News: Bill to Protect Premium Cigars from FDA Introduced in New Congress

18 Jan 2017

FDA-cigars-large

This week saw the introduction of the Traditional Cigar Manufacturing and Small Business Jobs Preservation Act of 2017 in Congress. Sponsored by Congressman Bill Posey (R-FL), the bill would repeal FDA jurisdiction over premium handmade cigars.

The bill defines a premium cigar as meeting four characteristics: It must (1) be wrapped in 100 percent leaf tobacco and bunched in 100 percent tobacco filler; (2) not contain a filter, tip, or non-tobacco mouthpiece; (3) weigh at least 6 pounds per 1,000 count; and (4) have 100 percent tobacco binder and be hand-rolled, or at least made with human hands to lay the wrapper or binder onto one machine that bunches, wraps, and caps the individual cigars, or have a homogenized tobacco leaf binder and be made in the United States using human hands to lay a 100 percent leaf tobacco wrapper onto one machine that bunches, wraps, and caps each individual cigar.

Cigars meeting this definition would no longer be subject to FDA regulations under the bill and would therefore be exempt from the 499-page rule finalized last year by the FDA. That rule mandates any cigar introduced after 2007 to be approved by the FDA for sale by 2018, and for any new cigar after August 2016 to receive FDA approval before being sold in the United States.

This is the fourth consecutive Congress in which the Traditional Cigar Manufacturing and Small Business Jobs Preservation Act has been introduced. When first introduced in 2011, the bill obtained 220 co-sponsors in the House, while a companion measure sponsored in the Senate by Senator Nelson of Florida gained 13 co-sponsors. More recently, the 2015-16 version garnered 170 sponsors in the House and 22 sponsors in the Senate.

Cigar Rights of America Executive Director Glynn Loope said the following about the introduction of the bill in the 2017 Congress: “Since 2011, this legislation has served as a platform to convey the threat such regulations could pose to the premium cigar industry. Now that threat is reality, and Congress, in concert with the new administration, needs to advance measures that not only mitigate the damage of the rules in front of us, but ensure protection from rules yet to come.”

Analysis

With a new occupant moving into the While House later this week, this is a big year for this legislation. In previous years, even if the bill could have passed both houses of Congress, it faced a likely veto from President Obama who signed the legislation into law authorizing the FDA to regulate cigars back in 2009.

Although incoming President Trump isn’t a cigar smoker (and even cut an anti-smoking PSA), his criticisms of over-regulation have some hopeful that he would sign a bill to protect handmade premium cigars from overbearing FDA rules. Additionally, incoming Vice President Mike Pence is largely viewed as friendly towards tobacco.

But long before this bill gets to the president’s desk, if it ever gets there, it faces significant hurdles. Probably the largest obstacle is opposition in the Senate, where the same anti-tobacco senators that pushed the FDA to accelerate its cigar rules could use the chamber’s filibuster to attempt to block passage, even if there are enough votes in favor.

Still, building support for the Traditional Cigar Manufacturing and Small Business Jobs Preservation Act in the House and Senate sends an important message, even absent the bill becoming law. First, broad support makes it more likely that industry-backed reforms could make it into an appropriations bill. Further, significant support in Congress sends a message to the FDA as the cigar industry continues to lobby the agency to change the rule, or at least implement the regulation in a less-burdensome way.

Patrick S

photo credits: Stogie Guys

Drew Estate

Cigar Review: Davidoff Year of the Rooster Limited Edition 2017

16 Jan 2017

Year of the Rooster

Year of the Rooster is Davidoff’s fifth annual international release celebrating Chinese New Year with its sign of the zodiac. Like the earlier releases, it is a limited edition with special aged tobaccos and a high price tag.

The cigar itself is a 6.75-inch diadema with a ring gauge of 50. The white Davidoff band is offset with a secondary red and gold one highlighting the cigar’s name and a drawing of a rooster. Eight thousand of the striking 10-count red lacquered boxes were produced, with the per-stick price set at $40.

The wrapper is an Ecuadorian Habano-seed leaf, with a Dominican San Vicente binder and Dominican filler, which Davidoff identifies as Piloto Seco, San Vicente Visus, Piloto Visus, and Criollo Seco.

I smoked two for this review and was impressed. Admitting up front that I’m no expert on Cuban cigars, I found the Rooster to be reminiscent of some of the best Cubans I’ve smoked.

It started a little peppery with medium strength and shifted after about an inch to a nutty flavor with some fruit-like notes. About halfway through, I began to pick up some vanilla and cedar added to the mix as the strength increased. The last half or so was also marked by a rich tobacco sweetness.

Like so many Davidoff cigars, the Rooster is incredibly smooth, balanced, and easy to smoke. The draw and burn were near perfect throughout.

Of course, the price tag puts this cigar out of reach for many smokers, except possibly as a celebration candidate. Is it worth $40? Is a lousy cigar worth $3? Is a mediocre cigar worth $8? Those are questions that cigar smokers have to decide for themselves.

But, if you’re a Davidoff fan or like to sample small production cigars, I think you’ll want to try one. I found it exemplary and rate it four and a half stogies out of five.

[To read more StogieGuys.com cigar reviews, please click here.]

George E

photo credit: Davidoff

Quick Smoke: Warped El Oso Ursus 2016 Limited Edition

15 Jan 2017

Each Saturday and Sunday we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief verdict on a single cigar of “buy,” “hold,” or “sell.”

El-Oso

Made at El Titan de Bronze in Miami for Warped Cigars, El Oso Ursus is a store-exclusive for Atlantic Cigars. The corona gorda (5.6 x 46) uses a reddish brown Ecuadorian wrapper around a binder from Ecuador and filler from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. The cigar features medium-bodied roasted notes with coffee and light leather. This is a fine, well-made cigar, but it’s somewhat one-dimensional and nowhere near the best from the Warped brand, which features some fantastic smokes.

Verdict = Hold.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Paul Garmirian 25th Anniversary Connoisseur

14 Jan 2017

Each Saturday and Sunday we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief verdict on a single cigar of “buy,” “hold,” or “sell.”

paul-garmirian-25th-anniversary

Last April, my colleague awarded this complex, harmonious, well-balanced cigar a rare five-stogie rating. Out of the many, many cigars we reviewed in 2016, the 25th Anniversary Connoisseur from Paul Garmirian Cigars was one of only four to receive our highest score. Deservedly so. In a rare display of restraint, I’ve been slowly chipping away at a box of these over the past eight months, only firing up a Connoisseur (6 x 52, $19) when the moment seems befitting a cigar of this caliber. Aside from exquisite construction—which is to be expected from such a costly smoke—this masterpiece yields a mouth-watering, satisfying, bready profile with hints of cedar, mushroom, and salted caramel. This is one cigar experience you won’t soon forget.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 513

13 Jan 2017

As we have since July 2006, each Friday we’ll post a mixed bag of quick cigar news and other items of interest. Below is our latest Friday Sampler.

Punch Gran Puro Nicaragua

1) General Cigar on Tuesday announced Punch Gran Puro Nicaragua, a “Nicaraguan-forward blend” that will debut in February. Four vitolas will be made at General Cigar’s HATSA factory in Danlí, Honduras, each with an MSRP ranging from $5.29 to $6.99. The blend recipe includes high priming Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos enveloped in a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper. “Punch Gran Puro has been a true staple in humidors for over a decade, and the brand’s recently-received high ratings have cemented its legacy in the handmade cigar category,” said Ed McKenna, director of marketing strategy for General Cigar. “For the extension of the Gran Puro line, our artisans built a blend that balances Nicaraguan tobaccos with a Maduro wrapper to deliver a layered, dimensional flavor not traditionally found in Nicaraguan-based cigars. We are confident that Punch Gran Puro Nicaragua will be a fast favorite among tenured smokers.”

2) Yesterday, President Obama announced an end to “wet foot, dry foot,” a policy which allowed Cubans who make it to U.S. soil to stay and become legal residents. Obama characterized the policy as “designed for a different era.” The change is part of Obama’s move towards normalization of relations with Cuba. Florida news outlets reported mixed reactions from members of the Cuban community there.

3) Inside the Industry: Matt Booth is, for the time being at least, walking away from the cigar industry. Booth is owner of the Room 101 portfolio of brands—cigars that were made by Camacho prior to Davidoff’s acquisition of Camacho in 2008. Room 101 has since been distributed by Davidoff. Booth recently told Cigar Aficionado his agreement with Davidoff has come to an end, and he has decided not to renew. “For now, I am going to concentrate on the jewelry and accessories side of the business,” Booth said. “It’s a business that’s growing rapidly for me and not over-regulated by the government.”

4) From the Archives: Perhaps surprisingly, one of the most popular articles in the decade-plus history of StogieGuys.com is our tip on how to perform a salt calibration test. The test will help you ensure your hygrometer reading inside your humidor is accurate. Best of all, with the exception of maybe distilled water, the test can be done with a few household items you’ll almost certainly find in your kitchen.

5) Deal of the Week: We recommend Bespoke Post, a monthly collection of awesome items delivered to your door for just $45. Past boxes include fine bar accessories, shaving kits, coffee, and more. You can skip or purchase every month. Currently available is “Churchill,” a box featuring four E.P. Carrillo cigars (including one exclusive blend), a reclaimed wood ashtray that doubles as a candle-holder, a smoke-eating candle, cedar spills for lighting your cigar, and a cutter. Click here to sign up today.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: General Cigar Co.

Cigar Review: Nestor Miranda Collection Corojo Robusto

11 Jan 2017

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A spicy Nicaraguan Corojo wrapper so oily you might fear it’ll slide through your fingers highlights the latest release in the Nestor Miranda Collection from Miami Cigar & Co. It also makes for a tasty, satisfying cigar.

nestor-mirandaSporting the line’s trademark Art Deco style foil bands with electric-yellow highlights, Corojo is the fourth in the collection. Like the others, it is rolled at the My Father Cigars factory and comes in four sizes with MSRPs ranging from $7.50 to $9.50.

The line is named for Miami Cigar’s gregarious president and co-founder. Vice president Jason Wood said in a press release that Miranda had been “adamant about introducing his beloved Corojo wrapper to the collection.”

It was introduced at this summer’s industry trade show in Las Vegas and recently began shipping to merchants. The short Robusto—4.5 inches long with a ring gauge of 50—is firmly packed with Nicaraguan filler that exudes a nutty pre-light aroma. The first smoking impression is the pepper common to Corojo tobacco.

Along the way, I also experienced spice, a little cedar, burned coffee, and a rich tobacco sweetness. The three I smoked for this review each had an excellent draw. None exhibited the burn difficulties sometimes associated with Corojo tobacco.

The ash was ivory white and held firmly until I tapped it off. The burn was slow, extending the smoking time beyond what might be expected, given the cigar’s length. I’d put the strength level in the upper-medium to full category, as it tends to build along the way.

StogieGuys.com has smoked and reviewed many Miami Cigar & Co. productions over the years. They include several from the Nestor Miranda Collection since it was repackaged and re-blended in 2014.

This is the best in that line. And the Robusto format seems to take advantage of all it has to offer. I rate this a strong four stogies out of five.

[To read more StogieGuys.com cigar reviews, please click here.]

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: La Aurora 107 Cosecha 2006 Especial Corona Gorda

9 Jan 2017

LaAuroraCosechaLa Aurora has again expanded its well-regarded 107 line that debuted in 2010 as an anniversary smoke. The Cosecha is a limited edition with tobaccos from 2006, hence the Cosecha name, Spanish for “harvest.”

There are three sizes, each packaged in ten-count boxes: Robusto Especial (5 x 54), Corona Gorda Especial (6 x 47), and Churchill Especial (7 x 50). Per-stick prices are $9, $10, and $11, respectively. It’s distinguished from the regular 107 line by a second identifying band.

So far, 107 Cosecha isn’t featured on either the La Aurora website or that of Miami Cigar & Co., La Aurora’s U.S. distributor.

The wrapper is a Habana seed grown in Ecuador. Binder is Brazilian Mata Fina with filler from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. The wrapper doesn’t provide much pre-light aroma, but an almost cherry-like sweetness comes off the filler.

I got more fruit notes smoking through the first third. Occasionally, there was a papery overtone that, fortunately, didn’t last long. Pepper came and went, building into the final half. Other flavors I picked up were burned coffee and wood.

Strength was medium, with a light finish. Construction was excellent, as is to be expected from cigars coming from La Aurora’s Dominican factory. The burn was very slow, making for a smoking experience considerably longer than that of most cigars this size. One annoyance was a fairly loose ash.

These days, limited editions in the $9 to $11 range are fairly limited themselves, whether they deserve a higher price tag or not. That in itself is likely to entice quite a few cigar smokers, especially those already familiar with La Aurora’s broad array of smokes.

If you measure cigar palate impact in megatons, the Cosecha isn’t likely to make your needle move. But if you enjoy cigars further down on the power scale, I recommend checking out this offering. I also have a feeling it will improve with age, possibly eliminating that papery taste.

I give the La Aurora 107 Cosecha 2006 Especial Corona Gorda three and a half stogies out of five.

[To read more StogieGuys.com cigar reviews, please click here.]

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys