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Happy Fourth of July!

4 Jul 2016

flag-fourth

All of us at StogieGuys.com would like to wish you a very happy Independence Day. America’s 240th birthday is a wonderful occasion to spend time with friends and family. So we’ve decided to take our own advice and barbecue, see some fireworks, and smoke more than our share of celebratory cigars. Have a safe, relaxing holiday.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Flickr

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 486

1 Jul 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.

Yamasa

1) Davidoff’s newest cigar will be Yamasá, named for a 21-hectacre “harsh and unforgiving swampland” in the Dominican Republic from which Henke Kelner and his team have been trying to grow tobacco for two decades. “For the Yamasá region to unveil its true potential, Kelner and his team had to first nurture nature,” reads a press release. “They conditioned the soil by adding calcium carbonate, agricultural lime, and slaked lime/dolomitic lime. This they did at intervals of every two months, by hand, and to each and every single tobacco plant, then once a month, before transplanting.” Other painstaking measures were taken in the seed selection and curing processes. The resulting cigar features a so-called Yamasá wrapper (first featured in the now discontinued Davidoff Puro d’Oro), a San Vicente binder from Yamasá, and filler tobaccos from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. Four sizes will hit the market in late July: Petit Churchill (4 x 48, $12.90), Robusto (5 x 50, $19.70), Toro (6 x 52, $22.70), and Piramides (6.1 x 52, $23.00).

2) The Velvet Rat is back. The cigar that was previously released in 2012 in extremely limited quantities will soon be made available via the recently announced Drew Diplomat Event Series, a tour that will culminate on August 6 at the second annual Connecticut Barn Smoker, which takes place at the same Connecticut River Valley farm that produces the wrapper for Liga Privada No. 9 and T52. “In total, 5,000 Velvet Rats were produced in January 2015 and have since been at La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate aging in the company’s cold rooms,” reads a press release. The Lonsdale-sized cigar (6.25 x 46) sports a Connecticut broadleaf wrapper, Brazilian Mata Fina binder, and filler tobaccos from Honduras and Nicaragua. It is intended to be a lighter, creamier experience than the famed Liga Privada No. 9. In November 2012, StogieGuys.com awarded the Velvet Rat a rare five-stogie rating.

3) The growth of the Nicaraguan cigar industry has led to overall growth in the U.S. cigar market in recent years, but the deteriorating relationship between the U.S. and Nicaragua has recently become a point of concern, especially for the cigar industry. This week culminated in a State Department warning for travelers to Nicaragua. The alert cites increased scrutiny of U.S. visitors, upcoming Nicaraguan elections, and the proposed Nicaraguan canal as reasons for the heightened security risks.

4) Inside the Industry: Sin City has long been a hot-spot for cigars, including Casa Fuente. Now you can add the new Davidoff of Geneva Cigar Bar (across from the Wynn Casino) as another Las Vegas cigar landmark. The indoor-outdoor space features views of the Strip, a state-of-the-art ventilation system, and a fully-stocked walk-in humidor.

5) From the Archives: Fancy butane touches have their place (especially if you are outdoors and trying to light a cigar in the wind), but don’t overlook wooden matches. As noted in this 2007 article, instead of flash-frying your cigar there are times when a match or three will do the job far better, not to mention basically for free.

6) Deal of the Week: Alec Bradley fans will want to check out this deal from Smoke Inn. Any purchase of a box of Alec Bradley cigars will, for a limited time, include a five-pack of cigars and a travel ashtray. Plus, use the code “Stogie10” at checkout for an extra 10% off any box purchase.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Davidoff

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 485

24 Jun 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.

Joya Black

1) The next new cigar from Joya de Nicaragua will be Joya Black, due out later this summer. The recipe includes a Mexican San Andrés wrapper—a first for the oldest cigar maker in Nicaragua—around Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos. “Since its inception, the Joya brand has pushed the limits of our factory and showcased a new side of our people and our products,” said Juan Ignacio Martínez, President of Joya de Nicaragua. “Varying from fun and easy smokes like Joya Red, to sophisticated and more complex smoking experiences such as the new Joya Black, and together with new upcoming variants, Joya’s portfolio will continue to generate excitement among modern smokers and make their smoking journey much more rewarding.” Four sizes are expected with per-cigar prices ranging from $5.50 to $8: Robusto (5.25 x 50), Toro (6 x 52), Doble Robusto (5 x 56), and Nocturno (6.25 x 46). Joya Black is considered to be a follow-up to the “very well-received” Habano-wrapped Joya Red, which debuted in 2014 and earned high ratings at StogieGuys.com.

2) Black Label Trading Co. (BLTC) this week announced the follow-up to its popular Killer Bee cigar. Called the Green Hornet (5 x 48), it will retail for $9.50 and feature an Ecuadorian maduro wrapper with a “Candela linear cap” and a closed foot, all of which will enclose Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos. “It’s never easy following up your biggest hit, but I think the Green Hornet is the perfect addition to the Killer Bee Line. The Green Hornet started as an event-only cigar, however, after seeing the response from consumers and retailers, we knew it had to become a regular release,” said BLCT creator James Brown. “The blend is a touch stronger than the Killer Bee to compliment the larger vitola and the closed Candela foot creates a very unique profile from the first puff. The Green Hornet is big, bold, rich and spicy. Everything you expect from a cigar in the Killer Bee lineup.” The cigar is expected to debut at BLTC retailers starting in July.

3) For years, Florida-based retailer Smoke Inn has commissioned custom, limited edition blends from top manufacturers for its Microblend Series. On Wednesday, Smoke Inn announced its new Microblend Collection First Edition, which showcases one each of the first ten cigars in the series in a “custom-built collector’s box” with a “velvet inlet.” Priced at $135.00 per 10-count box, the sampler includes the Tatuaje Anarchy, Padrón 1964 Anniversary SI-15, My Father El Hijo, Arturo Fuente Solaris, Tatuaje Apocalypse, Room101 Big Delicious, Quesada Oktoberfest Dunkel, 601 La Bomba Bunker Buster, Illusione Pactum, and the Drew Estate Pope of Greenwich Village. Only 1,000 boxes will be made. Pre-orders start today at Smoke Inn. “The Microblend Series not only represents my love and passion for fine cigars but the appreciation and fellowship for the cigar manufacturers that were so amazing to work with on each release,” said Abe Dababneh, owner of Smoke Inn.

4) Inside the Industry: While details are still being worked out, StogieGuys.com has learned that a joint lawsuit challenging the FDA rules regulating cigars is in the works, backed by the International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers Association (IPCPR), Cigar Rights of America (CRA), and the Cigar Association of America (CAA). While the lawsuit is still being put together, it will probably not be filed until after the FDA’s regulations go into effect on August 8, at which point proving damages will be easier.

5) From the Archives: Back in 2010, StogieGuys.com interviewed Frank Hererra to discuss his cigar brand (La Caridad del Cobre), the state of cigar trademark disputes, and more. Hererra is now the lawyer behind the first cigar industry lawsuit challenging the FDA regulations. Read the whole interview here.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Joya de Nicaragua

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 484

17 Jun 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.

Freyja Box Press

1) Las Cumbres Tabaco will be releasing two new box-pressed sizes next month, one for José Blanco’s Señorial Maduro line, and one for his wife Emma Viktorsson’s Freyja line. The former will be called El Cuadro—Spanish for “the frame,” which is a reference to both the press and the company’s oil painting-styled logos. El Cuadro (5.75 x 46) will retail for $7.50. The latter, in keeping with Viktorsson’s Nordic theme, will be called Mjölnir (me-YUL-nir) after Thor’s hammer. It will retail for $9 and measure 6.5 inches long with a ring gauge of 55. Both will be sold in 21-count boxes. “José and I both agree that this press on these tobaccos could add some extra intensity in the flavor and character,” Viktorsson wrote. “This vitola suits them both very well as they are already full-flavored blends.”

2) In light of forthcoming regulations on premium cigars, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is seeking volunteers for its Tobacco Product Manufacturing Facility Visits program, which is intended to give FDA staff “an opportunity to visit facilities involved in the manufacturing of newly deemed tobacco products and their components and parts, and to observe the tobacco industry’s manufacturing operations.” An email from the agency explains, “These visits are meant to improve FDA staff’s understanding of the tobacco industry and its manufacturing operations (including any related laboratory testing), and to inform agency staff as they implement the tobacco provisions of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. The visits are not intended to include or replace official FDA inspections of facilities to determine compliance with the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.” Interested parties are encouraged to volunteer here by August 15.

3) Inside the Industry: Two upcoming collaborations with Caldwell Cigars have the Miami-based company teaming up with highly respected cigar makers. Announced earlier in the year was All Out Kings, which was blended with Drew Estate master blender Willy Herrera and will be produced at the Joya de Nicaragua factory. More recently, via an Instagram post, Caldwell announced Anastasia, a cigar to be produced by Ernesto Perez-Carrillo.

4) From the Archives: Looking for a proper meal before enjoying a fine cigar and whiskey? The obvious choice is a good steak. For advice on how to cook that steak, look no further than our tip for using a cast iron skillet on a stovetop finished in the oven.

5) Deal of the Week: One of the best-regarded annual releases among Nicaraguan cigar connoisseurs is the Tatuaje TAA. Site sponsor Smoke Inn is now taking pre-orders on the 2016 Tatuaje TAA (which uses the same blend as the Tatuaje TAA 2015). This is sure to sell out everywhere, so act quickly.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Las Cumbres Tabaco

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 483

10 Jun 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.

Welcome to California

1) Starting yesterday, the legal age to purchase tobacco in California rose from 18 to 21, and e-cigarettes were banned from public places like restaurants and bars. Military personnel will still be able to buy tobacco at 18, however. Hawaii is the only other state to employ an age requirement of 21. “I think California is taking a leadership role in curbing tobacco use and tobacco products,” said Senator Ed Hernandez, author of the bill. “Hopefully, all states in the United States will eventually move to 21 and reduce smoking even more.” A separate bill recently passed by the state Senate would criminalize smoking at 280 California state parks and beaches, punishable by a fine of up to $250.

2) Drew Estate has launched a Drew Diplomat app to enable users to “easily keep up with daily breaking news from Drew Estate, earn points for chances to win one-of-a-kind pieces of art from Subculture Studios, and invite friends to experience the ‘Rebirth of Cigars.’” According to a press release: “The Drew Diplomat app replaces the current Drew Estate app. The previous app will no longer be updated and users are encouraged to delete it and start using the Drew Diplomat app. While the old Drew Estate app was innovative in its day, the new Drew Diplomat app expands on the functionality to include the ability to check in and post photos of cigars users have smoked and RSVP for Drew Estate Events, all while earning points within the app.” Jonathan Drew calls the it “the bridge between a social network and Cigar Safari trip rolled up into one incredible app.”

3) Inside the Industry: Drew Estate announced a new blend within its Herrera Estelí line that will be available exclusively for online retailer Small Batch Cigar, also known as Maxamar Ultimate Cigars. The new Herrera Estelí Inktome comes in a box-pressed corona gorda vitola  (6 x 46) and will be packaged in 10-count boxes with a price of $12 per cigar. The blend uses  filler from the Estelí and Jalapa, a Honduran binder, and a higher priming Ecuadorian Habano wrapper than the core Herrera Estelí line.

4) From the Archives: People spend a lot of time thinking about which cigars to smoke. Maybe they should think more about picking the right cigar shop first. In this tip from 2009, we suggest four things to look for in a quality tobacconist.

5) Deal of the Week: Move quick on this Weekly Special sampler. Just $30 lands you 10 cigars, including such favorites as the Aging Room F55 Vibrato, La Terrazza Maduro Churchill,  Ortega Wild Bunch Wild Bill, Tatuaje La Casita HCBC, and the Viaje Aficionado.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Flickr

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 482

3 Jun 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.

Capture

1) Enrique Sánchez Icaza, CEO and Founder of Global Premium Cigars (GPC), has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida against the Food & Drug Administration (FDA). At at high level, the suit alleges the FDA’s recently announced deeming rules are cost-prohibitive for GPC, a small business known for its 1502 line of cigars. “When I joined this beautiful industry, I promised myself that I would do whatever was necessary to make the cigar industry better, and leave a legacy for my kids to carry on in life,” said Icaza in an email released yesterday. “Today, that dream is in jeopardy due to the FDA’s deeming regulations, and I feel I have the obligation to protect our industry, lifestyle, consumers, clients, friends, and our family from these terrible threats. It’s time for action! Talking belongs in the past… In the few next days, we will be giving you more information in how you can support, and help us with the tools to fight with strength.” GPC’s lawsuit is likely the first of many to be brought by a cigar maker against the FDA. The suit alleges the FDA’s actions violate the Regulatory Flexibility Act, designed to protect small businesses from over-burdensome regulations, and the Administrative Procedure Act, which sets standards that agencies engaged in rule-making must follow, as well as the First and Fifth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. The suit has been assigned to Judge Darrin P. Gayles, an Obama nominee.

2) Davidoff is expanding its Brazilian-inspired Escurio line by adding new sizes, including a Corona Gorda (6 x 46), Gran Perfecto (5 x 60/51), Primeros (4.25 x 38), and Mini Cigarillos (3.3 x 20). Escurio was launched in 2015 with three sizes that feature an Ecuadorian Habano-seed wrapper, a Brazilian Cubra binder, and a filler blend that includes Mata Fina and Cubra tobaccos from Brazil paired with Dominican leaves. Several years prior, the Davidoff Nicaragua blend marked Davidoff’s first departure from its Dominican roots.

3) Inside the Industry: This week Camacho announced the details of its 2016 Liberty Series limited edition cigar, set to be released tomorrow. According to the announcement, “the core of 2016’s edition are two high-octane Ligero tobaccos from Mexico and Nicaragua, making up over half of the tri-country filler blend… Combined with two Seco tobaccos from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic for added complexity, the 2016 Liberty displays the perfect balance of intensity and finesse.” The cigar sells for $18 and will be the first Camacho Liberty release to also be distributed to Europe.

4) From the Archives: Introducing cigars to someone who hasn’t tried them before, or only smokes them on extremely rare occasions?  Check out this helpful article from 2010: Five Rules for Introducing Someone to Cigars. The tip provides a few easy-to-follow suggestions, but also makes the important point that smoking a cigar is meant to be an enjoyable experience. Overwhelming a newbie with too many rules will detract from the goal of an enjoyable, relaxing experience.

5) Deal of the Week: StogieGuys.com recommends Bespoke Post, a monthly collection of awesome items delivered to your door for just $55. Past boxes include barbecue accessories, shaving kits, everything you need to make great coffee, and exclusive cigars from E.P. Carrillo paired with custom accessories. You can select a box each month or skip the month entirely. Click here to sign up today.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Global Premium Cigars

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 481

27 May 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.

FSG Tobacco

1) Two years ago, StogieGuys.com broke the news that, for the first time since 1977, long-filler cigar tobacco was being grown in Florida. Jeff Borysiewicz (pictured above), owner of the Orlando-area Corona Cigar stores and a partner in the Sindicato cigar company, began growing tobacco on land he had purchased—out of love of the leaf, and to avoid paying residential taxes on the land, which is outside Orlando. At the time, while we learned Drew Estate had been selected as Borysiewicz’s partner in the endeavor, it was unclear exactly how the tobacco would be used. This week we learned it will be included in a new blend from Drew Estate aptly called Florida Sun Grown (FSG). The Floridian tobacco joins Nicaraguan leaves as a component of the filler; the binder is Mexican and the wrapper Brazilian. Five vitolas—including a limited edition Trunk-Pressed Toro (6 x 54)—will retail in the $11.50-$15 range. “This has been one of the most difficult challenges of my life,” said Borysiewicz. “Tobacco growing is just as much an art as it is a science, and growing tobacco in this area of Florida was totally uncharted territory. It took a lot of trial and error to get it to where it is today, but we couldn’t be happier with the way it’s smoking.” FSG will be exclusively available at Corona Cigar starting in June.

2) On the heels of thawing relations between Washington and Havana, Cuba’s government has announced the decriminalization of small- to medium-sized private businesses. “Cuban business owners and economic experts said they were hopeful the reform would allow private firms to import wholesale supplies and export products to other countries for the first time, removing a major obstacle to private business growth,” reports ABC news. “While the government offered no immediate further details, the new business categories appear to be the next stage in reforms initiated by President Raúl Castro after he took over from his brother Fidel Castro in 2008.”

3) Inside the Industry: Paul Joyal’s Ocean State Cigars announced the addition of a box-pressed Double Robusto (5.5 x 54) to the J. Grotto Anniversary line. The cigar uses a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper, a Dominican Habano binder, and undisclosed “other Central American tobaccos” for the filler. The Anniversary line is blended and manufactured by Phil Zanghi, whose Dominican operation shares factory space with the Reyes family of tobacco producers. The cigar comes in 10-count boxes and sells for $8.50.

4) From the Archives: One user error that rookie cigar smokers often commit is ashing too often. In a tip from three years ago titled “Better Ash, Better Cigar Experience,” we covered this and gave the advice that, while smoking doesn’t need to be a long ash contest, there are scientific reasons why ashing too frequently will negatively impact your enjoyment.

5) Deal of the Week: The latest iteration of the popular Tatuaje Monster Series is the Tatuaje Skinny Monsters. This ten-count sampler ($85) features each of the eight Halloween Monster blends, plus the Chuck and Tiff blends that debuted in the Pudgy Monster sampler in a “skinny” lancero (6 x 38) format.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Drew Estate