‘Smoking Jay’ Cutler Launches Cigar Brand

by Emily Morgan

Jay Cutler and Outsider have announced a cigar brand. According to Jay, making a cigar “was a no-brainer.”

“Many of our early talks and brainstorming sessions about this company were on the patio smoking a cigar or drinking a beer. It was part of my story in the league and it’s part of this new venture at Outsider. It’s time to own that.”

Former NFL Quarterback and Outsider Co-Founder Jay Cutler got his first taste of a cigar thanks to his coach in Denver, Mike Shanahan. 

“When I first got drafted to Denver [in 2006], Mike Shanahan was the coach, and he smoked cigars, loved cigars,” Cutler said in a recent interview with Cigar Aficionado. “At the end of every preseason he would have a party at his house, and he always had someone rolling fresh cigars…that got me started.”

According to Cutler’s recollection, his newfound love for cigars only grew over time. When he entered the last phase of his NFL career, playing for the Dolphins, he began venturing into cigar bars and exploring the broad universe the cigar world had to offer. 

“When I was in Miami, my last year in ’17, we would go to cigar bars quite a bit, sit there and smoke, and that was a cool little introduction.”

Once he was back home in Nashville, Cutler continued to make time for his new hobby. He often found himself trying out new cigar bars and meeting new people in the cigar industry. Then, while sitting in Red Phone Booth, smoking Atabeys, Cutler had a profound thought.

“I was like guys we’re just racking up bills—can we just make our own cigars?” he asked. “At some point, it’s got to be cheaper.” Enter Cutler’s ascent into crafting his own cigar brand. 

After deciding to embark on his new cigar journey, Cutler knew he wanted nothing but quality products. So he sought the help of well-known cigar connoisseur Hendrik Kelner Jr., whose father is well-regarded as the best cigar blender.

Today, Hendrik Kelner Jr. is leading the project for Cutler’s cigars. He also used an Ecuador Connecticut seed wrapper, Dominican binder, and a mix of Dominican and Peruvian filler. 

Some of the tobacco was even grown on Kelner family farms, including farms owned by his father. 

Cutler left it to the professionals he partnered with when it came to curating a blend. He and his partners told the blender they were looking for something mild and somewhat sweet, with a touch of spice. 

“Partnering with Hendrik Kelner Jr. was the only way to do it: Premium ingredients made by a family dedicated to their craft,” Jay explained.

During their visit to Kelner Jr.’s cigar factory, they sat down to four cigars, each with a different blend. Surprisingly, they fell in love with the first one. 

“Going down to the Dominican and working with him to create this blend and watch the process in action was amazing. We created my favorite cigar. And that’s saying a lot.”

The first batch of Outsider cigars will be available at the end of July.