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Meet Claudio Sgroi and Gennaro Lettieri. Claudio has worked in the cigar industry for over twenty years blending cigars and sets off in Smoke Signals Episode 1 to learn more about the culture of tobacco in Peru. Gennaro Lettieri is the owner of Tabacalera del Oriente situated in the heart of the beautiful Amazon rainforest. The Peruvian tobaccos that Gennaro grows in his lush fields are sought after by master blenders everywhere, but they are hard to come by as only one client is permitted to purchase the coveted tobaccos that Gennaro grows. Gennaro does, however, keep a small amount of tobacco for himself to create limited numbers of his own cigars. Claudio is hungry to get his hands on some of Gennaro’s legendary tobacco, and while Gennaro does not sell Claudio any, he does afford Claudio the honor of serving as master blender for a limited-run cigar being produced at Tabacalera del Oriente. To prepare for this experience, Claudio spends days immersing himself in the centuries-old culture of tobacco in Peru, going so far as to participate in a private ceremony with a tobacco shaman to further connect himself to the great leaf and purge his body to a state of perfect balance the day before the blending will occur. Claudio describes the blend that comes from this incredible journey as “one of the greatest I ever experienced.