Sunday, April 02, 2006

Local store smokes competition with unique cigar

Fayette Cigar Store is one of roughly 1,800 distributors in the United States who carry the Bucanero Cigar line. 1,800 may not seem like a very significant number, but to see another line of Bucaneros like what is at Fayette, you would have to drive over an hour, because the closest place from here is in Louisville.

It wasn’t anyone at Fayette who decided to sell the Bucanero line. It was the owners of Bucanero themselves; brothers Robert and Johnny Spoden, own and manage their products.

“If Robert likes you, he’ll refer you to Johnny,” said Christina Condra, the manager of the store. “If not, you get blackballed.”

According to Condra, Robert came to FCS while in Lexington for the horse races. He brought ex-football star O.J. Simpson and another professional player with him into the store.

“I recognized the two football players,” said Condra. “But I had no idea who Robert was.”
Since then, FCS has been carrying Bucanero, which makes one of the top 5 cigars manufactured in the 20th century.

Even as rare as the Bucanero products are, some are even harder to find than the line itself. The Cañon, one of their finest cigars, can only be found at 75 of the 1,800 stores, including Fayette Cigar Store.

Bucanero produces everything from mild to full bodied super flavor. The strongest of the Bucanero blends is the Salsa, a very fine blend of Nicaraguan, Dominican and Honduras tobacco. The Salsa scored 90 out of 100 in Cigar Aficionado magazine.

“It’s well worth a penny,” said Condra. “You get a cigar and a half for each one you get.”
Bucanero cigars aren’t significantly larger or longer than any other cigar in the store’s Cigar Vault. They’re just a high quality smoke. Bucaneros burn slower, more consistent, have 20% more long filler (or tobacco) and have a white ash as it burns, which as all cigar advocates know, means cleaner and better tobacco.

“As hard bound as they are, it’s rare,” said Condra.

Normally a cigar as tightly bound as the Bucaneros would be difficult for smokers to draw, which means difficult to smoke and the constant relighting of the cigar.

At Fayette Cigar Store, you’ll find some of the friendliest staff in Lexington, and that’s what makes the store different from the others in Lexington, that and 142 years of successful business.

“Well, I’ve only been here for a little while, but him, he’s been here for 50 years,” Condra said about the owner, Dale Ferguson.

Ferguson’s family started the business in 1864 during the civil war. At first, there were no cigars, just a newsstand, with newspapers and few gifts. But over the years it has moved around downtown Lexington changed names several times to finally become Fayette Cigar Store and finding its current location on 137 East Main St. in the old Phoenix Bank building.
“The walls (inside the cigar humidor) are really thick back there. That’s because the

Cigar Vault, used to be the bank’s vault,” said Condra. “This place has so much history.”

Fayette Cigar Store is the closest cigar store to UK’s campus, and according to Condra, the number of student customers is a considerable amount.

Condra has stories of all sorts about the students who have came and gone. Many go to FCS looking for their first pipe, or to try their first cigar that didn’t come from a gas station, while others are there because of FCS’ massive selection of traditional and flavored cigarettes.