: The other side wants to erase tobacco.”
The anti-tobacco lobby has always pushed for more bans and taxes he explained, and until politicians feel someone pushing back there’s nothing to stop them. That’s why Gomez has been a key supporter of Cigar Rights of America (CRA) since its inception in August 2008.
“I’m surprised by how apathetic smokers have been…how willing they are to accept taxes and bans,” exclaims Gomez. He advocates for even casual smokers to join the organization because “CRA provides the voice of the consumer and helps defend our rights.”