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Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 512

6 Jan 2017

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.

sindustry

1) Black Label Trading Co. yesterday announced the upcoming release of Sindustry, a three-vitola blend that sports a Mexican San Andrés wrapper around Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos. The brand will be part of the Black Works Studio (BLK WKS) portfolio, which also includes the Killer Bee, Green Hornet, NBK, and Rorschach lines. It is made at Black Label’s Fabrica Oveja Negra factory in Estelí. “I’m very excited about our first Limited Edition at BLK WKS,” said Black Label Trading Co. creator James Brown. “Sindustry is a big, bold, badass smoke. The flavor profile is very unique with flavors of black currant, clove, and coco paired with the rich earthiness of the San Andrés wrapper.” Each of the three sizes—Robusto, Toro, and Lancero—will be available in February. They will retail in the $9.50 to $10 range.

2) Tickets are on sale now for Big Smoke Miami, which will be held at the Fontainbleau Hotel in Miami Beach on Friday, April 7. The entrance fee is $325, and the event runs from 6:30 PM to 9:30 PM (you can get in 60 minutes earlier by paying an extra $50). Included in the price is the opportunity to visit with at least 25 premium cigar makers, drinks, food, and, of course, cigars. That said, Cigar Aficionado, the host of the event, notes “smoking is permitted in all outdoor areas of the hotel.” So it is not yet entirely clear if attendees will be able to smoke on the event floor, which is presumably indoors.

3) Also on sale now are tickets for The Great Smoke, an annual event put on by the Palm Beach-based retailer Smoke Inn. The $150 ticket gets you a commemorative bag with goodies, 45 cigars, and a wide selection of fine food, wine, spirits, and beer. Additionally, you can secure tickets to the pre-event dinner, hosted the night before at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, and a day-after brunch.

4) From the Archives: Our interviews archive features numerous conversations with well-known (and not so well-known) interesting people associated with the cigar industry. In one of our earliest interviews (going way back to 2007), we spoke with Michael Fayerverger, the general manager of one of the most famous cigar destinations in the world, Casa Fuente.

5) Deal of the Week: Cigar enthusiasts seeking a great deal should check out this clearance on Thunder by Nimish, part of the Rocky Patel line. All boxes of 20 are being blown out at the discount price of just $66, bringing the per-cigar cost down to $3.30. But don’t wait too long; this deal is sure to sell out quickly.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Black Label Trading Co.

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 511

30 Dec 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) This week Cigar Aficionado reported A.J. Fernandez will open a new factory in Ocotál, a Nicaraguan town about 40 miles north of Estelí. It will be called San Lotano, which is the same name as Fernandez’s cigar brand and farm. Formerly known as San Rafael and the site of production for the Brickhouse and El Baton brands for J.C. Newman, the newly launched factory will help Fernandez meet growing demand now that his Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua factory is at capacity. The new facility will house 240 cigar makers and 120 rolling tables. Additionally, A.J. Fernandez will begin making the 601 brand for Erik Espinosa, who has been crafting his own brand out of his La Zona factory for nearly five years. “…I am unable to expand [La Zona’s] production since I have already outgrown it,” Espinosa told Cigar Aficionado. “It’s a perfect opportunity for me to finally meet the demand for my cigars.”

2) Inside the Industry: The 2017 International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association (IPCPR) Trade Show has been rescheduled and relocated. Now the show will run from July 10 to July 14 and be held at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The 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 that date).

3) Perhaps you’ve heard all you want to about tobacco and the FDA. But a short article–thorough, well-written, and scary–from pipe-expert Rick Newcombe in Reason magazine is worth your time.

4) From the Archives: This week we unveiled parts one and two of our top cigars of 2016. But don’t forget the great cigars of the past. Not only should you check out our top cigars from recent years, but we highly recommend browsing through our list of top-rated smokes, which goes back to 2006.

5) Deal of the Week: Everyone loves a Top 25-rated cigar, so browse this year’s and past year’s winners here. You’ll find everything from Opus X to Padrón to Oliva to Rocky Patel. Use the coupon code “Stogie” at checkout to land 10% off your purchase.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: A.J. Fernandez Cigar Co.

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 510

23 Dec 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.

stg

1) Starting on January 1, Craig Reynolds will assume leadership of the entire North American enterprise for Scandinavian Tobacco Group—a “cluster” that includes General Cigar, Cigars International, STG Lane (a market leader in pipe tobacco, roll-your-own tobacco, and little cigars), and STG Canada. “We are leading in handmade cigars, pipe tobacco, and fine cut in the U.S.,” said Reynolds in a press release. “Advancing our collaboration between entities allow us to bring products from across our tobacco categories to all our customers. We believe that this will benefit our customers and drive further growth for our business in the U.S.” According to CEO Niels Frederiksen, “Craig Reynolds has successfully led our entire global handmade cigars business. Today, the handmade cigar category is a growth engine in our business and accounts for more than one-fourth of our net sales and profit. We want to reinforce this development by extending Craig Reynolds’ leadership to our entire North American business.”

2) On Tuesday, Caldwell Cigar Co. and Drew Estate announced All Out Kings, a collaborative effort between the two companies, would be shipping in March, delayed from the original anticipated shipment date of November. We first learned about All Out Kings in June, right around the time Caldwell announced another collaboration—Anastasia, and made by Ernesto Perez-Carrillo. All out Kings will be shipped in four sizes, all sold in 20-count boxes: Smash (5 x 52), Give Me Your Lunch Money (5.75 x 46), Foreverlast (6.5 x 54), and The Fourth Pose (6 x 54). Drew Estate Master Blender Willy Herrera said this of the project: “When Rob [Caldwell] and I began blending this project, we had to meet in the middle in terms of the strength of the cigar so that it was something Rob would enjoy as he is not typically a maduro smoker. We selected specific primings of Connecticut Habano wrapper that would be a bit more subtle, yet flavorful. This has taken a bit more time at the sorting tables and, in addition, the wrapper is extremely oily by nature, which has added to the aging process. I know everyone has been waiting and I’m causing additional stress for Rob, but I won’t let them out of the aging room until I feel they are ready.”

3) Inside the Industry: Could the incoming administration repeal the FDA regulations currently threatening to choke the premium cigar industry? While some experts regard that possibility as a long shot, one report issued by Congressman Mark Meadows, incoming chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, suggests just that. “The worst fear of cigar manufacturers and smokers alike has been that the FDA will impose the same onerous pre-market review requirements on cigars that it currently places on cigarettes,” the Freedom Caucus report said.

4) From the Archives: This is the time of the year for best-of lists, and next week we’ll be unveiling our best of 2016. In the meantime, you’ll want to check out our best of 2015 list to see the handful of cigars that achieved the rare five-stogie rating last year.

5) Please join us in congratulating Derek C. from Louisville, Kentucky. Derek is the latest winner of a StogieGuys.com giveaway. He was randomly selected among many participants at our Facebook page to receive a $20 gift card from Holt’s Cigar Company. Enjoy, Derek!

6) Deal of the Week: The Liga Privada Dirty Rat is a very sought-after and hard-to-find limited edition smoke. Currently, it is in-stock here (4-packs are $58, boxes of 12 are $157). But move quickly. Buy the box, or any order over $75, and get a free triple-flame table lighter by adding the coupon code “StogieDeal” at checkout.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Scandinavian Tobacco Group

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 509

16 Dec 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.

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1) On Wednesday, the FDA issued the third edition of its Substantial Equivalence FAQ Guidance document. This new edition has been revised to reflect the decision that a modification to an existing product’s label does not result in a new tobacco product. As you may recall, back in August, U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta ruled a tobacco product shouldn’t be considered new—and therefore re-subject to FDA approval—simply because its label changes. “The ruling comes in a lawsuit filed last year by subsidiaries of Imperial Brands, Reynolds American Inc., and Altria Group over FDA guidelines clarifying what changes to a tobacco product require regulatory approval under the 2009 Tobacco Control Act, which gave the FDA authority to regulate tobacco products,” reported Reuters. The lawsuit specifically challenged how the Tobacco Control Act was being applied to cigarettes, but has significant implications for how the agency can apply its rules to cigars.

2) Cigar Aficionado has named the La Flor Dominicana Andalusian Bull its number one cigar of 2016. “First impressions are bold and savory with strong notes of hickory and leather,” according to the magazine. “But it continues to take on a complex spiciness of saffron and cumin as well as a slight tangy note that brings the strength and spice together quite gracefully—and it only gets better with every puff.” Rocky Patel, Partagas Serie E No. 2 (Cuban), E.P. Carrillo, Padrón, Arturo Fuente, Drew Estate, Oliva, Hoyo de Monterrrey Epicure No. 2 (Cuban), and Punch also grabbed spots in the top ten. Love it or hate it, there’s no denying this annual best-of list has a measurable industry impact.

3) The International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association (IPCPR) announced this week it will launch a local reporting initiative in 2017. “One of the greatest challenges facing the premium tobacco industry is the proliferation of local laws and regulations in nearly 40,000 local governments across the United States,” said the IPCPR in an email. The organization is expected to “begin providing increased local reporting to our members in collaboration with the National Association of Tobacco Outlets (NATO) effective January 1, 2017. IPCPR looks forward to expanding legislative reporting to better serve and protect our members in the new year.”

4) Inside the Industry: In response to our Wednesday review of the Umbagog Toro Toro, and subsequent questions from consumers about Umbagog’s availability, Steve Saka announced the following on Facebook: “Umbagog will become more widely available in the very near future. First will be a small batch of Umbagog ‘Misfits.’ These are identical cigars, but due to a bonehead mistake on my part they were shipped to the U.S. without bundle labels and maybe bands… The next batch will be available in early February. Same ugly cigars, but with the correct rings and labels… These are very tasty Broadleaf cigars for $6 to $8 each. The ‘Misfits’ should be priced about $1 lower across the board.”

5) From the Archives: When you’ve been exploring and writing about cigars as long as we have (StogieGuys.com has been publishing for over a decade), not a lot of topics have gone untouched. Case in point: Stogie Guys Cigar University is a curated reference that provides easy access to coverage ranging from how to select a cigar to building a humidor.

6) Deal of the Week: Need a last-minute holiday gift? 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, and more. You can skip or purchase every month. Currently available is “Churchill,” a box featuring four E.P. Carrillo cigars (including one exclusive blend), a reclaimed wood ashtray that doubles as a candle holder, a smoke-eating candle, cedar spills for lighting your cigar, and a cutter. Click here to sign up today.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 508

9 Dec 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.

capitol

1) Another congressional effort to stop the FDA from regulating premium cigars appears dead after the House of Representatives approved a continuing resolution to fund the government into April without mentioning cigars. The industry had hoped to get changes approved in an appropriations bill, but the continuing resolution does not address the issue. A couple of potentially contentious matters, unrelated to the FDA, could slow, or even halt, approval of the continuing resolution by the Senate.

2) Win Free Cigars: In celebration of its holiday gift page—which helps make finding perfect gifts for cigar enthusiasts easy and fun by showcasing best-rated, best-selling smokes—Holt’s Cigar Company is giving away a $20 gift card to one lucky reader. To enter to win, please “like” the StogieGuys.com Facebook page and leave a comment on the contest post with your dream cigar-related gift. One commenter will be chosen at random in about a week to receive the prize. (You can find our contest rules here.)

3) The impact of the FDA on premium cigars got more national exposure last week when the Washington Post featured a lengthy report on the impact in Ybor City, the area that gave Tampa its moniker as “Cigar City.” Highlighting the plight of the largest operation, the J.C. Newman Cigar Co., the article noted that many “wonder whether the once-booming cigar industry may be on its way out.”

4) Inside the Industry: Villiger Cigars is set to begin shipping a redone 1888 line that was first introduced in 2009 to celebrate the Swiss company’s founding year. The new 1888, as reported by Cigar Aficionado, sports red packaging and a blend based on a 2010 limited edition that marked Villiger’s 100 years in Germany.

5) From the Archives: Getting the most for your money is one of the key selling points for cigar samplers. But you want to make sure it’s the cigars, not your wallet, that get burned. Doing so can sometimes require a bit of planning, and these easy-to-follow tips for selecting a sampler can help make your order a winner.

6) Deal of the Week: Limited quantities of our StogieGuys.com-selected sampler are still available at Cigar & Pipes. Included are cigars we enjoyed years ago that still remain staples in our humidors. Just $58.49 gets you 10 cigars, well below MSRP, including some high-end smokes from Padrón, Fuente, and Oliva.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Flickr

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 507

2 Dec 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.

nyc-public-housing

1) On Wednesday, a new federal rule was issued that criminalizes smoking in public housing residencies. “Officials with the Department of Housing and Urban Development said that the rule would take effect early next year, but that public housing agencies would have a year and a half to put smoke-free policies in place. The rule will affect more than 1.2 million households,” according to the New York Times. “The nationwide ban will have its greatest impact in New York, where the New York City Housing Authority—whose 178,000 apartments and more than 400,000 residents make it the largest public housing agency in the United States, has lagged behind many of its counterparts in adopting smoke-free policies. While HUD proposed the sweeping prohibition a year ago, it had been prodding public housing authorities to adopt such policies since 2009.”

2) General Cigar Co. announced on Monday that Alan Willner has left his post as vice president of marketing “to pursue other interests.” Willner had been with General since 2011. “I will provide day-to-day leadership of the marketing team,” said Régis Broersma, president, in a press release. “Change is always uncomfortable, but with this change I have great confidence in the team to drive the business forward. Our strategy and brands are strong, and we are well-positioned to take General Cigar to the next level. It’s time to release the company’s full potential.”

3) Inside the Industry: Gran Habano has released Los Tres Reyes Magos, a limited edition culebra coffin of three intertwined cigars (7 x 32) in the Gran Habano #1 (Connecticut Shade), #3 (Nicaraguan Habano), and #5 (Nicaraguan Corojo) blends. The coffins are packaged in boxes of 10 and available at retailers now.

4) From the Archives: Looking for some great cigars to start the new year? Let StogieGuys.com be your guide. Just click on the Reviews Archive at the top right of the screen and select Top Rated Cigars from the dropdown menu. You’ll be directed to an alphabetical list of all the  cigars we awarded a top rating since the site began more than ten years ago. And stay tuned for our upcoming list of the top-rated smokes of 2016.

5) Deal of the Week: StogieGuys.com recommends Bespoke Post, a monthly collection of awesome items delivered to your door. Past boxes include fine bar accessories, shaving kits, coffee, and more. You can skip or purchase every month. This month features an exclusive cigar offering from E.P. Carrillo, including previously unreleased cigars (along with an ashtray made with re-calimed wood, a cutter, and a smoke-eating candle) available only to Bespoke Post subscribers. Click here to sign up today.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Observer

Happy Thanksgiving!

24 Nov 2016

Thanksgiving

StogieGuys.com will be taking November 24 and 25 off to enjoy that most American of holidays: Thanksgiving. (We will return on Saturday for our regularly scheduled coverage of the world of cigars.) Known for food, family, friends, and football, Thanksgiving is a perfect time to enjoy a fine smoke. Have a safe and happy holiday!

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Flickr