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Weekly Cigar News Sampler: Smoking Ban Costs Casino Millions, Davidoff Announces Chefs Edition, New Cohiba Siglo, and More

24 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 523rd in the series.

Harrahs Casino New Orleans

1) According to Caesar’s Entertainment officials, Harrah’s Casino & Hotel in downtown New Orleans—once a favorite hangout among IPCPR Trade Show attendees when the convention is held in The Big Easy—lost approximately $70 million in revenue in the two years following the city’s smoking ban, which took effect April 2015. As reported by the Times-Picayune: “Caesar’s Entertainment president and CEO Mark Frissora said… the ban makes it difficult to compete with venues in the surrounding area, because it only affects Orleans Parish. ‘It’s not fair because everyone else around us doesn’t have the smoking ban,’ Frissora argued. Caesar’s Entertainment president for the south region of the U.S., Dan Real, said the company’s first quarter in 2015 was its best in that property’s history, just before they were ‘hit’ by the ban.” The officials were reporting to the Riverboat Economic Development and Gaming Task Force on Tuesday. “The Northwest Louisiana and New Orleans locations have collectively contributed $2.3 billion to the state in gaming tax revenues. Those two locations also have contributed $52.3 million in other state and local tax fees and $344.5 million in salaries and wages between 2013 and 2016, according to the presentation given by the Caesar’s representatives.”

2) Davidoff has teamed up with six international chefs to create a new cigar line called Limited Chefs Edition, which will be available in April. “The Davidoff Chefs Edition is the equivalent to a culinary masterpiece,” reads a Davidoff press release. “Just like the perfect meal, it begins gently with complex layers of subtle flavors and builds up to a sublime and unforgettable crescendo.” The cigar will be presented in a Toro format with a Habano 2000 wrapper and an Ecuadorian Connecticut binder. The filler is a combination of San Vicente Mejorado Seco, San Vicente Mejorado Visus, Piloto Visus, and San Vicente Visus. Only 3,000 boxes will be made.

3) Medio Siglo—the first new Cohiba since the Siglo VI was introduced in 2002—is now widely available (though the cigar was actually introduced at last year’s Habanos Festival in Cuba). The cigar measures 4 inches long with a ring gauge of 52. Cigar Aficionado reports “it’s probably the most expensive regular-production petit robusto you’re going to find” since Medio Siglo is expected to retail for $14 in Cuba and about $33 in London.

4) Inside the Industry: Also new from Davidoff is a cigar exclusive to Famous Smoke Shop to celebrate the company’s 75th year in the business. The Davidoff Famous 75th Anniversary Cigar is one of several special editions made for Famous to commemorate this milestone. (Romeo y Julieta and Padrón have already announced, and others in the works). The toro (6 x 50) comes in boxes of 10, with cigars retailing for $22 each. Only 500 boxes were made. The blend includes filler from the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua surrounded by a Mexican San Andrés Negro binder and an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper.

5) From the Archives: What is meant by Cigar Texture? It’s not flavor, but you’ll notice it on your palate. Find out here.

6) Deal of the Week: Today only, here are 100 deals that include free shipping. Notable picks include the Drew Estate Sampler, Oliva Serie V, Mi Querida, HR Habano 2000, and Tatuaje Tatoo. Plus, at checkout, add promo code “APPRECIATE20” and you’ll save $20 off orders of $100 or more.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: New Orleans Online

Weekly Cigar News Sampler: Mayor Implores OMB to Reconsider FDA Regs, Ybor City, Cuban Embargo, and More

17 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 522nd in the series.

Mayor Regalado

1) Tomás Regalado (pictured above), mayor of Miami, this week sent a letter to the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, imploring the agency to reconsider FDA regulation of cigars in light of “the new administration and its own regulatory review and reconsideration process.” An email alert from Cigar Rights of America applauds Mayor Regalado for the letter, which calls for a comprehensive economic impact analysis, as well as a reexamination of “option two,” which would exempt premium cigars from the regulation. The letter can be read in its entirety here. Some interesting statistics found in the letter include the following: Florida is headquarters of over 40 corporations in the premium cigar industry; Florida is home to at least 232 small businesses reliant upon the premium cigar industry; and Miami considers itself the base of operations for the industry, with services ranging from shipping, trucking, bonded storage, etc.

2) The Washington Post asks: What does the future hold for historic Ybor City’s cigar culture? “Yet even with all cigar connoisseurship happening up and down Seventh Avenue, it was hard to ignore that Ybor City—a National Historic Landmark District—had seen better days. In the early 20th century, Tampa had been the undisputed cigar capital of the world, outproducing even Havana. In its heyday, the city had more than 150 factories, employing about 10,000 workers, and rolling more than 500 million cigars each year. Now, beyond the small storefront producers still rolling premium handmade cigars, only one large cigar factory remains.”

3) In last month’s “Question of the Month” (which admittedly ran significantly longer than a month), we asked readers to select the answer that best describes their position on the U.S. embargo of Cuba. “The embargo was right when it was enacted, but now is the time to end it” was the top answer with 36% of the vote. It was followed by “the embargo should be phased out, but only if Cuba meets tangible benchmarks towards freedom and democracy” (30%); “the embargo never should have been enacted” (19%); and “the embargo should be kept in place until Cuba adopts full freedom and democracy” (15%). Be sure to weigh in on this month’s question by voting in the sidebar to the right. And feel free to contact us if you’ve got a good suggestion for a future StogieGuys.com reader poll.

4) Inside the Industry: Steve Saka reported on Facebook on Tuesday that he received the first shipment of Umbagog, a paper-bundled cigar with a Broadleaf wrapper deemed too “ugly” to be used for his more premium Mi Querida line. The sizes being shipped are Corona Gorda (6 x 48, $6.45), Robusto Plus (5 x 52, $6.45), Toro Toro (6 x 52, $6.95), and Gordo Gordo (6 x 56, $7.45). “For us, [Umbagog is] not a profit center, but a cash recovery product to make efficient use of the Broadleaf,” wrote Saka. “In my perfect world, all of the wrapper coming out of my pilons would be perfect and none of these would exist.” Umbagog will be appearing at about 35 retailers nationwide; a preliminary list of retailers can be found here.

5) From the Archives: This was our most-read article last year: our groundbreaking piece about how the FDA misleads the public it is supposed to serve, especially when it comes to handmade cigars and youth smoking.

6) Deal of the Week: The cigars are a mystery, but you do get a lot of them. They’re all name brands, not house brands or no-name bundles, and they come for less than $3 per cigar. These Grab Bags tend to sell out fast, so if you need to fill up your humidor on the cheap, act quickly.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Miami Herald

Weekly Cigar News Sampler: Avo Adds to Improvisation Series, C.L.E. Announces a Colorado Cigar, Gurkha Celebrates a Cellar Reserve Anniversary, and More

10 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 521st in the series.

Avo Improvisation

1) Avo is once again adding to its Improvisation Series. Avo Improvisation LE17 is a combination of three previously released Avo cigars: Syncro Nicaragua, Syncro Nicaragua Fogata, and LE05. “The new blend utilizes the same variety of Dominican binder and filler tobaccos that were featured in the Avo LE05, blended with the same Estelí filler tobacco used in the Avo Syncro Nicaragua Fogata, and presented in the 6 x 60 boxed-pressed format of the Avo Syncro Nicaragua Special Toro,” according to a press release issued by Davidoff, Avo’s parent company. Avo Improvisation LE17 is the first Avo limited edition to be presented in a box-pressed format, and the first to feature a ring gauge of 60. The super-premium, Habano Ecuador Marron Claro-wrapped cigar will retail for $18 for a single cigar or $288 for a box of 16. It will launch on March 22 with a limited production of 2,000 boxes available for the U.S. market. European and other markets will launch shortly thereafter.

2) C.L.E. Cigar Company this week announced the continuation of the Eiroa The First 20 line with the Eiroa The First 20 Colorado, which will begin shipping on April 3. The Colorado is a continuation of the Eiroa The First 20 Line that was officially launched in 2016. “I absolutely love the authentic Corojo seed and finally, after decades of trying, I finally have the exact Colorado color I have been looking for my entire career”, says Christian Eiroa. “I want to share these with guys that actually appreciate the work involved. We are not looking to make millions of these, just the right amount of cigars for the right people.” Each of the cigar’s four sizes will be packaged in boxes of 20 and retail in the $12.36 to $14.36 range.

3) Philip Morris thinks this is the future of tobacco: “To use an IQOS, you push a flavored packet of tobacco called a heatstick into the mouth of a tubular, pipelike holder, which is a bit smaller than a kazoo. When you press a button on the holder, it heats up a metal blade inside, which cooks the tobacco to roughly a third of the temperature of a traditional cigarette. Then you puff away. The tobacco is warmed without combusting, so it doesn’t release any fire, smoke, or ash… In between heatsticks, you holster the cyberpipe in a mobile charger, a smooth, palm-size contraption that calls to mind a cigarette pack mated with a smartphone and designed by Apple’s Jony Ive.”

4) Inside the Industry: Gurkha Cigars is expected to reveal a special edition 15-year Cellar Reserve cigar at the 2017 IPCPR Trade Show in Las Vegas. The cigar is intended to commemorate the Cellar Reserve’s 10-year anniversary. All that is known at this time is that the cigar will be featured in a “special vitola” and be packaged in a 50-count humidor box. “The Cellar Reserve was our very first brick and mortar exclusive cigar and it has had continued success and amazing ratings,” said Kaizad Hansotia, CEO of Gurkha Cigars. “This cigar speaks to the cigar lover and will be created to encompass everything that is loved of our signature cigar.”

5) From the Archives: People primarily think of four or five countries when it comes to cigars, but the list is far deeper. Last year, we counted down our top ten cigar countries (and noted some countries that could have made the list but missed the cut). Check out six through ten, then the top five.

6) Deal of the Week: The Tatuaje Reserva Broadleaf Collection is 100 cigars (ten each of ten sizes) all made in Miami. The $1,200 price tag makes it a major splurge purchase, but with only a limited number available, we wanted to highlight the availability of this rare item.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Avo Cigars

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.

Michael-Frey

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 StogieGuys.com 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.

FDA-cigars-large

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