Smoqueens - Queens of Cigars
Smoqueens , a Ladies Cigar Club was founded some three yeas ago by Iris Hols, in Amsterdam. I had the pleasure of meeting Iris, back in Split, in one of the finals of the Cigar Smoking World Championship and today, on this International Women's Day, we had a great interview with her. So sit back and get to know her and the Smoqueens a bit closer.
So what do you do Iris?
I am Master Blender in PGC Hajenius, Amsterdam.
Do you have any hobbies besides cigars?
Photography, making short films, designing clothes, hairdressing
Could you tell anything interesting about yourself?
Besides being a cigar nerd… I'm a very creative person in every subject and fight for every passion I have. I'd like to motivate people around me in doing what they are passionate about without thinking of what the outside world thinks about it.
Against all the mainstream, my opinion is to think for yourself and find out what's your path.
How did you start smoking cigars?
Daddy is to blame for that. I'm raised with flavor and enjoying life including wines, food, culture, experience.
First, I hated smoking, then I was curious, tried it secretly and found out it was more than just taking smoke in your mouth and let it out again.
It's a moment of enjoyment.
Do you smoke mostly among men or women?
Both ... as long as they are good company.
What was the most interesting reaction of a man seeing you smoke a cigar? Could you please share an anecdote?
I can not remember specifically but it's always as if they see water burn, but in a positive way.
When do you like to smoke the most?
In combination with good cocktails, good company and a nice environment.
Where do you like to smoke the most?
In a beautiful lounge called bar 27, located in Hotel 27, Amsterdam . They've got the most passionate people working there and the best cocktails for my opinion.
How many cigars do you smoke a month?
All depends on the moments I have in a month, could be 10 sometimes 2 or 20.
What attracts you to cigars and cigar world?
What attracts me is, you never know everything about tobacco, so you learn more also from other cigar lovers. What I love about it is the lifestyle, which means to me; really tasting flavor being social most consciously enjoying the moment.
Any magazines you follow about cigars?
Cigar Journal, El Gusto and Cigar Aficionado are the main ones that I try to follow.
What is your favorite vitola?
At the moment it is the Bespoke Daughters of the wind.
How would you choose your cigars?
I take advice from the sales persons (because I am one myself, I trust their knowledge of the customers taste), so in general I love full flavored creamy / buttery sweet cigars and describe that to them and they advice me one which I end up taking.
Do you travel related to cigars?
I did for work and out of interest also, but my goal is to visit at least one country every year I haven't been to yet and I'll look up lounges and stores to visit there of course.
How do you think women smokers could make their stand against man in cigar world?
I would never say 'their stand against men', everybody should be able to enjoy a cigar despite their sexe, religion, rass, thats where I stand for and thats why I started our female cigar club. To make women feel comfortable and that it isn't weird for a lady to enjoy a cigar.
Thoughts on Cuban vs New World cigars?
Cuban have a very old tradition which should be valued, the soil of Cuba is perfect for tobacco to grow and turn out to have a very subtle and delicate flavor, that you'll hardly find in cigars made from other tobacco's. It is unique.
On the other hand the production of these cigars is barely what it used to be, because they don't age the tobacco long enough and they don't control the draw of the cigars very well.
Personally I love the tobacco of Cuban cigars, but you are able to do so much more with different tobacco's in a blend, so much variety between cuban brands you won't find.
Thank you very much Iris for this interview. I will definitely look to interview the rest of the Queens starting with Naomi Bruinenberg and Shannon van den Berg as well.