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Commentary: When More Can Be Too Much

14 Jul 2015


If there’s one word that seems to unite most cigar makers, it’s “new.”

The seemingly irresistible urge to introduce new blends, new line extensions, new brands, new tobaccos, new curing methods, and on and on reaches its annual pinnacle at the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association (IPCPR) Trade Show, which starts this weekend in New Orleans.

Ironically, though, if you ask most cigar retailers to name their top-selling brand, the answer you’ll likely get is Padrón, a manufacturer that rarely introduces anything new. The old-school company isn’t particularly invested in social media, either, but it burned up the online cigar community with its recent announcement of a new Connecticut line.

Of course, if you’re a cigar manufacturer competing for shelf space with companies like Padrón, Altadis, General, Fuente, and others, having something new might seem like your safest bet. But is there a risk in going too far in that direction?

I thought about this the other day when I was smoking a Kristoff Galerones Intensivo. I picked it up for about $9 at a shop I visit occasionally because it was a chance to try a stick I hadn’t had, and one about which I’d heard good things.

It was a very enjoyable smoke, combining solid strength with spice, cedar, and coffee. The three-country filler blend (Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, and Honduras) worked well with the Brazilian Arapiraca wrapper.

So, I wondered, how come I’ve smoked so few Kristoff cigars?

The answer, I’ve surmised, is the same as for some other brands I rarely light up, such as Rocky Patel or Ghurka. It’s not that I have anything against them or their cigars. In fact, I’ve smoked some that I liked a lot.

But, overall, brands that have so many lines and so many new entries lose my attention and focus. Even when I smoke something I like from them, it tends to get lost in their plethora of cigars.

Truth be told, even someone like me who spends quite a bit of time reading about cigars and the industry, as well as listening to podcasts, just can’t keep up with everything.

With IPCPR, there’ll be a raft of new releases. I’d like to try them all. That, of course, isn’t possible, so I’ll smoke the ones I can find, try to remember the ones I don’t, and possibly add one or two discoveries to my list of favorites.

And I’m sure there’ll be quite a few that I miss.

George E

photo credit: IPCPR

6 Responses to “Commentary: When More Can Be Too Much”

  1. Lenny Tuesday, July 14, 2015 at 6:19 am #

    I 100% agree with this. I shy away from brands with too many lines. I seem to do it without really thinking about it. I stopped smoking RP’s since i started smoking in 2012, I’ve never had a Gurka to this day ( i think the name and bands turn me off to be honest, not to mention they take up half the page when you seach on a retailer by name). Even brands that have cigars i really enjoy and i hear good amount of talk about i tend to not buy. Pedermo is a very good example of that. The Champagne’s are great, i’ve really liked the Habano line, but his portfolio is daunting. So instead of debating a decision on what to try next I just move on. The boutiques are getting out of hand sometimes too. I appreciate Omar de Frias for putting his heart and soul into only one line up until very recent.

  2. Paige Tuesday, July 14, 2015 at 9:59 am #

    This is very true. Companies can sell just as much if they put their focus on promoting just their best cigars. There’s no need to constantly come out with something new. Thanks for sharing!

  3. JMac Wednesday, July 15, 2015 at 8:24 am #

    I have a general rule not to smoke cigars from marketing guys. I don’t smoke packaging either, though I’ll give credit to a truly aesthetic cigar band that pays homage to history or my own taste in art. But there is definitely a rush to get cigar blends out there before the rules change. All cigar companies are rolling the dice right now. Everybody and his Cuban brother thinks they can sell a cigar. A bubble is forming. It happened in the nineties–saw where that went. There will be an industry washout sooner or later, and only those with deep pockets or a long history will be around in the aftermath.

    • George E Wednesday, July 15, 2015 at 8:46 am #

      JMac – I think you’re right about the looming FDA decision driving at least some of the new cigar introductions, but I don’t really think there’s a bubble underway. During the boom of the ’90s, cigar imports were increasing at incredible double-digit levels, sometimes above 30%. In 2014, the imports actually declined by a small amount from the previous year.

  4. Tom N Wednesday, July 15, 2015 at 1:03 pm #

    In general I agree, too many choices in some well known brands. I only smoke 1-2 a week, less in winter, so tend to stick with my favorites. On the other hand, I make it a point to try a new smoke whenever I’m in a cigar lounge. Usually a boutique brand but not always, sometimes one I’ve read about (often from these very pages:), a tobacconist suggestion, or one that simply looks interesting. In this way I expand my horizons. Choice is good!

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

  1. Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 439 | The Stogie Guys - Friday, July 17, 2015

    […] 1) Starting tomorrow, Patrick A and Patrick S will be reporting live from the 83rd annual International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association (IPCPR) Trade Show. Check throughout the day on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday as we post information, videos, photos, and more. The annual gathering of cigar manufacturers, retailers, suppliers, and media is closed to consumers. It will feature many new cigars and cigar accessories, along with seminars on government affairs, how to get and keep good customers, and steps retailers can take to improve their businesses. This will be the first Trade Show since IPCPR announced it was moving its headquarters from Georgia to Washington, DC. The last time the event was held in New Orleans was 2010 (before New Orleans implemented its recent smoking ban). Following the event, expect a flurry of reviews and information about new releases. For now, you can check out some of our pre-IPCPR coverage here, here, and here. […]