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Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 498

23 Sep 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.

california-flag

1) Among the choices facing California voters in November is the option to increase the cigarette tax by $2 per pack, with equivalent increases on other tobacco products, including cigars. A “yes” vote on Proposition 56 would increase the tax on cigars and pipe tobacco by 145% in the country’s most populous state. California Citizens Against Special Interests and Wasteful Taxes set up a website to encourage voters to reject the tax hike, calling Prop. 56 “a $1.4 billion tax hike grab by insurance companies and other wealthy special interests to dramatically increase their profits by shortchanging schools and ignoring other pressing problems.” Cigars are already taxed at a rate of 27.3% in California. “At a time when the California state budget has billions in surplus revenue, is this really the right time to be raising taxes—especially when the revenue will have no taxpayer accountability?” asked Tom Hudson, president of the California Taxpayer Protection Committee.

2) Greensboro, North Carolina, is the site of the latest Davidoff Lounge, this one a 2,000-square-foot space with “a modern design with industrial touches” inside Havana Phil’s Cigar Company. The grand opening was yesterday. According to a press release: “Davidoff commissioned NYC urban artists, UR New York, to create a one-of-a-kind art piece, depicting the fusion of Davidoff luxury and Greensboro’s local flavor. The lounge also features a filigree polygon ‘base jumper’ sculpture by artist Moto Waganari, offering interesting perspectives that will take viewers on an experiential journey from virtual art to reality. All decorative elements give this Davidoff Lounge a recognizable stamp of quality and luxury.”

3) Inside the Industry: Yesterday, multiple reports surfaced indicating Michael Giannini, creative director at General Cigar, was departing the company where he had worked since 2000. Giannini has held many positions at General over the years, including working with Ernesto Perez-Carrillo on La Gloria Cubana, and then becoming the face of the brand after Carrillo departed. In more recent years, he launched Foundry Cigar Company, which was described as a boutique operation within the General Cigar umbrella. Quotes from both parties suggest they part with mutual respect. Giannini also hinted he will soon reemerge in the cigar industry: “A musician knows when to stop playing when they don’t have any more songs… I’m not done playing,” he said.

4) From the Archives: If you’re a new cigar smoker, you may suffer from too much—or too little—advice. The simple act of attempting to enjoy a cigar can even become a source of worry, which is the last thing it should ever be. Back in 2013, we presented some suggestions to help beginners more easily find pleasure in the hobby.

5) Deal of the Week: New cigars continue to flow in at Smoke Inn. Now, any purchase of $75 or more includes a free triple-flame lighter valued at $50. To get it, just add the coupon code “StogieDeal” in your shopping cart before checking out.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Flickr

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 497

16 Sep 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.

new-jersey-state-house

1) A bill is moving through the New Jersey legislature that would decriminalize the establishment of new cigar lounges in the state. The General Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Committee recently passed the bill, which now moves to additional readings before potentially heading to the House floor for a vote. Interestingly, Reed Gusciora, a Democrat, is a primary sponsor of the bill, even though he considers himself “anti-smoking.” “Cigar smokers are a devoted and nuanced group of aficionados who gather and socialize in an environment that would be their own,” he told New Jersey 101.5. “This bill would give towns that want to expand their offerings and appeal to this niche market the option to do so. It would also create a new economic engine for entrepreneurs who want to cater to cigar enthusiasts, and give cigar smokers more places to go to and enjoy their hobby without affecting non-smokers.”

2) Pennsylvania-based online retailer Famous Smoke Shop has announced a new house blend that’s made by Plasencia Cigars S.A. in Estelí, Nicaragua. Called Seven Deadly Sins, it is the “brainchild” between Michael Vandenstockt, Famous’ vice president of operations and marketing, and Nestor Plasencia. Offered in all seven sins–Lust, Gluttony, Avarice, Sloth, Wrath, Envy, and Pride—each vitola has been given its own unique blend. As a whole, [the cigars] comprise filler and binder from Nicaragua, Honduras, Costa Rica, Brazil, Mexico, and Pennsylvania, while the wrappers… are from Nicaragua, Honduras, and Cameroon.”

3) This week the FDA announced 55 tobacco sellers nationwide who were receiving warning letters for reportedly selling newly regulated tobacco products to underage buyers. Of the products purchased, only two could be categorized as premium cigars, both flavored. The rest were mostly vaping products with some machine-made mass-market cigars. The FDA announcement did not say how many undercover stings it conducted where tobacco sellers appropriately asked for ID from the buyers.

4) Inside the Industry: In what would seem to qualify as a stealth cigar (i.e., a cigar released under-the-radar with little fanfare in order to get it on the market before the August 8 FDA deadline), one retailer is now selling Drew Dominicana by Drew Estate. Atlantic Cigar announced the addition in an email to customers Monday afternoon, but little is known, except that the cigar is made in the Dominican Republic by an undisclosed factory and comes in three blends with different wrappers: Maduro, Shade, and Rosado. (Although it is pure speculation, one potential source could be Royal Agio’s Dominican Factory where the Balmoral Añejo XO is made, as the company has a strong partnership with Drew Estate.) Also announced in the same email was the availability of Drew Estate Factory 2nds, with wrappers described as Connecticut Broadleaf, Connecticut Habano, and Sumatra Sungrown. To date, no details have come from Drew Estate about these blends.

5) From the Archives: Looking for a way to improve your palate? About three years ago, StogieGuys.com explored the unusual strategy of smoking two cigars at once. If you try alternating between two cigars that are relatively similar, the article notes, “you’ll be amazed at what flavors you can ‘discover’ in a cigar when searching for differences between two cigars that, smoked alone, would be described in very similar terms.”

6) Deal of the Week: Looking to try some (mostly) new cigars without committing to an entire box or even a five-pack? This 2016 Premium Sampler may be for you. Included in the 10-pack for $89 are such cigars as the Padrón Family Reserve No. 50 Natural, Caldwell Blind Man’s Bluff Toro, Avo Syncro Nicaragua Fogata Robusto, Gurkha Ghost Asura, New World Toro, PDR AFR-75 Maduro Sublime, and the Illusione Epernay Le Matin.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Flickr


Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 496

9 Sep 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.

davidoff-fsg

1) Drew Estate will apparently not have exclusive rights to the sun-grown Floridian tobacco produced by Jeff Borysiewicz, owner of the Orlando-area Corona Cigar stores. This week, Davidoff announced a cigar that will use his tobacco in a new limited edition release that commemorates Corona’s 20th anniversary. Sold exclusively at Corona’s three locations, the cigar will be a belicoso (6 x 52) with an Ecuadorian Connecticut Rojiza wrapper, a San Andrés binder, and filler tobaccos from the Dominican Republic and Florida. “We are very proud to be working with Davidoff and there is no way better to celebrate our 20-year milestone of becoming a leader in premium cigar retailing,” said Borysiewicz. “Our unique and exclusive Florida tobacco farm has truly allowed our company to come full circle as a premium cigar retailer, as well as the world’s only grower of prized Florida cigar tobacco. We are excited to be able to share with fellow aficionados this unique Davidoff cigar that is blended with our 2014 crop of heirloom Florida Sumatra-seed tobacco that was grown on our farm in Clermont, Florida.” Two years ago, StogieGuys.com broke the news that Borysiewicz was growing tobacco in Florida out of love of the leaf, and to avoid paying residential taxes on the land.

2) The second Burn by Rocky Patel cigar lounge will open in Pittsburgh, this one nearly twice the size of the original location in Naples, Florida. “Patel had always intended to expand the Burn concept to other cities like Washington DC and Las Vegas, but plans never came to fruition before now,” reports Cigar Aficionado. “As the second location, this marks the first expansion of Patel’s Burn concept. The venue features a complete portfolio of Rocky Patel cigars (plus third-party cigar brands), full bar, cocktail program, and food all set in a stylish, smoker-friendly nightclub environment.” The establishment is expected to be up and running by the spring. Patel is eyeing Indianapolis as the next potential Burn location.

3) Just in time for the kickoff of the NFL season, Nomad Cigar Co. is expanding distribution of the GB-19, a Candela-wrapped toro (6 x 60) that celebrates Nomad founder Fred Rewey’s favorite team, the Green Bay Packers. The cigar, which was previously relegated to mostly Wisconsin shops and retails for $10, is made at the Oveja Negra factory in Estelí with a green Honduran wrapper, an Ecuadorian binder, and filler tobaccos from Nicaragua.

4) Inside the Industry: MBombay announced the Vintage Reserve Lancero 1973. The yearly release weighs in at 8.5 inches long with a ring gauge of 38, and it features an Ecuadorian wrapper, Dominican binder, and filler tobacco from the Dominican Republic and Peru. Only 13,800 cigars are being made (500 boxes of 25).

5) From the Archives: In our Cigar Spirits articles, you’ll find everything from inexpensive, bottom-shelf bourbon to super-rare, high-end whiskey. Perhaps none we’ve written up is rarer than the A.H. Hirsch 16 Year Old Bourbon. In our article, we noted it is “refined and balanced with tons of oak and fruit and hints of mint, walnut, and maple syrup. The finish is long and spicy, with pepper, oak, and cedar.” At the time (2008), we also noted “two years ago bottles were available for around $80 [but today] expect to pay well over $100.” Now, in 2016, expect to pay around $2,000 to acquire a bottle.

6) Deal of the Week: In 2012, as part of the TAA exclusive offerings, My Father Cigars released the Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial TAA 2012. Even though it has been sold out for years, you now have a rare chance to acquire this limited edition cigar with four years of age. A box of 16 runs you $136.95 while supplies last.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Davidoff

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 495

2 Sep 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.

JetBlue

1) On Wednesday, for the first time in 50 years, a U.S. passenger airline completed a commercial flight to Cuba. The landing may go down as one of the enduring symbols of thawing diplomatic relations between Washington and Havana. “The JetBlue Airways Flight 387—with Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx on board—landed Wednesday in Santa Clara, Cuba,” reports Fortune. “Earlier this summer, the Transportation Department approved six U.S. passenger airlines including JetBlue and one all-cargo airline to serve cities in Cuba other than Havana. On Wednesday, the federal agency gave final approval for eight airlines to fly to Havana, including Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines, and United Airlines. The newly approved flights will provide service to Havana from Atlanta, Charlotte, Fort Lauderdale, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark, New York City, Orlando, and Tampa, Foxx said in a blog post about the historic flight.” In order to make the trip to Cuba, however, Americans must still cite a reason other than tourism, such as family visits, journalistic activity, religion, or educational activities. And, yes, there are cigar-centric tours that seem to qualify under the educational category.

2) Chicago tobacconist Hyde Park Cigars has been announced as the exclusive retailer of the new Drew Estate Liga Privada No. 9 Pork Beli (4.7 x 50). When it officially launches in the fall, the belicoso-sized smoke will boast a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper, Brazilian Mata Fina binder, and filler tobaccos from Honduras and Nicaragua. “When I noticed that the name of this special yearly release was ‘Pork Beli,’ I called my dear friend Pete Johnson, and asked his permission for use of the name, as he already has a Pork Tenderloin and Chop,” said Jonathan Drew. “He was cool, as always, a class act.”

3) Even though the FDA regulations on cigars went into effect weeks ago, the FDA is only beginning to issue guidance on how the industry will need to comply. One such guidance was issued this week on warning label requirements for cigars, although the agency is asking for public comments on the rules.

4) Inside the Industry: Nomad Cigar Company announced the expansion of the SA-17 Lancero to additional retailers. The cigar (7 x 38) was blended and rolled in Estelí at Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez, and it features a San Andrés wrapper and Nicaraguan binder and filler. It comes in 21-count boxes and sells for $9.75.

5) From the Archives: Even the best cigar can be ruined by a bad cut. So read our tip on getting a proper cut. In it, we walk you though how to pick the proper cut for each cigar.

6) Deal of the Week: StogieGuys.com recommends Bespoke Post, a monthly collection of awesome items delivered to your door for just $45. Past boxes include fine bar accessories, shaving kits, coffee, exclusive E.P. Carrillo cigars, and more. You can skip or purchase every month. Currently available are boxes with themes including beer tasting, pretzel making, Asian cooking, and pizza making. Click here to sign up today.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Financial Times

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 494

26 Aug 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.

El Reloj

1) In a press release distributed on Monday, J.C. Newman—the oldest family-owned cigar maker in the U.S.—announced its new boutique cigar division. The J.C. Newman Fourth Generation Cigar Company, as it is called, began shipping three lines to retailers last week: The American, Admiration, and The 1954. All of the cigars are handmade at J.C. Newman’s El Reloj factory in Ybor City (pictured above). The American has a Florida sun-grown wrapper and is available in four sizes. Admiration is a “bright, bold cigar that marries classic American and New World Nicaraguan tobaccos.” Both will be sold in the ultra-premium $16 to $18 price range. The 1954, which commemorates the year company founder Julius Caeser Newman moved operations to Tampa, will be sold in one size (6.25 x 42). “Our family and so many others make wonderful cigars overseas,” said Drew Newman. “With the J.C. Newman Fourth Generation Cigar Company, our goal is to prove that world-class cigars with unique, heirloom American tobaccos can be hand-rolled in America once again.”

2) Officials in Dallas will soon vote on whether to ban outdoor smoking at all of the city’s parks. “The park board has been working on this ban proposal since November 2014. The proposal will go to the council for a full vote within the next 30 days, at which point exceptions could be added back to the proposed amendment by council members opposed to the outright ban,” reports the Dallas Morning News. While the Park and Recreation Board moved to push forward the proposal with no exemptions, “several council members said they weren’t on board with the ban, calling it unenforceable and nothing more than the nanny state in action.”

3) Although Americans can now legally purchase Cuban cigars while abroad, and can even import up to $100 worth of Cuban cigars when returning from traveling on a visa to Cuba, not everyone has updated their policies. Forbes contributor Nathaniel Parish Flannery found his PayPal account frozen when he reimbursed a friend for a cigar purchased and smoked in Mexico. While PayPal should surely update their policies so as not to flag perfectly legal purchases, it would be wise to not mention cigars at all when transferring funds via PayPal.

4) Inside the Industry: Prometheus has announced the fall 2016 Fuente Aged Selection. In commemoration of the 20th anniversary of Fuente Fuente OpusX, an interview book with Carlos “Carlito” Fuente Jr. and 20 Years of Fuente Fuente OpusX will be released. The book will be presented with four Fuente Fuente Forbidden X cigars and six rare vintage Fuente Aged Selection cigars. The price, which will be substantial, has not yet been announced.

5) From the Archives: Last year Steve Saka’s long-anticipated Sobremesa debuted. This year he has a host of new offerings. If you want some insight into those new blends, check out this interview with Saka last year.

6) Deal of the Week: Over the years, West Palm Beach retailer Smoke Inn has partnered with some of the biggest names in the cigar industry to create exclusive cigars for its Microblend collection. If you missed any of those cigars, some of which haven’t been sold for years, you can now obtain the entire collection. Grab yours here.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Tampa Bay Times

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 493

19 Aug 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.

JudgeMehta102715_crop1) The cigar industry can cheer what is the first of hopefully many wins in lawsuits challenging the Food and Drug Administration’s tobacco regulations. This week U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta (pictured at right) 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,” reports Reuters. Judge Mehta did find, however, that changing the quantity of cigarettes included in a product does amount to a change that would require the new product to submit to FDA approval. 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) On Wednesday, Patrick S was interviewed on KOH 780 AM, a news talk radio station in Reno, Nevada. The conversation, which focused the FDA regulation of cigars, is an excellent resource if you’re looking for the basics and need to get up to speed. You can listen to his segment here (beginning at the 20-minute mark).

3) In partnership with expert tobacconists and mixologists, and in association with Cigar & Spirits magazine, online retailer Famous Smoke Shop has released a new cigar and spirit pairing guide. The interactive tool helps determine recommendations on what cigars to pair with different spirits. Once you get your suggested pairing, there are recommended articles to read, including an article from StogieGuys.com.

4) Inside the Industry: One of the more anticipated new releases from Tatuaje is the Reserva Broadleaf Collection, which consists of 100 cigars, 10 of each size. The collection features Brown Label blends with a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper. In addition to the six original Brown Label sizes, also included are the Tatuaje Reserva SW, Tatuaje Reserva J21, the new Tatuaje K222, and the Tatuaje Cojonu 2003. The 100-count collection retails for $1,200. As Tatuaje owner Pete Johnson noted to us in an email ahead of the release, to differentiate the original Reserva blends (which use an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper) from the Broadleaf versions, you’ll start to see “Broadleaf” noted on secondary bands.

5) From the Archives: In 10 years, only 53 cigars have earned our highest rating of five out of five stogies. What was the first? The Davidoff Grand Cru No. 3. The review praised the cigar’s “explosion of delicate toasty notes, particularly hints of sweet hay… [with a blend of tobaccos that] yielded a unique, harmonious flavor pleasing to the whole palate.”

6) Deal of the Week: Just $27 will land you this Lucky 7 Sampler. Included are three each of the Alec Bradley American Sun Grown and Oliva Serie O, plus a Punch Gran Puro, and a free cutter thrown in for good measure. Be sure to add the coupon code “stogie” for 10% off.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Wikipedia

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 492

12 Aug 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.

FDA-cigars-large

1) The Food and Drug Administration’s cigar regulations officially took effect on Monday. While the full impact of the rules will take years to see, several notable cigar makers voiced their perspectives this week, including Skip Martin of RoMa Craft Tobac: “…We are, at this time, unable to determine exactly what the consequences of this regulation will be on our industry, on our businesses, and on our passion for premium cigars,” he opined on Facebook. “Most of what you read is worst-case scenario. The reality is likely more positive… It is my personal observation that the misinformation and hyperbole has created an environment of fear and negativity that is counter-productive and detrimental to our business.” Meanwhile, Rafael Nodal of Boutique Blends Cigars sent around an email to update his “friends, retailers, and associates” about his company’s approach: “As a company, we have spent hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars preparing for this, and since we have navigated the regulatory maze before [Nodal comes from the healthcare industry], we know it is not going to be easy, but we also know that with detailed preparation, detailed documentation, implementation of strict protocols, and continued updates of our policies and procedures, we can survive. Until now, the FDA preparation has been done by our core staff. We are now staffing regulatory personnel to coordinate compliance with our outside consultants, suppliers, as well as our attorneys.” Finally, Fred Rewey of the Nomad Cigar Company had this to say: “…Although the immediate ramifications to the consumer seem light, the process has started behind the scenes, and it is an ugly battle… I am proud of the reputation of both the brand and me personally. No B.S. Don’t cut corners and try and make the best cigars you can. That said, all is not doom and gloom. I plan on staying. Whether I continue to go it alone, or partner with someone else, I am just not sure. I am open to the mechanics, but not open to sacrificing one thing that you have grown to expect out of Nomad.”

2) Seemingly in an effort to capitalize on the Pokémon Go craze, Gurkha is organizing a cigar scavenger hunt in Miami on Saturday, September 10. Pre-registration is required but free. The event will start at Village Humidor and take participants to several cigar locales throughout the city, culminating in an award ceremony where the winner will receive one of box of cigars each month for one year.

3) Inside the Industry: While many cigar companies significantly increased their announcement of new cigars at this year’s IPCPR Trade Show in light of the FDA, General Cigar’s debuts, while numerous, were in line with the number of new releases the outfit had featured at previous shows. Among the highlights were CAO Consigliere, a return of the original CAO Sopranos blend at a slightly lower price point now that the licensing agreement with The Sopranos has ended. Another interesting debut was the Hoyo La Amistad, produced in partnership with A.J. Fernandez, who makes the cigar in Nicaragua with an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper and binder from his Nicaraguan farms. Also new from General Cigar are two La Gloria Maduro offerings: La Gloria Cubana Serie R Estelí Maduro, which features a Broadleaf wrapper, and La Gloria Cubana Serie R Black Maduro, which is an internet and catalog exclusive.

4) From the Archives: It’s hard to believe, but it has been over eight years since the launch of Cigar Rights of America. At the time, the organization’s  stated goals were to “fight unjustified tax increases and halt smoking bans.” As became necessary, however, on the federal level much of CRA’s attention quickly turned to the FDA regulations that were authorized by Congress only weeks after the organization’s establishment.

5) Deal of the Week: Every cigar smoker has good reason to join Cigar Rights of America, or renew/extend their current membership. If you want to smoke excellent, exclusive cigars while you do so, consider purchasing this Cigar Rights of America Limited Edition Sampler. Each sampler includes a CRA membership (you can also use it to renew your existing membership) with ten exclusive, high-end cigars. As a bonus, use the code “Stogie10” to save $10 (knocking the price down to $90).

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Stogie Guys