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Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 443

14 Aug 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.

burn-rp1) The long-rumored expansion of Burn by Rocky Patel to Washington appears to have taken a step forward. A recent report says the cigar bar has applied for permits to locate in a three-story building originally built as a bank, but more recently used as a jazz and burlesque club. According the the article, the application is for a “seating capacity of 250 and a total occupancy load of 350 [that] will operate as a cigar lounge serving food and alcohol. There will also be a DJ and solo performances.” No word on when the location, which is a few blocks from the Verizon Center, would be opening if everything is approved.

2) A group called The Royal Society for Public Health is pushing the UK to expand the existing smoking ban to include outdoor spaces like parks, public squares, and the outdoor portions of restaurants and pubs. While anti-smoking activists have pushed such bans under the pretense of protecting non-smokers, rather than controlling the decisions of adults to use a legal product, this new push seems to have dropped that pretense. The organization’s spokesman told the BBC: “We believe that banning smoking in these locations via an exclusion zone could further denormalise smoking, ensuring that it is seen as an abnormal activity.”

3) Inside the Industry: Longtime cigar site Stogie411 has announced it is signing off for good Aug. 29 with a live show called One Last Cigar. Pete Johnson’s Tatuaje and L’Atelier cigar companies are for first time using in-house representatives, as opposed to independent brokers, to rep cigars to shops in New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Eastern Pennsylvania, Washington, and Delaware.

4) Deal of the Week: This five-cigar sampler includes some hard-to-find limited smokes for about 40% off the retail price. Just $26 (free shipping included) gets you the Crowned Heads Mason Dixon South, L’Atelier ER14, Old Homestead Torpedo, Rocky Patel Valedor Robusto, and La Flor Dominicana Suave.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Burn

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 442

7 Aug 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.

Cuban flag1) This week CBS news looked at what will happen if and when the Cuban embargo ends and Cuban cigars can be legally imported to, and purchased in, the United States. The article, which interviews U.S. cigar experts, global experts, and cigar makers in Cuba, suggests that if Cuban cigars become legal “the Cuban tobacco industry believes it would dominate the $6.7 billion U.S. cigar market, predicting a 25 to 30 percent share in the first year, and in time, a 70 percent share.”

2) was in New Orleans recently and visited Harrah’s Casino. So it is no surprise to us that Harrah’s says the smoking ban is hurting business. This article states that profits at the company are down 31% due largely to the ban. While it is easier for big employers like Harrah’s to quantify the lost business, the often tight margins of smaller businesses likely means that many New Orleans businesses are hurting even more.

3) Inside the Industry: The Nicaragua Tobacco Association has announced the dates of its 2016 cigar festival, Puro Sabor. The event, which is entering its fifth year, runs from Tuesday, January 12, 2016 through Saturday, January 16. The festivities start in Managua, Nicaragua, and include a visit and tour of the Flor de Caña rum distillery and wrap up in Esteli where the majority of the country’s cigar factors are located and will be open for tours.

4) Deal of the Week: Tatuaje  Pudgy Monsters is a 10-pack of cigars featuring each of the past Tatuaje Monster Halloween blends plus two upcoming blends. Cigar Place currently has the 10-count box on sale for just $90. It’s a must-have for any Tatuaje fan.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Flickr

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 441

31 Jul 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.

220px-Tom_Emmer_official_portrait_114th_Congress1) While any efforts to repeal the Cuban embargo (which includes a ban on the import and sale of Cuban cigars except for a small allowance for licensed visitors to Cuba) will face stiff resistance in Congress, two developments this week show growing support for further changes in Cuban-American relations. In Congress, Republican Representative Tom Emmer (pictured) of Minnesota introduced a bill to end the longstanding embargo. Emmer cited a recent trip to Cuba for his position and stated “This isn’t about the Cuban government—it’s about people on the street looking for more opportunity and to improve their quality of life.” Meanwhile, on the other side of the aisle, leading Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton also publicly called for ending the embargo.

2) The controversial Obamacare legislation makes it illegal for health insurance companies to charge individuals different prices based on health risks, except for tobacco users who can be charged 50% more. For cigarette smokers, who tend to have lower incomes, that’s enough to threaten the affordability of health insurance. But there is some news that could eliminate that issue for many cigar smokers . As Jacob Grier explains, an entry to the Federal Register about interpretation of the Obamacare legislation defines “tobacco use” as use of tobacco on average of four or more times per week within no longer than the past six months. This interpretation will exempt the vast majority of cigar smokers who smoke fewer than four days a week from the discriminatory higher premiums.

3) Inside the Industry: At the recent IPCPR Trade Show, Ashton displayed a new limited release blend to the San Cristobal line called the San Cristobal Ovation. Ovation comes in one size and is made at the My Father Cigars factory with a blend featuring a San Andrés Oscuro wrapper and Nicaraguan binder and filler.

4) Deal of the Week: Camacho fans should check out this Meet Your Maker Camacho sampler. Just $32 (free shipping included) gets you a selection of six Camacho cigars, including the new American Barrel Aged blend.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Congress

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 440

24 Jul 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.

Providence1) Not content with an indoor smoking ban that applies to businesses, restaurants, and bars, officials in Providence, Rhode Island, are considering a wide-reaching ban on outdoor smoking. “The proposed ban would apply to non-enclosed sidewalks and other pedestrian areas, including alleys, that are accessible to the public anywhere in downtown Providence. Smoking would only be allowed in private residences and vehicles. Smokers who break the law could be fined up to $250,” reports the Associated Press. “Former Providence Mayor Joseph Paolino, who owns several buildings in downtown Providence, has taken credit for the proposal. Paolino said ever since the city banned smoking in parks and in Kennedy Plaza, in the center of downtown Providence, smokers have been congregating in front of his properties.” Expect public hearings in September.

2) Cigar Insider has released its 2015 Retailer Survey, a poll of over 100 shop owners who represent over 200 tobacconist locations. According to the respondents, the best-selling cigar brands are, in order, Padrón, Arturo Fuente, Ashton, Davidoff, and Romeo y Julieta. The top three sizes are robusto, toro, and grande (6 x 60). Over 70% of shops saw an increase in sales over the previous year, with 15% reporting flat sales and 13% reporting decreased sales.

3) The controversy over the HR line, originally made in partnership between Cubanacan Cigars and Hirochi Robaina, was a much-discussed topic at the IPCPR Trade Show in New Orleans. Cubanacan displayed the cigar and said it will continue making it and taking new orders. Meanwhile, Hirochi Robaina (grandson of Cuban cigar legend Alejandro Robaina), who announced just before the convention he was partnering with La Palina, has made it clear he believes he owns the trademark. One source noted to us that the Robaina-controlled trademark apparently at the center of the controversy features a number of elements (including a Chinese dragon-stylized “HR”) not found on the Cubanacan-made cigar. The outcome is hard to predict, but it isn’t hard to imagine this getting ultimately settled in court.

4) Inside the Industry: Padilla has introduced four new cigar lines: Padilla Criollo ’99, Padilla San Andrés, Padilla Criollo ’98, and Padilla La Pilar. All are made in Honduras (the first three at Raices Cubanas while La Pilar is made at Tabacalera Aguilar).

5) Deal of the Week: Smoke Inn is now shipping its Tatuaje Anarchy 2015 exclusive cigar that is part of the Microblend Series. The cigar is available in 15-count boxes ($149) and 5-packs ($50). The original Tatuaje Anarchy sold out quickly.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Flickr

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 439

17 Jul 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.

IPCPR Trade Show1) Starting tomorrow, Patrick A and Patrick S will be reporting live from the 83rd annual International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association (IPCPR) Trade Show. Check throughout the day on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday as we post information, videos, photos, and more. The annual gathering of cigar manufacturers, retailers, suppliers, and media is closed to consumers. It will feature many new cigars and cigar accessories, along with seminars on government affairs, how to get and keep good customers, and steps retailers can take to improve their businesses. 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 (before New Orleans implemented its recent smoking ban). Following the event, expect a flurry of reviews and information about new releases. For now, you can check out some of our pre-IPCPR coverage here, here, and here.

2) Cubanacan Cigars was evidently very surprised to learn (via the media, no less) that cigar maker and Cuban tobacco grower Hirochi Robaina would be leaving Cubanacan for La Palina, and was planning on taking his HR brand with him. “Though we are all still in shock about Mr. Robaina’s decision, we are not surprised,” wrote Robert Mederos, owner of Cubanacan, in a press release. “Do not mistake our initial silence for acquiescence. We are deeply saddened that we even have to respond to actions that speak louder than words in the court of public opinion, and these actions do seem to be well planned and executed, having caused irreparable damage to our company… We hold dear the freedom of speech this nation grants us to have a voice, but along with it there are also consequences and we feel in this case these actions will have to be resolved not on the grounds of perception, confusion, and internet fiction but on the grounds of facts presented through due process in a court of law.” When asked if a lawsuit is being seriously considered, or who Cubanacan thinks owns the HR brand, a Cubanacan spokesman declined to comment.

3) This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Fuente Fuente Opus X (FFOX) line. To celebrate, Prometheus is offering FFOX 20th Anniversary Father and Son Humidors, which come with 50 vintage Fuente Aged Selection cigars. Each humidor (MSRPP $4,000) includes two FFOX Original Belicosos, which were made in 1994 and have never been released. Only 200 of the limited edition 20th Anniversary Father and Son Humidors will be made.

4) Inside the Industry: Drew Estate announced yesterday that the Liga Privada Único Serie Ratzilla would be launched as a limited release to retailers participating in Drew Estate’s Drew Diplomat Retailer Program. The Ratzilla (6.25 x 46) is one of the most sought-after blends in the Liga Privada Único Serie line and has only seen a handful of retail releases to date. This release will make the largest Ratzilla production ever.

5) Deal of the Week: This “Silver Tray Sampler” includes five cigars for $26, but don’t wait too long  to cash in (the deal ends tomorrow). Included are the Padrón Ambassador Maduro, Quesada Q40 Salomon, Oliva Serie O Toro, Gurkha Wicked Indie Toro, and La Flor Domnicana Colorado Oscuro #2.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: IPCPR

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 438

10 Jul 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.

Sobremesa1) Steve Saka—the former Drew Estate CEO who is returning to the cigar industry from a two-year absence—has announced the first blend from his new cigar operation, Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust. Called Sobremesa, it will be made at Joya de Nicaragua in Estelí (using tobacco Saka provides to Joya) with an Ecuador Habano wrapper around a Mexican binder and filler tobaccos from Nicaragua. There will be five sizes—Corona Grande, Robusto Largo, El Americano, Gran Imperiales, and Cervantes Fino—but pricing is not yet known. “I have been running like a bat out of hell to finalize this liga and marquee that I haven’t really given that much thought about how I was going to sell the brand,” wrote Saka on Facebook. “I know that sounds insane, but here it is just a week before the IPCPR and I am in Nica still sorting and indexing leaf with JDN so as to figure out what exactly these cigars are going to cost to make… So I really don’t know the price, but I will. The only sales plan I have is that I was going to offer it to a few retailers first who are really truly close personal friends.”

2) The Foundation Cigar Company, which was recently launched by another former Drew Estate employee, Nicholas Melillo, has likewise announced details of its first blend, El Güegüense (“The Wise Man”). A Nicaraguan puro, the blend will feature a Corojo ’99 wrapper from Jalapa that’s described as “rosado rosado café” in color. It’s billed as “medium to strong” and will come in five formats: Robusto, Toro, Churchill, Corona Gorda, and Torpedo. El Güegüense is made at the TABSA (Tobaccos Valle de Jalapa) factory in Nicaragua using Aganorsa tobacco. Melillo, popularly known as “Nick R. Agua” on social media, left Drew Estate in May, where he served for 11 years with responsibilities ranging from tobacco purchasing and fermentation to quality control and shipment planning.

3) Originally released in 2013 as a limited release under the Miami Cigar & Co. umbrella, a re-blended KILO is returning to the market, this time as part of the United Cigar Group made in Nicaragua by Noel Rojas, who owns Guayacan Cigars. KILO sports an Ecuador Habano wrapper, Nicaraguan Corojo 2006 binder, and filler from three different variations of three-year-old Ligero from Rojas’ farms in Nicaragua and from Aganorsa. Barry Stein, the blender and driving force behind both versions of KILO, described the cigar’s return: “I always wanted to work with Noel, but my former employers were already locked into a factory in Nicaragua. Noel was one of the first friends I made in Miami and he taught me a lot about tobacco and blending that complemented what I learned at La Aurora from their master blender, Manuel Inoa. When the original KILO came out, Noel and I brainstormed on some tweaks to the blend that take the cigar to the next level, and I am happy to bring this to cigar smokers via United Cigar Group.” The cigar, which is available in 18-count boxes, is available as a Robusto (5 x 50, $9) and Toro (6 x 52, $9.50).

4) Inside the Industry: Crux Cigars announced the new “Crux du Connoisseur” line which will be available in three sizes in September and is made at Plasencia Cigars S.A. with a Habano wrapper from Jalapa, a Nicaraguan binder, and Honduran filler. At the IPCPR Trade Show next week, Duran Cigars will release the Limited Edition Roberto P. Duran Salomon (7.25 x 57), featuring an Ecuadorian Habano Criollo wrapper. Black Label Trading Company recently announced the Deliverance Nocturne, made in two custom salomon vitolas at the Fabrica Oveja Negra with a  Pennsylvania Broadleaf wrapper, Nicaraguan Habano binder, and filler from Nicaragua and Pennsylvania.

5) Deal of the Week: Cigar Place is offering an additional 40% off its already discounted clearance section by using the promo code “clearance.” Notable deals include five-packs of the Henry Clay Brevas ($15), Padilla Habano Robusto ($17), and Macanudo Gold Label Hampton Court Tubos ($18).

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Facebook

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 437

3 Jul 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.

Cuban Flag1) This week the U.S. and Cuba moved to formally restore diplomatic relations, including the re-establishment of embassies in Washington and Havana. While President Obama had already issued an executive order making legal travel to Cuba easier—and had already removed Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism—the announcement on Wednesday represents the biggest change in a generation with respect to U.S.-Cuban relations. Obama 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) Not content with the current state of New York City’s restrictive tobacco regulations—including raising the minimum tobacco purchase age to 21 and banning smoking in virtually all workplaces, restaurants, bars, parks, and beaches—Mayor Bill de Blasio has private homes in his sights. “The administration is planning to select and pay four health-advocacy groups $9,000 apiece to pressure landlords and developers to prohibit smoking in their apartment complexes so neighboring tenants don’t inhale secondhand smoke,” according to the New York Post. “That means smokers would be barred from lighting up in one of their last sanctuaries: their own living quarters… City health officials emphasized the initiative is voluntary—at least for now.”

3) Inside the Industry: Following the opening of its own Fabrica Oveja Negra factory in Nicaragua earlier this year, Black Label Trading Co. has announced a price drop in its five core lines: Royalty, Benediction, Lawless, Salvation, Redemption, and Last Rites. Drew Estate announced the second annual Barnsmoker in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, on October 3, where attendees will receive a selection of mostly Kentucky Fire Cured cigars by Drew Estate, including the unreleased Kentucky Fire Cured Yard Bird.

4) Deal of the Week: Smoke Inn is taking orders for its Tatuaje Anarchy 2015 exclusive cigar that is part of its Microblend Series. All orders, available in 15-count boxes ($149) and 5-packs ($50), will ship on July 13. The cigar is expected to be in high demand so don’t be surprised if it sells out someday soon.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Flickr