Before selling cigars in Cincinnati, Alex Spencer was a contract negotiator at a Boston media firm. He wanted to be part of the elite circle of executives at his company.
“I wanted to be very aggressive and rise to the top. So I thought, what does it take to get to the top? Spencer thought about it. Spencer mused.
“I don’t drink that much. I am a terrible golfer. He said, “So I chose the cigar route.”
He launched Alex Spencer Reserve, a boutique cigar company in Cincinnati from his Madisonville home. The brand name “the Mansa” was used for the first cigar.
Named after the 14th-century African king Mansa Musa, the cigar has gained popularity quickly. It can be purchased locally at Over the Rhine Premium Cigars located in Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky, at the Party Source in Bellevue, and Blaze Cigar Lounge & Bar in Newport.
Blaze owner Dallas Seagraves was a mentor and friend who encouraged Spencer to start his own business. He said that he was not surprised at the enthusiastic cigar fan’s early successes.
Seagraves said that his protégée “put in the work.” Seagraves said that Seagraves built his reputation in the cigar industry, improved his product, and took his brand to another level.
He said, “We were among the first to carry (the Mansa)” They are sold consistently. It is a very popular product. They must be in stock.”
A cigar to honor a father or ‘our people’
Musa is a Black hero who was known for his generosity and wealth. This was the same father Floyd Musa gave his son Alex as role models as he grew up in Cincinnati’s Westwood neighborhood.
Spencer stated that King Mansa’s tale is one of my most vivid childhood memories. “I knew from childhood that I would name my first cigar after my father. This was not only to honor him but also to reflect on our people’s rich history and culture.
Spencer stated that he had sold more than 50,000 Manassas since its December 2019 release. They were made in Honduras at the Tabacalera Kia factory. The Manassas are made from tobacco grown in Nicaragua, Honduras and manufactured in Honduras.
The box-pressed cigar’s price starts at $130 for ten cigars and $12.50 per single cigar. They are machine-pressed into the square shape that many cigar smokers prefer.
The Stogie Press recently gave the Mansa Toro a medium-strength, medium-smoke cigar with a flavor profile including dark chocolate, coffee, and caramel. The independent industry magazine uses the same rating system that Cigar Aficionado.
Spencer stated that it was one of two cigars to be given a 95 rating and that it was the only Black-owned brand to have been rated so high by Stogie.
“I cannonball into water.”
Spencer stated to The Enquirer that there could be 40 Black-owned companies in the United States. This is out of thousands. “So it’s difficult for us to even participate in the conversation, and much less score such high ratings.
He said, “But I don’t want to necessarily become a Black-owned company. I want to be recognized as a great brand that happens be Black-owned.”
Spencer stated that he spends up to 15 hours per day marketing cigars via social media, directly to cigar lounges, smoke shops, and bourbon bars across the country.
His first big break came when Drobe Stogies owners, a popular Inglewood cigar lounge, discovered the Mansa via word-of-mouth advertising.
Spencer stated that Kansas liked Spencer so much, they ordered 50 boxes. I still maintain a close relationship with them. They buy 500 boxes per year from me.
Spencer left his corporate job to focus his attention on the cigar business in 2017.
He said, “This is what my full-time job is now.” “I don’t believe in doing things halfway. “I don’t put my foot in the water; I cannonball into it.”
Spencer stated that he is negotiating with Jungle Jim’s, Montgomery Inn, and others to get his cigars.