INTERVIEW

CSWC interview with FERDINAND PIET
FROM MINISTRY OF CIGARS

Mr. Piet, our CSWC Judge, gave a interesting interview on the Ministry of Cigars' closing, his CSWC experience, cigar culture in Southeast Asia, and much more.

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Mr Feredinad Piet, founder of the well known web portal -Ministry of Cigars, which has been shouted down

Ferdinand Piet is a well-known cigar personality and the founder of the Ministry of Cigars, a cigar online platform that was recently shut down. His writings and writing style are one-of-a-kind - incredibly true and honest. That is one of the reasons his text was always appealing to read. He was also very active in cigar tasting and reviews. he is also official CSWC Judge.Enjoy in this exclusive interview with him 

The Ministry of Cigars, one of the most well-known global cigar online portals, has been shut down - this was sad news for all of us at cigar community - what happened?

Someone reported me to the Singapore authorities. And apparently what I was doing was illegal in Singapore. I knew that advertising tobacco was illegal in my new home country, but I did not know that the definition of advertising in the Singapore tobacco legislation was so much different than the definition set by The Adverting Association of the United Kingdom. According to that definition, advertisements are messages paid for by those who send them. And I think that's how most people would see advertisements. When it comes to tobacco, everything is considered advertising in Singapore legislation. Even posting a photo of a naked cigar on social media is advertising.  Since I am a law-abiding citizen, and I don't want to risk getting into a fight with the Singapore government I decided to follow the advice of the Singapore Health Science Authorities and my lawyer and shut down Ministry of Cigars.

Is there any possibility that Ministry of Cigars will come back to life in the future?

I am now in the process of handing over all the articles to another party. The people behind cigarinspector.com are going to reboot the site. They will publish some of my old articles. I won't be involved though. Singapore's culture has a lot of links with Chinese culture, saving face is very important here. So if I would continue, even with a legal loophole, I would embarrass the authorities and that is a big deal here. It's not wise to do so, as Singapore isn't mild on those that do. I could lose my immigration status over it, and that would mean I will have to leave the country. Since my wife and I have shared custody of her children, it would mean that I would lose my family. That's not worth it. I rather stay friendly with the Singapore authorities, especially since I love this country. I mean, the weather is always good, the country is efficient, the food is amazing, and it's the safest country in the world. Quality of life is very good here. I don't want to risk losing my family and my good life here over a website. This is the country where I want to grow old (or 'older' for the jokers amongst here that will say I'm already old)

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Ferdinand and his family are located in Singapur

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Always present in activities in Southeast Asia

Your first encounter with CSWC occurred during a qualification event in Kuala Lumpur. What were your first impressions? And what is your message to someone who hears about CSWC but is dubious of the concept?

 always said that cigars are for relaxation and that it's not a product for competition. It's still what I believe in. But when you came over to Kuala Lumpur, I came down to KL to hang with you, to support you and Samuel Spurr (co-organizer of the KL event). It's always good to have a smoke with you. And what I found out is that it's actually a fun event. It is a competition, but more for fun. It's about having a nice get-together with like-minded people. It is a brotherhood thing that you will only understand once you join a CSWC event, either as a competitor or as a spectator. I had a blast that day and it turned my opinion around. I came in 4th or 5th, but I won the side bet that I made with Sam. The loser would pay dinner for the winner between the two of us. Sam still owes me dinner haha.

We are really proud of you for being the official CSWC Judge for that portion of the world. So, when the Covid situation allows it, we will be able to see you across the area performing official judging- which nations do you think may be excellent possible places for CSWC?

Malaysia is a country with a healthy and vibrant cigar culture. Cigar smoking is also very popular in Indonesia even with all the difficulties importing cigars into Indonesia. Vietnam seems to be a hotspot, even though I haven't been there myself. Thailand is another spot. And China of course, including Hong Kong. Cigars are very popular there. Since cigar events are prohibited in Singapore, there will never be a CSWC event here. If you look outside of Asia, I think New Zealand would be a possible CSWC country with Canteros as a partner.

You are now quite for some time there living in that part of the world - what is your opinion, which countries are growing in Cigar Culture there?

As far as I know, almost every country sees a rise in cigar smokers except for Brunei where tobacco is illegal. Even here in Singapore, although it's more of an underground scene here with not a lot of places where you can legally smoke cigars. There are spots though, and we cigar smokers know where to find them. I love the scene in Kuala Lumpur with plenty of cigar lounges. My favorite is The Cabinet in the Bangsar area of Kuala Lumpur but there are other great lounges such as Cigar Bar KL, Cigars Lounge, Cigar Malaysia at the Ansa hotel, The Duke, The Humidor Malaysia, LCDH Kuala Lumpur, or the more upscale lounges of the Cohiba Atmosphere and Marini on 57

Finally, can you describe the funniest or most fascinating cigar situation you've ever experienced?

There are too many over the years that I am smoking cigars, But probably the most interesting, and also humbling, experience is from more than a decade ago. From before I was working in the cigar industry. I was on vacation in Miami and visited Calle Ocho. By then, the old La Gloria Cubana factory was just a shop and a lounge, with one roller who just sat there to show how a cigar is made to tourists like me. I walked in and said to the shop employee that I wanted to try the La Gloria Cubana Artesanos de Tabaqueros. That was a cigar with two wrappers, not in barberpole style but with one type of wrapper on the top part of the cigar and another wrapper on the bottom part. I read about the cigar but had never seen nor smoked something like that. The shop employee said "I can do better than that and introduce you to the blender, he is here" and introduced me to Rick Rodriguez (now the blender and face of CAO). Rick invited me to sit with him and his friends, a few older gentlemen. As I introduced myself, one of those gentlemen introduced himself as Benji Menendez. Now I'm never starstruck, but I was then. I asked "the living legend?" to which Benji replied, "living legends are over-exaggerated, sit down and help us taste these new Partagas test blends".

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Mr Ferdinand Piet, true cigar aficionado