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Stogie Commentary: Five Hopes for a Cigar New Year

13 Jan 2011

The new year is less than two weeks old, and that means it’s not too late to for a list of hopes for the cigar community in 2011. Here are my top five wishes:

More Limited Editions

Limited edition smokes can be frustrating. They’re often hard to get and, if you don’t move quickly, you may not be able to buy any, meaning you may have to make a decision before you really know all the details about the smoke. Still, there’s a refreshing bit of honesty in limited edition cigars. Many cigar makers, particularly those who don’t grow their own tobacco, have only enough tobacco to make a small run without sacrificing quality and consistency. So limited releases can be some of the best (if rare) cigars available. For that reason, I welcome more limited cigars, as long as they’re limited for a good reason and not just a marketing gimmick.

Reasonably Priced Cigars

After a few years of seemingly exponentially expensive new smokes, 2009 and 2010 saw a number of solid new cigars in the more reasonable $4-7 range. With the confidence in the economy wavering (to say the least), cigar makers seemed to understand that for dedicated cigar smokers to enjoy more cigars, they would require good cigars that didn’t cost an arm and a leg. Let’s hope that this lesson is taken to heart in 2011.

Innovation from the Big Guys

It has become commonplace for veteran cigar smokers to seek out boutique smokes and ignore those made by the largest companies, particularly those by industry giants Altadis and General Cigar. But those companies are large and successful for a reason, not the least of which is massive tobacco stores that ensure consistency and quality control second to none. Last year, more innovative blends like Altadis’ Warlock and General’s new La Gloria Cubana offerings showed that bigger doesn’t need to be bland. So in the new year I’m hoping the cigar industry’s biggest companies continue to pair their knack for consistency with boundary-pushing, innovative cigars.

More New Cigar Companies

It seems like every week I get another press release announcing a new cigar from a company I’ve never heard of before. In the cigar boom of the late 1990s, this was a symptom of the fact that anyone and everyone thought they could make money by bringing a new Don Nobody cigar to market. It would be easy to dismiss all the new cigars as another similar boom, but I’m inclined to think there’s an important difference: Today, most of the people behind new brands seem genuinely passionate about creating quality sticks. Sure, not all of them are great and not every new brand will succeed, but the net affect is a push towards better cigars as current companies feel pressure to maintain quality and remain innovative.

Enhanced Awareness of the FDA Threat

I think cigar smokers are finally catching on to the serious threat that smoking bans and cigar taxes pose to their hobby. The realization that FDA oversight of cigars poses a serious, if not mortal, threat to cigars is coming more slowly. If FDA bureaucrats and anti-tobacco advocates have their way, every new cigar brought to market would have to undergo months, if not years, of testing before it receives FDA approval. That burden would stifle all the new innovation I mentioned above, making it too risky financially for all but a few new cigars to reach the market in a given year. Hopefully, 2011 will be the year that all cigar smokers realize the grave threat that FDA regulation of cigars poses to the innovation that we’ve come to expect and enjoy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Google Images

Drew Estate

3 Responses to “Stogie Commentary: Five Hopes for a Cigar New Year”

  1. Todd Friday, January 14, 2011 at 1:01 pm #

    Is the Warlock actually decent? I hear good things but haven't smoked one yet. Don't think my home shop carries them.

  2. Angelo Saturday, January 15, 2011 at 12:21 pm #

    Regarding new Cigar Company’s….I fall into this camp. I am in the process of developing my own brand/blend (not a private label off the shelf) where you slap a band on it.

    For me, my approach will be small batch (not so much limited editions) with unique aged tobacco and sizes. I feel like every shop I go to its the same thing, bland cigars or spice bombs. I am an avid cigar smoker/consumer and will approach my brand the same way, trying to be cost conscious (provide a premium stick at a value price). Some of the brands that have come out the past year have literally been carbon copies of other blends with a new label – the market is over saturated with the same stuff.

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    […] don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. As I’ve written before, limited edition smokes can be the great because they don’t need to worry about a long term […]