paul kevork garmirian pg cigars portrait

Boutique Cigars: Paul Garmirian Maintains his Composure

For Paul Garmirian and his son, Kevork, being small is a good thing. With all the new brands coming to market, the Garmirians and their P.G. lines have remained constant – keeping plenty of stock in their Virginia warehouse so that the words “back-ordered” or “out of stock” are never heard.


As Kevork says, “We maintain calm in the middle of a storm.” Never one to chase “what’s new,” P.G. Cigars boasts what’s good and aged. As of today, Paul admits his best seller is the PG Belicoso, which is now shipping from boxes packed in 2012. The Garmirians believe strongly in box-aged cigars.

Paul Garmirian’s entry into the cigar world began when his book, The Gourmet’s Guide to Cigars, was released in 1990. Garmirian was raised in Lebanon and remembers his father smoking many Cubans. His father gave Paul his first cigar at age 16 as a way of keeping him from smoking cigarettes. From that point on, he fell in love with cigars.

paul garmirian pg cigars 25th anniversary open cigar box

Photo: P.G. Cigars/Wolfgang Hametner

Throughout his education and eventual careers as a university professor and realtor, Paul was never far from his beloved cigars – so much so that he took time from both careers to write a compendium on them. Once the book was published, he left academia behind and began easing himself out of his real estate business to focus on the world of the leaf. His friend Avo Uvezian told him that, due to the book’s success, Paul should have a cigar bearing his name. Avo started sending samples to Paul from the famous Tabadom factory, headed by Henke Kelner, where Avo’s cigars were made.

After trying numerous samples, Paul decided on the blend, and in November 1990, he received his first shipment of 1,800 sticks. These cigars were divided between two shops, with Paul keeping 500 for himself. From those two accounts, P.G. Cigars peaked during the cigar boom, with 300 accounts and selling 720,000 cigars per year.

It was at that point Paul and his son, who had been working with his father since he was 13, made the decision to stay small and not grow any further. The company basically consists of the two of them, with Paul’s brother handling the warehouse. And the Garmirians are very happy with this.

It gives them contact with the tobacconists who carry their products and allows that personal level of contact, which fuels both Paul’s and Kevork’s passion for what they do. Paul notes, “At the time of my book’s publication there were about 22 Cuban brands and 35 non-Cuban brands on the market. Today, there are over 1,500 non-Cuban brands and, rather than joining the volume-selling, we are staying true to our mission statement by remaining small and letting the consumers assess the quality of our cigars.”

For the company’s 25th anniversary this year, the Garmirians are releasing a special vitola to mark the occasion. It will come in one size – a 6″ x 52 with a strength of 7.5 on a 10-point scale. The cigar will be available as of November.


Paul Garmirian Cigars


This article was published in the Cigar Journal Winter Edition 2015. Read more

A 2-time Emmy award winner, Frank Seltzer is a former Correspondent for CNN, Voice of America and a producer for ABC News. He has been regularly covering the cigar industry for over 15 years.


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