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Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 419

27 Feb 2015

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.

Cohiba1) On Monday, officials from Habanos S.A.—the Cuban state tobacco company that controls the promotion, distribution, and export of Cuban cigars—said they expect “to immediately gain 25 to 30 percent of the U.S. premium cigar market if the United States lifts its trade embargo, and up to 70 percent of the market within a few years,” according to Reuters. “Habanos S.A. also promised to preserve the quality of its Cohibas, Montecristos, and Romeo y Julietas should it need to ramp up production to meet any new U.S. demand, which it estimated at 70 to 90 million units per year right away if the United States were to strike down the embargo… The prospect of the United States removing its 53-year-old ban on trade with Cuba improved after the United States and Cuba announced on Dec. 17 their intention to restore diplomatic relations.”

2) More details are emerging about Punch Signature, a Honduran line that will ship on March 2 and be a permanent addition to the Punch portfolio. It will feature an Ecuadorian Corojo wrapper grown specifically for the blend that’s related to the original Cuban Corojo seed. The binder is a proprietary Connecticut Habano leaf. As for the filler: “Some of the filler leaves are very aged, and others are less so,” according to a press release from General Cigar. “The aged leaves bring flavor and balance, and the newer leaves deliver more strength. It’s all about incredible, balanced flavor.”

3) Inside the Industry: Altadis USA recently added a corona size (5.5 x 44, $8) to its RyJ by Romeo y Julieta line. Meanwhile, Davidoff continues to expand its retail footprint, this time partnering with Jeff Borysiewicz of of the Orlando-based Corona Cigar Company to open a store in Tampa.

4) Deal of the Week: Here are 5 highly sought-after cigars bundled together for just $47. Included are the Nat Sherman Epoca Prince, Laranja Reserva Corona Gorda, Arturo Fuente Casa Cuba Cinco, Jericho Hill .44s, and Sindicato Corona Gorda.

-The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Flickr

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 418

20 Feb 2015

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.

Portland1) Officials in Portland this week voted to criminalize smoking in many of the Oregon city’s outdoor areas. “Starting in July, smoking or consuming tobacco products in more than 200 Portland parks and nature areas could lead to a misdemeanor citation,” reports The Oregonian. “City officials say that’s unlikely, and that the primary goal of the policy is education and public health-related… City officials plan a five-month grace period, in which offenders will be educated about the new policy. It’s not yet clear how much the city will spend on signs and other enforcement measures.”

2) Cigar Insider reports a new tobacco seed variety has been produced by Cuba’s experimental tobacco institute that’s a cross between Habano 2000, Corojo ’99, and Criollo ’98. Called Corojo 2012, it is elastic, oily, reddish in color, and highly resistant to the plant disease called “black shank.” Hirochi Robaina, grandson of the late Cuban tobacco grower Alejandro Robaina, just harvested acres of Corojo 2012, and he said the yield was excellent.

3) Inside the Industry: Altadis USA will soon be releasing a batch of extra-aged Trinidad cigars dubbed the “Trinidad Lost Blends” (supposedly lost in depths of their aging room) that will sell for $10-12 per cigar. Dante is launching its first limited edition cigar next month: “Purple Mofo” is a corona gorda featuring a sun-grown Criollo wrapper, Corojo ’99 binder, and Estelí filler that will only be available in a handful of shops nationwide.

4) Deal of the Week:  This $25 sampler (free shipping included) features five fine, full-bodied smokes. Included is the Avo Heritage Short Torpedo, Rocky Patel Edge Sumatra Torpedo, Old Homestead Torpedo, Kristoff Corojo Limitada Robusto, and Camacho Corojo Gigante.

-The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Flickr

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 417

13 Feb 2015

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.

Signature by Punch1) Over the next two weeks, General Cigar is “teasing out” details about a new blend called Punch Signature, a Honduran line that will ship on March 2 and be a permanent addition to the Punch portfolio. “Master Blender Agustin Garcia hinted that Punch Signature ‘was inspired by the original Punch’ and that it ‘mixes tradition with modern tastes,’” according to a General Cigar press release. “He also said that he and his team ‘spent three years developing the blend.’” Punch Signature’s band is “a re-creation of artwork developed in the 1800s for the first Punch cigars.”

2) Earlier this week the cigar industry lost Estelo Padrón, the 87-year-old uncle of Jorge Padrón who is best known for his management of Villazon’s HATSA (Honduran-American Tobacco S.A.) factories, as well as heading up the Punch and Hoyo de Monterrey brands once General Cigar acquired Villazon. “Born in Cuba in 1927, Estelo expatriated to Spain in 1969 before his brother, Padrón company patriarch Jose Orlando Padrón, brought Estelo from Spain to Nicaragua that same year,” according to Cigar Aficionado. “Estelo joined the Padrón family cigar business and stayed on until 1971. Shortly after, he moved to Honduras to join Villazon and its HATSA factories.”

3) Inside the Industry: Black Label Trading Company announced it is opening its own cigar factory in Estelí called “Fabrica de Oveja Negra.” Davidoff announced a series of five Exclusive Edition cigars for 2015, including three cigars available only in Davidoff Flagship Stores in Hong Kong, Tokyo, and New York City, plus one only available at Heinemann Duty Free shops, and a final offering only available in Russia.

4) Deal of the Week: Fans of My Father Cigars will want to check out this store-exclusive lancero release of the highly-ranked Flor de las Antillas made for Stogies World Class Cigars in Houston. Lancero fans should also see their store-exclusive Room 101 H-Town Namakubi Lancero. Use the discount code “SG10” for 10% off your first order, plus land free shipping on all five-pack or box purchases.

-The Stogie Guys

photo credit: General Cigar

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 416

6 Feb 2015

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.

Havana1) Changes for U.S.-Cuban relations were announced by President Obama in December, but they fell short of ending the trade embargo outright or legalizing all travel to the island. Americans still need to be officially licensed to legally travel to Cuba, and such licenses are restricted to purposes such as education, religion, government business, and visiting family members. However, bipartisan legislation—S. 299, the “Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act”—was recently introduced in the Senate to repeal all restrictions on travel by Americans to Cuba, and a House version of the bill is expected shortly. The American Society of Travel Agents estimates “at least two million additional Americans would visit Cuba by 2017 if there were to be a full lifting of travel restrictions in 2015.”

2) This week the Miami New Times published an article titled “The End of the Embargo Could Kill Miami’s Cuban Cigar Industry.” While the headline may be sensationalistic, bordering on absurd, the story contains some fascinating history, in particular an in-depth interview with José Orlando Padrón. Padrón describes his fascinating and often tumultuous life experiences, which include: having his family’s Cuban tobacco farms seized by Castro’s government; meeting Castro and even sharing a cigar with the dictator while on a trip to push for the release of 4,000 political prisoners after the communist revolution; the violent backlash he faced in Miami and Nicaragua for being seen as too close to Castro after a newspaper published a photo of Castro smoking a Padrón cigar; meeting Nicaraguan strongman Anastasio Somoza who showed Padrón the potential of Nicaraguan tobacco; and fleeing Nicaragua for Honduras after the Nicaraguan Sandinista revolution led to his factory being burnt down. The whole article is worth reading for Padrón’s story alone.

3) According to Reuters: “Dr. Margaret Hamburg, who as commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for almost six years has overseen public health initiatives ranging from tobacco control and food safety to personalized medicine and drug approvals, is stepping down, the agency said on Thursday. Hamburg, 59, is one of the longest-serving FDA commissioners in the modern era. She was nominated by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in May 2009 and last year was named the world’s 51st most powerful woman by Forbes magazine… Dr. Stephen Ostroff, the FDA’s chief scientist, will fill Hamburg’s position until a new commissioner is named.”

4) Inside the Industry: Viva Republica is set to launch what will certainly be one of the most bizarre cigars of 2015. Called Jailbreak, it’s a lancero buried inside a larger cigar. “The cigar features a double-wrapper (Dominican Corojo and Ecuadorian Habano), undisclosed double-binder, and features ten different filler leaves,” according to a press release. “The lancero/center-chamber is rolled and aged prior to being re-rolled into the 6 x 58, which is then aged again.” Only 300 20-count boxes will be made. Jailbreak will retail for $12.50.

5) Deal of the Week: As we noted a few weeks ago, AVO’s re-branding/re-blending has resulted in some excellent deals on older AVO offerings. These deals from Emerson’s are no exception. Buy any box of AVO cigars and receive a 10-pack of AVO Classic No. 2 cigars (valued at over $100). We’d particularly recommend the AVO Heritage line, which starts at just $112 for a box (plus the bonus 10-pack).

-The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Flickr

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 415

30 Jan 2015

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.

Rare Lapiz1) Punch Rare Corojo will be back at tobacconists starting February 16, including two new vitolas. The first, El Diablo (6.5 x 66), will be a permanent addition to the annual release. The second, Rare Lapiz (6.75 x 56), will only be available this year, and only to select retailers. “Punch Rare Corojo started the trend of seasonal cigars, and each year we’re pleased with the response to this annual collection,” said Ed McKenna, senior brand manager for Punch. “Given the range of frontmarks and the addition of Rare Lapiz to this year’s lineup, we are confident that Punch Rare Corojo will sell out quickly.” The Rare Corojo blend includes an Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper, a Connecticut Broadleaf binder, and a filler blend of Nicaraguan, Honduran, and Dominican tobaccos.

2) “Less than a week after New Orleans passed a local law to ban smoking in bars and casinos, some Baton Rouge medical professionals and local leaders are pushing the capital city to strike while the iron’s still hot,” according to The Advocate. The director or Tobacco Free Living, an organization that lobbied for the ban in New Orleans, is on record saying Baton Rouge should be next. Baton Rouge’s mayor is thus far publicly undecided.

3) Inside the Industry: José Blanco’s Señorial announced a distribution deal with House of Horvath to distribute the brand in Canada. Cuban cigar distribution company Habanos recently announced the introduction of Añejados, a limited series of cigars that have already been aged for 5-8 years.

4) Deal of the Week: Have fun with these coupon codes at Cigar Place to score some excellent deals. Our favorites include 20% off Undercrown and Oliva, 15% off Drew Estate MUWAT, and 10% off Ashton VSG. You can also use the promo to score 5% off Tatuaje cigars.

-The Stogie Guys

photo credit: General Cigar

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 414

23 Jan 2015

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.

IPCPR1) Yesterday, the New Orleans City Council unanimously passed a smoking ban. But the International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers Association (IPCPR) was quick to point out the new law will not impact its 83rd Trade Show, slated to be held in the Louisiana city in July. “The ability to smoke in cigar bars, the convention center, and in facilities being used for private events is protected… Your representatives from IPCPR and the Cigar Association of America have been working diligently with the New Orleans City Council on behalf of retailers and manufacturers. Thank you to all IPCPR members who contacted the City Council to voice your concerns regarding the original legislation. With your help, we generated nearly 700 emails to the Councilmembers. Your active participation was critical to our success.”

2) In Tuesday’s State of the Union Address, President Obama called on Congress to end the longstanding trade embargo with Cuba, saying, “We are ending a policy that was long past its expiration date. When what you’re doing doesn’t work for fifty years, it’s time to try something new.” The next day, the highest level talks between the U.S. and Cuba in decades commenced, with clashes over immigration. Clearly, while a new course for Cuban relations has been set, we are still a long way away from ending the embargo. If you’re looking for a summary of what this all means for cigars, you can revisit our analysis here.

3) Randolph Churchill, great-grandson of Winston Churchill, accepted a lifetime membership in Cigar Rights of America (CRA). “It is difficult to think of my great-grandfather without a cigar,” he said via a CRA press release. “His love for great cigars spanned a lifetime, and he enjoyed them wherever he was, whether at home painting, or on the battlefield. I imagine he would be sad to find his enjoyment of them curtailed by regulation. I am proud to now be called a lifetime member of CRA, and would hope that all who share this noble indulgence can recognize that enjoying a cigar is truly a moment to enjoy one’s own liberty.”

4) Inside the Industry: Puro Sabor, Nicaragua’s annual cigar festival, took place last week with events in Managua and Estelí. At the festival, the Nicaraguan Tobacco Association announced that Juan Ignacio Martínez, executive president of Joya de Nicaragua, will replace the outgoing president and legendary cigar man Nestor Plasencia, who served five years at the head of the organization.

5) Deal of the Week: Fans of My Father Cigars will want to check out this store-exclusive lancero release of the highly-ranked Flor de las Antillas. Made for Stogies World Class Cigars in Houston, use the discount code “SG10” for 10% off your first order, plus land free shipping on all five-pack or box purchases.

-The Stogie Guys

photo credit: IPCPR

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 413

16 Jan 2015

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.

AVO Domaine1) AVO this week announced a new era for the brand, which will include “contemporary packaging, new communication, and a streamlined range that focuses on core lines,” according to a press release from Davidoff. “The AVO portfolio has been streamlined to focus on its four celebrated core lines—AVO Classic, AVO XO, AVO Domaine, and AVO Heritage.” In addition, the brand presentation will more overtly associate itself with music, a nod to brand founder Avo Uvezian’s background as a jazz composer. “The elegantly modern wooden box design displays the AVO logo on the lid, flanked with music bars featuring authentic debossed notes from Avo Uvezian’s songs… It is finished with an intensity meter, developed from scaling musical notes, that allows consumers to easily select the perfect cigar for that moment.” The new AVO products will begin shipping to U.S. retailers later this month.

2) The International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association (IPCPR) is in the process of buying property in Washington to serve as the organization’s headquarters. A three-story commercial townhouse in the Capitol Hill neighborhood has been selected. “Currently, the association has employees in five different states with headquarters in Columbus, Georgia,” according to a recent press release. “Mark Pursell, IPCPR’s CEO noted that, ‘The new headquarters will enable IPCPR to house its staff in one location creating a greater focus on all of the services we provide members and the larger industry.’” The move is expected to result in greater access to policymakers and the ability to host congressional events.

3) Inside the Industry: The delayed, but much awaited, limited edition La Flor Dominicana Beer Stein has finally shipped to retailers; it comes complete with 20 1994 anniversary cigars. Altadis is launching a new Romeo cigar called Romeo Añejo, which will sport a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper, Dominican binder, and Nicaraguan and Honduran filler.

4) Deal of the Week: Nub fans should be all over this sampler. Just $25 gets you 8 cigars ($3.12 per stick). Included are two each of the four first Nub blends: Connecticut, Cameroon, Habano, and Maduro.

-The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Davidoff