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Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 473

1 Apr 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.

DE Lounge BBT

1) The BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida—home to the Florida Panthers of the NHL—is now host to the first Drew Estate Lounge in a professional sports arena. The invitation-only grand opening is being held today (an off-day for the Panthers). Smoking will be restricted to a well-appointed outdoor area equipped with TVs and drink service. “This new lounge brings the Rebirth of Cigars to a broad new audience of hockey fans at the BB&T Center,” said Michael Cellucci, president of Drew Estate. “On a personal level, I am a huge fan of the Florida Panthers. I became a season ticket holder this year and have been so impressed with the ownership, their management of the team, and the family environment that is reminiscent of Drew Estate’s culture, so this is especially exciting for me.” Year of the Rat (5.5 x 46, $14), a new cigar commemorating the 20th anniversary of the franchise’s Stanley Cup victory in 1996, will be exclusive to the lounge. It will include a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper around a Brazilian binder and filler tobaccos from Nicaragua and Honduras.

2) In our last “Question of the Month,” we asked readers to cite how many Cuban cigars they smoke, as a percentage of their cigar consumption. Just over 47% said less than 10% of their cigar consumption is Cuban, 30% said less than 50%, and 3% said they only smoke Cubans. Be sure to weigh in on this month’s question by casting your vote. And feel free to contact us if you’ve got a suggestion for a future poll.

3) Inside the Industry: Cuban Stock Cigar Co. just opened its new factory in the tax-free zone in Tamboril, Dominican Republic. President and company founder Yaniv Levy states, “After twenty years in our two previous factories, and with the pressures to increase output as our reputation grows, it was time for this new facility. Before this move, our total production space was less than 10,000 square feet… We now have 20,000 square feet, enough to carry us well into the future.” Cuban Stock Cigar Co. has already hired forty new workers, with plans to expand to 100 soon. With its new factory, the company can increase its annual production capacity from 1.8 million cigars to potentially 10 million cigars.

4) From the Archives: Aging cigars is always a topic of interest among serious smokers. StogieGuys.com has written extensively about the whys and hows of putting sticks away. Here, we passed along advice from some experts, and another post features an interview with Doc Stogie, whose Stogie Fresh site reviews cigars over time to assess the impact of aging.

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 (Davidoff Nicaragua, My Father Le Bijou, Padrón 1964 Maduro), new hits (El Güegüense, New World Connecticut, Camacho American Barrel Aged), under-appreciated standbys (San Lotano Oval, Alec Bradley Prensado, La Aroma de Cuba), and even a store-exclusive limited edition (Drew Estate Pope of Greenwich Village).

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Drew Estate

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 472

25 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.

Mary Landrieu1) Mary L. Landrieu, former Democratic member of the U.S. Senate and current consultant to Cigar Rights of America and the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association, authored a piece in the Washington Times on Wednesday about the Obama Administration, forthcoming FDA regulations, and the Cuban cigar industry. “The notion of an American bureaucracy intruding into an industry that poses no threat to the American general public, is purely for discerning adults, and serves as a source of invaluable jobs from the Pinar del Río region of Cuba to the Jamastran Valley of Honduras should not be acceptable,” she writes. Landrieu’s comments come at the heels of President Obama’s just-concluded trip to Cuba, the first time a sitting president had visited the communist isle since 1928. “First, there should be a commitment to advance political reform and civil liberties for the Cuban people before we pursue economic and trade relations,” she argues. “Congress should thoroughly review issues of human rights and personal freedom in Cuba before advancing any of more than a dozen pieces of filed legislation intended to normalize relations.” You can read the entire piece here.

2) “Nanny-staters in Australia have [stripped] brands and logos away from not just cigarettes, but cigars, which are not addictive and not inhaled,” reports the Washington Free Beacon. “As a result, the plain packaging law the country passed five years ago is having devastating consequences for an economy a world a way that depends on tobacco: the Dominican Republic, and the men and women who make that nation’s premium handmade cigars… Plain packaging laws rest on the belief that consumers are so weak-minded that a shiny label will get them hooked on smoking… Cigars were not the stated target of Australia’s plain packaging law, but nevertheless got wrapped into the legislation. Stripping trademarks and brands from the handmade cigars produced in the Dominican Republic—the largest exporter in the world—not only affects their economy; it offends their heritage.” Read more here.

3) Inside the Industry: Cornelius & Anthony Premium Cigars announced the addition of a second line, Daddy Mac (the name is a tribute to owner Steven Bailey’s father, Mac Bailey). The line is being produced at Eric Espinosa’s La Zona factory in Nicaragua and is set to be released in four sizes (Gordo (6 x 60), Toro (6 x 50), Robusto (5 x 50), and Corona Gorda (5.5 x 46)), each presented in boxes of 20. The blend features a Brazilian wrapper, Ecuadorian binder, and Nicaraguan filler.

4) Contest Update: Please join StogieGuys.com in congratulating Steve C. of Waynesville, North Carolina, and James S. of Parma, Michigan, as the two winners of our Búho giveaway. Both will receive sampler packs from Búho, as detailed in our February review of the Búho Primero Connecticut Shade Robusto.

5) Deal of the Week: The best deal is free cigars. To celebrate the annual release of Punch Rare Corojo, Punch is running a sweepstakes to give some away. Sign up here.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Wikipedia

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 471

18 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.

Hoyo

1) General Cigar Co. this week announced a new version of Hoyo de Monterrey. Called simply Hoyo, the brand extension will be for brick and mortar retailers only, with four sizes ranging in price from $5.49 to $6.99 shipping on April 1. “We’re taking the legendary brand Hoyo de Monterrey and moving it into the future,” says Alan Willner, General’s vice president of marketing. “The new Hoyo is about keeping the brand’s rich history of Honduran craftsmanship and infusing it with new ideas, new tobacco, and new packaging.” Hoyo will consist of a proprietary wrapper called Estelí Habano Shade, which is a thick, shade-grown, Cuban-seed leaf grown by the Plascencias and fermented for two years. The Ecuadoran Sumatra binder will envelop a filler combination of tobaccos from Nicaragua and Pennsylvania. One has to wonder if Hoyo is General’s answer to Romeo, launched by competitor Altadis USA in 2012. Like Hoyo, Romeo is an updated take on a classic brand with modernized packaging and a shortened name. According to General, though, the inspiration for Hoyo came from within. “Hoyo was inspired by Hoyo Edición de Cumpleaños 150, a successful, limited edition cigar released last year. [That cigar] took the first step toward breaking the conventions of the brand by featuring a new variety of Nicaraguan tobacco, a shade-grown wrapper never used before in any other cigar. With sleek new packaging and a contemporary logo, Hoyo Edición de Cumpleaños 150 represented a new wave of the brand.”

2) New rules announced by the Obama Administration on Tuesday have decriminalized the acts of purchasing and consuming Cuban goods, including cigars and rum, while Americans are abroad. Previously, it was technically illegal for Americans to purchase Cuban goods while beyond American borders. Now, in changes that took effect Wednesday, it is completely legal for Americans to smoke Cuban cigars and drink Cuban rum as they travel internationally. This decriminalization is the latest step the administration has taken in an effort to improve relations between Washington and Havana; diplomatic ties have already been re-established, embassies have been re-opened, and Americans legally traveling to Cuba may bring back $100 worth of Cuban goods, including cigars. An outright end to the longstanding embargo requires an act of Congress.

3) Chicago lawmakers continued their march towards complete tobacco ridiculousness this week, raising the smoking age to 21 and enacting a new $6 million tax on cigars, roll-your-own tobacco, and smokeless tobacco. Chicago also becomes “the fourth city to ban smokeless tobacco at sports venues, joining San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Boston in attempting to reduce its use in athletics,” reports ESPN, which also noted Cubs manager Joe Maddon isn’t a fan of the new law. “I’m into personal freedoms,” he said, adding, “I’m not into over-legislating the human race.”

4) Contest Update: Please join us in congratulating Andy K. of Terre Haute, Indiana, as the winner of our latest giveaway: a full 20-count box of CAO Pilón Coronas. Plus, since Andy is a member of Cigar Rights of America, we’ll include a five-pack of select smokes from our personal humidor, plus some cool cigar swag.

5) Deal of the Week: Crowned Heads fans may want to jump on this special from Smoke Inn. For a limited time, buy any box of twelve Crowned Heads blends and get a free five-cigar travel case. Plus, use the coupon code “Stogie10” to knock ten percent off your order.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: General Cigar Co.

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