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Weekly Cigar News Sampler: Royal Agio Ends U.S. Distribution Agreement with Drew Estate, H. Upmann Robustos Añejados Announced, and More

8 Dec 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 557th in the series.

1) Royal Agio Cigars and Drew Estate are expected to terminate part of their distribution agreement on Monday, December 18. “The two companies joined forces globally on April 1, 2014 with Drew Estate distributing Royal Agio Cigars’ products in the United States, and Royal Agio distributing Drew Estate products in key European markets, such as Holland, France, Belgium and Germany,” reads a press release. Going forward, while Royal Agio will continue to distribute Drew Estate in Europe, Drew Estate will no longer distribute Royal Agio in the U.S.—Royal Agio will now manage its own U.S. distribution. The move signals Royal Agio’s “strengthening commitment to the U.S. market,” which is underscored by the opening of its new U.S headquarters in Bradenton, Florida. “We are grateful for the enthusiastic support and significant contributions made on behalf of the Drew Estate organization that have helped improve distribution and awareness for our premium cigar brands over the past three and a half years,” said George Margioukla, President of Royal Agio U.S.A. “Thanks in large part to these efforts, Royal Agio Cigars is now in a position to strengthen our U.S. presence and enhance direct support for our highly-valued trade partners and consumers.” The Royal Agio portfolio includes the premium handmade Balmoral brand, as well as two cigarillo brands: Mehari’s and Panter.

2) Habanos, S.A. has announced H. Upmann Robustos Añejados (4.9 x 50)—a new Cuban cigar that has been aged for five to eight years—will be available at international retailers in the coming weeks. It “does not exist in the standard portfolio of the [H. Upmann] brand,” but instead joins four other Cuban cigars in the Añejados portfolio: Romeo y Julieta Pirámides Añejados, Montecristo Churchill, Partagás Corona Gorda Añejados, and the Hoyo de Monterrey Hermosos No. 4.

3) Inside the Industry: The cigar industry lost a legend this week when José Orlando Padrón passed away. If you’re looking for more information about his life, his memoir is for sale with proceeds going to the Padrón’s charitable foundation. Also, check out this 2006 New York Times profile and this interview from 1998.

4) From the Archives: One of the first cigars we ever gave a top rating to (way back in 2006) was the Padrón Serie 1926 No. 6.

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

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Royal Agio Cigars

Weekly Cigar News Sampler: Nomad Expands Fin de los Mundos, A Cigar Guide for Beginners, and More

1 Dec 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 557th in the series.

1) Nomad Cigar Co. is increasing the reach of Fin de los Mundos, a Pennsylvania Broadleaf-wrapped cigar line that was launched in 2016 but, to date, has been limited to a few exclusive retailers. “Fin de los Mundos, or ‘End of the Worlds,’ is Nomad’s most recent (and strongest) blend in an already extensive portfolio,” reads a press release. “It comes in four sizes and is the second time [Nomad creator Fred] Rewey has used Pennsylvania Broadleaf wrapper… In true Nomad fashion, Fin de los Mundos is a complex blend utilizing fillers from three different countries and was created and rolled at Fabrica Oveja Negra in Estelí, Nicaragua.” The four sizes retail in the $9.25-$9.75 range: Corona Gordo (5.5 x 48), Robusto (5 x 50), Shorty (4 x 54), and Toro (6 x 50). An expansion launch party is planned for Underground Cigar in Ft. Worth, Texas, tomorrow.

2) Online retailer Famous Smoke Shop has launched The Beginner’s Guide to Cigar Smoking. The site features tips for novices, suggestions to help develop your palate, pairing guides, and recommendations for cigar collecting and storage. There are plenty of videos and, frankly, tons of solid info for beginners and cigar veterans alike. Check it out here.

3) Ever get in a debate about whether Jack Daniel’s is a bourbon? Here is the answer (even if you may not find it satisfying).

4) Inside the Industry: According to Cigar Aficionado, Altadis is preparing to release Montecristo Epic Craft Cured. The cigar uses a Nicaraguan wrapper grown in 2006 around a blend of filler and binder representing all four major growing areas of Nicaragua. It is made at the Plasencias’ Nicaragua factory and will come in boxes of ten with a suggested retail price of around $15 for each of the three sizes.

5) From the Archives: Take the time to smoke. Seriously. Don’t rush your cigars to get the most out of them.

6) Deal of the Week: StogieGuys.com recommends Bespoke Post, a monthly collection of awesome items (think fine bar accessories, hot sauce kits, wine, workout gear, exclusive cigars, and more) delivered for just $45. Once you are signed up there is no obligation; you can skip or purchase every month. Sign up here to be eligible for the December box; the “Churchill” box features four cigars, an ashtray made of reclaimed wood, an odor-eating candle, cedar spills, and a cutter.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Nomad Cigar Co.

Weekly Cigar News Sampler: Altadis Teams Up with Crowned Heads, New Davidoff Lounge in West Palm Beach, and More

17 Nov 2017

As we have since July 2006, each Friday we’ll post our sampling of cigar news and other items of interest from the week. Below is our latest, which is the 556th in the series.

1) Cigar giant Altadis U.S.A. has partnered with Nashville-based boutique outfit Crowned Heads to announce Montecristo Ciudad de Música, a new cigar line that celebrates the “lively spirit of Nashville.” The blend recipe includes an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, Nicaraguan binder, and filler tobaccos from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. “The challenge for us was in taking such an iconic brand as Montecristo and putting our fingerprints on it all the while respecting the tradition and legacy that’s existed in the Montecristo brand since 1935,” said Crowned Heads co-founder Jon Huber. The four sizes—Robusto, Corona Gorda, Sublime, and Piramide—are expected to be available later this year and will retail in the $11.95-$16 range (Piramide will be exclusive to Casa de Montecristo locations). Production is 25,000 cigars in each size for a total run of 100,000.

2) Raising taxes on tobacco creates a black market. That’s why it doesn’t come as a surprise that New York City, with nearly $5 of local and state tax per pack of cigarettes (on top of significant federal taxes), is now the “cigarette smuggling capital of the nation” according to a report by the Tax Foundation.

3) Whiskey is popular here in the U.S. and overseas, and thieves in France took notice. This week the popular Maison du Whisky in Paris was broken into, with the bandits walking away with 69 bottles valued at nearly $800,000, including one bottle valued at over $200,000.

4) Inside the Industry: Today is the grand opening of the new Davidoff Lounge at Smoke Inn in West Palm Beach, Florida. The 14,000 square foot space features “Asian-inspired modern design, with industrial touches,” according to a press release. “Tobacco barns and traditions of the Dominican Republic influence a palette of natural materials, structure, and warm décor—a design delivering a balance of varying materials and architectural features to create a sanctuary of luxury for cigar aficionados to enjoy.” Abe Dababneh of Smoke Inn posted the following to Facebook on Wednesday: “By far the longest project I have ever been involved in finally comes to an end. I dedicate this shop to all the amazing patrons who have embraced our [West Palm Beach] location for the past 17 years! I hope this new store makes for many, many more years of great memories to come. Don’t miss our grand opening celebration… Incredible deals all day and complimentary hors d’ oeuvres and champagne from 6-9 PM.”

5) From the Archives: For almost a decade, we’ve shared what we plan to smoke after Thanksgiving. Here’s a list of our nearly 30 past selections. Be on the lookout for our 2017 Thanksgiving cigar selections next week.

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

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Altadis / Crowned Heads

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

10 Nov 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Drew Estate

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

3 Nov 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Facebook

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

27 Oct 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Facebook

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

20 Oct 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Puro Sabor