Few men are lucky enough to do what they love and get paid for it.
Stuart James is one of those men.
James is owner of Sterling’s first cigar and tobacco shop, M&S Cigars, at 108 Main St.
Originally from Sterling, James and his wife Nicole and their three children moved back here from Albuquerque two years ago. An aficionado of fine cigar and tobaccos, James got tired of having to drive hundreds of miles for a good smoke.
“I’ve liked cigars most of my life,” James said, “but the nearest place we could go to find cigars like this was Fort Collins.”
Having discovered a number of like-minded lovers of a good smoke, James began selling Alec Bradley and Rocky Patel premium cigars out of his home in March; he and Nicole opened the shop on Main Street June 15.
While most people consider Cuban cigars the world standard, James said cigars from Honduras and Nicaragua are made from the same strains of tobacco grown under the same conditions as Cubans.
“Most of the best cigars now come from Mexico and Central America,” he said.
James said most Americans like a mellow, earth-tone flavor when they smoke but cigars, like wines, have a variety of flavors. Some come naturally from a combination of tobacco species and growing conditions such as soil, altitude, and so on, and come are infused with flavoring agents. For instance, James said, Nicaraguan tobaccos tend to have a peppery flavor while Honduran tobaccos produce cigars with a nutty flavor.
“Some of it depends on weather, too, and things change from year to year,” he said. “Like wine, some years are better than others.”
The Alec Bradley cigars tend to have light to medium flavors, James said, while the Rocky Patels tend to be medium to fuller-flavored. He also is working on getting boutique brands in the shop; he mentioned Camacho in particular, which has a very peppery flavor.
James recognizes that, while cigars are thought of as a manly treat, women have discovered them, too. He said his wife Nicole prefers a chocolate mint-infused smoke while his wife’s sister, Persephone, likes the java latte cigar.
James also can recommend pairings with a customer’s favorite drink. For bourbon lovers, for instance, he’d suggest a Cohiba Black while Scotch drinkers might prefer a medium-flavor cigar like Esteli from Nicaragua. If your daily pour is from the local brew pub, James recommends a full-flavored cigar like Alec Bradley’s Maxx.
Customers should soon be able to enjoy both a good smoke and a drink in M&S; James is working on getting a liquor license and upgrading the shop to a premium smoke lounge.
“In Colorado, it’s illegal to have an actual ‘cigar bar,’” he said. “You have to (have) a retail shop, and you can also have a lounge. So this is actually the first of three phases.”
The second phase, James said, is to upgrade the restroom in the shop to be ADA-compliant. After that will come a high-end lounge with a liquor license. Ultimately, plans include a subscription service with which customers can order five cigars a month and keep them in individual humidor lockers in the shop. Add a billiards table and a line of men’s grooming products, and you have the ultimate man cave.
Meanwhile, James is happy to sell the best cigars in town. He also offers lighters, cutters and humidors, and hopes eventually to add pipes and pipe tobaccos to his retail lines.