Interview: Osvaldo Morales, Jr.

1. Thank you very much for accepting our interview. It is a pleasure to meet you personally. Who are you?

Osvaldo Morales, JR.

Named after my father, in 1975

I was born in Miami, of Cuban heritage, and raised in Union City, New Jersey. I’m steeped in the culture of Cuba. As a young man, I experienced cigars as a staple akin to rice and black beans. That experience gave me the confidence to expand my taste and start building the standards by which I would measure my future experience. When I was a child, my mother took me to a cigar shop, which I will always remember, because it had a red carpet. When I met Carlito Fuentes, Jr., he told me that his father, Carlos Sr., and his father, Arturo, had started in the Bronx. They also had a shop on Bergenline Avenue, around 16th Street, in Union City. That was the shop named A.F. Cigars.


I grew up in an apartment where the kitchen was the accounting office for la bolita, the numbers. My image of a cigar smoker was when my mother was “fumigating” her company and the children. Children and people are nosy. She lit a cigar and that was the sign that everyone had to leave, or it meant someone had had a bad day and didn’t want anyone to talk to them. When you see a woman smoking a cigar, it means you don’t interrupt them.

A certain man who drove a black Lincoln Town Car met me when school let out. He was a financial adjuster and my chauffer, in a sense. He used to pick me up and take me with him. The police will never stop a man with a child, especially if the man was dressed in a suit. When we went to make collections at the car repair shop, the tailor, or the barbershop on 51st St. in West New York, he would say to me, “Here, before I light this up, you put one in your mouth, and I’m going to give you the signal. When we’re in there, I’ll ask you for a light, and they’ll know we mean business.” It meant that everyone had to clear the store. It was as if he and my mother were training me to be the next adjuster. When I got home, my mom asked me, “What did you do today?” I said, “We went to go visit people, and all I had to do was put a cigar in my mouth, and everything got quiet; everybody left the room.” “Good,” she said, “Where’s the cigar?” She’d take it from me and smoke it, telling me I did a good job. However, she said that a man should never tell what he was doing when he has a cigar in his mouth. That was the time to keep quiet, look, and listen, and never repeat anything he had heard. Later on, I became a financial adjuster and dressed in a suit. I had a Lincoln Town Car myself, and my legitimate business was, and is, a Limousine company. The pattern never changed. When I got to a drop point, like a car repair shop, I put a cigar in my mouth and it was time to do business.

As such, I’ve always had a good cigar in my mouth. They never had bands on them, because they were mostly private blends from the cigar rollers in Union City. There were many of them. There was Arturo Fuente Cigars. There was also Havana Cigars made by Boquillas (the shop). It was on 21st and Summit (it’s now 2314 Summit Ave, Union City, NJ 07087). Literally, I never went to a cigar bar or cigar store. I never had to, because it’s for civilians. The first time I ever went to a cigar lounge, where there were bands on the cigars, was when I started selling them and wanted the visibility in order to become a global brand.

However, when I went on vacation a few years ago to the Dominican Republic—which is one of the greatest cigar producing countries–there were no labels on them either, which was what I was used to. When you’re in Italy, you sample the best food. So, when I was there, I had an opportunity to get exactly what I always wanted. I turned to my Apetebi, A fearless woman Yahaira Núñez said, “Let’s visit a plantation.” A lot of people said I was crazy, but I was seeking complete control of the whole process, i.e., tobacco secrets such as the fermentation process. Ultimately, I inherited the son of one producer who didn’t say I was crazy. Osvaldo Radhamés Rodríguez didn’t say anything but ensure my existence with four words. “Mi hijo se encargar; My son will handle your needs”  All he did was put a cigar in his mouth and started writing as I was talking. We were talking about business. Ram replied, “We know how to do what you want.” And that was Essential Blend, No. 1. With Essential Blend No.1, others’ said I was crazy. No. 2, they said was  luck. No. 3, they vocalized was Voodoo. No. 4 convinced the ones who didn’t want to believe in me. With No.5, I became unapologetic. As a side note, I asked myself if I really was as crazy as people had said for assuming the production on the first blend. And all of us replied, “No.” So I kept going.

2. What motivated you to start producing content for the community?

God’s plan, as I interpreted it.  As I tasted fine cigars, I learned that they speak to the soul, as well as, the body. The peace a fine cigar brings became the ultimate goal of O.M. Cigars. Sharing cigars could be a way to stay in touch with people I have not yet met. The idea of bringing a smoker peace of mind to their soul had not yet come into existence for what I liked the best until I started to create this brand. All I had was the experience from the businesses I still own.  As the producer of O.M. Cigars, I am not chasing every smoker. Instead, O.M. is ready, and invites those who are enchanted by finely crafted and well-aged offerings.


3. How is the cigar scene in your country?

85%-90% of the industry is geared towards the influence of popular culture. There are only a few companies really operating under the rule of legacy. Nearly everyone is chasing the dollar these days instead of legacy. That’s why you have to love companies like Fuente & Padron. They stay true to their roots and never sell out. Davidoff gets a little weary at times, but not too much. Nick Perdomo is another good one that stays true. It is just a very different world–the cigar industry today as it was 15-20 years ago. It has changed more in the last ten years than it had in the fifty years before it. But let’s go further. Change is inevitable. Besides, I’d be a hypocrite to think I’m not a part of it. Twenty years ago, what I now have my photographer do with cigar pictures, would have been blasphemy. The old timers would ask me, “Estás carecido de cosas con qué entretenerte, fúmate el cigarro y no jodas.” Translation: Quit playing around with that f*****g cigar and just smoke it.

4. Do you prefer having a cigar alone or with  others?

Being with others has its advantages: good conversation, laughs, and connection, depending on the company, of course. However, being alone with a cigar is just different. It’s being able to practice something people in other areas call “mindfulness.” With a cigar that has been crafted for a personal experience, it is phenomenal. I am my own best customer, and these cigars, as previously mentioned, are to ignite peace. In the Cuban household, when the women lit their cigars, it was a signal to everyone else to vacate the premises. It was the time for adults to be left alone, and you had better get the hint to not get cute.


5. Enjoying a cigar: inside or outside?

Outside is preferred, weather permitting, with a baseball game unfolding in the background.

6. We’re going to talk about cigars, no matter their origin. However, we have to ask: What is your favorite cigar-producing country?

The Dominican Republic. The DR has beachfront properties, access to speedboats, helicopters, and I have many military friends who smoke cigars. I want the reader to imagine that this much fun is so close by. It is the best cigar producing country. Nobody is going to beat them in cigar construction. If I need a particular leaf, I can have it shipped from another broker in a different country.

7. Imagine that the embargo on Cuba is lifted. What will happen next?

It’s kind of a trick question, having more to do with Americans who can’t lawfully purchase and consume Cubans in the United States. To the Canadians, Europeans, Asians, and Caribbeans, it may be somewhat irrelevant. The end of the embargo could mean a boom with all the pent-up demand, and prices could rise because of it. Some say Habanos might capture high double digits in market share in the U.S., similar to the real estate it claims around the world. Long term, the big mystique of Cuban cigars, at least for Americans, which has been maintained over sixty years, could dissolve. Cuban cigars speak to a certain palate, but they have very high quality competition in a diversified market of blends from prestigious makers in the D.R., Nicaragua, etc. Already, people have noticed the inconsistent quality in the production of Cuban cigars. Still, no one will put aside the timeless greats, such as the H. Upmann 56.


8. Usually, people have two first-time moments: the first cigar and the cigar that ignited the passion you have today. What were yours?

The first cigar was slobbered and chewed on, and sat cold in an ashtray left over by my mother. The only memory I have is that it was darker than cherry wood. Later, I would learn the blend and the wrapper’s secret from running the receiving department at a local tobacco retail shop and manufacturer, which I did on my bicycle. It was a Mongoose that nobody dared to jack from me. Cut to twenty years later, at the age of 27. I picked up a couple that rented a limousine from me, and I drove them to a wedding venue. The best man offered me a Romeo y Julieta panetela in an aluminum tube, and he said, “I just came back from Cuba.” It was everything I had never had. The numbing of my lips, the fizzling on my tongue, it had sensations I had never had. Twenty years after that, at forty-seven, I perfected that experience with my Essential Blend, No. 3, vitola 5.5×42 (MSRP $9.00).

See: Bee There Limo’s (@beetherelimo) profile on Instagram

1,071 Followers, 1,015 Following, 411 Posts – See Instagram photos and videos from Bee There Limo (@beetherelimo)


  1. What’s the best cigar you have ever had?

It’s the one that I’m enjoying at any given moment, the one I never want to end. Nobody can say the best of anything because we all fall in love more than once. Great cigars are wherever you find them.

  1. Based on that, what’s the perfect pairing for that specific  cigar?

A woman, but, more preferably, a cigar woman. But seriously, I feel the perfect cigar pairing has less to do with a particular drink consumed simultaneously. In fact, when you’re enjoying a good cigar, why would you want the alcohol talking? It isn’t about two complementary flavors. It’s about evoking a whole experience. The real pairing for me is a good book and it’s numbers   after closing on the 9th inning stretch. Flavor profiles and balance are not the experience. They complement that experience as a whole, and what I am chasing is a feeling worth returning to.

If at gunpoint I had to give an example of the pairing the question asks about, I would still have to rephrase it and risk getting shot. After a meal of Prime Rib, I would retire to my study with sparkling water to enjoy. Crisp, clean, effervescent. Sweet spices nestled into cocoa butter. A citrus finish with a smooth peppery attachment. An aroma of savory malted leather. Subtle, complex, and brightly luxuriant. My Essential Blend, No. 1. Essential Blend No. 2 is something I would have after a Porterhouse and a glass of red wine. Essential Blend, No. 3, I would have after Mediterranean food.


11. Everyone has their ritual when starting a cigar session. What’s  yours?

It’s finding a comfortable place and being able to hear myself. If I’m lucky, it’s watching a moment in history playing out on a baseball field with running water in the background. But the most important thing is, there is no substitute for comfort.

12. Tell us about your collection. What does your humidor look  like?

Nothing in it at the moment. If anyone has given me a cigar as a gift, it does not go into the humidor, because I want to experience the extension of someone else’s personality when I’m with them. I want to understand their interpretation as to the choice they’ve made in the kind gesture. Secondly, if another manufacturer hands you a cigar, the biggest insult would be to put it in your pocket and reply, “I’ll let it rest with age.” Everyone should be aware that the “aging” is in the watchful eye of curating the gesture.

In fact, I am so caught up with testing new blends to bring to my customers that I haven’t had the opportunity to restock on the classics. But if I were to have anything on hand, it would be from some of the families I have come to appreciate in the industry, like La Herencia Cubana CORE Box Pressed Toro; Casa Fuente in the Lancero size; and Padrón 1926 Series Natural. And then there are A. J. Fernández’s private blends sticking out of his shirt pocket without a label, which was when he got started outside of Cuba. They’re now known  as the Puro Auténtico. Furthermore, George Rico went to Catholic school across the street from the public grammar school I attended in Union City. At that time, his father blended cigars in Honduras from Columbia, which are still today the closest to those from Pinar del Río, Cuba. They also have no bands. He’s known for the Gran Habano Persian King, two variations, which don’t have bands, a darker and lighter version. I enjoy not only the few I mentioned above for  great effort in consistency, but also, they have curated cigars in such special ways.

  1. When we meet someone, we usually give away one cigar as a gesture of good faith. What was the best cigar you have been offered?

Francisco de la Cruz. I ran into him on the way to my sister’s in Dumont, NJ. He located a retail shop, one town prior, in Bergenfield. We traded five for five. One particular one I thought was like the others, but leading into the second third, I already knew I never wanted it to end. Here’s the irony. I don’t know what it was. All I know is that I never wanted it to end. De la Cruz is a master at blending the olor Dominicano. What does that mean? That means he got LFD out of its slump when it was about to call it quits. He played a key role in LFD’s success in 2016. Prior to that, he was the managing operator for fifteen years at Davidoff.

Osvaldo Morales, Jr., with Francisco de la Cruz, “The Real Chico,” holding Essential Blend, No. 2.

14. What do you think about cigars as a type of investment, like watches and  cars?

Imagine. Every aspect of cigars coming into fruition is art. It consists of all the blood, sweat, and tears the farmers and curators put into it, which will not go unnoticed or unappreciated by those it should reach. The subjective palate of any given person is one thing, but a great cigar is objectively a great cigar! It is like a timeless watch or automobile. However, cigars are only worth investing for yourself. Cigars are about a personal experience to be cherished by you, not to be sold on the aftermarket years down the road. If it is worth holding to be aged, it should be worth smoking. I’d rather afford myself the pleasure than sell it to someone else who shrugs their shoulders and says it was a “good drive” or a “good smoke.” There are things in life that are priceless. Watches and cars can be replaced. Your experiences are only valuable to yourself. Do you value the experience, or the profit you made on the sale. The one thing to be said about cigars as an investment: you accumulate them, waiting for the right moment to “spend them” in order to create relationships on the golf course, club house, or business meeting.

Quotation. Really, how many cars, watches, and great cigars can a person own? O.M.

Quotation. I feel jewelry and cars attract men; I prefer cigars, because they attract real women. O.M.

15. Plume and mold. Same thing?

Chemically speaking, mold is a fungus from too much humidity. Plume is the cigar expressing its oils to the surface, and indicates natural aging.

16. Cut and light or light and cut?

Either one is fine; I understand them both. Pigtail caps and closed foot cigars don’t require a cut, but rather, a tear. Never forget your old friends, like a good wooden match. The cold draw is a thing to the next thing. I understand light-and-cut, but be fair to all of the people it took to make the cigar, don’t hyperwave 4000 degree flames into it after you cut then light. As a result, depending on your culture, an elder, or even, an older sister, could slap you for overheating a cigar, and you have no right to answer back.

17. You can have as many cigars as you want, forever, BUT it always has to be the same. What would you pick?

For me, it would have to be Essential Blend, No. 2. As I like to say, its baking spices with the on-ahead cayenne suits me for an uber-smooth retrohale. It has notes of dark chocolate, delineated from coffee beans via toasted cedar. Visually and harmoniously, it’s carried by a lush oily body of leathery Crème Brûlée. Strong, yet refined.

Essential Blend, No. 2

Wrapper: Cuban-seed. Origin: San Andrés.

Binder: Negrito; Origin: Domincan.

Filler: Corojo, probably the best money can buy.

And if I can’t have Essential Blend, No. 2, I have six other varieties, and another dozen in mind that have yet to be considered.

17. We all made some honest mistakes on our cigar journey. Tell us about your most embarrassing one.

An honest mistake is to be thoughtless and not peel the band off another manufacturer’s cigar, right after lighting it–only to let that cigar die in a public ashtray because it sucked—or because a decade of age and the Holy Ghost couldn’t help it.

18. As a customer, what do you look for in a cigar retailer?

1) A host who doesn’t say, “If you need any help, let me know,” who doesn’t have a canned reply for something you haven’t asked yet.

2) A store where patrons that take care of the bathrooms the same way they would if they were at home, because the clientele takes pride in the places they find comfort.

3) Parking is very important.

“Home” is the way you feel comfort where you’re at.  So, for all of these reasons, I have never visited a cigar lounge, until two years ago, when I was required to go in order to sell cigars. Don’t assume that I’m an introvert. But my experience with cigars was always that they were lit in private places or a business. I often heard that women were not meant to be seen smoking cigars in public, and neither were little boys. So, coming back home after making the rounds was like being reprogrammed. I had spent the day with men that were conducting their business, but at home the civilians reminded me I was still a child.

19. With the smoking restrictions in almost all places, do you see the private club scene growing?

Absolutely. Affirmative. Yes. If  you’re speaking of cigar subscriptions, things are going to have to get really weird before they go back to the way I saw them while growing up. A clear example you may relate to: I remember sitting in a tattoo shop in Patterson, NJ, in 2002, conducting business. I overheard a statement from an artist there. “I wish tattooing would go back to the way it was.” My immediate thought was, “You have a line around the corner and you can pay your balance.” Later, much later, I would come to understand that reality shows could take something sacred and attract many immature people.


20. What’s your favorite cigar accessory?

Cigars should be lit with an old-fashioned long wood match. The wood match is square, so it is the best draw poker, because it does not merely turn in place.

21. Are you a soft-flame or a torch lighter person?

Where it is comfortable and quiet, the answer is soft flame, unless, of course, I’m in a go-fast boat.

22. What is your favorite personality in the cigar community and  why?

Carlos Fuente, Jr. never starts a sentence by saying, “Honestly.” He is a class act human. Only I, like his sister better, It’s mutual. Down-to-earth. Together with the Newmans, they’ve proven there’s  room at the table for everyone to eat,  the charity foundation and the heritage festival composed of small boutiques and private labels are two of many  examples his family gives back. An exceptional representation of a humble friend in the cigar industry.

23. Fake cigars are a real problem, we see them popping everywhere. What’s your take on the counterfeit industry and what can we do to minimize the damage?

First, we have to tell ourselves we’re not the police. We can’t be vigilantes. We can’t demean others for their choices. We need to educate. On the Caribbean islands where we might find ourselves on vacation, there are vendors on the beaches who belong to an association. It’s hard for me to be approached on a public or private beach by someone who has a job selling counterfeit cigars to tourists. However, when you add common sense, it’s clear that the mob runs the associations in those countries. They give jobs to masseuses, hair braiders, artists, and anything else that is a cash business. For me, the hardest part is seeing this when I’m visiting the Dominican Republic on business, in one of the best cigar producing countries in the world. It’s upsetting to see the locals selling counterfeit cigars to tourists instead of fighting to be able to provide tourists with the best.

24. How do you see the future of Cigars on social media?

Hopefully, it won’t become a reality show. I’m concerned.

25. Did something surprise you in the cigar community?

A young Indian American judge has made the most cigar sense in 100 years.

25.1 “Court Rules FDA Cigar Warning Labels are Illegal,” Feb 3, 2020. See:

25.2 “Judge Critical of FDA’s Deferment Plan for Premium Cigars,” August 10, 2020. See:

26. What is the most overrated cigar for you? And The most underrated?

Any cigar you think is worth paying over $30 for is overrated in value.

Buffalo 10, by any ring gauge, is underrated in value.

27. What brand have you never smoked and probably never will?

Any brand infused with flavor.

28. What is your “Unicorn” cigar?

A pre-2008 H. Upmann Magnum.

29. What are your Top 5 favorite cigars?

I have already blended  and numbered them.

30. What are your Top 5 favorite Instagram accounts?



Formerly known as Stogie Shots. Daniel Rookie. If not for the day I reached out to him and said I needed help, I wouldn’t have acquired the followers and interest and relationships from social media that I have now. Simply put, he is the photographer that put me on the map. I’m glad you accepted and called me back my friend. That’s how the social media started for O.M Cigars.



Jayson’s (@thestogielife) profile on Instagram

He accepted the cigars and photographed them because I asked him for his thoughts. He did just that, and more, I was featured twice for his weekly unveiling. He’s unique in the way he can just drop cigars on a desk, photograph them, and it’s a cover shot, much like the chef that sprinkles salt running down his elbows.


Darnell Perry. Known by me as him and himself or i and i, keeps things hyper-interesting with HDR Focus Stacking and some tricks he won’t reveal. He has also contributed his work and time to the brand, because he believes in O.M. Cigars, which have quality and consistency, as does everyone else that makes this better choice.



Leo Brown. He is a person who is an in-depth practitioner of pairing cigars with spirits. He replies to questions on how to pair an O.M. Cigar through his private messaging on Instagram free. For you, he’ll take payments in O.M Cigars. He is a great person from day one, when he said it first, “We’re in this together.”



Jeremy, has also photographed and paired O.M. Cigars with his own projects. We share similar interest in creative art and heavy artillery. Only his stuff smokes differently.

  1. Finally, do you want to send a message to the community?

Never sacrifice quality. Go cigar hunting and you will get great cigars for under $30. Smoke what you like. But never say never.

¹ la bolita, the numbers.

² Havana Cigars made by Boquillas

Soft cover magazines.

  • Cigar aficionado” winter 1993/1994.
  • Smoke” spring 1997.

News articles in (English)…..

Developing Palates

Stogie Press:


2020 The Good Cigars

2020 Insomniac

2020 Lee Mac

Top 25 Cigars of 2020

News articles in (Spanish)…..

Humo latino Magazine

Octubre 3 2022….

Cigarro, fuego y humo, el lenguaje de negocios de Osvaldo Morales