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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

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 506

18 Nov 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.

Sam Leccia

1) Sam Leccia (pictured above) of Leccia Tobacco has launched an online store where consumers and retailers can purchase his products directly. “Since taking over the distribution of my products, I wanted to offer both retailers and consumers a user-friendly experience for buying Leccia Tobacco cigars,” said Leccia in a press release. The release provides further details: “In addition to Leccia tobacco, the store offers other boutique cigar lines to which Sam has a personal affinity, signature Leccia gear, and cigar accessories. A Roll-Your-Own kit is in the works for those who want to try their hand at rolling cigars. New items arrive in-store regularly… [along with] limited small batch cigars… [and] one-off blends.” The store can be found at Leccia-Tobacco.com. Sam Leccia is best-known for pioneering Nub—a concept that was copied widely—and, before setting out on his own, working with Oliva, Toraño (his former distributor), and General Cigar.

2) Here’s some random advice: Don’t order from CigarStorehouse.com. The site features unbelievably low prices—as much as 50% lower than what you’ll normally find at other sites. But it has a “low trust rating” from ScamAdviser.com. Cigarstorehouse.com has been around for a while and has generated complaints and warnings on cigar forums. Although it lists a U.S. address, questions have been raised about possible links to a Chinese operation. One of the biggest red flags: requesting payment via Western Union. That’s a sure sign, say scam-watchers, that you’re unlikely to get what you ordered. We haven’t gotten a reply to an email sent through the site’s contact form. We’ll let you know if that changes.

3) From the Archives: Almost everyone likes to save a buck at least every now and then. We’ve been helping cigar smokers make wise tobacco purchases for years. Here are five tips that are just as relevant today as when we published them back in 2010.

4) 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: Leccia Tobacco

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 505

11 Nov 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.

giuliani

1) In addition to the three anti-cigar ballot initiatives that were defeated on Election Day, Donald Trump’s win over Hillary Clinton breathed some life into hopes of stifling damaging cigar regulations. Trump’s running mate, Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN), was a co-sponsor of H.R. 1639 to protect the premium cigar industry from FDA regulation when he served in the U.S. House of Representatives. Trump hasn’t yet made a public statement on cigar regulation specifically, though he has called regulatory reform a “cornerstone” of his administration, and has noted he will impose “a temporary moratorium on all new regulation… and a thorough review to identify and eliminate unnecessary regulations that kill jobs and bloat government.” Furthermore, it is widely expected that cigar smoker Rudolph Giuliani (seen above with cigar maker Rocky Patel at Cigar Aficionado’s Big Smoke event in 2013) will assume an influential cabinet positon. According to Cigar Rights of America (CRA): “While it is expected that the new administration will be inundated with affairs regarding assembling a new government and legislative priorities for the opening of the 115th Congress, CRA is pleased to see the commitment that Donald Trump and Mike Pence have already made to regulatory reform. We look forward to working with the administration to address issues concerning regulation and the premium cigar industry.”

2) Officials in Dallas have criminalized smoking in parks starting March 1. Exemptions were carved out for golf courses, a shooting range, and park events (like the State Fair). Fines for offenders could run up to $200, but enforcement is not clear; according to the Dallas Observer, Parks Department Director Willis Winters cited “‘voluntary compliance’ and ‘peer-to-peer enforcement’ as the solutions.”

3) Inside the Industry: Last month, Christian Eiroa’s Tabacaleras Unidas announced it would be taking over distribution of Puros Indios and Cuba Aliados. This week, shipping of the two brands, both created by the late Rolando Reyes Sr., began under the new arrangement.

4) From the Archives: With presidential politics in the spotlight, it is worth revisiting a recent piece we published on Obama’s legacy when it comes to cigars. As the article notes, despite his recent actions on Cuba, “Obama is no friend of cigars” due to his tax increases and, most importantly, the arbitrary and devastating FDA regulation.

5) Deal of the Week: This weekly deal from Smoke Inn features 10 cigars for just $30. Included are cigars that have a combined suggested retail price of over $90. The featured sticks include the Murcielago Nocturne, Ortega Natural No. 10, Joya Red Robusto, Blind Man’s Bluff Magnum, Swag Black Infamous, La Aurora Maduro Preferido No. 3, Vegafina Corona, Prensado Robusto, and Oktoberfest Das Boot.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Wall Street Journal

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 504

4 Nov 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) Serious Cigars, a four-location retailer in Texas that also operates an online shop, has been acquired by Tabacalera USA, the U.S. premium cigar division of Imperial Brands PLC, a global tobacco conglomerate that includes Altadis U.S.A. and JR Cigar. As part of the acquisition, Tabacalera USA has created Casa de Montecristo, Inc.—a division that will focus on the management of the various Casa de Montecristo locations. Eventually, the four Serious Cigar stores in Texas will be known as Casa de Montecristo by Serious Cigars. “Ron and JeanneMarie Lesseraux founded Serious Cigars as a small online retail business in 1996,” reports the Houston Business Journal. “They opened their first location near Willowbrook Mall in December 2003 and have since opened three other locations in the Galleria area, near George Bush Intercontinental Airport and in Webster. The Lesserauxes will remain with the company to help with the transition, and no major changes are expected for Serious Cigars’ stores or website, according to a Nov. 2 press release.”

2) Inside the Industry: If you have an extra $25,000 laying around, you can cash in on one of five 50-count Oro Blanco Special Reserve 2002 cigars from Davidoff. What makes this cigar worth $500 apiece? “The Oro Blanco Special Reserve 2002 is like no other cigar,” according to an email circulated by Davidoff yesterday. “The tobaccos used to craft it will be used for Oro Blanco alone. No other cigar will ever–ever–use the same tobacco. The experience of enjoying an Oro Blanco will therefore be like nothing else aficionados have ever known.” Each batch of 50 must be specially ordered at a Davidoff Flagship store.

3) From the Archives: Maybe the worst sight you can see when you open your humidor is a cigar with a beetle hole. But if it happens to you, don’t panic. Our tip from 2010 shows how to mitigate a potential beetle outbreak.

4) 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: Serious Cigars

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 503

28 Oct 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.

blanco

1) Yesterday, Cigar Aficionado reported the exclusive news—which was then widely disseminated throughout social media and on cigar websites—that José Blanco will become the new senior vice president of EPC Cigar Co., the premium cigar company owned by Ernesto Perez-Carrillo. In that capacity, he will focus on building out a sales force for EPC in the U.S. Meanwhile, Las Cumbres Tabaco, which includes the Señorial and Freyja brands, will be majority owned and operated by Blanco’s wife, Emma Viktorsson, who will work out of Macedonia to build distribution in both Europe and the U.S. The brands will continue to be manufactured at Tabacalera Palma in the Dominican Republic. Blanco launched Las Cumbres in 2014 after serving as vice president of Joya de Nicaragua. Before that, he was the sales director for La Aurora. He cites impending FDA regulations as the primary reason for the change. “The uncertainty behind the FDA’s rules is the main reason,” Blanco told Cigar Aficionado. “They are not making the terms clear and making business very difficult.”

2) The Wall Street Journal recently weighed in on the FDA clarification that cigar companies are no longer allowed to donate cigars to troops. “It would be hard to find a man or woman in uniform who doesn’t know that smoking is risky,” reads the editorial. “Then again so is combat. Meanwhile, the ban on cigar donations takes away the ability of these adults to make their own choices, contrary to President Obama’s explicit promise.” Duncan Hunter (R-CA) “says he’ll try to overturn the cigar-donation ban with an amendment to the next defense authorization bill. But he adds that the FDA’s overreach has given Congress good cause to take a fresh hard look at the FDA’s overall tobacco rule. Members are likely to find that it is less a genuine health measure than another government power grab.”

3) The book we called “spectacular” in a review earlier this year is on sale at a bargain price. The Cigar – Moments of Pleasure is available at Amazon and Cigars International for only $20, about a third of the original $59 list price. It’s a great gift for any cigar lover.

4) Inside the Industry: Drew Estate and Pappy & Company have announced the release of the Pappy Drew Limitada (4.9 x 60). The cigar is only available to those who purchase a box of each of the three regular Pappy Van Winkle cigars (Robusto, Toro, and Churchill). It sports an overstuffed perfecto shape similar to the Feral Pig.

5) From the Archives: Back in 2011, as part of our interview with cigar maker A.J. Fernandez, we observed “[A.J.] may be the best cigar maker you haven’t heard of. But not for long.” The years since have only validated that statement, which makes the interview worth a read now in light of how prolific Fernandez has been.

6) Deal of the Week: This week’s deal is a special sampler we personally selected. The contents highlight cigars we enjoyed years ago and 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: Las Cumbres

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 502

21 Oct 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.

rubio

1) Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) visited the J.C. Newman Cigar Co. headquarters in Tampa on Wednesday to express contempt for FDA regulations on premium cigars and garner “news coverage… in a major media market along the Interstate 4 corridor as he’s locked in a contentious election against U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, a Jupiter Democrat,” reports the Tampa Bay Times. “This is a law that was passed to keep cigarettes and harmful tobacco products out of the hands of young people and children, and I don’t think any of us disagree with that. Anybody who knows about the premium cigar industry knows it’s not an industry that targets or is consumed by young Americans,” he told reporters. “The end result and the worst-case scenario is about half the people working here in Tampa will lose their jobs at some point, maybe more, because all they’re going to be able to sell is the things they were making before 2007.” Both Rubio and Murphy support congressional efforts to exempt premium cigars from harmful FDA oversight.

2) A little more than three years after launching Fratello Cigars, owner Omar de Frias has decided to leave his decade-plus career at NASA to focus full-time on his cigar operation. “I set an aggressive goal for myself at [this summer’s industry trade show]. I exceeded that goal. Given the enormous support I received and increasing demand for Fratello, this was the time to give the cigar industry the extra 50 hours a week I was spending on our nation’s space program,” said de Frais in a press release. “Although it is a tumultuous time for our industry, I have confidence in the staying power of my brand and the relationships I have worked so hard to build with our retailers and consumers.” Fratello Cigars can now be found in over 350 tobacconists in the U.S. and in 7 countries.

3) To regular StogieGuys.com readers, the FDA’s anticipated impacts on the premium cigar industry are as well-documented as they are frightening. Yet the American craft beer industry—now 2,300 craft breweries strong—is also reeling under pressure from the cumbersome bureaucracy. A new book from lawyer Baylen J. Linnekin entitled Biting the Hands That Feed Us, and highlighted in Men’s Journal, details “the unforeseen consequences of FDA rules and regulations that… can put unnecessary pressure on artisanal food producers and encourage waste in the system that gets food from the farm to you.” Of particular interest is “a proposed rule… for how brewers handle the byproducts of making beer that just about everyone in the industry found absurd and business-killing costly.” Read about it here.

4) Inside the Industry: Although technically introduced at the IPCPR Trade Show this summer, Miami Cigar & Co. formally announced the national distribution of the Nestor Miranda Collection Corojo this week. The new blend comes in four sizes with suggested retail prices ranging from $7.50 to $9.50. The blend joins the Connecticut, Habano, and Maduro blends in the Nestor Miranda Collection.

5) From the Archives: With last week’s news that Americans traveling abroad can finally import Cuban cigars for personal consumption, now is a good time to revisit this 2008 commentary: Is the Cuban Cigar Hype Justified? Conclusion: “Make no mistake about it, Castro’s oppressed island nation produces some fine stogies, from the Partagas Serie D No. 4 and the RyJ Short Churchill to the Cohiba Siglo VI and the Monte Petit Edmundo… I personally question whether all the Cuban cigar hype—and the excessive prices that come with black market goods—is justified. I think many of us give sub-par Cubans a pass simply because we’re not supposed to smoke them. The forbidden factor unquestionably makes them more attractive.”

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 and 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: Flickr