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Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 465

5 Feb 2016

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.

Cusano Dominican Connecticut

1) Davidoff has announced Cusano Dominican Connecticut, a new line that features “fine Dominican filler tobaccos and an Ecuador Connecticut wrapper.” The blend is “designed for aficionados seeking the daily pleasure of a great-tasting cigar at excellent value.” Four sizes will be available in April—Robusto, Toro, Churchill, and Gordo—in the affordable $4.49 to $5.99 range. “As part of Oettinger Davidoff’s mission to meet key aficionados’ needs through a diverse portfolio of cigar offerings, and to be the indispensable business partner of retailers, the new Cusano Dominican Connecticut range will delight aficionados seeking to enjoy fine-quality cigars at great value,” said Charles Awad, Senior Vice President of Global Marketing and Innovation at Davidoff. Davidoff purchased Cusano in 2009, about nine months after its purchase of Camacho.

2) Casa de Montecristo—a successful three-location tobacconist in Chicago—has launched an online retail website, which notably includes numerous exclusive releases from brands like My Father, Tatuaje, Drew Estate, E.P. Carrillo, and more. “CDMCigars.com will not only feature a fantastic selection of the finest cigars available, but will bring the consumer interactive features such as wish lists, a virtual lounge, chances to purchase extremely rare cigars, and periodic raffles,” reads a press release. “The newest cigar releases, limited edition products, certified aged vintage cigars, and the finest accessories will also be featured.”

3) Inside the Industry: Altadis USA, whose parent company owns a major share in Habanos S.A., this week launched “Exploring Cuba,” a “knowledge hub” on the Montecristo Social Club website that includes “exclusive information about Cuba’s culture, history, and cigar heritage…” and highlights “everything from Cuba’s tobacco-growing regions to the anatomy and creation of Cuban cigars.” Former Miami Cigar & Co. sales executive Rene Castañeda has been named president of Villiger Cigars North America. The oldest cigar maker in the Dominican Republic has announced La Aurora Cigar Institute, “the first institution in the world to educate and teach about the world of cigars in a didactic manner.”

4) From the Archives: Plenty of attention gets paid to the most recent best-of lists but, if you want to find some gems you may have overlooked, we suggest going back to the best-of lists from a few years ago. For example, our “Best of 2013” list contains a very interesting combination of discontinued cigars, limited release runs, and cigars that you can still get (and may even be in the discount bin) at your local shop. Check it out here.

5) Deal of the Week: StogieGuys.com recommends Bespoke Post, a monthly collection of awesome items delivered to your door for just $45. Past boxes include barbecue accessories, shaving kits, coffee, and exclusive cigars. You can skip or purchase every month. This month’s options include a serious upgrade to your cocktail accessories, a kit for making barrel-aged cocktails, everything you need (but the booze) for an authentic Moscow Mule, and others. Click here to sign up today.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Davidoff

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 464

29 Jan 2016

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.

Cuba

1) Relations between Cuba and the United States continue to make incremental progress toward normalization. This week, the “Obama administration announced new Cuban regulations that allow financing of authorized exports to the island and more exceptions to the embargo,” reports the Miami Herald. “The new regulations, which went into effect Wednesday, not only allow financing of authorized exports but also expand the types of exports that will generally be approved as well as those that may be sent to the island on a case-by-case basis if Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control determines such products meet ‘the needs of the Cuban people.’” This development follows the formal restoration of diplomatic relations, including the re-establishment of embassies in Washington and Havana, and an executive order from President Obama making legal travel to Cuba easier. Obama has also called on Congress to end the trade embargo. Currently, legal visitors to Cuba are allowed to bring up to $100 worth of Cuban cigars back to the U.S.; an outright end to the embargo, however, would unquestionably herald drastic, long-lasting changes for the cigar industry, as well as present new challenges and opportunities.

2) Altadis has announced Yargüera H. Upmann, a blend named for a new hybrid tobacco seed that’s exclusive to a Honduran farm of the same name. Three sizes will be available in the $8.50 to $9.25 range, each with a Yargüera ’13 Tapado wrapper, Criollo ’98 binder, and sun-grown Yargüera ’13 and Criollo ’98 fillers. “We are thrilled to announce Yargüera H. Upmann, as the first project for this Honduran Estate Tobacco,” said Altadis in a press release. “There is such a heritage connection between both Yargüera and H. Upmann as they both originated from Cuba. Cigar enthusiasts will enjoy not only Yargüera H. Upmann, but the tobacco brand in general as this is just the start.”

3) Wild Turkey’s label has undergone a remake to show off a more mature fowl. The Wall Street Journal reports the turkey—known internally as Jacob—is “really front and center” along with the slogan “Crafted With Conviction” on new bourbon bottles. It’s all part of a push by owner Campari to increase sales. “We acquired a rather dusty brand, but we also felt that it was a real hidden gem,” says Melanie Batchelor, Campari’s vice president of global strategic marketing. On the old packaging, “our turkey is kind of in the background, more of a watermark, and he looks a little sad. He’s not proud,” Ms. Batchelor says. Also, “a lot of consumers know a lot about turkeys,” she says, adding that customer research found that the young-looking turkey conflicted with the idea that the bourbon is aged.

4) Inside the Industry: Drew Estate announced it has entered into an exclusive U.S. distribution agreement with Debonaire Cigars and Indian Tabac, both of which produce cigars in the Dominican Republic and are run by Philip S. Zanghi III. Drew Estate founder Jonathan Drew said the partnership was a natural pairing: “Phil Zanghi has been a dear personal friend of mine for two decades… Phil is old school and has been a presence in the Central American and Caribbean tobacco worlds forever.” Zanghi, who is licensing the Indian Motorcycle name from its owner, Polaris, was partners with Rocky Patel in the original Indian Tabac until he sold his share to Patel in 2002. Patel later re-branded his company as Rocky Patel.

5) Deal of the Week: Want an easy way to try some of the hottest new blends? Check out this five-cigar sampler at Smoke Inn. Included are one each of the Flor de D’Crossier Selection No. 512, Camacho American Barrel-Aged, El Güegüense by Foundation Cigar Company, Drew Estate Undercrown Shade, and Steke Saka’s Sobremesa. Use our exclusive coupon “Stogie10” to knock the price down to just $41.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Flickr

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 463

22 Jan 2016

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.

Sam Leccia

1) This week, Sam Leccia took another turn along his winding work path, announcing a split from General Cigar and hinting at major new releases in the future. Leccia had been working with General since it took over distribution of his brands in late 2014. “It just wasn’t a good fit,” Leccia wrote on his Facebook page. “Things really shouldn’t change all that much for Leccia Tobacco. The cigar brands have always been made at the same factories since day one, and that will continue. I have always maintained 100% ownership of the Leccia Tobacco brands and trademarks, so the only real change is how the cigars will be delivered to the retailer.” He’s scheduled to appear at a tobacconist tonight not far from his Pittsburgh home and said “it’s business as usual.” Leccia told StogieGuys.com in an email that he plans to announce a new distributor in the coming weeks. “As far as new projects,” Leccia added, “I have been working tirelessly on several projects. Some line extensions, some limited release vintage cigars, and a ‘game changer’ that will create a new cigar category.”

2) The fate of the premium cigar industry is firmly in the grasp of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), as OMB officials decide whether to proceed with the FDA draft cigar regulations, which would have a devastating impact on the industry, or request more changes. As we await action, the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products has announced a request for unpublished information pertaining to “psychosocial predictors of uptake and continued use of tobacco products.” Glynn Loope, executive director of Cigar Rights of America, took to Facebook on Tuesday to say this is “further proof that our government has too much time and money on their hands… Because decisions are supposed to be based upon ‘science,’ and now they have to resort to ‘unpublished science.’”

3) From the Archives: Cigar smokers spend lots of time deciding which cigars to select, but maybe they should spend a little more time selecting their cigar shop. Back in 2009, we wrote about what you should look for in a cigar shop, including four specific items: a good owner, a well-kept stock, neatness, and variety of selection. Read the whole thing here.

4) Deal of the Week: Famous Smoke Shop features 100 deals (with free shipping included on most items) as part of its Cigar Monster promotion. Deal-seekers should consider stacking one of these coupons (which get you free cigars or cigar accessories with a purchase of $50 or more) with a few five-packs from Cigar Monster to maximize your savings.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Leccia Tobacco

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 462

15 Jan 2016

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.

Rahm Emanuel1) Embattled second-term Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has proposed a new tax hike on cigars, which is intended to pay for orientation programs for public school students. “Emanuel’s new tobacco tax package will be introduced to the City Council this week. It calls for a 15-cent tax per ‘little cigar’… [and] a 90-cent tax on larger cigars,” reports the Chicago Tribune. “Emanuel has frequently targeted tobacco when he wants to raise revenue, trying in the process to position himself as a crusader against youth smoking and the evils of Big Tobacco.” In a separate editorial, the Tribune criticized Emanuel’s proposal: “Chicagoans see their city mired in scandal and dysfunction, yet hear their mayor constantly looking for ways to change the subject and declare victory: Sure, your beyond-broke school system may collapse, but want to see my new transition program for freshmen?”

2) For the first time since General Cigar began selling Macanudo in 1968, the brand is getting a makeover. “Beginning on January 15, 2016, Macanudo Café, Macanudo Maduro, Macanudo Crü Royale, and Macanudo 1968 and will feature the brand’s new look,” reads a press release. “The Macanudo logo has evolved to a more contemporary design, and packaging has been updated for visual consistency throughout the portfolio,” said Alan Willner, vice president of marketing for General Cigar. “The changes will make Macanudo even more appealing on the shelf and more relevant to current and new cigar smokers.” The Macanudo blends are not expected to change.

3) Inside the Industry: Scandinavian Tobacco Group, the Danish cigar industry giant whose holdings include General Cigar and Cigars International, this week announced plans for an upcoming initial public offering that would lead to a stock market listing in Copenhagen. Larry Palombo, formerly vice president of tobacco at Altadis, has joined Oliva Tobacco Co. and will be working at the NACSA factory in Nicaragua.

4) From the Archives: Increased contact with Cuba, mentioned by President Obama just this week in his State of the Union address, continues to create interest in Cuban cigars. In 2014, we took a look at the then-new changes, writing the rules “allow officially licensed travelers to import $100 worth of Cuban cigars or Cuban rum into the U.S…” We also explored the image of Cuban cigars: “The best Cuban cigars are without a doubt some of the finest cigars in the world. But many Cuban cigars are not world-class, and a significant percentage of Cubans are not even particularly good.” You can read our full commentary here.

5) Deal of the Week: Want an easy way to try some of the hottest new blends? Check out this five-cigar sampler. Included are one each of the Flor de D’Crossier Selection No. 512, Camacho American Barrel-Aged, El Güegüense by Foundation Cigar Company, Drew Estate Undercrown Shade, and Steke Saka’s Sobremesa. Use our exclusive coupon “Stogie10” to knock the price down to just $41.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Wikipedia

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 461

8 Jan 2016

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.

Raconteur1) Davidoff yesterday announced The Raconteur, a new limited edition for the Winston Churchill brand that celebrates Churchill’s “personality as a master wordsmith.” Available in a Gran Toro size (6 x 56), the cigar will feature a Habano Ecuador wrapper, San Andrés binder, and Nicaraguan and Dominican filler tobaccos (including, notably, a San Vicente Ligero that has been aged for 15 years). “Only 6,000 wooden boxes, each containing 10 cigars with a different quote, have been crafted in an elegant white design, carefully chosen to showcase the iconic silhouette of Sir Winston Churchill,” reads a Davidoff press release. “After its launch in the U.S. in January 2016, Davidoff’s new Raconteur range will also be available to cigar aficionados at Davidoff Depositaires and Davidoff Flagship Stores worldwide from February/March 2016.”

2) In last month’s “Question of the Month” (which admittedly ran significantly longer than a month, as many of you rightly pointed out), we asked readers to select their favorite cigar size. Robusto came in first place with 38% of the vote, followed by Corona (20%), Torpedo (13%), Churchill (10%), Gordo (7%), and Lancero (4%). Eight percent listed “other.” Be sure to weigh in on this month’s question by voting. And feel free to contact us if you’ve got a good suggestion for a future poll. In 2016, we resolve to keep the questions rotating much more frequently. We promise.

3) Inside the Industry: Davidoff is adding two box-pressed sizes (5 x 48 and 6 x 52) to the Davidoff Nicaragua blend. Tatuaje’s La Vérité, which was last released in 2011, will reportedly be returning in two sizes: a Churchill ($20) and a Robusto ($16). Altadis is introducing the Henry Clay Stalk Cut, the second new Henry Clay cigar in as many years, which features a stalk-cut Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper, a Dominican Piloto binder grown in 2010, and Dominican Olor and Piloto fillers from 2012—plus 2013-grown Nicaraguan Criollo filler tobaccos.

4) From the Archives: Back in April 2012, Patrick A wrote about the challenges of maintaining multiple humidors—including monitoring humidity, keeping the stash organized, etc. “At any given time, I have anywhere from five to seven humidors,” he wrote. “The variance is explained by the fact that, depending on inventory, I sometimes outfit two large Tupperware containers with humidification beads and Spanish cedar to store spillover smokes. In a perfect world I would only have one very large humidor to worry about, not a handful of medium- to small-sized humidors. But because the five traditional wooden humidors all carry sentimental value (i.e., the one I got for my wedding that’s engraved with the wedding date) I can’t bring myself to consolidate.” Click here for the full article (and the interesting conversation that followed in the comments).

5) Deal of the Week: Cigar fans looking for more information should consider joining the Montecristo Social Club. Signup is free, and if you provide a verifiable address you will receive a welcome pack including a free punch cutter.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Davidoff

Happy (Cigar-Filled) New Year from StogieGuys.com!

31 Dec 2015

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From all of us at StogieGuys.com, we want to wish you a happy and healthy 2016 filled with many fine cigars! We’re taking a few days off to celebrate the new year with friends and family, but we’ll be right back here on Monday with more cigar reviews, news, interviews, commentaries, and tips in what will be our tenth year covering the world of cigars.

Until then, you can follow us on our official Twitter feed, on Instagram, and on Facebook, or you can sign up for our free email newsletter.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Flickr

Best Wishes for a Merry Christmas!

24 Dec 2015

christmas-2014

From all of us at StogieGuys.com, we want to wish you and yours a joyous, safe, and cigar-filled Christmas. We’re taking a few days off to spend time with our families, but we’ll be right back here on Monday with more reviews, news, interviews, commentaries, and tips from the world of cigars.

Until then, you can follow us on our official Twitter feed, on Instagram, and on Facebook, or you can sign up for our free email newsletter.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Flickr