When I first started this blog documenting my cigar smoking, with the hope of moving from cigar novice to cigar aficionado, I never expected to find such an incredibly diverse mix of cigar folk and communities out there – and that’s all just virtually (during a national lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic). Over the past couple of months I’ve come across many cigar communities, from those on cigar message boards to those across Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Reddit, Discord, Signal, Slack & even Tik Tok. Along with the many different cigar herfs and virtual meets run by various cigar retailers and cigar clubs, I have learnt that the cigar community is BIG!
Recently I stumbled across a community of cigar smokers sharing the hashtag #lightemup and was keen to find out what this meant. So I reached out to the people behind the Light ’em Up World Instagram page and was super delighted to hear that Reinhard Pohorec, a member of the team, was up for doing an interview with me to share more about the #lightemup mission, their events and the new Light ’em Up GO app – coming soon.
Before we start, who is Reinhard, I hear you ask?
As an entrepreneur, creative mind, and host Reinhard Pohorec has established a unique reputation over the last decade with an unprecedented track record in food & beverage, with leading companies all over the world and, most recently, the cigar industry (Light ‘em Up). His motivation is to create mesmerizing, meaningful, and memorable experiences, leading the path with a strong pioneering spirit by building bridges amongst various industries. Reinhard delivers his philosophy not only as a consultant or host in the best bars and hotels around the globe but is also a prolific writer, public speaker and is actively handcrafting his own line of products/services – including Light ’em Up Lounge, a renowned weekly interactive live show for cigar passionados and Light ‘em Up Con, that helps the cigar industry set up large scale virtual trade shows and private events.
Reinhard recently interviewed Carlito Fuente (Arturo Fuente cigars) and Pete Johnson (Tatuaje cigars), among many other cigar industry leaders as part of the Light ’em Up Lounge series. You can watch more on the LightEmUp YouTube channel.
Nice to meet you virtually Reinhard! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself…
Sure thing, I consider myself a humble servant of the cigar industry I love so much. It is my respect and appreciation for the wonderful product, the people behind it, the time, effort, blood, sweat and tears that go into every single leaf, every single cigar, that makes me most grateful and that inspires every step that I take. I am honoured and delighted to be sharing precious moments with other people, helping and facilitating experiences, and introducing other people to the exceptional quality of moments spent together, over a good conversation, with a good drink in hand. Everything that I do shall be an expression of that respect, of that sincerity and authenticity, of that heartfelt passion and my ambition to give something back, to bring people together, and to create special moments.
When and how did you get into cigars?
When I turned 18, I put on a black suit and tie, bought a cigar and went to a classic, dimly-lit American Bar in the city centre. I ordered my very first cocktail, lit up my first cigar and felt in heaven. Ever since, the incredible depth behind the humble cigar, the people and the community have never stopped to amaze and fascinate me. Due to my work in the sensory field, with luxury products and hospitality, my passion has been re-ignited over and over again. It changed my perspective and allowed me to learn more about cigars, build an extensive network and take careful steps in the beloved cigar industry.
What is your favourite cigar?
I love variety, I love change, I love to learn, explore and make new memorable experiences. There’s a cigar for every situation, every mood and every moment. Never stop exploring and learning!
What is the cigar scene like in your country?
In Austria, where I am from, cigars are still quite an upscale, sort of luxury lifestyle thing. I’m not particularly fond of that connotation because cigars should be an affordable luxury for everybody to enjoy. A treasure window of time that allows you to travel to far places, make new encounters or just have some quiet time for yourself. Furthermore, the local market is still dominated by a fondness for Cuban cigars. Non-Cuban smokes are gaining momentum, though, and with a new spirit and new passionados entering the scene, the openness and excitement about diversity in the cigar segment are growing massively.
Who influences and inspires you in the cigar world?
Every single person I meet – all the icons of the cigar industry I’m honoured to meet and talk to, but also my roots, my family, my upbringing, my experiences in life – it all comes together! It makes me who I am, how I think about the world, and how I treasure and respect handmade premium cigars.
I recently saw you were involved in a global online cigar broadcast marathon (I think the first of it’s kind) in association with ‘The Professor Show’ – can you tell us a little more about that?
The first anniversary of the Fuente & Meerapfel Present: Meet the Professor was celebrated in a 26 hour live cigar broadcasting marathon. We assembled an iconic collection of cigar media professionals, influencers, opinion leaders, manufacturers and passionate cigar lovers. I was honoured to officially host and co-organise this marathon, in my role to always bring value and build bridges for the cigar community.
Tell us about Light ’em Up GO… What is it? What was the inspiration behind it?
It is the Swiss-army knife for modern cigar enthusiasts. It is the platform where we meet, where we smoke, where we buy. And it is the platform to provide answers to all these questions, which I consider to be the most critical for every cigar lover. We want to help facilitate the camaraderie; we want to help build the community; we want to humbly serve all the cigar lovers, looking for time well spent and experiences that will be memorable for a long time.
Light ’em Up GO is an app at the service of the modern cigar lover – that will help you find private herfs, lounges, clubs, and stores around the world, and connect you with the wider cigar community, all in one place. We have so much in store that I’m beyond excited about. It will be released later in year!
Where can readers of this interview get access to Light ’em Up GO?
Short and sweet: www.lightemupgo.com. Sign up and become part of this eclectic bunch of cigar enthusiasts.
How do people get in touch with you if they want to know more about you?
You can find more information as well as all my contact details on www.pohorec.com.
And before we wrap up, what advice would you give to someone new to cigars?
Always stay humble, never stop learning and exploring, and simply enjoy the ride. Every cigar is a glimpse into the heart and soul of the people who gave so much to manufacture it. All the people who were involved, all the people that came before us and the many more that will come after us. That’s pure magic to me.
Thanks Reinhard – a real pleasure to chat with you. Light ’em Up GO is invite only, and you can currently join the invitation list that is capped at 5,000 spots at lightemupgo.com – to be one of the first to try the new app when it’s released!