Interview with Daniel Guerrero of El Viejo Continente Cigars

Daniel Guerrero

El Viejo Continente is a boutique cigar brand that was established in Spain nearly a decade ago. The brand was founded by Daniel Guerrero, a tobacconist with an atypical lineage to cigars. Unlike most cigar crafters who can trace their tobacco roots to Cuba, Daniel was born in Barcelona, Spain. His parents owned a tobacco shop there, and while growing up Guerrero was introduced to the world of tobacco. He eventually went from cigar shop owner to creating his own brand. While El Viejo Continente and The Circus brands are well-known in Europe, in recent years the brands have started to gain notice in the United States. Neptune Cigars was able to catch up with Daniel Guerrero to discuss his brands and how they got their interesting names.  

What is your most popular cigar?  

I would say the El Viejo Continente maduro lancero is the most popular one for us. It is also one of my favorites. In Spain and Italy, it is the best. Mediterranean countries like the lancero. It is part of the Cuban tradition.  

Maduro Lancero_El Viejo Continente

What is the difference between the European and the U.S. market? 

The U.S. market is totally different than the European market. In Europe the most popular size is the robusto. In the winter, a small corona is very popular, which lasts 20 to 25 minutes. It is perfect for smoking on the street. We don’t have many places to smoke indoors like in the U.S. I love traveling to the U.S. because there are many shops that let you smoke indoors. I know of 40 or 50 shops in all of Europe that let you smoke inside.


 In Europe they are not as smoke friendly?  

In Europe the tobacco shops are there only to sell cigars and tobacco products. You have to smoke on the street or on a terrace. It is almost impossible to smoke inside a shop. The restrictions in Europe are totally different than in the U.S. We don’t have any merchandise to sell our product. Communicating to consumers is very difficult. When I travel to the U.S. it is like a paradise to be able to smoke and to find so many different brands.


In all of the countries in Europe, where are your cigars the most popular? 

It depends on the country. For example, in Sweden I sell a lot of The Circus. I don’t sell El Viejo Continente there. It is because of the pronunciation. It is very difficult for them to pronounce it. In Germany, the name is Viejo. Also, the El Viejo sells well in Spain, Italy, Cyprus, and all of the Mediterranean coast.

Is that why you made the El Viejo Continent Mare Nostrum? 

Yes. Mare Nostrum refers to the Mediterranean Sea. Each cigar, each vitola has a little history.  

What is the story behind the name El Viejo Continente?  

I started selling tobacco 35 years ago with my father. We imported tobacco from the Canary Islands to sell in Spain and around Europe. My family had one of the most important cigar shops in Barcelona, my home city. I became familiar with the European palate and what they liked. I started El Viejo Continente knowing the palate of the European consumer. My product does not have ligero leaves only viso. It is medium. It is not very strong. It has chocolate and toasted notes. The El Viejo Continente is a tribute to Europe. El Viejo Continente [the Old Continent or the Old World] is a reference to Europe. For this reason, my first three vitolas: Maximum, Robustum, and Brevium, the names are in Latin. Also, the foot band for the Classic is a reference to the old Catholic Church.  

You manufacture in Nicaragua. Do you have your own factory? 

Yes. I started my own factory last December [2019]. However, I started the brand about eight years ago. Then, I decided to open a factory when I saw my brands and the private label brands grow. I also do the carpentry [make the boxes] and manufacturing of tobacco [cigars].  

How has your experience been transitioning into the U.S. market? How have you been received in America so far? 

The situation is complicated around the world. I started in the U.S. two or three years ago. It was incredible. I visited lots of shops in New York, New Jersey, and I arrived in Miami with Luz [Luz Normand, Vice President of Neptune Cigars]. Thank you, Luz.  I hope that next year, I can visit the 34 markets I’m in and expand the brand. This is my idea for next year. Dedicate myself to the U.S. market.  

Your situation is unique. Most brands start in the U.S. and then go to Europe. In your case it is the reverse. It seems the European market is much harder. If you can make it in Europe, you can make it here. What do you think?  

For me it was easy to start in Europe. Because I live in Spain, I can take a plane and in one hour, I can visit France or England or whatever country. In four hours, I can arrive in Moscow. For us living in Europe is totally different. But! This is important. When I receive one country, I get only one distributor. I cannot receive shops. This is to introduce a product. It is only one country, one person. That’s it. In the U.S., it is thousands, of thousands of visits. I have to take it step-by-step to expand the brand. For me the U.S. market is a paradise because I can find many different brands. Here in Europe, it is only Habanos, Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. The more popular brands. Other brands are almost impossible to buy.

the circusLel viejo continente_magicianWhat was the inspiration behind The Circus cigar? 

My grandfather was a famous clown in Spain. So, I decided to pay a tribute to the circus. That’s all it is. I was passionate about the circus. When I was a child, I visited the circus every weekend because my family worked in the circus. Also, I’m a bit of a clown myself. I love to kid around. The different names for the vitolas in The Circus brand; the Harlequin, Magician, and Canon are named after little parts of the circus.  

circus culebraWhat can you tell us about The Circus culebra? 

In 2014 in Las Vegas in IPCPR, I presented the El Viejo Continente culebras, but it was only to have two different boxes at the booth and that’s it. But for me the culebras is only for The Circus because they have two different wrappers, and it is a crazy idea. It is perfect for The Circus. In The Circus, we have the barber pole, the culebras, and maybe for next year we will have the box-pressed lancero. We try different ideas. Imagine a cigar like a paleta [popsicle]. We have all sorts of crazy ideas.  

How is The Circus culebras received in Europe? Do people like them because it helps them remember Cuban culebras?  

Yesterday, I had a Zoom meeting with consumers from Spain. They were only interested in culebras. Thirty people smoking culebras at the same time. It was incredible. For about eighty percent of the people, it was their first time smoking a culebra.  

How do you smoke a culebra? 

A lot of people ask me the same thing. Do they smoke the three cigars at the same time? You can smoke it like that, but the normal way is to just smoke one at a time. Because this is a very strong cigar. In Spain, the people say, “One culebra is for three friends.”  

circus culebra cigar

Is there an anniversary cigar coming out?  

This December I will release the Salomon 5-years because it is the fifth anniversary of the brand. The anniversary release will have an incredibly designed box with 10 Salomon cigars and a five-year old wrapper. At the moment it will be a limited edition. I hope to bring it into regular production in the future. The Salomon vitola is only for celebrations. For next year, we will make a robusto with the same blend.  

Image(s) Source(s):

Daniel Guerrero,,, Accessed on March 16, 2021

Published on January 10, 2021
Updated on March 16,2021

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