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Weekly Cigar News Sampler: Trump Targets Regulations, Vegas Cigar Scene, Legal Brief Against FDA Cigar Rule, and More

3 Mar 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 520th in the series.


1) An interview with Las Vegas cigar impresario Michael Frey explores how his endeavors evolved Sin City’s cigar scene from a handful of small shops along the Strip to the home of destination cigar locales including Casa Fuente, Rhumbar, and the recently opened Montecristo Cigar Bar at Caesars Palace. He also talks about his latest project, a renovation of his Cigarbox shop just off the Strip, which includes an updated lounge and bar.

2) In his first month in office, President Trump has taken a critical pose towards new agency regulations passed during the Obama years and an executive order demanding agencies evaluate their rules, which would include the FDA’s cigar regulation. “The sweeping order directs every federal agency to establish a task force to ensure each has a team to research all regulations and take aim at those deemed burdensome to the U.S. economy and designate regulatory reform officers within 60 days and must report on the progress within 90 days… The order says agencies should seek to repeal regulations that ‘inhibit job creation,’ are ‘ineffective,’ impose costs that exceed benefits, or ‘create a serious inconsistency or otherwise interfere with regulatory initiatives and policies.'”

3) The Cause of Action Institute, a nonpartisan, nonprofit group committed to “ensuring that government decision-making is open, honest, and fair,” filed an amicus “friend of the court” brief backing the DC Circuit federal lawsuit filed by cigar trade groups challenging the FDA’s cigar rules that went into effect last August. “Common sense appears to be dead at the FDA,” CoA spokesman Patrick Massari said in a statement. The brief notes: “The sheer costs of FDA’s regulation will be so high that smaller, family-owned businesses will no longer be able to comply. The tradition of premium, hand-rolled cigars handed down by generations will turn into a corporate mill. This, as detailed above, will lead to higher prices, reduced choice and quality, and the curtailment of innovation in the market. The FDA’s cynical nod to cost-benefit analysis fails for many reasons, including its ‘tunnel vision’ and inability to consider the cost to consumers, producers, and retailers.”

4) Inside the Industry: Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust’s Steve Saka announced this week that two of his cigars will be arriving soon at retailers across the country. Umbagog has already been released in very limited numbers but will be arriving in larger numbers in the second week this month. Umbagog is a more affordable cigar using a Broadleaf wrapper that doesn’t make the grade for Mi Querida. A week later, Muestra de Saka Exclusivo (6 x 52) will be shipping to over 120 retailers. Muestra de Saka is a Nicaraguan puro featuring tobacco from all four Nicaraguan growing regions: Jalapa, Condega, Ometepe, and Estelí.

5) From the Archives: Our focus at is (obviously) cigars, but many cigar smokers also enjoy pipes. If you are looking for an introduction to pipes, check out this interview with Brian Levine of the Pipes Magazine Radio Show. He discusses how the show came about, his favorite pipes, and some tips for a beginner starting to explore the sometimes intimidating world of pipes and pipe tobacco.

6) Deal of the Week: We recommend Bespoke Post, a monthly collection of awesome items delivered to your door for just $45. Available boxes include fine bar accessories, shaving kits, wine, workout gear, coffee kits, and more. You can skip or purchase every month. Sign up today and you’ll be able to get the March shipment.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Las Vegas Weekly

Weekly Cigar News Sampler: Bill Aims to Change FDA Predicate Date, New La Aurora, FDA Idiocy, and More

24 Feb 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 519th in the series.


1) According to Cigar Aficionado, U.S. Representatives Tom Cole (R-OK) and Sanford Bishop (D-GA) have introduced a bill that would “change the predicate date of newly regulated tobacco products—including premium cigars—and provide a 21-month grace period for new products seeking FDA approval.” While the so-called Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (FSPTC)—the bill giving the FDA the power to regulate cigars—didn’t pass until June 2009, the legislation sets February 15, 2007 as the cutoff date for tobacco products to be grandfathered in as exempt from needing FDA approval before being sold or marketed in the United States. There were hopes the FDA would modify that date, but they did not. As a result, products introduced past that date will be subjected to the FDA approval process. “The bill, known as the ‘FDA Deeming Authority Clarification Act of 2017,’ would change the predicate date for premium cigars from February 15, 2007 to August 8, 2016, the day the FDA officially took over regulatory control of the cigar industry. The lawmakers have argued that makers of ‘newly deemed’ products have been unfairly required to ‘look back over nine years’ for grandfathered or ‘predicate brands’ that could be used for a Substantial Equivalence application.”

2) As a recent article points out, the FDA, the agency that now regulates handmade cigars, even has trouble applying common sense to food regulation. For example, “foods like nuts and avocados are incredibly healthy for you. However, thanks to the FDA standards, these healthy fats cannot be marketed to consumers as ‘healthy’ products.” Meanwhile, low-fat, but high-sugar, foods like Frosted Flakes cereal and Pop Tarts are considered healthier under the FDA’s definition.

3) La Aurora has announced a new line called ADN Dominicano, which features Andullo tobacco—a leaf that is “hard-to-work” and offers an “inspiring aroma and sweetness.” The rest of the blend includes filler tobaccos from Nicaragua, Pennsylvania, and the Cibao Valley of the Dominican Republic; a Cameroon binder; and a Cibao wrapper. Four vitolas will be available: Churchill, Gran Toro, Robusto, and Toro.

4) Famous Smoke Shop is expanding its exclusive Romeo y Julieta series with a new Habano-wrapped line called House of Verona, which will be available in five vitolas: Churchill, Robusto, Corona, Short Magnum, and Toro. Previous collaborations between Famous and the Altadis-made Romeo y Julieta brand include House of Montague and House of Capulet. Each House of Verona format will retail for about $5 apiece.

5) From the Archives: With another bill to protect cigar rights introduced (see item #1), now is a good time to revisit how to effectively advocate for your rights. Just taking the time to contact your legislators is step one, but once you’ve decided to do it, here are some suggestions for maximizing your effectiveness.

6) Deal of the Week: Mardi Gras is just around the corner, and this Mardi Gras sampler will load you up with ten good smokes for just $30: EPC NWC Selectos de Oro, La Aurora Connecticut Robusto, La Jugada Habano, Casa Magna, Alec Bradley Prensado, Recluse Draconian, Espinosa Alpha Dog, Wild Bunch Crazy Jack, La Palina Oscuro, and Asylum Dragon’s Milk. Act quickly. This deal is likely to sell out, and the cigars would otherwise run you almost $90.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Weekly Cigar News Sampler: Lawsuit Against FDA Progresses, New Cigars from BLK WKS, Anti-Tobacco Junk Science, and More

17 Feb 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 518th in the series.

U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia

1) This week, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (pictured above), the Cigar Association of America, International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association, and Cigar Rights of America filed a motion for summary judgment and opening brief in a lawsuit challenging the FDA’s cigar regulations. The three industry associations are asking the court to deem the regulations unlawful and in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act and the First and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution. The summary judgement can be read in its entirety here. Among the cigar industry’s arguments are claims that the FDA is (1) arbitrarily imposing premarket review provisions without clarifying the substantial equivalence pathway for cigars, (2) applying the regulations to premium cigars without any basis for doing so, (3) levying unreasonable burdens on small businesses, and (4) forcing the adoption of warning labels without citing statutorily mandated findings. “The premium cigar industry continues its adamant objection to the [FDA regulation] and its defective implementation,” said Glynn Loope, executive director of Cigar Rights of America, in an email press release. “This process has resulted in premium hand-made cigars being subjected to requirements that will cause irreparable economic harm to this artisan industry…” The lawsuit hearing is scheduled for July 28.

2) Maybe you’ve seen the headlines declaring smoking bans instantly save lives. Well, the real science is in, and… not so much. “While science can inform, though not fully determine, the boundaries of where people are allowed to smoke, the debunking of the previous decade’s heart miracles should provide some grounds for humility. It may be neither feasible nor desirable to set back the clock and permit smoking everywhere, but laws in a liberal society can accommodate the rights and preferences of smokers and business owners far better than they do now.” In an exchange with the author of the Slate article, the study authors even admitted that, in fact, the 40% reduction in heart attacks they claimed had a margin of error so great the true number could actually be just 1%.

3) Inside the Industry: Black Works Studio (BLK WKS), a project of Black Label Trading Co., yesterday announced two new event-only cigars that will be available starting in March. The first, Green Hornet Kato (4.5 x 46), will feature an Ecuadorian Maduro wrapper with a “Candela swirl cap and closed foot” and retail for $9.50. The second, Killer Bee Lonsdale (6.5 x 42), will sport an Ecuadorian Maduro wrapper with a “Connecticut linear cap” and retail for $9. Both are made at Black Label Trading Co.’s Fabrica Oveja Negra factory in Estelí. “We are very excited to launch these new additions to the Killer Bee and Green Hornet lines,” said company founder James Brown. “Both of these cigars are unique versions of the original blends and highlight the creativity of our factory. I wanted something special for our retailers who support us with events, and these two cigars are exactly that.”

4) From the Archives: Talisker Distillers Edition 1996 Single Malt Whisky: “As is characteristic of Talisker, peaty and smokey flavors dominate. But underneath is an added sweet element, with rich dried fruit and toffee. The finish is long and spicy with a hint of chocolate… With it’s double cask aging, it simultaneously has the classic salt water peat flavors I’ve come to expect and enjoy from Talisker coupled with a hint of sweetness that reminds me of a fine bourbon. Not surprisingly, the Talisker Distillers Edition 1996 makes for an excellent pairing with a fine cigar.”

5) Deal of the Week: Ten cigars (and some pretty good ones, too). Just $30.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Google Maps

Weekly Cigar News Sampler: Temple Hall Estates, Boveda Patents Hold Up, IPCPR Trade Show Floorplan Revealed, and More

10 Feb 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 517th in the series.

Temple Hall

1) Foundry Cigar Company (FTC)—a boutique operation within the General Cigar umbrella that, until recently, was headed up by longtime General veteran Michael Gianni—has announced the new Temple Hall Estates collection. Named for a Jamaican cigar factory that sprung up during World War II, the line sports a Connecticut Shade wrapper, Mexican binder, and proprietary Piloto Cubano filler tobaccos from the Dominican Republic. The blend is billed as a “silky, elegant, and flavorful smoke reminiscent of the cigars crafted at Temple Hall under the tutelage of Ramón Cifuentes,” the father of Partagas. “Temple Hall Estates rounds out the Foundry Tobacco Company portfolio by offering a mild, smooth-smoking cigar not previously represented in the FTC Heritage Series, which includes Ramón Allones and Bolivar,” according to a press release. The line’s four sizes will retail in the $6.99 to $8.49 range. The cigars are now shipping to U.S. retailers.

2) Boveda’s cigar humidification patents have survived a legal challenge from Holt’s, a Philadelphia-based retailer with a strong online presence that also owns the Ashton cigar brand. The two patents in question concern the internal solution Boveda uses to regulate moisture, as well as the membrane technology that allows purified vapor in and out of the Boveda packet, according to a representative from Boveda. The challenge was launched in 2015 not long after a four-year distribution arrangement between Ashton and Boveda concluded. Email inquiries into Holt’s were not returned. It is not clear if Holt’s plans to appeal this decision of the United States Patent and Trademark Office to uphold the patents. Ashton markets the Savoy humidor line, as well as limited humidification devices, leading to speculation that had Holt’s successfully overturned the patents, it would have launched a competing humidification pack using the same technology.

3) Inside the Industry: Looking for a sneak peek preview into the 85th annual International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association (IPCPR) Trade Show? Here you can see the convention showroom layout, as well as many of the larger booth space assignments. The event takes place July 10-14 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The 2017 convention had originally been slated five days later at the Sands Convention Center—site of previous IPCPR Trade Shows—but the location administration cancelled on IPCPR, triggering a cancellation fee (likely because a bigger business opportunity arose on those dates).

4) What’s with celebrity tequila brands? Also, if you were looking for evidence of a  mezcal bubble, here you go: Sammy Hagar and Adam Levine band together for a tequila. Huh?

5) From the Archives: From time to time, we get asked how we’re able to observe and write about many of the more subtle flavors found in a cigar. The answer? It’s mostly a combination of experience and, quite simply, paying close attention. But sometimes there are flavors you wouldn’t notice if it weren’t for the retrohale technique, which is also known as smoking through the nose (since the nose is where most flavor is noticed). Doing so properly is key, as explained in this tip written over a decade ago.

6) Deal of the Week: Here’s a “Winter Sale” that includes many samplers, bundles, and boxes. Exact percentages vary, but numerous items are discounted 40% or more.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: General Cigar

Weekly Cigar News Sampler: Executive-Level Changes at Drew Estate, Cigar Rights in the States, and More

3 Feb 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 516th in the series.

Jonathan Drew

1) Jonathan Drew (pictured above) has been named president and founder of Drew Estate and will once again occupy an executive operating role at the company he founded, including responsibility for the entire portfolio of brands. This news comes two years since Swisher International bought Drew Estate. “The deal is important for the boutique cigar company, as it looks to return to its iconic roots and core values,” reads a press release dated January 30. “The objective is to unleash the entire team’s creative power under the leadership of [Drew] who will also continue with his new venture into the spirits industry as CEO of John Drew Brands, a startup initially focused on bourbon, rye, and rum.” Glenn Wolfson, CEO of Drew Estate, called Jonathan Drew “a dynamic entrepreneur, respected tobacco man, and a tenacious brand evangelist… [He] will reduce his travel and event schedule, instead focusing on the Rebirth of Drew Estate with a conceptual lens toward brand building and team building.” In addition, David Lazarus has been named senior vice president of sales, effective immediately. He will report directly to Wolfson.

2) State-Level Cigar Rights Watch: The Virginia General Assembly has been presented with two bills that would enable cigar shops to obtain a license to sell and/or serve alcohol on premises; simultaneously, a bill has been introduced in the Virginia Senate to enable local governments to designate outdoor public places as non-smoking. Lawmakers in Indiana are considering a bill that would raise the smoking age to 21. In Ohio, Governor John Kasich aims to significantly increase cigar taxes from 17% to 69% of the wholesale price.

3) Inside the Industry: Christian Eiroa’s C.L.E. Cigar Company—which represents brands such as C.L.E., Asylum, Eiroa Cigars, Puros Indios, Cuba Aliados, and more—has launched a new website. Cigar enthusiasts in Texas may be able to find a new version of La Flor Dominicana’s Special Football Edition figurado that has been shipped to Lone Star State retailers in celebration of Super Bowl LI, which takes place in Houston on Sunday.

4) From the Archives: With the winter cold going around, you may want to re-read this tip from 2010 about cigars and the common cold.

5) Deal of the Week: We recommend Bespoke Post, a monthly collection of awesome items delivered to your door for just $45. Past boxes include fine bar accessories, shaving kits, coffee kits, and more. You can skip or purchase every month. Sign up today and you’ll be able to get the February shipment.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Drew Estate

Weekly Cigar News Sampler: New Cigars from Toraño, Renewed Calls for Cigar Rights Action, and More

27 Jan 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 515th in the series.

Vault Blue

1) General Cigar has hired Jack Toraño as a full-time ambassador for the Toraño brand, as well as announced two new lines under the Toraño Vault umbrella. “Jack began working with us last year to develop Toraño at retail and has made great strides in generating excitement for the brand,” said Régis Broersma, president of General Cigar, in a press release. “We are pleased to have him as a full-time member of our marketing team and look forward to working with him to deepen retailer and consumer engagement around this important brand.” Jack Toraño will report to Ed McKenna, director of marketing strategy, and his roles will include “hosting events in strategic markets, sharing the history of Toraño cigars, and presenting the brand portfolio.” That Toraño brand portfolio is expanding to include the Ecuadorian Sumatra-wrapped E-021 and Jalapa-wrapped W-009, two new lines in the Toraño Vault collection. Each will come in two sizes with per-cigar prices ranging from $5.49 to $6.49. Back in 2014, General Cigar acquired the brands associated with the Toraño Family Cigar Company. The move came four years after Toraño re-launched itself in 2010—taking back control of its own distribution from a conglomerate that housed Toraño under the same roof as General Cigar and CAO.

2) Yesterday, Glynn Loope, executive director of Cigar Rights of America (CRA), posted a video on Facebook from the U.S. Capitol proclaiming his mission to recruit new co-sponsors of legislation that would protect premium handmade cigars from FDA regulation. Now, with a “new Congress, new administration, and a new regulatory environment,” Loope has committed to “totally revisiting this subject top to bottom,” and he is imploring dedicated cigar enthusiasts to visit the CRA website and contact their representatives in support of these important efforts at this crucial time.

3) Congressional Republicans target Washington’s rule by bureaucrat. But will this include a roll-back of the FDA’s handmade cigar rules? “Washington’s many agencies, bureaus, and departments propagate rules that weigh down businesses, destroy jobs, and limit American freedoms. Career bureaucrats who never face the voters wield punishing authority with little to no accountability. If there’s a swamp in Washington, this is it. In President Obama’s final year the Federal Register hit 97,110 pages—longer by nearly 18,000 pages, or 15 King James Bibles, than in 2008. Federal regulations cost the American people about $1.89 trillion every year, according to an estimate by the Competitive Enterprise Institute. That’s more than 10% of GDP, or roughly $15,000 per American household.” Read more here.

4) In case you missed it, the last two months have been news-filled for Booker’s Bourbon, a favorite for its bold, barrel-proof flavors. As explained by veteran bourbon journalist Chuck Cowdery, Booker’s maker Beam announced, then backed off, a nearly 100% price hike.

5) From the Archives: Speaking of Booker’s, twice it has been featured on this website. First in 2011, Patrick A gave his take. Later, Patrick S checked out the first batch released in 2015.

6) Deal of the Week: Seven sizes of Steve Saka’s Mi Querida are back in stock at Smoke Inn. Plus, use the code “StogieDeal” at checkout to land a free triple-flame butane lighter.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: General Cigar

Weekly Cigar News Sampler: New Agreements with Cuba, Rum Wars, New Cigars, and More

20 Jan 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 514th in the series.


1) The Obama Administration has executed a bevy of agreements with Cuba in its final month of power. “Since Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro announced in December 2014 that they would normalize relations, the two governments have established a number of task forces to resolve outstanding issues between them,” reports the Washington Post. “That process sped up considerably this month as President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration approached.” While these most recent agreements are not cigar-related—they concern maritime boundaries, joint responses on oil spills, law enforcement cooperation, and search and rescue operations—they underscore Obama’s desire to strengthen relations in a lasting way that would be more difficult to unwind. “Trump has said that Obama got a ‘bad deal’ from Cuba and that Castro should have made more concessions toward civic and political freedoms on the island,” says the Post. “Obama has repeatedly argued that more U.S.-Cuba contact will force the government’s hand.”

2) 60 Minutes recently aired an interesting feature on Havana Club rum and the legal battle between the Cuban government and the French beverage giant Pernod Ricard—a 50-50 joint venture that claims to be the one true Havana Club—and the Havana Club made by Bacardi in Puerto Rico. Bacardi claims legitimacy since it bought the original Havana Club name and recipe from the family that had been producing the rum prior to the company’s nationalization via Fidel Castro’s Cuban Revolution. If this story sounds familiar, it should. It’s very similar to the legal war being waged by Cuban cigar brands and non-Cuban brands that carry Cuban names (i.e., Cohiba). You can watch the feature in its entirety here.

3) Looking for something different to drink? Consider Allen’s Coffee Brandy, also known as the Champagne of Maine. “For more than 20 years, Allen’s Coffee Brandy has been the top-selling spirit in the state of Maine, besting the number two competitor by a margin of two to one. And that’s just the 1.75-liter size. Annual sales reports for the state routinely place all four sizes of Allen’s among the top ten best sellers… It is the stuff of legend. And why not? It’s inexpensive, it’s sweet, and it packs a buzz and a punch.”

4) Inside the Industry: Camacho announced new box-pressed extensions to its three core lines that feature Connecticut, Corojo, and Ecuador wrappers. Coming in three new box-pressed formats (Robusto, Toro, and Gordo), the tweaked blends of the box-pressed offerings are designed to be fuller-bodied due to the addition of Pennsylvanian Broadleaf tobaccos. Suggested retail on the three sizes are $8 to $9.25.

5) From the Archives: It’s chilly out, so warm up with one of our five warm drinks for cold days. This article lays out the recipes for such classic cocktails as the hot toddy, Stonewall Jackson, hot buttered Rum, and Mexican hot chocolate. Or, if you prefer, a good cup of coffee. Read it all here.

6) Deal of the Week: Here’s a sampler worth checking out. Just $45 gets you a Warped Maestro del Tiempo, Davidoff Yamasa Short Churchill, Caldwell Signature Dos Firmas, Bellas Artes by A.J. Fernandez, and The Tabernacle by Foundation Cigar Co. Pick up two (or add other products to get to $75) and use the code “StogieDeal” to land a free triple-flame butane lighter.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Flickr