Rick Rodriguez wasted no time after retiring from STG/General Cigar Company before announcing his next project, West Tampa Tobacco Company. There, he will serve as Master Blender/Co-Founder along with his former colleague, now business partner, Gus Martinez. Martinez will serve as President/Co-Founder of West Tampa Tobacco Company.
Rodriguez spent almost 25 at General, including an extended time with the CAO brand following its acquisition in 2009.
I feel as though I am the luckiest guy on earth. I have had the opportunity to work with and learn from some of the industries most respected cigar masters, such as Benji Menendez, Daniel Nunez and Ernesto Perez-Carrillo, and as a result I have had opportunities that few have been given. I felt as though it was my time to turn the page and chart my own course by continuing to pursue my passion, with people I respect, for those that I love. Along these lines I have chosen as my partner someone that I respect and trust, Gus Martinez.
West Tampa Tobacco Company will officially launch with two blends: White & Black. Both regular production cigars will be rolled at Garmendia Cigar Company in Estelí, Nicaragua. The packaging for the cigars hares the story of Rick’s family and the journey that he has taken to bring you West Tampa Tobacco Company. White uses a Habano Light Pink wrapper, and Nicaraguan binder and filler. West Tampa White is described as having a rich and creamy profile. Black uses a dark aged Habano wrapper, Nicaraguan binder, and Condega Viso, and Esteli Ligero filler.
Both West Tampa Tobacco Company White & Black come in three sizes and in boxes of 20: Robusto (5X50)- $8.99, Toro (6X52)- $9.99, Gigante (6X60)- $10.99.
The first cigars will ship from West Tampa Tobacco Company in late May or early June and will be sold in both in the US and select international markets, where Stijn Elbersen will lead international expansion. Additional lines and blends are planned for this year’s PCA show in Las Vegas taking place in July.