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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

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 436

26 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.

Cuatro Cinco1) Joya de Nicaragua has announced the Cuatro Cinco Reserva Especial, which will start shipping the last week of June to selected members of the Drew Diplomat Retailers program. “In 2013, during its 45th anniversary, Joya de Nicaragua released Cuatro Cinco Edición Limitada, a beautiful cigar containing 100% Nicaraguan fillers and five-year-old Ligeros aged inside vintage oak barrels,” according to a press release. “This Limited Edition exhibited a unique, seductive flavor and enchanting aroma that captivated consumers worldwide and sold out in just a few short weeks. The ecstatic response from around the globe and our consumer’s desire for more, encouraged us to create a cigar as special as Cuatro Cinco Edición Limitada, only this time on an on-going basis.” Reserva Especial will feature a “carefully modified recipe,” including barrel-aged, Grade A fillers and a shade-grown Habano wrapper from Jalapa. Four softly box-pressed vitolas will sell in the $8 to $12.50 range: Torpedo, Double Robusto, Petit Corona, and Toro. “This blend is a superb milestone for our factory,” said Dr. Alejandro Martínez Cuenca, chairman of Joya de Nicaragua. “It’s a cigar worthy of lighting to celebrate your own extraordinary achievements and special moments.”

2) Drew Estate announced yesterday its newest Drew Estate Lounge will open at Famous Smoke Shop’s Retail Store in Easton, Pennsylvania, immediately prior to Famous’ annual Cigarnival event, which starts today. This new Drew Estate Lounge is the second in the United States, following the opening of the first Drew Estate Lounge at Corona Cigar Company in Sand Lake, Florida, in 2014. The new lounge features a 35,000 sq. ft. humidor offering all Drew Estate cigar brands, as well as custom-made Drew Estate furniture, ashtrays, and artwork made by Subculture Studios.

3) Inside the Industry: Gran Habano announced the newest blend in its Gran Reserva line, the Gran Reserva #5 2011, which uses all Nicaraguan vintage tobaccos and sells for around $10 per cigar. Duran Cigars announced it will be adding an extension to the Neya F-8 Ligero Typhoon line: an extra large (7 x 70) vitola named “Big Jack” after company representative Jack Toraño.

4) Deal of the Week: Purchase any box of Camacho Ditka Signature Cigars from Smoke Inn and land a free ceramic Camacho ashtray. Once you use the “Stogie10″ coupon code at checkout, prices start at under $130, plus you can add a T-shirt (currently on sale) for just a few dollars more than normal shipping and land free shipping on the entire order.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Joya de Nicaragua

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 435

19 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.

Tatuaje Anarchy1) Tatuaje Anarchy is back. Smoke Inn is reintroducing the retailer exclusive that debuted in 2010 as the first cigar in its Microblend Series. “Tatuaje Anarchy fans spanned the globe and when the one-time run was gone, emails flooded Smoke Inn for more of the product. While demand continued to pour in, timing and available tobaccos prevented re-production of this highly sought-after store exclusive,” reads a Smoke Inn press release. “Last year Smoke Inn approached Pete Johnson in the hopes of remaking the popular Tatuaje Anarchy again. After discussing the project with the Garcia Family, all were convinced the cigar could be reproduced in 2015.” Only 666 15-count boxes will be made, each retailing for $149.85, or $9.99 for a single. The vitola is the familiar cinnamon bun pigtail figurado (6.25 x 48-52). Pre-orders will begin June 29 and ship nationwide on July 13.

2) This week Drew Estate announced the second “Tienda Exclusiva by Willy Herrera,” a “concept cigar” made in “extremely small batches” at La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate. Each Tienda Exclusiva (Spanish for “store exclusive”) will be crafted for one particular retailer. The second retailer to win this distinction is Riverside Cigars in Jeffersonville, Indiana (the first was Barrister Cigars in Union, New Jersey). The blend includes an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper and binder around Nicaraguan filler tobaccos. It will sell in the corona larga format (6.375 x 46) with an MSRP of $13.50 starting on July 11.

3) Inside the Industry: Oettinger Davidoff AG—parent company of Davidoff, Camacho, Avo, Zino, Room 101 and other brands—reports it set new records for revenue and production in 2014 “thanks to strong growth in sales of Davidoff cigars.” The company reports a 12% increase in global revenue and a 13.1% increase in cigar production from 2013 up to 44 million cigars. Davidoff increased staff 4.9%, mainly due to new hires in the Dominican Republic and Honduras where it created created more than 170 new jobs.

4) Deal of the Week: The limited edition L’Atelier Côte d’Or is hitting shelves now and if you want a box ($144) you should probably move quickly. The cigar, only available to TAA retailers, features an Ecuadorian Sancti Spiritus wrapper and a small amount of the rare, and notoriously difficult to grow, Pelo de Oro filler.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Tatuaje Anarchy

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