Hendrik Kelner was honored for his impressive life’s work. For more than 40 years he’s been cultivating the best tobaccos and, with his name vouches for, among other things, the quality of the luxury brand Davidoff.
Hendrik Kelner is probably the most well-known tobacco expert in the world; thousands upon thousands of cigar lovers around the globe fraternally call him Henke. For more than 40 years he’s been cultivating the best tobaccos and, with his name vouches for, among other things, the quality of the luxury brand Davidoff. He’s a living legend. And he more or less has tobacco in his blood, since his father and uncle – coming from Holland – settled down in the Dominican Republic in 1925.
Today, at 67 years of age, Henke Kelner remembers his first forays into the cigar business – in “Span-glish,” which he likes to call his heavy Spanish accent: “I come of a family of tobacco merchants with Dutch origins. As a tradition, all male members dedicated their lives to tobacco. Originally, my father Klaas Pieter Kelner and his brothers Johannes, Hendrik and Herman dedicated their lives to tobacco in the Dominican Republic, Brazil and Paraguay, and their children continue their tradition. According to my father’s wishes I had to represent an exception in this tradition and was meant to have a university career, which was to lead me in another direction. Led by my blood instinct, which was stronger than my father’s advice, my first job was related to tobacco, and since then I have never separated myself from it. I also wish that my children will also follow the family tradition.”