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.
1) General Cigar Co. this week announced a new version of Hoyo de Monterrey. Called simply Hoyo, the brand extension will be for brick and mortar retailers only, with four sizes ranging in price from $5.49 to $6.99 shipping on April 1. “We’re taking the legendary brand Hoyo de Monterrey and moving it into the future,” says Alan Willner, General’s vice president of marketing. “The new Hoyo is about keeping the brand’s rich history of Honduran craftsmanship and infusing it with new ideas, new tobacco, and new packaging.” Hoyo will consist of a proprietary wrapper called Estelí Habano Shade, which is a thick, shade-grown, Cuban-seed leaf grown by the Plascencias and fermented for two years. The Ecuadoran Sumatra binder will envelop a filler combination of tobaccos from Nicaragua and Pennsylvania. One has to wonder if Hoyo is General’s answer to Romeo, launched by competitor Altadis USA in 2012. Like Hoyo, Romeo is an updated take on a classic brand with modernized packaging and a shortened name. According to General, though, the inspiration for Hoyo came from within. “Hoyo was inspired by Hoyo Edición de Cumpleaños 150, a successful, limited edition cigar released last year. [That cigar] took the first step toward breaking the conventions of the brand by featuring a new variety of Nicaraguan tobacco, a shade-grown wrapper never used before in any other cigar. With sleek new packaging and a contemporary logo, Hoyo Edición de Cumpleaños 150 represented a new wave of the brand.”
2) New rules announced by the Obama Administration on Tuesday have decriminalized the acts of purchasing and consuming Cuban goods, including cigars and rum, while Americans are abroad. Previously, it was technically illegal for Americans to purchase Cuban goods while beyond American borders. Now, in changes that took effect Wednesday, it is completely legal for Americans to smoke Cuban cigars and drink Cuban rum as they travel internationally. This decriminalization is the latest step the administration has taken in an effort to improve relations between Washington and Havana; diplomatic ties have already been re-established, embassies have been re-opened, and Americans legally traveling to Cuba may bring back $100 worth of Cuban goods, including cigars. An outright end to the longstanding embargo requires an act of Congress.
3) Chicago lawmakers continued their march towards complete tobacco ridiculousness this week, raising the smoking age to 21 and enacting a new $6 million tax on cigars, roll-your-own tobacco, and smokeless tobacco. Chicago also becomes “the fourth city to ban smokeless tobacco at sports venues, joining San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Boston in attempting to reduce its use in athletics,” reports ESPN, which also noted Cubs manager Joe Maddon isn’t a fan of the new law. “I’m into personal freedoms,” he said, adding, “I’m not into over-legislating the human race.”
4) Contest Update: Please join us in congratulating Andy K. of Terre Haute, Indiana, as the winner of our latest giveaway: a full 20-count box of CAO Pilón Coronas. Plus, since Andy is a member of Cigar Rights of America, we’ll include a five-pack of select smokes from our personal humidor, plus some cool cigar swag.
5) Deal of the Week: Crowned Heads fans may want to jump on this special from Smoke Inn. For a limited time, buy any box of twelve Crowned Heads blends and get a free five-cigar travel case. Plus, use the coupon code “Stogie10” to knock ten percent off your order.
–The Stogie Guys
photo credit: General Cigar Co.