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Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 434

12 Jun 2015

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.

Fidel Castro in 19781) The Wall Street Journal recently ran an interesting piece on Fidel Castro, which provides some insight at a time when the Obama Administration is normalizing relations with Havana. The info comes from Juan Reinaldo Sánchez, a former member of Castro’s security detail for nearly two decades—and later a prisoner of Castro’s—who defected to the U.S. and died shortly after publishing a “The Double Life of Fidel Castro.” The article reads: “The legend of Castro as a great revolutionary who sacrifices for his people is preserved by keeping the details about his life a state secret. Sánchez’s account shows the real Castro: vengeful, self-absorbed, and given to childish temper tantrums… Sánchez witnessed firsthand Castro’s indifference to Cuban poverty. The comandante gave interminable speeches calling for revolutionary sacrifice. But he lived large, with a private island, a yacht, some 20 homes across the island, a personal chef, a full-time doctor, and a carefully selected and prepared diet. When a Canadian company offered to build a modern sports-facility for the nation, Castro used the donation for a private basketball court. Wherever he traveled in the world, his bed was dismantled and shipped ahead to ensure the comfort he demanded.”

2) Altadis, which has extensive tobacco operations in the Dominican Republic, is calling the 2014-2015 Dominican tobacco harvest “remarkable.” Sufficient rain overall, coupled with dry period, has resulted in thicker leaves, and light rain and cooler temperatures during the curing process provided ideal humidity levels. “Compared to previous years, the current crop has benefited from generous conditions throughout the year. Experts believe this year’s Dominican tobacco crop will qualify as a very unique and distinctive harvest, achieving both quality (strength and flavor) and crop size.”

3) Inside the Industry: More details have emerged about the new Davidoff cigar, which will be called Escurio. The line will feature a dark Ecuadorian Habano wrapper and a Brazilian binder around a combination of Brazilian and Dominican fillers.

4) Deal of the Week: The Smoke Inn Spring Fun Pack seems like the perfect accessory for summer fun at the beach, on the golf course, or tailgating a concert or sporting event. Just $65 lands you 20 Smoke Inn house cigars, plus a cooler bag to keep your drinks ice cold and a Xikar torch lighter.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Flickr

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 433

5 Jun 2015

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.

Tom Wolf1) On Monday, Pennsylvania legislators unanimously rejected Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s (pictured) tax plan that would have increased the state’s excise tax on cigars from 0% to 40%. “Republicans and Democrats had much different reasons for voting against it,” according to the Washington Times, and cigar rights were never a central issue in the debate. Still, this is a win for cigar smokers nationwide—at least until a new cigar tax is proposed in the Keystone State. As we reported in May, “Pennsylvania’s zero tax rate on handmade cigars has made it a magnet for cigar retailers. This has in turn impacted the way cigars are sold and taxed in other states in ways that benefit both retailers and consumers.”

2) Starting June 27, Black Label Trading Company (BLTC) will make available its second release of Morphine, a blend that debuted in 2014. “After playing with the blend at the new factory [Fabrica Oveja Negra in Estelí] we decided to change things up a bit. The filler blend is now 100% Nicaraguan… All vitolas still have the signature double wrapper of Ecuador Maduro and Mexican San Andrés Maduro.” Production is only 100 boxes per size (Corona Gorda, Lancero, and Robusto).

3) Inside the Industry: After a one-year hiatus, Viaje is bringing back three summer releases: TNT, C-4, and Summerfest. Viaje used to rely exclusively on the Raices Cubanas factory, but that has been changing lately. TNT and C-4 are now being made at the Pinar del Rio factory in the Dominican Republic, while Summerfest is being made at the TABSA factory (where many brands formerly made at Raices Cubanas have been locating their new production).

4) Deal of the Week: This five-cigar sampler features five intersting smokes for just $26 (free shipping included). Included are that Curivari El Gran Rey Prominentes, Psycho Toro, Cain Maduro 464T, Hex Figurado, and Oliva Serie O Perfecto.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Flickr

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 432

29 May 2015

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 Orleans1) Only weeks after criminalizing smoking in bars, restaurants, and casinos, officials in New Orleans have set their sights on banning smoking in city parks. According to WDSU: “’It’s something we are looking into,’ said City Park Board President Susan Hess. The idea was discussed at the board’s Tuesday night meeting. Hess said Councilwoman Susan Guidry, who is one of the 35 board members, has asked the board to explore its options. ‘We will be forming a committee soon, but we can’t really say anything at this point, because it’s just too early,’ said Hess.” In July, New Orleans is set to host the annual International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association Trade Show (smoking will still be permitted on the convention floor). This will be the first Trade Show since IPCPR announced it was moving its headquarters from Georgia to Washington, DC. The last time the event was held in New Orleans was 2010.

2) The ABC affiliate in Nashville ran a nice feature story on local success Crowned Heads on Wednesday, and there are some interesting tidbits for consideration. For instance, when the company was just getting started in 2011, its cigars were in about 60 stores. That number has grown to 700, including some international markets. In 2014 alone, the company grew 75%. In 2015, they are on track to surpass that growth rate. “I think people kind of gravitate towards us because we’re authentic, we’re real, we’re honest, we have some integrity,” owner Jon Huber told ABC. “We’re very transparent in our branding. We’re not trying to fool anybody and I think people kind of gravitate towards that in this day in age.”

3) Inside the Industry: Espinosa Cigars announced this week it has come to an agreement to distribute D’Crossier Cigars, which are made in Costa Rica. D’Crossier announced a new line that will be featured at the upcoming trade show, the Flor de D’Crossier Selection No. 512, which uses an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper around Costa Rican and Dominican fillers.

4) Deal of the Week: Smoke Inn has begun taking pre-orders on its exclusive cigar “The Pope of Greenwich Village” made by Drew Estate. The cigar has a San Andrés wrapper around a Connecticut stalk-cut Habano binder and Brazilian Mata Fina and Nicaraguan fillers.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Flickr

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 431

22 May 2015

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.

Fratello1) Omar de Frias’ Fratello Cigars has announced a new blend called Bianco. The four-vitola line will feature a San Andrés Negro Wrapper, Dominican Binder, and filler tobaccos from Pennsylvania, Nicaragua, and Peru. “We wanted a richer, darker, and a fuller body smoke that would be smooth, complex, and characteristic of our full flavor cigars,” said de Frias in a press release. Bianco cigars will sell in the $8-9 range and be packaged in 20-count boxes. This is the first line to come out of Fratello since the inaugural blend debuted in 2013.

2) Drew Estate announced Wednesday it would be launching the new Nica Rustica “Belly” (7.5 x 54) at a release event at the Louisville Water Tower Park on July 30. The belicoso will sell for $7.95 and begin shipping nationally in September. As with the rest of the cigars in the Nica Rustica line, Belly will feature a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper, San Andrés binder, and filler tobaccos from Estelí and Jalapa.

3) Craft rum maker Papa’s Pilar is launching a cigar “co-pack” to select retailers in Florida in celebration of Father’s Day. The gift package includes a reusable cigar humidification tube, a Sosa Classic Natural cigar, and a 750 ml. bottle of Papa’s Pilar Dark (reviewed by us here). Papa’s Pilar Rums are hand-selected from ports-of-call in the Caribbean, Central America, and the U.S. for their age, character, and maturity, and then solera-aged and blended in a unique process using American oak bourbon barrels, port wine casks, and finishing in Spanish sherry casks.

4) Inside the Industry: Gran Habano announced the first official release from the Private Humidor Selection by George Rico. The series represents aged cigars the company says come from George’s private reserve, a cache of 30,000 cigars going back to 2003. The first release, called MLG, is a lancero (7.5 x 38) from a run produced in 2007 and 2008. Only 100 boxes of the $10 cigar will be sold at select retailers in California, Hawaii, and Texas.

5) Deal of the Week: Here’s a no-brainer deal for Avo Classic fans. Buy any box of 20 or 25 cigars (starting at $120) and get a bonus 10-pack of the Avo Classic No. 2.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Fratello Cigars

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 430

15 May 2015

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.

Pope of Greenwich Village1) Pre-orders begin on Monday for Drew Estate’s new “Pope of Greenwich Village” cigar. Named for the 1984 black comedy film of the same title, the cigar features a Mexican San Andrés wrapper, Connecticut stalk-cut Habano binder, and Brazilian Mata Fina and Nicaraguan fillers. The single vitola (6 x 40) will sell in 10-count soft packs for $85. The first 300 pre-orders receive a limited edition T-shirt. Pope of Greenwich Village will be exclusive to Smoke Inn, and part of the Florida-based retailer’s Microblend Series, which commissions custom, limited edition blends from top manufacturers. The series, which is sold online, also includes Arturo Fuente’s Solaris, Tatuaje’s Anarchy and Apocalypse, My Father’s El Hijo, Padrón’s 1964 Anniversary SI-15, Quesada’s Oktoberfest Dunkel, Room 101’s Big Delicious, 601’s La Bomba Bunker Buster, and Illusione’s Pactum.

2) On Monday, America’s oldest vet marked his 109th birthday with a cigar. But Richard Overton of Texas doesn’t need a special occasion to light up a smoke. “Overton lights up a dozen cigars a day, but he’s stopped taking a shot of whiskey in his morning coffee,” reports Fox News. “Overton served from 1942-45, with stops in Hawaii, Guam, Palau, and Iwo Jima while attaining the rank of sergeant.”

3) For Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) the FDA’s impending regulations on cigars and other tobacco products can’t come soon enough. The notoriously anti-tobacco legislator is upset the FDA has taken as long as it has to consider public comments and issue a final rule. Blumenthal says he will introduce legislation to intervene in the FDA rulemaking process if the regulations don’t come before the end of summer, although it seems unlikely that such legislation would have much of a chance of passing through Congress.

4) Inside the Industry: Next Friday will be the fifth anniversary of the annual legal outdoor smoke in New York City’s Samuel Paley Park. In response to New York’s ban on smoking in city parks five years ago, La Palina (which is owned by Samuel Paley’s grandson, William C. Paley) and Cigar Rights of America organized the annual event in the private park space. Anyone over the age of 21 is welcome to attend provided they bring a receipt from a New York City tobacconist. The event runs 5-7 PM on May 22nd.

5) Deal of the Week: Who doesn’t want five bold cigars? This deal lands you one each of the Alec Bradley Prensado Churchill, Liga Privada Undercrown Gran Toro, Romeo y Julieta RyJ Toro, Punch DLX Royal Coronation Maduro, and Rocky Patel Valedor Robusto for just $27, with free shipping.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Drew Estate

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 429

8 May 2015

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.

Havana Cuba1) Relations between Washington and Havana have warmed of late, but the days of legal Cuban cigar sales in the U.S. probably aren’t approaching soon. That said, there’s a lot of legal jockeying and market positioning taking place now over brand names and trademarks, as reported in this recent article from Reuters. “‘Thousands of U.S. companies have registered… intellectual property in Cuba in anticipation of the day when they will be able to sell their products there. Cuban companies are doing exactly the same thing,’ said Michael Krinsky, a partner with Rabinowitz, Boudin, Standard, Krinsky & Lieberman. Cuba has already begun to penetrate the U.S. market using its European partner [Altadis] to churn out Cuban brand cigars made with non-Cuban tobacco, legally using the same names as its top domestic brands such as Montecristo and Romeo y Julieta. As a result, when the trade embargo ends, U.S. consumers could find themselves being offered multiple products: a pricier original Romeo y Julieta from Cuba alongside a more affordable non-Cuban variety.”

2) Espinosa Premium Cigars is reviving the old Murcielago brand that debuted six years ago and was made by Don José “Pepin” Garcia. Erik Espinosa had to reverse-engineer the blend since the Garcias never disclosed the recipe to him. The new Murcielago is said to have the same blend as the old one, but this time it is being crafted at Espinosa’s La Zona factory with updated packaging. The three box-pressed vitolas are expected to debut this summer.

3) Earlier this week, Major League Baseball’s website ran a story on the 146th anniversary of the first professional game, which was held in Cincinnati. For cigar fans, there’s a great photo, showing an ancient cutter adorned with a player and the legend Red Stocking Cigars.

4) Inside the Industry: Numbers released by the Cigar Association of America have cigar imports leveling off in 2014 (technically down 3.6 million cigars) after multiple years of steady significant growth. Both the Dominican Republic (126.5 million) and  Nicaragua (117.9 million) were down very slightly, while the third largest producer, Honduras (63.8 million), was up less than one percent. [Related: Cigar Renaissance or Unhealthy Bubble?]

5) Deal of the Week: Limited to 2,000 boxes of 10, the J.D. Howard Single Action 2015 LE by Crowned Heads will not likely last long. The petit lancero (6 x 38) uses a Brazilian Arapiraca wrapper, Ecuadorian Sumatra binder, and Nicaraguan filler tobaccos. StogieGuys.com sponsors Smoke Inn and Emerson’s both have them in stock in 5- and 10-packs for $46 and $84, respectively.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Flickr

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 428

1 May 2015

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.

American Barrel-Aged1) Yesterday Camacho announced American Barrel-Aged, a “complex and intense” cigar with “bourbon barrel-aged Corojo at its heart.” The first release under Camacho’s Master Built Series, the blend is “constructed almost entirely of American-grown tobacco including a Broadleaf wrapper, binder, and filler, along with maduro filler tobacco from Pennsylvania,” reads a press release. “One leaf of the six-year-old, bourbon barrel-aged Corojo tobacco was added to the recipe and is the main component that amplifies the complexity of the blend.” The cigars retail for $10 to $12 apiece and are being supported by a nationwide tour beginning on June 8 in Orlando and ending December 19 in Tampa. Dylan Austin, director of marketing for Davidoff, had this to say about American Barrel-Aged: “This project marks the first time a Camacho core line has been made outside of Honduras and we are extremely proud of what our master builders in the Dominican Republic have brought to life. Barrel aging is a very tedious and hands-on process. We are aging around 2,000 pounds of Corojo filler tobacco and rotating the barrels one leaf at a time every few weeks. Each batch takes a full five months to complete and requires constant attention to ensure the proper journey for this special tobacco.”

2) La Flor Dominicana has announced its 2015 Tobacconist Association of America (TAA) Exclusive Series. The TAA 47 (5.5 x 52) will begin shipping to TAA retailers in late May in 25-count boxes with an MSRP of $9. The Dominican-made blend includes an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, Nicaraguan binder, and filler tobaccos from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. You can find the list of TAA retailers here.

3) Legislation introduced by four Democrat senators would raise federal taxes on all tobacco products. The so-called “Tobacco Tax and Enforcement Reform Act” purports to, among other things, fight tobacco smuggling by raising the federal tax on cigarettes from $1.01 per pack to $1.95 per pack. For other tobacco products, including cigars, the bill would “set tax rates… at an equivalent amount,” presumably increasing federal taxes by 94%.

4) Inside the Industry: Rocky Patel’s The Edge brand was first introduced in 2004, and the new Edge A-10 celebrates the line’s tenth anniversary (the delayed release was supposed to debut in 2014). The dual barberpole-style Honduran and Costa Rican wrappers are the same wrappers used on the original Edge Corojo and Edge Maduro. The cigar also has a Honduran binder and Nicaraguan and Panamanian filler.

5) Deal of the Week: This “five great cigars” sampler features, you guessed it, five excellent cigars for just $26. Included are the Kristoff Galerones DR4 Toro, Curivari Gran Rey Belicoso, PDR 1878 Habano Robusto, Avo Classic Robusto, and the Asylum 13 Robusto.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Camacho