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Weekly Cigar News Sampler: Drew Estate and Debonaire Partner Up on Daybreak, STG Planning Two Retail Locations in Texas, and More

10 Nov 2017

As we have since July 2006, each Friday we’ll post our sampling of cigar news and other items of interest from the week. Below is our latest, which is the 555th in the series.

1) Debonaire Cigars and Drew Estate have teamed up to launch Debonaire Daybreak, which is shipping this week and expected to hit retailers this month. It is “the first Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade-wrapped cigar exclusively sold through Drew Diplomat Retailers as part of the Drew Estate portfolio,” according to a press release. “Daybreak offers the ultra-premium quality expected of the Debonaire product line” with “crisp notes of spice and earthiness from the Central American fillers, [and] a nutty and sweet richness from the Dominican tobacco in the binder and filler with a smooth finish.” Six sizes will be available in the $8.74 to $13.25 price range: Corona (6 x 46), Belicoso (6 x 54), First Degree (4 x 44), Robusto (5 x 50), Sagita-Petite Lancero (5.5 x 38), and Toro (6 x 50). “Daybreak has given me a unique and nostalgic feeling of excitement in releasing another quality product into the industry I’ve been blessed to enjoy now for over 25 years,” said Phillip S. Zanghi III of Debonaire. “I cannot begin to express the excitement of the Debonaire lines’ growth, as well as the thanks and gratitude for those who enjoy my product and are willing to work with me.”

2) In an interim report this week, tobacco giant Scandinavian Tobacco Group (STG) announced plans to spend up to $7 million to open two new retail cigar shops in Texas. STG owns General Cigar and operates a number of retail outlets internationally, as well as catalog and online operations. In the U.S., STG has three Cigars International shops in Pennsylvania and Manhattan’s tony Club Macanudo. STG did not specify locations or names for the new Texas shops and did not reply to an email seeking further details. The opening for the first new store is planned for the middle of next year. (UPDATE — 10:20 AM ET: STG has confirmed both locations will be Cigars International stores, with one in Forth Worth and the other in the Dallas suburb of The Colony.)

3) Pennsylvania-based retailer Famous Smoke Shop has announced two new exclusive cigar lines, both made at Nestor Plasencia’s Nicaraguan factory and blended by Famous employees. Jim Charnley, director of purchasing and merchandising, created Huntsman Cigars, which is inspired by his Scottish heritage. His recipe includes a Nicaraguan Habano wrapper, a Mexican binder, and Honduran, Nicaraguan, and Brazilian filler tobaccos. Michael Klingerman, Famous’ buyer of exclusives, created Truce Connecticut Reserve to symbolize the “middle ground we turn toward in times of turmoil.” His blend includes a Honduran Connecticut wrapper, a Nicaraguan Habano binder, and filler tobaccos from Honduras and Brazil. Both new lines are offered in three sizes—Churchill, Toro, and Robusto—and retail in the affordable $5.25 to $5.75 range.

4) Apple has removed multiple apps from its app store because of their cigar-related content. Cigar Aficionado announced this week that its “Where to Smoke” app, which provides cigar smokers with listings of smoking-friendly venues, was removed after Apple cited the app as violating its prohibition on promoting tobacco use.

5) Inside the Industry: Gurkha is offering three distinct “Super Luxury Packages” that include first-class accommodations from anywhere in the world to Miami for a three-night stay to blend your own cigars at Gurkha’s headquarters. Depending on your package of choice, you will receive anywhere from 1,000 to 10,000 cigars. Prices range from $100,000 to $1,000,000.

6) From the Archives: Cook a steak up right, with the our guide to the perfect steak.

7) Deal of the Week: StogieGuys.com recommends Bespoke Post, a monthly collection of awesome items (think fine bar accessories, hot sauce kits, shaving accessories, wine, workout gear, exclusive cigars, and more) delivered for just $45. Once you are signed up there is no obligation; you can skip or purchase every month. Sign up here to be eligible for the December box.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Drew Estate

Weekly Cigar News Sampler: Michael Giannini Joins Ventura, Astros Celebrate with Cigars, and More

3 Nov 2017

As we have since July 2006, each Friday we’ll post our sampling of cigar news and other items of interest from the week. Below is our latest, which is the 554th in the series.

1) Michael Giannini has joined Ventura Cigar Co. as the California-based operation’s new creative director. In addition to serving as a brand ambassador for existing lines–including Archetype, Case Study, Psycho Seven, and Project 805–Giannini will help develop new cigars. Previously, Giannini had worked at General Cigar Co. for 17 years, coming over after Swedish Match bought Ernesto Perez-Carrillo’s successful boutique brand that made La Gloria Cubana. Giannini is perhaps best known for his work at the helm of Foundry Cigar Co., a subsidiary of General that launched in 2012 and operated as a boutique with exotic packaging, obscure brand names, baroque themes, limited editions, and elaborate stories about the tobaccos. “I’m super excited to be joining the team at Ventura Cigars,” said Giannini in a Ventura press release. “This is a brand that has been flying under the radar, and I know people are going to love what we come up with next… So stay tuned!”

2) The Houston Astros clinched a riveting World Series on Wednesday and, naturally, celebrated with cigars. Pitcher Justin Verlander, who also happens to be marrying his supermodel girlfriend Kate Upton this weekend, was pictured smoking a cigar in the clubhouse. From the pictures, his cigar of choice appears to be a Cuban Cohiba Maduro.

3) Now is the season for rare bourbon and rye releases. Almost certainly, the most sought-after is the Pappy Van Winkle line. The suggested retail prices range from $60 to $270 each, but all regularly sell for five to ten times those prices. This year, one regular fixture in the lineup won’t be appearing. The sole rye, Van Winkle Family Reserve 13 Year Old Rye, won’t be released due to a lack of sufficiently aged inventory.

4) Inside the Industry: Viaje has released its annual Halloween-themed cigar, Full Moon. The 5-inch, 58-ring gauge Nicaraguan puro features 100% Aganorsa tobacco, including a Corojo wrapper. It comes in a 24-count box. The price has been reduced from last year’s release and now sells for $11.41 each.

5) From the Archives: It’s a few days late to help with this year’s costume, but here’s a list of a dozen cigar-related costumes. Start planning now; next Halloween is only 363 days away.

6) Deal of the Week: Here are 100 deals, including cigars from Ashton, Oliva, CAO, My Father, Tatuaje, Rocky Patel, Padrón, Drew Estate, and more. Free shipping is included on any purchase. If you really want to stock up, add promo code “GBP20D” at checkout to knock $20 off an order of $150 or more.

The Stogie Guys

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Tip: Sixteen Things Every Cigar Smoker Should Do In Their Lifetime

1 Nov 2017

Cigar smokers can live a long time. Just ask Richard Overton, the oldest living WWII veteran who, at 111, still smokes a dozen cigars a day. That gives you plenty of time to do lots of amazing things.

To help out, we brainstormed a list of sixteen cigar-related activities every cigar smoker should accomplish in their lifetime:

1. Smoke a cigar in a rental car. (There may be a cleaning fee involved.)

2. Make your own cigar blend, then smoke it. (Be prepared for it not to be very good, but that isn’t the point.)

3. Smoke a pre-embargo Cuban. (No, cigars made with a portion of pre-embargo Cuban tobacco don’t count.)

4. Visit a cigar factory abroad. (And a tobacco field while you are there.)

5. Smoke two cigars at once. (It’s actually a good way to develop your palate.)

6. Visit Cuba. (It’s easier than you think.)

7. Give someone their first cigar. (Maybe on their 18th birthday?)

8. Enjoy a cigar and drink at Casa Fuente in Las Vegas. (Try the Don Carlos Caipirinha.)

9. Buy the cigar you’ve always wanted to smoke, no matter the price. (Spend $30, $50, $100, or more.)

10. Light up a cigar someplace you shouldn’t. (Act shocked when you are told you can’t enjoy your cigar there.)

11. Pair Pappy Van Winkle bourbon with your favorite cigar. (Bourbon that costs $100 an ounce must be amazing, right?)

12. Buy a friend “It’s a boy/girl” cigars to celebrate a birth. (Remind the new dad, he should give them out, not smoke them all.)

13. Visit Calle Ocho in Little Havana. (It’s kinda like Cuba, but still in America.)

14. Wake up early to read the newspaper with a cigar and coffee. (Your local paper, the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, National Enquirer… it doesn’t matter.)

15. Smoke cigars with friends around a bonfire you made. (Bonus points if you chopped the wood for the bonfire yourself.)

16. Light up a celebratory cigar when your favorite team wins the championship. (Hopefully you aren’t a Browns fan.)

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Seinfeld

Weekly Cigar News Sampler: Nacatamale Coming Mid-November, Davidoff Gets a New HQ, New Cuban Cigars, and More

27 Oct 2017

As we have since July 2006, each Friday we’ll post our sampling of cigar news and other items of interest from the week. Below is our latest, which is the 553rd in the series.

1) On Tuesday, Steve Saka of Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust announced on Facebook that Nacatamale (6 x 48)—the second iteration of Muestra de Saka—will be hitting stores mid-November. He claims his shipment of the cigar is already “99.5% sold out” to retailers. “What made this cigar a unique blending challenge was I went ‘viejo granja’ style with it,” wrote Saka. “For over a century, most cigars’ entire filler recipes were comprised of just one farm’s tobacco, and any complexity was introduced by extremely careful leaf processing, selection, and positioning within the bunch… So, the challenge was to see if I could make an ‘old farm’-style liga that could hold its own with the modern blends we create today.” The first Muestra de Saka, Exclusivo (6 x 52), shipped to retailers in the spring. It was a Nicaraguan puro featuring tobacco from all four Nicaraguan growing regions: Jalapa, Condega, Ometepe, and Estelí. Saka says Nacatamale is “is considerably more robust than the Exclusivo, and since this puro’s tripa are all from just one small, independent farm in Jalapa, Nicaragua, I will not be disclosing the name of the vega.” The Nacatamale wooden coffins will be easily distinguishable from the Exclusivo coffins as the former is marked with a knife and fork.

2) On Wednesday, Davidoff premiered its new Maison Davidoff headquarters at 73 Nauenstrasse in Basel, Switzerland. According to Davidoff: “The newly constructed building and head office of the Basel-based family-run business Oettinger Davidoff AG is replacing the company’s 1930 building on the same site. The old building, which had previously been remodeled several times, had served the company well for over 85 years. With the completion of the construction work, which lasted two years, from April 2015 to July 2017, approximately 160 employees will be working in the new Maison Davidoff.”

3) Want to know how to score that ultra rare bottle of bourbon? Here’s some helpful advice. But if you really want Pappy Van Winkle, the only sure way is to pay roughly ten times more than suggested retail price.

4) Inside the Industry: Habanos, S.A has announced two new cigars that will be introduced at the 35th annual Havana International Fair next week. The new Línea Retro will feature two products: Partagas Capitols and Romeo y Julieta Club Kings. Each comes in a newly designed metal tin and is in the Mareva petit corona format. Pricing has not yet been announced.

5) From the Archives: Did you know that water is the secret ingredient to a fine cigar?

6) Deal of the Week: StogieGuys.com recommends Bespoke Post, a monthly collection of awesome items (think fine bar accessories, shaving kits, wine, workout gear, coffee kits, exclusive cigars, and more) delivered for just $45. You can skip or purchase every month. Sign up here before Tuesday and be eligible for the November box.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Facebook

Weekly Cigar News Sampler: Puro Sabor Details Announced, Anti-Tobacco Groups Blocked from FDA Lawsuit, and More

20 Oct 2017

As we have since July 2006, each Friday we’ll post our sampling of cigar news and other items of interest from the week. Below is our latest, which is the 552nd in the series.

1) The seventh annual Puro Sabor Cigar Festival will be held January 22-27, according to an announcement released on Monday. The festival “is organized by the Nicaraguan Tobacco Chamber to celebrate the international recognition of the tobacco grown and cigars manufactured in Nicaragua. It also provides participants with an opportunity to learn more about the host country.” The event will begin in Granada (pictured above) and, on the third day, move to Estelí. In addition to “the chance to savor choice cigars on the farms and in the factories where they are produced,” attendees will also be entertained by gala dinners, cultural events, and panel discussions of interest to those who want to learn more about cigar production in Nicaragua.” For more information, visit NicaraguanCigarFestival.com.

2) Six anti-tobacco groups cannot intervene in the lawsuit brought by the Cigar Association of America, International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers Association, and Cigar Rights America against the FDA. In a 22-page order, U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta found the groups “have not carried their burden to establish organizational standing or associational standing and, therefore, cannot intervene…” The six groups—the American Lung Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, and Truth Initiative Foundation—had argued “they would be forced to spend money and resources on educating the public about the harms of smoking if cigar and pipe tobacco companies aren’t required by law to issue warnings,” according to Courthouse News Service. But Judge Mehta didn’t find this to be “a legally sufficient injury-in-fact if plaintiffs were to prevail in this litigation.”

3) Cuban tobacco farmers are planning to increase planting for the coming harvest to more than 29,000 hectares, up from 28,570 in the previous season, according to the Cuban News Agency. (A hectare is nearly 2.5 acres.) The Tobacco Business Group of Cuba announced the deal this month with the island’s 18,680 producers. A Tabacuba official said that despite the increase, the worldwide demand for Cuban cigars continues to outstrip supply.

4) The FDA has announced it is pushing back compliance deadlines for tobacco regulation rules due to the hurricanes that have impacted many areas. According to the statement on the FDA’s website, ingredient listing and health document submission requirements will be pushed back six months for areas affected by natural disasters. Those areas include the Dominican Republic and numerous counties in Florida (where many cigar makers are based).

5) Inside the Industry: Gurkha is now shipping the re-release of Master Select, a line that debuted in 2001. That original five-vitola line was made by the Olivas family. “We went back to Fidel Olivas where we discovered he still had the original recipe, allowing us to re-release this immensely popular cigar,” reads a Gurkha press release. Master Select features a Habano wrapper around a Honduran binder and filler tobaccos from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. The five sizes will retail in the $7.50-$11.50 range. Along with the Toraño family, the Fidel Olivas family owned the factories that made Toraño cigars; in 2009, these two factories—the Estelí-based Latin Cigars Nicaragua and the Danlí-based Latin Cigars Honduras—were acquired by Scandinavian Tobacco Group.

6) From the Archives: It’s amazing to see how much things can change in just a few years. Take this write-up from 2011 of Elijah Craig 18 Year. At the time, we praised the $43 bourbon for its flavors. Today, it is still excellent, but it carries a suggested retail price of $130 (a 200+% increase!), and frequently sells for even more.

7) Deal of the Week: Here are 100 deals, including cigars from Ashton, Oliva, CAO, My Father, Tatuaje, Rocky Patel, Padrón, Drew Estate, and more. Free shipping is included on any purchase. If you really want to stock up, add promo code “GBP20D” at checkout to knock $20 off an order of $150 or more.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Puro Sabor

Weekly Cigar News Sampler: Jose Oliva in Line to Become Florida House Speaker, BLTC Releases Santa Muerte, and More

13 Oct 2017

As we have since July 2006, each Friday we’ll post our sampling of cigar news and other items of interest from the week. Below is our latest, which is the 551st in the series.

1) If Republicans retain control of the Florida House in the 2018 elections, as expected, the next speaker will be Jose Oliva of Oliva Cigars. “The 44-year-old Oliva first came to office in a special, off-year election in 2011 to replace Rep. Steve Bovo (R-Hialeah),” reports the Tampa Bay Times. “He focused quickly on becoming speaker-designate for 2018…” Oliva’s website describes him as a “conservative and ethical leader,” and a “lifelong Republican who possesses a commitment to public service and community involvement.”

2) Black Label Trading Co. (BLTC) is launching the second annual release of Santa Muerte today. “Our limited releases tend to be full-bodied with a maduro wrapper, but this one is a medium-bodied cigar with an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper,” says BLTC creator James Brown. “It features six filler tobaccos which create a very unique and rich flavor profile. You experience layer upon layer of coffee, malt, spice, and cocoa.” There are two vitolas: Corona Gorda (5.5 x 48, $10) and Short Robusto (4.75 x 52, $10).

3) Basketball all-time great Michael Jordan is known for enjoying cigars, which is why he is set to appear on the cover of an upcoming 25th anniversary issue of Cigar Aficionado. According to Sports Illustrated, in the interview Jordan says these days he “smokes six cigars a day,” a number that happens to equal the number of NBA Championships he won.

4) Inside the Industry: The FDA released additional guidance (PDF here) this week about the prohibition on free samples that was included in the final deeming rule. The document clarifies that while free samples to consumers are prohibited, discounts, coupons, or other offers are legal if there is a cash transaction when the tobacco product is received by the consumer. The document also reiterates that business-to-business free samples are not prohibited as long as they are not in quantities more than is “necessary to achieve a business or market goal.”

5) From the Archives: We’ve reviewed over 1,000 cigars (a number that doesn’t include over 1,000 Quick Smokes), and only a small percentage earned our highest rating. If you browse our archive of five stogie-rated cigars, you’ll probably see some names you might expect. But there are also many that are under-the-radar, plus quite a few that are no longer made or have undergone significant changes.

6) Deal of the Week: One of the most useful cigar accessories any cigar smoker can own is a travel case that will protect your cigars and keep them humidified for a few hours or a few weeks. Buy a five-count for the golf course or an overnight trip, or the larger 15-count size for a more extended trip.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: JoseOliva2016.com

Weekly Cigar News Sampler: Cigar Groups File Motions for FDA Relief, RoMa Craft to Launch Online Store for Branded Merch, and More

6 Oct 2017

As we have since July 2006, each Friday we’ll post our sampling of cigar news and other items of interest from the week. Below is our latest, which is the 550th in the series.

1) On Tuesday, the cigar industry filed motions in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (above) pursuing relief from upcoming FDA regulations. The motions—one a motion for preliminary injunction, the other a motion for partial summary judgment—were filed jointly by Cigar Rights of America, the Cigar Association of America, and the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association. At issue are expensive user fees and obtrusive warning labels. The FDA has until October 24 to respond. As reported by Cigar Aficionado, “while many aspects to the FDA regulations on cigars have been pushed back, the ones calling for extensive warning labels—labels that cover 30 percent of a cigar box, and 20 percent of an advertisement—have not. They are scheduled to take effect roughly ten months from today.” As for the user fees: “Since October 2016, cigar manufacturers and importers, in accordance with the FDA’s controversial Final Deeming Rule, have been required to submit federal excise tax information to the FDA on a monthly basis. The FDA, in turn, analyzes this data to calculate user fees for cigar companies, which are paid on a quarterly basis. Cigar companies pay the user fees directly to the FDA, and those payments are the sole source of funding for the Center of Tobacco Products, the branch of the FDA responsible for carrying out tobacco regulation activities.”

2) Skip Martin of RoMa Craft Tobac took to Facebook on Wednesday to announce the impending re-launch of the company’s website, which will feature an online store for direct-to-consumer sales of branded merchandise, including Xikar accessories. Evidently, an unnamed “gossipy, jealous, busy body little hater” had spread a rumor that RoMa would begin selling its cigars via the new website. Martin made abundantly clear this is not the case. He went on to write: “To our haters, you really don’t have to try so hard. Just focus on making better cigars, more consistently, and selling them at a fair price. Ain’t nobody got time for all the petty drama.”

3) Members of Tatuaje’s private Saints & Sinners club received an email update on Tuesday regarding the status of the 2017 membership kits. “Due to the hurricane, our delivery of the cigar kits has been delayed and is expected to arrive late next week. We have been getting everything prepped and ready to ship as soon as they arrive but are still anticipating these to be arriving to you all right around Halloween.” Saints & Sinners is an invitation-only club that annually sends its members exclusive Tatuaje cigars along with Tatuaje-branded merchandise like wine openers, poker chips, lighters, cutters, and apparel.

4) Inside the Industry: Rafael Nodal, owner of Boutique Blends Cigars, has been named head of product capability at Tabacalera USA, a new role that places him in charge of Tabacalera’s premium cigar business, which includes Altadis USA’s premium cigars. Steve Saka’s Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust has hired its first full-time team member, Yvonne Ramée, who will be working out of the Dunbarton office/warehouse in New Hampshire.

5) From the Archives: Speaking of Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust, in 2015, back when Saka was preparing the first shipment of his inaugural Sobermesa line, StogieGuys.com caught up with him at a cigar shop in New Hampshire. Read the whole interview here.

6) Deal of the Week: For today only, here are 100 deals, including cigars from Ashton, Oliva, CAO, My Father, Tatuaje, Rocky Patel, Davidoff, Perdomo, Padrón, Drew Estate, and more. Free shipping is included on any purchase. If you really want to stock up, add promo code “GBP20D” at checkout to knock $20 off an order of $150 or more.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Google Maps