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Commentary: When You Think Cigars, Think… New Hampshire?

20 Oct 2015

When you think about cigars, the first state that probably comes to mind is Florida. The Sunshine State was—and to a much lesser extent, still is—a place where cigars are made. Cigar culture is inextricably linked to Miami (especially Calle Ocho) and Tampa (especially Ybor City). Many cigar makers live and base their operations there. The absence of a state cigar tax means larger online retailers, and a plethora of brick-and-mortar shops and lounges, call Florida home. And now, for the first time since 1977, a small amount of long-filler cigar tobacco is actually being grown on Florida soil.

NH FlagAnother state that might come to mind is Connecticut. According to a recent article, “tobacco is Connecticut’s fifth largest agriculture product by market value, at $35.7 million… The crop is grown on 49 farms and accounts for 6.5 percent of total agricultural product sales in the state.” Connecticut broadleaf is highly prized and expensive.

Finally, you’d probably also consider Pennsylvania. Again, thanks to zero state cigar tax, the Keystone State is home to some of the country’s largest online retailers, including Famous Smoke Shop, Holts, and Cigars International. In addition, Pennsylvania is also a premium cigar producer. Decades ago, the Amish of Lancaster County supplied a significant amount of premium filler tobacco to the industry. These days, Pennsylvania cigar tobacco is less abundantly used but still important (see yesterday’s review, for example).

The more I travel to New Hampshire, though, the more I think the Granite State is too often overlooked as an important contributor to the premium cigar industry (I fly into Manchester from Chicago about a half-dozen times a year for work). Consider, for instance, the plethora of great cigar shops and lounges in southern New Hampshire alone. David Garofalo’s Two Guys Smoke Shop has three locations and calls itself New England’s largest retailer by volume (did I mention New Hampshire also has no state cigar tax?). The shop is affiliated with the Nashua-based United Cigar Group, as well as cigar media extraordinaire Barry Stein and his new (and excellent) Kilo cigar brand.

Not to be outdone is Twins Smoke Shop with its two locations (one recently remodeled and fantastic). Twins is owned by Kurt A. Kendall, perhaps best known as the purveyor of the 7-20-4 brand. That fine brand, by the way, pays homage to New Hampshire’s cigar history. 7-20-4 was originally produced in Manchester between 1874 and 1963. At one time, over 50 million cigars were made in the state annually.

Last but not least is Steve Saka’s new Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust, which is named for, and based in, Dunbarton, New Hampshire. Saka’s first Dunbarton line, Sobremesa, will be appearing at select retailers shortly. To say Sobremesa is highly anticipated would be a gross understatement. Of course, before launching his own company, Saka, a New Hampshire resident, played a critical role in growing Drew Estate from an operation known mostly for its unorthodox infused cigars to a Nicaraguan juggernaut that makes some of the most sought-after non-infused cigars, including Liga Privada.

If all goes according to plan, I should be landing in Manchester today around 4:50 PM. I’ll have no shortage of choice when it comes to selecting what, and where, to smoke. For that I’m grateful.

Patrick A

photo credit: Wikipedia

6 Responses to “Commentary: When You Think Cigars, Think… New Hampshire?”

  1. KAS Tuesday, October 20, 2015 at 2:13 pm #

    Nice article.

    You omitted Federal Cigar, for my money one of the finest retailers anywhere and a frequent partner with cigar makers on limited edition launches.

    • Patrick A Tuesday, October 20, 2015 at 5:56 pm #

      KAS – Funny you should mention that. I’m heading there now to watch the Cubs (hopefully) get back into this series.

      I only omitted it earlier since I had never made it there before.

  2. Ed Greene Wednesday, October 21, 2015 at 12:24 pm #

    Did you go to Castro’s too….It is a great atmosphere and they had Mike Ditka come by and he signed a picture for my Aunt who is a big Chicago fan.


    Ed Greene

  3. Ed Greene Wednesday, October 21, 2015 at 1:31 pm #

    Castro’s is in New Hampshire

  4. Barry2Guys Friday, October 23, 2015 at 12:14 pm #

    Thanks for the mention, next time your in town please let me know I will meet you for cigar.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

  1. Cigar Insider: Steve Saka of Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust | The Stogie Guys - Monday, October 26, 2015

    […] week I found myself in New Hampshire and had a chance to sit down with Steve Saka. Saka is head of the newly launched Dunbarton Tobacco […]