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Weekly Cigar News Sampler: John Drew Brands Launch Party, NYC Anti-Tobacco Plans, LFD Invites You to Visit, and More

21 Apr 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 526th in the series.

John Drew Brands

1) On Wednesday, Florida-based retailer Corona Cigar Co. hosted a launch party for John Drew Brands and the spirits venture’s three inaugural products: Brixton Mash Destroyer (55% bourbon, 45% rum), Dove Tale Rum, and John Drew Rye. The event included DJ Maseo from De La Soul and rare Drew Estate cigars. “The movement that began on the production floor in Estelí, Nicaragua that changed premium cigars forever. From a broken down little green house with five employees to the second largest premium cigar maker in the world. Jonathan Drew Announces: John Drew Brands, a consumable start-up, bent on product development, mixed media, culture collaboration, and a reckless spirit to destroy,” reads the John Drew Brands website. Jonathan Drew announced his foray into the spirits industry in April 2016. Swisher International, Inc.—the largest cigar company in the world by volume—acquired Drew Estate in 2014. Two years later, Drew was named president and founder of Drew Estate and once again returned to occupy an executive operating role at the company he founded, including responsibility for the entire portfolio of brands.

2) This week New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced new anti-tobacco measures, including hiking prices/taxes ($13 per pack will be the minimum allowed for a pack of cigarettes) and limiting  the number of licensed tobacco retailers in the city. According to the New York Times: “The goal, Mr. de Blasio said, is to persuade or coerce 160,000 of the 900,000 New York City residents who smoke to stop doing so by 2020.”

3) Originally released in 2015, Blade and Bow Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey 22-Year-Old is being released in limited quantities next month. When it first came out, we wrote of the hard-to-find $150 bourbon: “Dark copper hue and one of the most fantastic noses I’ve ever encountered… The palate doesn’t quite live up to the high standard set by the aromas, but it does show off its age with deep wood, brown spices (clove, nutmeg, and cinnamon), figs, and burnt caramel. The finish is long with wood and more vanilla.”

4) Inside the Industry: La Flor Dominicana has announced the creation of its own tobacco farm and cigar factory tour in Santiago, Dominican Republic. The five-day itinerary includes a welcome dinner, premium hotel accommodations, factory tour, blending session, pig roast, farm excursion, and opportunities to take advantage of beach, golf, and spa amenities. Cigars will be included, not sold; airfare is not included. Trip availability and prices can be obtained by contacting ligero@lfdcigars.com.

5) From the Archives: Warm days were made for rum, whether you prefer light, dark, golden, or spiced. Here are five delicious concoctions you’ll want to try.

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 a mint julep set, 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 May shipment.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: John Drew Brands

Weekly Cigar News Sampler: BLTC Ships Bishops Blend, Unconventional Cigar Pairings, and More

14 Apr 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 526th in the series.

BLTC Bishops Blend

1) This week saw two announcements from Black Label Trading Co. (BLTC). The first, issued on Monday, concerned the shipment of the 2017 vintage of Bishops Blend. “It’s great to get Bishops Blend back in the market,” said BLTC creator James Brown. “This is a very special cigar. It is a representation of how I have grown as a cigar maker… The 2017 Bishops Blend has an extremely rich and sophisticated profile.” Bishops Blend is made at BLTC’s Fabrica Oveja Negra factory in Nicaragua and sports an Ecuador Habano Maduro wrapper, an Ecuador Habano binder, and filler tobaccos from Nicaragua, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania. Two sizes will be offered: Corona Larga (6.25 x 46, $10.50) and Robusto (5 x 48, $10.00). In addition to Bishops Blend, yesterday BLTC introduced the return of the Ecuador Habano Maduro-wrapped Last Rites Box Press Robusto (5 x 54, $10), which will debut on April 28 and be exclusive to R. Field Wine Co. in Honolulu.

2) NPR published a feature yesterday about how “cigar specialists” are working on unconventional cigar pairings as part of tobacco programs at luxury hotels and restaurants. It includes the tidbit that Tobacconist University is “currently developing a ‘certified cigar sommelier’ degree.” There’s also this: “Because a high pH level makes cigars fairly alkaline, [Mason] Foster [who works as a certified tobacconist at Bourbon Steak, a restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington, D.C.] relies on acidity to help balance the flavors, starting with consuming a tart candy, like Skittles, to neutralize the palate. Having only begun smoking cigars less than two years ago, the 25-year-old cigar sommelier has gone full-bore into his new passion, smoking a few cigars each day and going through some two pounds of Skittles or Starburst candies a week.”

3) In case you’ve missed it, bourbon has been experiencing a boom in recent years, with consumers (including quite a few cigar smokers) drinking it up in record amounts. High demand for your product is obviously what every company hopes for. That said, the problem for the bourbon industry is the product requires years to make, and ten or more years for many of the most sought-after brands. So what’s a bourbon producer to do? The anonymous BourbonTruth lays out the many imperfect options.

4) Inside the Industry: Crowned Heads’ Headley Grange Drumstick, their limited annual release, has begun arriving at retailers. One thousand boxes of ten in a lancero format (7.5 x 38, $9.90) are being released this year.

5) From the Archives: Hot, sweltering summer days can take a toll on your stogies if you aren’t prepared. Get your humidor in order with these tips.

6) Deal of the Week: For today only, here are 100 deals including cigars from Fuente, L’Atelier, E.P. Carrillo, Davidoff, Drew Estate, Tatuaje, 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: BLTC

Weekly Cigar News Sampler: Support Grows for Kentucky Smoking Ban, Cigar Dinner Raises $1.6 Million for Cancer Research, and More

7 Apr 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 525th in the series.

Kentucky Flag

1) Support is growing for a smoking ban in Kentucky, one of the nation’s largest tobacco-producing states. More than seven in ten people support a statewide ban, according to recent phone survey of adults. As reported by the Philadelphia Tribune: “Across the country, 27 states plus the District of Columbia have passed workplace smoking bans, with many more local governments also adopting bans. In Kentucky, 25 local governments have some kind of smoking ban, covering nearly 33 percent of the state’s more than 4.3 million residents…” Kentucky is notable in that “more people smoke… per capita than anywhere else in the country.” These statistics probably say more about cigarettes than premium cigars, but they nonetheless weigh heavily in public policy considerations that could impact cigars.

2) This week, Cigar Aficionado’s annual charity cigar dinner, Night to Remember, raised $1.6 million for prostate cancer awareness and research. The event took place at The Pool, a New York City restaurant where smoking is not permitted; however, a post-dinner smoking tent was made available outside on Park Avenue. Guests included Ray Lewis (formerly of the NFL), John Salley (formerly of the NBA), financier Michael Milken, Rudy Giuliani, and Rush Limbaugh. Marvin Shanken—publisher and founder of M. Shanken Communications, which owns Cigar Aficionado—said, “I haven’t added it all up exactly, but over the years, we’ve raised $20 million to $30 million for prostate cancer,” with most of these charitable donations coming from the cigar, wine, spirits, and financial industries.

3) Want to smoke one of Sir Winston Churchill’s cigars? You can, but it will cost you. Also, he smoked half of it already. In May 1947, Sir Winston left half a victory cigar behind at a Paris airport, and now, via an auction, it can be yours. But be prepared to drop £2,500 (at least), according to one report.

4) Inside the Industry: Tabacalera El Artista released details about a limited edition Big Papi by David Ortiz humidor. Each is adorned with David Ortiz’s autograph and filled with Big Papi by David Ortiz cigars, part of the remaining original production run from 2013. The limited edition piece carries a retail price of $2,500. The cigars feature an Ecuadorian Habano claro wrapper, Criollo binder, and Dominican and Nicaraguan filler in a toro vitola.

5) From the Archives: With spring heralding lovely weather, there’s no better time to enjoy a cigar in the park. You’ll find more about enjoying these urban oases here.

6) Deal of the Week: Fans of Mi Querida will want to jump on this deal. Use this link and, with the purchase of a box, you land a free five-pack of the Mi Quirida Short Gordo Grande. Add promo code “GBP20D” to knock $20 off the total for an even better deal.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Wikipedia

Weekly Cigar News Sampler: Lawmakers Target Military Tobacco Use, States Seek to Raise Minimum Age, and More

31 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 524th in the series.

Veterans Affairs Seal

1) Lawmakers have set their sights on tobacco use in the military. “Legislators held hearings Wednesday on the issue, with Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin lashing out at the Pentagon for not working hard enough to curb tobacco use among young servicemembers,” reports The Daily Caller. “On the House side, members of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs directed their attention to legislation that would target veterans, instead of the usual practice of slapping the Pentagon’s hand regarding tobacco consumption. This new legislation, forwarded by Republican Rep. Brad Wenstrup, would ban smoking inside any VA health facility. Additionally, the bill would ban outdoor smoking at VA medical centers by 2022.”

2) Famous Smoke Shop yesterday announced the debut of a new Cigar Smokers’ Rights Hub. According to a press release, the hub “presents cigar enthusiasts with a history of legal actions affecting the tobacco industry… and offers cigar smokers a detailed understanding of how FDA’s new regulations will negatively impact the premium cigar industry, and the legal challenges that have been mounted against the agency’s sweeping new rules.”

3) According to an article published by Cigar Aficionado on Wednesday, 24 states have “introduced some form of legislation this year that seeks to raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco to 21 years old. Currently, only Hawaii and California have enacted such laws, but the sheer amount of proposed legislation is an indication that more states could soon follow suit… The states where active legislation is threatening an age hike to 21 years old include Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Washington and West Virginia.”

4) Inside the Industry: Perhaps no cigar company has more offerings than General Cigar, which boasts a portfolio of about 5,000 SKUs and 300 blends. According to reports, around fifty of those are being discontinued this year. One notable cut is the elimination of the entire Charlie Toraño Captiva blend.

5) From the Archives: A great cigar shop is like an old friend. Here are some of the attributes that create a standout.

6) Deal of the Week: Tatuaje fans may be interested in this Tatuaje five-pack. The sampler features five classic Tatuaje blends (Red Label, Black Label, Cabaiguan, La Riqueza, and Tattoo) all in a size that’s not regular production (5.5 x 55). Buy two, or simply add another $30 in product to your purchase, and you can add coupon code “StogieDeal” to land a free triple-flame table lighter.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs

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