Malaysia’s cigar luminary
Having been an cigar aficionado for the past two decades, Matthew Nekvapil has now merged entrepreneurship and his passion into Cigar Emperor, his own cigar distribution company. His focus on quality and experience at Cigar Emperor is borne from an appreciation of the processes involved in the art of cigar making, something which he wishes to transmit to his clients.
On His First Discovery
I never liked the smell of cigarettes and would choke if I tried to inhale. The fact that one does not inhale cigars but tastes the smoke appealed to me. I was 21 years of age when my boss, a heavy cigar smoker, offered some advice: he instructed me to start with light cigars. After about a month of Dominican and Honduran cigars, my boss said I was ready. He then proceeded to pass me a Partagas Serie D No 4 (a Robusto and 100 per cent Cuban tobacco). After cutting and lighting it, I took my first taste and the aroma was heavenly, full of flavour and such a welcoming experience.
It seems the cigar business has been in our family for a long time. My grandfather owned a 2,500-seater restaurant in the former Czechoslovakia and sold cigars before the Second World War. Cigar Emperor today offers most of the Cuban brands, from Petit Coronas to Toros and Culebra. Of course we also deal with Dominican, Honduran and Nicaraguan cigars. We love working with brands we trust, and seek to have exclusive distribution rights for some of the best ones.
On His Philosophy
We don’t just sell cigars, we immerse people in an experience. Our clients are friends and we want them to have a unique experience; with a personally curated range of cigars. Each cigar should be a sensory explosion, and it brings a smile to my face when the person smoking it truly enjoys what we have selected for them.
At the Habanos festival in Cuba, I’ve witnessed the entire process of cigar production; one which takes at least three years from seeding to the final cigars which we smoke. Personally seeing all the stages – passing through 300 pairs of hands – of making a cigar really humbled me. You have those who lovingly tend to the leaves, ferment, sort, strip, roll and finally age the cigars; and they do this every day.
On His Style
Some people enjoy cigars with coffee, rum, brandy and so on. For me, I like to just drink water with my cigars. This enables me to cleanse my palate and fully taste the flavours and nuances which each cigar delivers. There are too many excellent cigars to recommend; I would probably choose one to suit the timeframe and mood. If I’m rushing for something, then perhaps something light which takes about 20 minutes is ideal.
Outside of cigars, I do enjoy reading non-fiction and travelling. I’m currently reading Evil by Design which talks about persuasive ways in which design works. Some of my most memorable places to have travelled to are Cuba for its rustic atmosphere, the street snacks in Taipei, the gardens in Kyoto and Hakuba for snowboarding.