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A Match Made in Kentucky Kentucky Gentlemen Cigars : Written by Patti Nickell

Image from Kentucky Gentlemen Cigars

What do John F. Kennedy, Babe Ruth, Sigmond Freud, Michael Jordan, Mark Twain, Clint Eastwood, General George Patton and Arnold Schwarzenegger all have in common?

All the men were (presumably) gentlemen and they all enjoyed a fine cigar. Thus, they would have felt right at home at the Kentucky Gentlemen Cigar Company.

Pop culture has portrayed cigar smokers in two very different lights. One as the paunchy, tough talking character, with a cheap stogie protruding from the corner of his mouth. The other as the sophisticated chap with a subscription to Cigar Aficionado Magazine and a carefully curated cigar collection featuring the best tobacco from Cuba, Nicaragua, Brazil, and the Dominican Republic.

With apologies to the former, it’s the latter that the Kentucky Gentlemen Cigar Company caters to.

In 2005, founder Allen Mobley took a break from renovating his Lawrenceburg home to go on a family fishing trip to Mexico. While waiting for the big one to bite, the fishermen puffed on hand-rolled cigars and casually mused about how nice it would be to roll their own.

Still, it seemed like a pipe – er cigar – dream to think little Lawrenceburg could compete with Havana or Santo Domingo, or that a Kentucky-based product could hold its own with big name brands such as Davidoff and La Flor Dominicana.

While others scoffed, Mobley continued to dream. Back at home and his remodeling project, he was removing a wall when he discovered a newspaper and immediately spotted an ad for a cigar company. That sealed the deal. 

Mobley, whose family had experience in the tobacco – if not the cigar – business, headed off to the Dominican Republic, where he learned how to roll and blend from the experts.

He then supplemented his education by spending time at Bobalu Cigar Company in Austin, Texas, a U.S. pioneer in teaching hand-rolling classes to the general public.

Back home in Lawrenceburg, he refurbished a horse barn on his property, and came up with a revolutionary idea. Since so many cultured gents liked to relax with a glass of bourbon in one hand and a cigar in the other, why not offer a two-in-one?

Mobley began soaking his tobacco leaves in bourbon barrels for six months, and upon opening the barrels, discovered he could make a smoother, more flavorful cigar which had picked up notes from the barrel itself.

His bourbon-infused cigars proved so popular that distilleries such as Four Roses, Wild Turkey, Whiskey Thief and Jeptha Creed made a special arrangement with the Mobleys.

The family works with each distillery to create a special blend just for it. The distilleries select the individual blend of tobaccos they want to closely match the flavors of their bourbon.

 They provide the Mobleys with barrels which the family uses to soak and age the tobacco. The bourbon-infused cigars are then hand-rolled and sent back to the distilleries to be sold under their own trademarks.

Kentucky Gentlemen Cigar Company’s success has gone beyond the Bluegrass State. Corporations such as Boeing Aircraft, Honda and Tag Heurer have invited them to bring their cigars to executive dinners, and no less a personage than former Chicago Bears coach and noted cigar chomper Mike Ditka has become a semi-regular. 

Mobley’s soaring dreams had become a roaring reality.

In 2018, the Mobley family left Lawrenceburg for their current location on St. Clair Street in the Capital City. Two years later, the company’s visionary founder passed away.

His wife Carol – initially skeptical – later became his co-owner and business partner. Upon her husband’s death, Carol recruited her twins, son Cody and daughter Setera, to join the company. All three are devoted to continuing the vision of the family patriarch, as well as adding their own touches.

“Currently, we just sell cigars, but as of January 1, we will open a cigar lounge in the same space as the store,” says Cody Mobley.

“It will have leather seats, a pool table and TV. It will seat 50 people comfortably and have the feel of a vintage speakeasy,” he continues.

However, customers need not worry about remembering a catchphrase and whispering it to the guardian at the door. All are welcome to come here to sip and smoke. For sipping, they will start out with the usual bourbons, but Cody says they plan to add some of the harder-to-find bourbons to their inventory.

As for the smoking, they currently have 27 selections of cigars, but will expand that to 50 different varieties. For those who want bourbon-infused cigars, the lounge will feature the same ones sold in the store, using Blantons and Whiskey Thief bourbons, but Cody says they hope to add Castle & Key soon.

Allen Mobley can rest assured his dream is in safe hands.