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Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 495

2 Sep 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.


1) On Wednesday, for the first time in 50 years, a U.S. passenger airline completed a commercial flight to Cuba. The landing may go down as one of the enduring symbols of thawing diplomatic relations between Washington and Havana. “The JetBlue Airways Flight 387—with Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx on board—landed Wednesday in Santa Clara, Cuba,” reports Fortune. “Earlier this summer, the Transportation Department approved six U.S. passenger airlines including JetBlue and one all-cargo airline to serve cities in Cuba other than Havana. On Wednesday, the federal agency gave final approval for eight airlines to fly to Havana, including Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines, and United Airlines. The newly approved flights will provide service to Havana from Atlanta, Charlotte, Fort Lauderdale, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark, New York City, Orlando, and Tampa, Foxx said in a blog post about the historic flight.” In order to make the trip to Cuba, however, Americans must still cite a reason other than tourism, such as family visits, journalistic activity, religion, or educational activities. And, yes, there are cigar-centric tours that seem to qualify under the educational category.

2) Chicago tobacconist Hyde Park Cigars has been announced as the exclusive retailer of the new Drew Estate Liga Privada No. 9 Pork Beli (4.7 x 50). When it officially launches in the fall, the belicoso-sized smoke will boast a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper, Brazilian Mata Fina binder, and filler tobaccos from Honduras and Nicaragua. “When I noticed that the name of this special yearly release was ‘Pork Beli,’ I called my dear friend Pete Johnson, and asked his permission for use of the name, as he already has a Pork Tenderloin and Chop,” said Jonathan Drew. “He was cool, as always, a class act.”

3) Even though the FDA regulations on cigars went into effect weeks ago, the FDA is only beginning to issue guidance on how the industry will need to comply. One such guidance was issued this week on warning label requirements for cigars, although the agency is asking for public comments on the rules.

4) Inside the Industry: Nomad Cigar Company announced the expansion of the SA-17 Lancero to additional retailers. The cigar (7 x 38) was blended and rolled in Estelí at Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez, and it features a San Andrés wrapper and Nicaraguan binder and filler. It comes in 21-count boxes and sells for $9.75.

5) From the Archives: Even the best cigar can be ruined by a bad cut. So read our tip on getting a proper cut. In it, we walk you though how to pick the proper cut for each cigar.

6) Deal of the Week: recommends Bespoke Post, a monthly collection of awesome items delivered to your door for just $45. Past boxes include fine bar accessories, shaving kits, coffee, exclusive E.P. Carrillo cigars, and more. You can skip or purchase every month. Currently available are boxes with themes including beer tasting, pretzel making, Asian cooking, and pizza making. Click here to sign up today.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Financial Times

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 494

26 Aug 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.

El Reloj

1) In a press release distributed on Monday, J.C. Newman—the oldest family-owned cigar maker in the U.S.—announced its new boutique cigar division. The J.C. Newman Fourth Generation Cigar Company, as it is called, began shipping three lines to retailers last week: The American, Admiration, and The 1954. All of the cigars are handmade at J.C. Newman’s El Reloj factory in Ybor City (pictured above). The American has a Florida sun-grown wrapper and is available in four sizes. Admiration is a “bright, bold cigar that marries classic American and New World Nicaraguan tobaccos.” Both will be sold in the ultra-premium $16 to $18 price range. The 1954, which commemorates the year company founder Julius Caeser Newman moved operations to Tampa, will be sold in one size (6.25 x 42). “Our family and so many others make wonderful cigars overseas,” said Drew Newman. “With the J.C. Newman Fourth Generation Cigar Company, our goal is to prove that world-class cigars with unique, heirloom American tobaccos can be hand-rolled in America once again.”

2) Officials in Dallas will soon vote on whether to ban outdoor smoking at all of the city’s parks. “The park board has been working on this ban proposal since November 2014. The proposal will go to the council for a full vote within the next 30 days, at which point exceptions could be added back to the proposed amendment by council members opposed to the outright ban,” reports the Dallas Morning News. While the Park and Recreation Board moved to push forward the proposal with no exemptions, “several council members said they weren’t on board with the ban, calling it unenforceable and nothing more than the nanny state in action.”

3) Although Americans can now legally purchase Cuban cigars while abroad, and can even import up to $100 worth of Cuban cigars when returning from traveling on a visa to Cuba, not everyone has updated their policies. Forbes contributor Nathaniel Parish Flannery found his PayPal account frozen when he reimbursed a friend for a cigar purchased and smoked in Mexico. While PayPal should surely update their policies so as not to flag perfectly legal purchases, it would be wise to not mention cigars at all when transferring funds via PayPal.

4) Inside the Industry: Prometheus has announced the fall 2016 Fuente Aged Selection. In commemoration of the 20th anniversary of Fuente Fuente OpusX, an interview book with Carlos “Carlito” Fuente Jr. and 20 Years of Fuente Fuente OpusX will be released. The book will be presented with four Fuente Fuente Forbidden X cigars and six rare vintage Fuente Aged Selection cigars. The price, which will be substantial, has not yet been announced.

5) From the Archives: Last year Steve Saka’s long-anticipated Sobremesa debuted. This year he has a host of new offerings. If you want some insight into those new blends, check out this interview with Saka last year.

6) Deal of the Week: Over the years, West Palm Beach retailer Smoke Inn has partnered with some of the biggest names in the cigar industry to create exclusive cigars for its Microblend collection. If you missed any of those cigars, some of which haven’t been sold for years, you can now obtain the entire collection. Grab yours here.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Tampa Bay Times

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 493

19 Aug 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.

JudgeMehta102715_crop1) The cigar industry can cheer what is the first of hopefully many wins in lawsuits challenging the Food and Drug Administration’s tobacco regulations. This week U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta (pictured at right) ruled a tobacco product shouldn’t be considered new—and therefore re-subject to FDA approval—simply because its label changes. “The ruling comes in a lawsuit filed last year by subsidiaries of Imperial Brands, Reynolds American Inc., and Altria Group over FDA guidelines clarifying what changes to a tobacco product require regulatory approval under the 2009 Tobacco Control Act, which gave the FDA authority to regulate tobacco products,” reports Reuters. Judge Mehta did find, however, that changing the quantity of cigarettes included in a product does amount to a change that would require the new product to submit to FDA approval. The lawsuit specifically challenged how the Tobacco Control Act was being applied to cigarettes, but has significant implications for how the agency can apply its rules to cigars.

2) On Wednesday, Patrick S was interviewed on KOH 780 AM, a news talk radio station in Reno, Nevada. The conversation, which focused the FDA regulation of cigars, is an excellent resource if you’re looking for the basics and need to get up to speed. You can listen to his segment here (beginning at the 20-minute mark).

3) In partnership with expert tobacconists and mixologists, and in association with Cigar & Spirits magazine, online retailer Famous Smoke Shop has released a new cigar and spirit pairing guide. The interactive tool helps determine recommendations on what cigars to pair with different spirits. Once you get your suggested pairing, there are recommended articles to read, including an article from

4) Inside the Industry: One of the more anticipated new releases from Tatuaje is the Reserva Broadleaf Collection, which consists of 100 cigars, 10 of each size. The collection features Brown Label blends with a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper. In addition to the six original Brown Label sizes, also included are the Tatuaje Reserva SW, Tatuaje Reserva J21, the new Tatuaje K222, and the Tatuaje Cojonu 2003. The 100-count collection retails for $1,200. As Tatuaje owner Pete Johnson noted to us in an email ahead of the release, to differentiate the original Reserva blends (which use an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper) from the Broadleaf versions, you’ll start to see “Broadleaf” noted on secondary bands.

5) From the Archives: In 10 years, only 53 cigars have earned our highest rating of five out of five stogies. What was the first? The Davidoff Grand Cru No. 3. The review praised the cigar’s “explosion of delicate toasty notes, particularly hints of sweet hay… [with a blend of tobaccos that] yielded a unique, harmonious flavor pleasing to the whole palate.”

6) Deal of the Week: Just $27 will land you this Lucky 7 Sampler. Included are three each of the Alec Bradley American Sun Grown and Oliva Serie O, plus a Punch Gran Puro, and a free cutter thrown in for good measure. Be sure to add the coupon code “stogie” for 10% off.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Wikipedia

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 492

12 Aug 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.


1) The Food and Drug Administration’s cigar regulations officially took effect on Monday. While the full impact of the rules will take years to see, several notable cigar makers voiced their perspectives this week, including Skip Martin of RoMa Craft Tobac: “…We are, at this time, unable to determine exactly what the consequences of this regulation will be on our industry, on our businesses, and on our passion for premium cigars,” he opined on Facebook. “Most of what you read is worst-case scenario. The reality is likely more positive… It is my personal observation that the misinformation and hyperbole has created an environment of fear and negativity that is counter-productive and detrimental to our business.” Meanwhile, Rafael Nodal of Boutique Blends Cigars sent around an email to update his “friends, retailers, and associates” about his company’s approach: “As a company, we have spent hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars preparing for this, and since we have navigated the regulatory maze before [Nodal comes from the healthcare industry], we know it is not going to be easy, but we also know that with detailed preparation, detailed documentation, implementation of strict protocols, and continued updates of our policies and procedures, we can survive. Until now, the FDA preparation has been done by our core staff. We are now staffing regulatory personnel to coordinate compliance with our outside consultants, suppliers, as well as our attorneys.” Finally, Fred Rewey of the Nomad Cigar Company had this to say: “…Although the immediate ramifications to the consumer seem light, the process has started behind the scenes, and it is an ugly battle… I am proud of the reputation of both the brand and me personally. No B.S. Don’t cut corners and try and make the best cigars you can. That said, all is not doom and gloom. I plan on staying. Whether I continue to go it alone, or partner with someone else, I am just not sure. I am open to the mechanics, but not open to sacrificing one thing that you have grown to expect out of Nomad.”

2) Seemingly in an effort to capitalize on the Pokémon Go craze, Gurkha is organizing a cigar scavenger hunt in Miami on Saturday, September 10. Pre-registration is required but free. The event will start at Village Humidor and take participants to several cigar locales throughout the city, culminating in an award ceremony where the winner will receive one of box of cigars each month for one year.

3) Inside the Industry: While many cigar companies significantly increased their announcement of new cigars at this year’s IPCPR Trade Show in light of the FDA, General Cigar’s debuts, while numerous, were in line with the number of new releases the outfit had featured at previous shows. Among the highlights were CAO Consigliere, a return of the original CAO Sopranos blend at a slightly lower price point now that the licensing agreement with The Sopranos has ended. Another interesting debut was the Hoyo La Amistad, produced in partnership with A.J. Fernandez, who makes the cigar in Nicaragua with an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper and binder from his Nicaraguan farms. Also new from General Cigar are two La Gloria Maduro offerings: La Gloria Cubana Serie R Estelí Maduro, which features a Broadleaf wrapper, and La Gloria Cubana Serie R Black Maduro, which is an internet and catalog exclusive.

4) From the Archives: It’s hard to believe, but it has been over eight years since the launch of Cigar Rights of America. At the time, the organization’s  stated goals were to “fight unjustified tax increases and halt smoking bans.” As became necessary, however, on the federal level much of CRA’s attention quickly turned to the FDA regulations that were authorized by Congress only weeks after the organization’s establishment.

5) Deal of the Week: Every cigar smoker has good reason to join Cigar Rights of America, or renew/extend their current membership. If you want to smoke excellent, exclusive cigars while you do so, consider purchasing this Cigar Rights of America Limited Edition Sampler. Each sampler includes a CRA membership (you can also use it to renew your existing membership) with ten exclusive, high-end cigars. As a bonus, use the code “Stogie10” to save $10 (knocking the price down to $90).

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 491

5 Aug 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.


1) The just-concluded IPCPR Trade Show in Las Vegas will probably go down as one of the industry’s most important conventions in history. Cigar makers introduced new cigars at what seemed like a record pace, as blends introduced after August 8 will have to wait for FDA pre-approval before being marketed or sold in the United States, while those on the market before that date can be sold for two years without needing pre-approval. Many of those new blends will be shipped to retailers within days to make the FDA’s deadline. With that in mind, it’s appropriate to mention a few notable trends—trends that are sure to make themselves apparent at a tobacconist near you within the coming weeks. New Candela-wrapped cigars, for example, debuted in large numbers from manufacturers like Drew Estate, Nomad, and (as hinted on Facebook by Steve Saka) Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust. Also, more than a few companies reached back into their archives to re-release old lines, likely in part because older lines may fair better in the FDA approval process.

2) Cigar Insider has released its 2016 Retailer Survey, a poll of over 100 shop owners who represent over 140 tobacconist locations. According to the respondents, the best-selling cigar brands are, in order, Arturo Fuente, Padrón, Rocky Patel, Ashton, and Romeo y Julieta (Perdomo and My Father both finished just outside the top five). Over 70% of shops saw an increase in sales over the previous year, although many also expressed concern and uncertainty about the year ahead in light of the new FDA regulations.

3) Inside the Industry: Traditionally, Illusione has limited its new offerings at IPCPR Trade Shows. Whether due to the upcoming FDA regulations or some other reason, though, this year numerous new Illusione offerings were announced. Garagiste is a new “medium- to full-bodied” cigar concentrating on the combination of two tobaccos, Viso Corojo and Viso Criollo, from a specific farm, finished with an Ecuador Habano wrapper that has been put through final fermentation techniques at TABSA. Also made at TABSA is Cigares Prive, which was originally a store exclusive; it’s now a full line in three sizes, each available in a San Andrés Maduro or Corojo wrapper. Another new offering is the Illusione HAUT 10, which celebrates the company’s tenth year in business and combines Nicaraguan Criollo ’98 and Corojo ’99 fillers finished with an AAA grade Café Claro Corojo wrapper (5.5 x 52, $15.95). Illusione is adding to the Rothchildes and Gigantes blends with an Ecuador Connecticut Shade wrapper version of each. Finally, Illusione is also reaching back into its archives to make past Singulare blends (Anunnaki, Misrerre, Phantom, plus the new Kadosh) into regular offerings.

4) From the Archives: Want to get serious about aging cigars? The place to start is making sure you know how old the cigar you are smoking is. Read this tip for some suggestions on how to keep track of aged cigars.

5) Deal of the Week: Want to check out some of the hottest new cigars of 2016? Check out this sampler. Included are ten high-end cigars ($90) like the Padrón Family Reserve No. 50 Natural, Caldwell Blind Man’s Bluff, Avo Syncro Nicaragua Fogata, and Illusione Epernay.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: IPCPR

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 490

29 Jul 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 Logo

1) Drew Estate has announced an executive-level shakeup. Glenn Wolfson, a graduate of Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and a Chicago-area resident, will relocate to Miami to oversee the company’s day-to-day operations as chief executive officer. “Glenn Wolfson is a trusted advisor, and has enjoyed a 36-year career in business as a senior corporate executive and consultant,” said Peter Ghiloni, Swisher’s CEO. “Glenn has worked with our team in the past, helping us transform our business dramatically having experience in managing supply chain and operations, marketing, information technology, business strategy, and human resource.” Michael Cellucci is stepping down from his post as Drew Estate’s president to pursue other opportunities, and Rich Cutler returns to Drew Estate in a sales capacity for “transitional support.” In the fall of 2014, Drew Estate was acquired by Swisher International, the largest cigar company in the world by volume.

2) Cigar Rights of America (CRA) will begin affixing stamp-size labels to cigar boxes from manufacturers who support the cause of cigar freedoms. “The Stamp,” as it is known, debuted at the industry trade show this week. “We wanted to develop a program to recognize those companies that have been and are advancing the cause of CRA as a movement among patrons of great premium cigars, for their resources that have advanced the legislative agenda of CRA in Washington and across the nation, and are giving to this partnership between the manufacturers, community retail tobacconist, and consumers of premium handmade cigars,” CRA executive director J. Glynn Loope told Cigar Aficionado.

3) Inside the Industry: Tons of new cigars were introduced this week, and we’ll have plenty to review in the coming months. Generally, new cigars are a result of the creativity and skill of the blender, and limited by available tobaccos. At the IPCPR Trade Show, General Cigar debuted the results of a new project to expand the types of tobacco available to its cigar makers. “Project Mao” seeks to use archived tobacco seeds to redevelop strands of tobacco that otherwise would be unavailable due to the natural evolution of tobacco strains. Both the Partagas Ramon y Ramon and Macanudo Mao use tobacco developed from archived seeds that are over a half century old to attempt to recreate flavors that otherwise have been lost.

4) From the Archives: first attended the IPCPR Trade Show in 2008, which was also held at the Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas, home to the 2016 show. Check out our coverage of that show here and here.

5) Deal of the Week: Want to fill your humidor with some high-quality cigars on the cheap? This IPCPR 2016 Sampler features ten cigars that will normally run you over $60 combined, for just $29.95.  Included are cigars from Drew Estate Undercrown, Surrogates, Miro, La Aurora, and others.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Drew Estate

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 489

22 Jul 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.

Swamp Thang

1) Announcements of new cigar releases continue to roll out at what seems like a record pace in advance of what might be the most important IPCPR Trade Show in history. On Wednesday, we learned Drew Estate is launching candela-wrapped line extensions called Kentucky Fire Cured Swamp Thang and Swamp Rat. “This thing should not be, and it’s a deeply disturbing yet pleasing smoke,” reads a press release. “Deep in the swamps it is lurking, waiting to be discovered. By pairing this deliciously sweet candela wrapper with the smoky and tasty Kentucky Fire Cured tobaccos, an eerie mystery has been revealed for a unique and powerful experience.” Three new cigars will be sold in ten-count paper bundles for $7.50 to $8.75: Kentucky Fire Cured Swamp Thang Toro (6 x 52), Kentucky Fire Cured Swamp Thang Rat (6 x 46), and Kentucky Fire Cured Swamp Thang Robusto (5 x 54). “We continue to demonstrate our leadership in the fire-cured tobacco segment, making history as the first company to blend candela and Kentucky Fire Cured tobaccos in the premium segment,” said Jonathan Drew.

2) Recluse has introduced the Amadeus Corojo Reserva, Amadeus Rosado, and OTG Connecticut. The former features a “very special Corojo wrapper that we have been holding onto for years” around Dominican, Sumatran, and Mexican filler tobaccos. The Recluse Amadeus Rosado boasts “the finest Ecuadorian Rosado wrapper available on the market” with Dominican, Pennsylvanian, and Mexican fillers. Recluse president Scott Weeks calls the blend “one of the most complex cigars we have ever made.” Finally, OTG Connecticut is an expansion of the original OTG Maduro blend, which was the very first blend Recluse offered to the U.S. market. It sports a Grade A Connecticut Shade wrapper around Dominican and Sumatran fillers. All three will be sold in 14 sizes with prices ranging from $5.95 for the Petit Corona (4 x 42) to $11.95 for the Kanu #3 (8 x 58).

3) Inside the Industry: La Flor Dominicana has announced a smaller “Petite” size of La Nox, its blend using a dark Brazilian wrapper, Mexican binder, and Nicaraguan filler. Viva Republica is adding Art of War, a new blend made at La Aurora with a stalk-cut Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper over a binder of Ecuadorian Sumatra surrounding Colombian, Dominican, and Nicaraguan filler. Sindicato is set to resurrect the Particulares brand, a Nicaraguan puro made by Casa Fernandez to be sold in five sizes with prices ranging from $7.50 to $10 per cigar.

4) From the Archives: With the next IPCPR Cigar Trade Show set to open in imminently, it is interesting to look back at last year’s show to see how much has changed, or hasn’t. In a wrap-up from last year’s show, we noted a few key observations, including decreased attendance, numerous exhibitors, cautious optimism (now seemingly somewhat myopic) about the FDA, and increased discussion about evolving Cuban-U.S. relations.

5) Deal of the Week: recommends Bespoke Post, a monthly collection of awesome items delivered to your door for just $55. Past boxes include barbecue accessories, shaving kits, everything you need to make great coffee, and exclusive cigars from E.P. Carrillo paired with custom accessories. You can select a box each month or skip the month entirely. Click here to sign up today.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Drew Estate