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Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 470

11 Mar 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.

Steve Daines1) As the FDA’s proposed final rule awaits approval at the Office of Management and Budget, StogieGuys.com would like to join Cigar Rights of America (CRA) in applauding the federal legislators who are cosponsoring efforts in the Senate and House to exempt cigars from the forthcoming devastating regulations. There are currently 161 cosponsors of the “Traditional Cigar Manufacturing and Small Business Jobs Preservation Act” in the House—the newest additions are Tom Marino (R-PA), Rick Allen (R-GA), Scott Rigell (R-VA), and Rodney Davis (R-IL)—and 21 cosponsors in the Senate, the latest of which is Steve Daines (R-MT). “With Daines’ support, S. 441 now has five states—Florida, Pennsylvania, Arkansas, South Carolina, and Montana—where both United States Senators are co-sponsors,” according to a CRA email. “Of those five states, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Montana have bi-partisan delegations, and their support demonstrates that protecting the small business premium cigar industry, the rights of consumers, and the jobs provided by the industry is not a partisan issue, but one that draws from both sides of the aisle.”

2) Avo is adding to its Improvisation Series with the new 90th Classic Covers Volume 3. “Avo XO, a blend that stands as a true mark of quality, has been ‘covered’ with tobaccos from Ecuador and Mexico,” according to an Avo press release. “Presented in an elegant Toro (6 x 54) format, the 90th Classic Covers blend utilizes 6 different tobaccos spanning across 3 different countries, all working in harmony to deliver a remarkably unique and richly complex flavor profile. The filler is composed from rare Dominican tobaccos aged for 10 and 11 years, cradled by the Mexican Negro San Andrés binder leaf and elegantly finished with a Habano 2000 Claro wrapper from Ecuador.” Only 3,500 boxes of 18 cigars will be made with singles retailing for $16.90.

3) Inside the Industry: The Cuban cigar festival wrapped up last week. An announcement by Habanos S.A., the Cuban national cigar company and distributor, gave a glimpse into the size and scope of the Cuban cigar industry. Habanos announced annual revenues for 2015 reached $428 million, a slight increase from the previous year. About 55% of sales were to Europe and the rest were equally split between the Americas (including Cuba), the Middle East, Africa, and the Asia Pacific.

4) From the Archives: With warm weather coming up, even for those of us still suffering through the last vestiges of winter, it’s time to start getting ready for summertime smoking. Back in 2013, we put together a guide to help you with what you need to know, from refreshing your humidor for hot weather to picking out the right chilled beverage to accompany a cigar by the pool.

5) Deal of the Week: One of the harder cigars to find, the Liga Privada Dirty Rat is currently in stock at Famous Smoke. Order a box today and land a free sampler of seven full-bodied Nicaraguan cigars.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: SteveDaines.com

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 469

4 Mar 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.

TAA Herrera

1) Drew Estate is adding to its popular Herrera Estelí line by launching the Herrera Estelí TAA Exclusive, which will begin shipping to Tobacconists’ Association of America (TAA) members in April. The single-vitola (6 x 52) release will be sold in 12-count boxes for $144, or $12 per cigar. Whereas the original Herrera Estelí features an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper around a Honduran binder and filler tobaccos from Nicaragua, the TAA Exclusive—also blended by Willy Herrera—will sport a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper, Brazilian Mata Fina binder, and Nicaraguan fillers. “This is my first blend since joining Drew Estate that utilizes Connecticut Broadleaf tobacco,” said Herrera in a press release. “Drew Estate fans know that we’re famous for our use of Connecticut Broadleaf tobaccos, especially in our Liga Privada No. 9 and Nica Rustica lines. I’ve been experimenting with blends that incorporate this incredible wrapper since coming on board and finally have a blend I’m really excited about.”

2) Davidoff has announced the Golf Scorecard Edition 2016, a Gran Toro (5.9 x 55) with a Habano Ecuador wrapper, Dominican Piloto binder, and Dominican filler tobaccos. The cigars, which will be available this month, will be sold in five-packs with an MSRP of $24 per cigar. One of the cigars will have a gold secondary band (the other four will have white secondary bands) intended for the winner of the round. “The majestic Gran Toro format of this Davidoff Golf Scorecard Edition 2016 allows the aficionado to enjoy the cigar’s intensive but balanced and nuanced taste over its entire length,” reads a Davidoff press release. “The front nine delivers oaky, coffee notes, whilst the back nine brings it home with sweet honey tones.”

3) Inside the Industry: Foundry Tobacco Company, a subsidiary of General Cigar, is expanding its staff by adding two dedicated sales brokers along with Justin Andrews, formerly of Lou Rodriguez Cigars, who will take the position of creative director for Foundry. In events this weekend at W. Curtis Draper Tobacconist in Washington, L’Atelier is debuting Côte d’Or La Tâche, a follow-up to last year’s Côte d’Or release, which sports an Ecuadorian Sancti Spiritus wrapper.

4) From the Archives: After taking advantage of a nearly too-good-to-be-true deal on ten Don Pepin Original Generosos for about $4 each, George E looked to see what we’d written about them in the past. Nearly nine years ago, we reviewed the original line, praising its complex blend and awarding four and a half stogies for the “rich, complex, Cuban-like flavor.” The current iteration remains a knockout.

5) Deal of the Week: Quesada fans should check out this Big Bang Sampler, which includes one each of the Cubita Imported, Quesada 40th Anniversary, Oktoberfest, and Cubano Limitado Fonseca, plus a special unbanded Quesada blend. Use our special discount code “Stogie10” at checkout and land the five-pack for under $27.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Drew Estate

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 468

26 Feb 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.

Califf

1) Dr. Robert M. Califf was confirmed by the Senate this week as the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The cardiologist and former FDA deputy commissioner assumes control of the bureaucracy at a time when the cigar industry is bracing for FDA regulations—new rules that have the potential to be devastating. When asked (via Facebook) if this confirmation will have a positive or negative impact on premium cigars, Glynn Loope, executive director of Cigar Rights of America, commented, “We’ll see.” He later told StogieGuys.com via email: “…at this stage, and based upon the meetings held to this point, I doubt [the FDA proposed rules] will be sent back to FDA from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). We are in that magical time of any administration where there is a dash to put out as much rule and regulation as possible, to leave their lasting imprint upon the nation’s bureaucratic landscape… Today we meet with the office of the Secretary of Health and Human Services, having had meetings with OMB, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, and the White House Domestic Policy Council last month. One more chance to get the message across.”

2) The New York Post reports a “dirty cop” and a “drug dealer” have teamed up to launch a cigar line. “Former officer Michael Dowd, 55, spent 12 years behind bars for shaking down cocaine dealers, swiping their drugs, and reselling them while working in Brooklyn’s 75th Precinct in the late ’80s and early ’90s. Now he’s teaming with a former drug cohort, gang leader Adam Diaz, to sell cigars from the Dominican Republic under the brand name The Seven Five—after Dowd’s old precinct… Printed on their wooden boxes are the phrases, ‘Nobody can touch me. Nobody can touch my crew,’ and ‘The King of Brooklyn.’”

3) Inside the Industry: Procigar, the annual Dominican cigar festival, began this week. Attendees start in La Romana before events move to the heart of the Dominican cigar industry in Santiago. Among the many manufacturers visitors can check out are General Cigar, Davidoff, Quesada, La Aurora, Reyes, Tabacalera La Alianza-E.P. Carrillo, La Flor Dominicana, Tabacalera Palma, and Fuente.

4) From the Archives: As we enter election season, this is a good time to revisit a helpful piece we published in 2011: How to Lobby Effectively for the Cigar Cause. The first tip, and the most important, is to focus on your legislator and others who are seeking your vote. Read the rest here.

5) Cigar Giveaway Update: We are currently running two opportunities for you to land some free cigars. On Monday, our review of the Búho Primero Connecticut included the chance for two readers to win a sampler of Búho cigars. We’re also giving away a box of 20 CAO Pilón Coronas. The giveaway is being run completely through the StogieGuys.com Facebook page, and details on how to enter can be found in this Facebook post.

6) Deal of the Week: Cigar fans looking for more information should consider joining the Montecristo Social Club. Signup is free, and if you provide a verifiable address you will receive a welcome pack including a free punch cutter.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Reuters

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 467

19 Feb 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.

Havana

1) For the first time in eight decades, a sitting U.S. president will visit Cuba. Yesterday morning President Obama unveiled his plans to travel to Cuba in March. “Next month, I’ll travel to Cuba to advance our progress and efforts that can improve the lives of the Cuban people,” read his official Twitter account. “We still have differences with the Cuban government that I will raise directly. America will always stand for human rights around the world.” The announcement comes amid thawed relations between Washington and Havana, which recently restored diplomatic ties. Obama has also called on Congress to end the trade embargo, as well as issued an executive order to make legal travel to Cuba easier. Currently, legal visitors to Cuba are allowed to bring up to $100 worth of Cuban cigars back to the U.S. Calvin Coolidge was the last sitting president to visit Cuba, reports ABC News.

2) In other political news, Senator Ted Cruz may be the presidential candidate with the closest connection to cigars—he hosts cigar-related fundraisers and says he smokes occasionally—but a recent poll suggests he may not have a lock on the cigar vote (if there is such a thing). New Republic reports: “How devastating it must be for Cruz… that in a poll by Cigar Aficionado—where William F. Buckley Jr. has a byline, and which gave Rush Limbaugh the cover treatment—he won the support of only 22 percent of the magazine’s Republican readers, behind Trump’s 39 percent and Marco Rubio’s 23 percent… Neither of Cruz’s top rivals has made much of an effort to court the cigar vote. ‘I used to smoke a little cigar here and there,’ Rubio said earlier this month. ‘Now it’s just hard to do.’ As for the Donald, he says he has never smoked. And now he’s won the support of a conservative magazine for men who love to do just that.”

3) Inside the Industry: General Cigar formally announced the return of the annual Punch Rare Corojo release. The blend continues to feature a reddish Ecuador-grown Sumatra wrapper and Connecticut broadleaf binder around Dominican, Honduran, and Nicaraguan filler tobaccos. As has become tradition, there is a limited edition vitola for 2016, a  perfecto called Regalias Perfecto (7.25 x 54). General also announced the Double Corona (6.75 x 48) will be going away after the current stock runs out.

4) From the Archives: In “A Good Cigar and a Cup of Joe” George explained his appreciation of good cup of coffee as a cigar pairing. “Choosing a drink to accompany your cigar is about as individual a choice as selecting what you’re going to smoke in the first place. The drink choice can also be greatly influenced by where you happen to be smoking… My choice of a drink to pair with a cigar is almost always coffee. Early, late, it doesn’t much matter to me.”

5) Deal of the Week: A good cigar sampler can be a great way to revisit some old favorites, or discover new ones. This ten-count sampler from Smoke Inn has a solid mix of high end classics, new hits, under-appreciated standbys, and even a store exclusive limited edition.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Flickr

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 466

12 Feb 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.

Roya Red Half Corona

1) Joya Red, one of our favorite releases of 2014, is getting a new size. While the Half Corona (3.75 x 46) has been available in Europe for a few months, the vitola now will be for sale in the U.S. market. “The Joya Red Half Corona is designed to satisfy the contemporary smoker’s desire for a quick, but extremely pleasurable, smoke,” reads a press release from Drew Estate, Joya de Nicaragua’s distributor. “Joya maintained the same lower priming Nicaraguan tobacco blend as the rest of the Joya Red line. This new vitola comes in boxes of 20 cigars and 5-count ‘petacas.’ Joya Red is a medium-strength smoke packed with flavor, outstanding construction, and sharp burn… It has quickly gained popularity with contemporary consumers, making it Joya de Nicaragua’s second best-selling brand in the U.S. market in only a year and a half.”

2) Although Congress is free to ignore it, every year the president is required to send a proposed budget to Congress. This week, President Obama submitted the final proposed budget of his presidency. Of note to cigar smokers, his proposal includes $115 billion in tobacco tax hikes. Fortunately, observers agree there is little support in Congress for massive new tax hikes.

3) Inside the Industry: Black Label Trading Co. (BLTC), founded in 2013 with “a focus on unique blends of small batch cigars,” has signed a distribution agreement with New Jersey-based Boutiques United (BU). “BLTC embodies what we view as a successful boutique cigar company. They not only make a fantastic product, but their leadership team has the drive to get it into the hands of cigar smokers.” noted BU owner Scott Zucca. “The vision, character, and integrity of the BLTC team is a perfect fit in the Boutiques United family.” Last year, BLTC opened its own factory in Estelí, Fabrica Oveja Negra.

4) From the Archives: Talk about a blast from the past, consider the following: Boutiques United (see above item) used to be called House of Emilio, which grew out of Emilio Cigars. One of the first Emilio was Grimalkin, later renamed La Musa Mοῦσα, a cigar we reviewed three years ago yesterday. In that review, we wrote the following: “The quality, subtlety, and balance of the blend cannot be denied… La Musa Mοῦσα Toro is my favorite of Gary Griffith’s creations to date.”

5) Deal of the Week: Cigar fans looking for more information should consider joining the Montecristo Social Club. Signup is free, and if you provide a verifiable address you will receive a welcome pack including a free punch cutter.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Drew Estate

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 465

5 Feb 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.

Cusano Dominican Connecticut

1) Davidoff has announced Cusano Dominican Connecticut, a new line that features “fine Dominican filler tobaccos and an Ecuador Connecticut wrapper.” The blend is “designed for aficionados seeking the daily pleasure of a great-tasting cigar at excellent value.” Four sizes will be available in April—Robusto, Toro, Churchill, and Gordo—in the affordable $4.49 to $5.99 range. “As part of Oettinger Davidoff’s mission to meet key aficionados’ needs through a diverse portfolio of cigar offerings, and to be the indispensable business partner of retailers, the new Cusano Dominican Connecticut range will delight aficionados seeking to enjoy fine-quality cigars at great value,” said Charles Awad, Senior Vice President of Global Marketing and Innovation at Davidoff. Davidoff purchased Cusano in 2009, about nine months after its purchase of Camacho.

2) Casa de Montecristo—a successful three-location tobacconist in Chicago—has launched an online retail website, which notably includes numerous exclusive releases from brands like My Father, Tatuaje, Drew Estate, E.P. Carrillo, and more. “CDMCigars.com will not only feature a fantastic selection of the finest cigars available, but will bring the consumer interactive features such as wish lists, a virtual lounge, chances to purchase extremely rare cigars, and periodic raffles,” reads a press release. “The newest cigar releases, limited edition products, certified aged vintage cigars, and the finest accessories will also be featured.”

3) Inside the Industry: Altadis USA, whose parent company owns a major share in Habanos S.A., this week launched “Exploring Cuba,” a “knowledge hub” on the Montecristo Social Club website that includes “exclusive information about Cuba’s culture, history, and cigar heritage…” and highlights “everything from Cuba’s tobacco-growing regions to the anatomy and creation of Cuban cigars.” Former Miami Cigar & Co. sales executive Rene Castañeda has been named president of Villiger Cigars North America. The oldest cigar maker in the Dominican Republic has announced La Aurora Cigar Institute, “the first institution in the world to educate and teach about the world of cigars in a didactic manner.”

4) From the Archives: Plenty of attention gets paid to the most recent best-of lists but, if you want to find some gems you may have overlooked, we suggest going back to the best-of lists from a few years ago. For example, our “Best of 2013” list contains a very interesting combination of discontinued cigars, limited release runs, and cigars that you can still get (and may even be in the discount bin) at your local shop. Check it out here.

5) 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 barbecue accessories, shaving kits, coffee, and exclusive cigars. You can skip or purchase every month. This month’s options include a serious upgrade to your cocktail accessories, a kit for making barrel-aged cocktails, everything you need (but the booze) for an authentic Moscow Mule, and others. Click here to sign up today.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Davidoff

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 464

29 Jan 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.

Cuba

1) Relations between Cuba and the United States continue to make incremental progress toward normalization. This week, the “Obama administration announced new Cuban regulations that allow financing of authorized exports to the island and more exceptions to the embargo,” reports the Miami Herald. “The new regulations, which went into effect Wednesday, not only allow financing of authorized exports but also expand the types of exports that will generally be approved as well as those that may be sent to the island on a case-by-case basis if Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control determines such products meet ‘the needs of the Cuban people.’” This development follows the formal restoration of diplomatic relations, including the re-establishment of embassies in Washington and Havana, and an executive order from President Obama making legal travel to Cuba easier. Obama has also called on Congress to end the trade embargo. Currently, legal visitors to Cuba are allowed to bring up to $100 worth of Cuban cigars back to the U.S.; an outright end to the embargo, however, would unquestionably herald drastic, long-lasting changes for the cigar industry, as well as present new challenges and opportunities.

2) Altadis has announced Yargüera H. Upmann, a blend named for a new hybrid tobacco seed that’s exclusive to a Honduran farm of the same name. Three sizes will be available in the $8.50 to $9.25 range, each with a Yargüera ’13 Tapado wrapper, Criollo ’98 binder, and sun-grown Yargüera ’13 and Criollo ’98 fillers. “We are thrilled to announce Yargüera H. Upmann, as the first project for this Honduran Estate Tobacco,” said Altadis in a press release. “There is such a heritage connection between both Yargüera and H. Upmann as they both originated from Cuba. Cigar enthusiasts will enjoy not only Yargüera H. Upmann, but the tobacco brand in general as this is just the start.”

3) Wild Turkey’s label has undergone a remake to show off a more mature fowl. The Wall Street Journal reports the turkey—known internally as Jacob—is “really front and center” along with the slogan “Crafted With Conviction” on new bourbon bottles. It’s all part of a push by owner Campari to increase sales. “We acquired a rather dusty brand, but we also felt that it was a real hidden gem,” says Melanie Batchelor, Campari’s vice president of global strategic marketing. On the old packaging, “our turkey is kind of in the background, more of a watermark, and he looks a little sad. He’s not proud,” Ms. Batchelor says. Also, “a lot of consumers know a lot about turkeys,” she says, adding that customer research found that the young-looking turkey conflicted with the idea that the bourbon is aged.

4) Inside the Industry: Drew Estate announced it has entered into an exclusive U.S. distribution agreement with Debonaire Cigars and Indian Tabac, both of which produce cigars in the Dominican Republic and are run by Philip S. Zanghi III. Drew Estate founder Jonathan Drew said the partnership was a natural pairing: “Phil Zanghi has been a dear personal friend of mine for two decades… Phil is old school and has been a presence in the Central American and Caribbean tobacco worlds forever.” Zanghi, who is licensing the Indian Motorcycle name from its owner, Polaris, was partners with Rocky Patel in the original Indian Tabac until he sold his share to Patel in 2002. Patel later re-branded his company as Rocky Patel.

5) Deal of the Week: Want an easy way to try some of the hottest new blends? Check out this five-cigar sampler at Smoke Inn. Included are one each of the Flor de D’Crossier Selection No. 512, Camacho American Barrel-Aged, El Güegüense by Foundation Cigar Company, Drew Estate Undercrown Shade, and Steke Saka’s Sobremesa. Use our exclusive coupon “Stogie10” to knock the price down to just $41.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Flickr