Inside 262 Cigars with Clint Aaron
Story and Interview by Anthony
Interview: Clint, Co-Founder of 262:”Smoke the Revolution”
Recently I sat down with Clint Aaron, the Co-Founder of the new boutique line 262.
Clint was a warm and affable guest who had a lot to say when it came to talking about his new lines, company, and the cigar industry as a whole.
The following is the conversation we had one warm spring eve as we sat on a lounge patio smoking some excellent cigars!
Puffing: So Clint, how did 262 come to be?
Clint Aaron: I wanted to do something that I was passionate about. I’ve always loved the camaraderie that comes along with cigars, and I was sick of trying to climb the corporate ladder. So I decided to pursue a career in the cigar industry.
Puffing: What does the name mean?
Clint: 262 stands for February ’62. That’s when JFK signed the Cuban Trade Embargo.
Puffing: How long have you guys been in the business?
Clint: We’ve been at this for a couple years now. We started in early 2009 and took that year working on the blends and getting all the legal stuff taken care of. We took delivery of the product on Christmas Eve of 2009, and landed our first store in January 2010.
Puffing: What are the different cigars in your current lineup?
Clint: We currently have the Paradigm and the Ideology.
Puffing: You like to name your cigars boldly, but what do those titles really mean to you? What paradigm are you changing from? What ideology are you referring to?
Clint: Mike Justice is the brain-child behind the nomenclature for the cigars, and these are his thoughts…
The Paradigm: is just that, a new paradigm on cigars. We’re trying to change the way people think about cigars.
Ideology: The Manifesto stems from my Ideology. I believe in freedom and limited government. I believe in the constitution and fully trust what the founders setup for us. There’s a great awakening happening around the country and folks are starting to really think about what they believe politically, spiritually, and socially. Our Ideologies are the foundations of how we live our lives, the decisions we make, and the people we associate with.
Puffing: What profiles do these cigars have?
Clint: The Paradigm is a medium strength and medium-bodied cigar. It has notes of citrus, pepper, cedar, coffee, and chocolate.
The Ideology is a mild cigar in strength, but a medium-bodied cigar. It has notes of black licorice, pepper, sweet hay, toastiness, and creamy undertones.
Puffing: Is this a straight brick and mortar stick, or an online stick as well?
Clint: We love the freedom to be able to go to B&Ms, meet new people, and smoke cigars with all different types of folks. So we want to support them the best we can.
Puffing: Do you have any plans for future expansion in your lineup? If so, can you tell us anything about it?
Clint: We always have new ideas and things that we have cooking up. I generally like to keep that stuff close to my chest.
Puffing: Where do you see your company in the current market?
Clint: Right now we a very small fish in a huge pond. We are continuing to pound the pavement and are doing the best we can to grow at a pace where we can continue to service our customers.
Puffing: Where do you see your company in the future market?
Clint: I see us being a household name. I envision us staying a boutique company in our methods more so than the number of cigars produced. I always want to put quality first in everything we produce, limit the number of blends we produce to a manageable number for the retailers, and support the B&Ms any way we can. This goes back to our love of cigars; we want to produce the best cigars we can and support our customers first and foremost.
Puffing: You talk a lot about revolution, what is that revolution?
Clint: The revolution is whatever you want it to be. For me the revolution is standing up for our rights as cigar smokers. I love the camaraderie that comes along with cigars, and it kills me to see these stores going by the wayside because of smoking bans. For others the revolution may be to do away stereotypes or eliminating egregious taxes on cigars.
Puffing: When you say “smoke the revolution” does that imply some of your proceeds you guys make go towards a pro-cigar movement?
Clint: In the future, once we have a strong foothold on the market, we would love to be able to contribute on a higher level. We are in talks about some things that could help cigar smokers take a stand for their rights.
Puffing: What do you see as your part in that revolution?
Clint: I see us as a small company with the ability to cast a great vision. We may not be able to contribute on a large monetary scale like some of the larger companies, but we can start on a grassroots level and expand from there.
Puffing: What is your current take on the political landscape around cigar rights?
Clint: Oh boy! I don’t know where to start. I believe that premium hand-made cigars are getting a bad rap for no real reason. They are being lumped in with cigarettes and machine made blunts. Premium cigars are a form of art and love, and I cannot understand how they keep getting grouped together with other forms of tobacco. Roughly 200 hands touch your cigar before you smoke it. There is much more to cigars than people realize. It frustrates me to no end when I see another smoking ban or a tax hike put into place, but I never see a bar being closed down unless they’re serving to minors. There are states that have drive-thru liquor stores but have statewide smoking bans. How does that work?! We are reminded weekly on the news just how dangerous drinking and driving can be, but congress doesn’t seem to implement statewide drinking bans. I could go on and on, but my blood pressure is through the roof just thinking about this nonsense!
Puffing: How do you guys differ in your strategy than a big company per se who goes directly for the lobbyists?
Clint: As I stated before, we are very grassroots in everything that we do, so try to get others involved in that same manner. We have found that there is strength in numbers. I can’t tell you how many times people complain to me about the CRA. I always hear that the CRA didn’t do anything for my state. I am quick to respond with, “did you write your congressman?” “Did you call your CRA Ambassador?” “Did you sign the petition?” “What did you do help combat the issues on the docket?” Most of the time I get a befuddled look from the person I’m speaking with. Our entire ‘revolution’ is about getting up and taking a stand for your rights. It’s about getting involved for yourself, not waiting for somebody to do it for you.
Puffing: What do you want the customer to walk away with after smoking one of your cigars?
Clint: I want everybody to love our cigar, but I understand that won’t happen all the time. If somebody doesn’t like the cigar enough to smoke it again, then I want them to walk away and say, “the cigar wasn’t for me and my tastes, but I like what 262 Cigars stands for and it’s a company that I could get behind.”
Puffing: What is in your current cigar rotation?
Clint: 13th Floor Foundation series, Liga Miami from El Primer Mundo, our cigars, Kristoff, anything from J. Fuego, and the San Latano from AJ Fernandez
Puffing: What size do you recommend to the new smokers out there?
Clint: That’s a tough question. It really depends on their style, but I would say a corona extra or a robusto.
Puffing: If someone wants to produce their own line someday, what advice would you give that individual?
Clint: You’d better be in it for a marathon because it’s not a sprint! Be a sponge and surround yourself with people who have been in the industry for years. God gave me two ears and one mouth for a reason.
Puffing: Ok, if you are as revolutionary as you proclaim to be, name the speaker of the following quote: “If you can’t send money, send tobacco.” Hint: spoken to the Continental Congress, 1776, during a “Revolutionary Time.”
Clint: That would be George Washington!
Once again, as always we would like to thank Clint and 262 for sitting down with us and letting us get to know them and their product better. We are excited to watch Clint and his crew at 262 as they continue to grow and expand in the industry! If you would like to learn more about the 262 lineup, then please go here. Also, if you would like to read our full review of the Paradigm, then please follow us here.
We have also smoked the Ideology and will have a full write up posted in the days to come.
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