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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

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 488

15 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.


1) As we wrote last week, cigar makers, brand owners, blenders, and factories have been frantically scrambling to meet the August 8 deadline set forth by the FDA. (Cigars introduced after August 8 will have to go through the FDA approval process before they can be sold or marketed.) This rush has been personified by Steve Saka of Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust. Saka has recently announced on Facebook a handful of new blends and sizes. This week he shared details on yet another line: Umbagog, an “extreme value-priced ten-count bundle” using a Broadleaf wrapper that didn’t visually make the grade for his more expensive Broadleaf cigar, Mi Querida. The photo shared on Instagram shows a Toro Toro (6 x 52) which Saka says will sell for under $6. The cigar is named for a New Hampshire lake that’s a favorite fishing locale of Saka’s.

2) Following the original Fratello and the Fratello Boxer, Fratello Oro is set to become Omar de Frais’ third blend. “We wanted a mild to medium cigar with a creamy aftertaste that also embodies the true nature of our company, which is full-flavor cigars,” said de Frais in a press release. Oro marks the first time Fratello has worked with an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper. The line’s six sizes will retail between $7 and $10. Fratello Oro is made at La Aurora in the Dominican Republic with a Cameroon binder and Nicaraguan and Dominican filler tobaccos.

3) Inside the Industry: Boveda yesterday announced a “long-term” supply agreement whereby the Minnesota-based company will be providing “private label custom printed patented two-way humidity control products” to Xikar, a cigar accessory brand. “We believe retailers and consumers will benefit significantly from this new supply agreement, and it adds an exciting new product line to Xikar’s already formidable accessories lineup,” said Tim Swail, Boveda’s executive vice president. “Our agreement with Boveda is a natural step in our pursuit to be the turn-key supplier of all cigar accessories, to all cigar retailers,” said Kurt Van Keppel, Xikar’s president.

4) From the Archives: Think you need the latest cigar gadget? Before you spend your hard-earned dollars, read this commentary from 2007: The Truth About Cigar Gadgets. Sure, gadgets can be fun, but as the article concludes, “the more gadgets enter into our smoking routines, the less we’ll concentrate on the cigar itself, which is (along with peace of mind) what cigar smoking is really all about.”

5) Deal of the Week: Drew Estate Undercrown fans will want to check out this special. Buy any Undercrown or Undercrown Shade box and you’ll get six cigars (three Undercrown Gran Toros and three Undercrown Shade Robustos) for free, plus an Undercrown Shade guillotine cutter. Use our discount code “Stogie10” to knock an additional 10% off the box price.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Instagram

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 487

8 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.


1) Cigar makers, brand owners, blenders, and factories have been frantically scrambling to meet the August 8 deadline set forth by the FDA. Perhaps no single individual, however, has been as busy (at least not publicly) as Steve Saka of Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust. “It has been an incredibly grueling 90 days,” he wrote on Facebook yesterday. “I have finalized five marca designs and over 15 ligas between 46 vitolas. Thankfully, I had been buying leaf and working on all of these blends over the past year. While there are some packaging tweaks required, none of any of these cigars are half-baked. I must express my sincere thanks to my partners at both the NACSA (pictured above) and Joya de Nicaragua factories. The demands I put upon both, in particular Joya, have been beyond reasonable.” What do we know so far about Saka’s forthcoming cigars? We know there will be a new Broadleaf-wrapped line called Mi Querida, a Nicaraguan puro line that will be made at Joya and retail in the $6-9 range, a line called Muestra de Saka, and new Sobremesa Elegante en Cedros and Short Churchill ligas that are tweaked to be a bit stronger.

2) This week it was announced Miami Cigar & Co. will be the exclusive distributor of The Upsetters, the second line from Nicholas Melillo’s Foundation Cigar Company. The Upsetters will debut shortly. It follows El Güegüense (“The Wise Man”), which was Melillo’s first solo cigar brand after leaving Drew Estate (where he worked alongside Steve Saka). “The Upsetters is possibly my most exciting and thought-out product to date,” said Melillo in a press release. “By using both Jamaican and Nicaraguan filler leaf, the brand pays deference to the ancient historic relationship between Jamaica and Nicaragua when the two were geologically connected by a land bridge known as the Nicaraguan Rise.” The Upsetters brand will be offered in eight sizes and retail for $5-$12. Each size will either have a Claro, Maduro, or Candela wrapper.

3) In other major news, last Friday brought the public confirmation of the long-rumored purchase of the Oliva Cigar Co. The buyer is J. Cortés Cigars N.V., a private business out of Belgium known for its machine-made cigars. The resulting company will have annual revenues of over $100 million. According to reports, José Oliva will stay on as the chief executive officer of Oliva. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed, though Oliva reportedly turned down a higher offer from General Cigar before agreeing to be purchased by J. Cortés.

4) From the Archives: Cigar reviews frequently refer to a cigar’s texture without explaining the meaning of the term. In 2012, we took an in-depth look at the different things people refer to when they speak of a cigar’s texture. “As consumers of cigars, you and I mostly talk about texture in the way a cigar hits our palate. Some of the best cigar producers, on the other hand, are referring to the physical attributes of individual leaves before they become cigars… The distinction is important to understand in our education of the world of cigars.”

6) Deal of the Week: Want to fill your humidor with some high-quality cigars on the cheap? This Secure Server Sampler features ten cigars that will normally run you over $60 for just $29.95. Move quickly as these deals tend to sell out.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Facebook

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 486

1 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.


1) Davidoff’s newest cigar will be Yamasá, named for a 21-hectacre “harsh and unforgiving swampland” in the Dominican Republic from which Henke Kelner and his team have been trying to grow tobacco for two decades. “For the Yamasá region to unveil its true potential, Kelner and his team had to first nurture nature,” reads a press release. “They conditioned the soil by adding calcium carbonate, agricultural lime, and slaked lime/dolomitic lime. This they did at intervals of every two months, by hand, and to each and every single tobacco plant, then once a month, before transplanting.” Other painstaking measures were taken in the seed selection and curing processes. The resulting cigar features a so-called Yamasá wrapper (first featured in the now discontinued Davidoff Puro d’Oro), a San Vicente binder from Yamasá, and filler tobaccos from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. Four sizes will hit the market in late July: Petit Churchill (4 x 48, $12.90), Robusto (5 x 50, $19.70), Toro (6 x 52, $22.70), and Piramides (6.1 x 52, $23.00).

2) The Velvet Rat is back. The cigar that was previously released in 2012 in extremely limited quantities will soon be made available via the recently announced Drew Diplomat Event Series, a tour that will culminate on August 6 at the second annual Connecticut Barn Smoker, which takes place at the same Connecticut River Valley farm that produces the wrapper for Liga Privada No. 9 and T52. “In total, 5,000 Velvet Rats were produced in January 2015 and have since been at La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate aging in the company’s cold rooms,” reads a press release. The Lonsdale-sized cigar (6.25 x 46) sports a Connecticut broadleaf wrapper, Brazilian Mata Fina binder, and filler tobaccos from Honduras and Nicaragua. It is intended to be a lighter, creamier experience than the famed Liga Privada No. 9. In November 2012, awarded the Velvet Rat a rare five-stogie rating.

3) The growth of the Nicaraguan cigar industry has led to overall growth in the U.S. cigar market in recent years, but the deteriorating relationship between the U.S. and Nicaragua has recently become a point of concern, especially for the cigar industry. This week culminated in a State Department warning for travelers to Nicaragua. The alert cites increased scrutiny of U.S. visitors, upcoming Nicaraguan elections, and the proposed Nicaraguan canal as reasons for the heightened security risks.

4) Inside the Industry: Sin City has long been a hot-spot for cigars, including Casa Fuente. Now you can add the new Davidoff of Geneva Cigar Bar (across from the Wynn Casino) as another Las Vegas cigar landmark. The indoor-outdoor space features views of the Strip, a state-of-the-art ventilation system, and a fully-stocked walk-in humidor.

5) From the Archives: Fancy butane touches have their place (especially if you are outdoors and trying to light a cigar in the wind), but don’t overlook wooden matches. As noted in this 2007 article, instead of flash-frying your cigar there are times when a match or three will do the job far better, not to mention basically for free.

6) Deal of the Week: Alec Bradley fans will want to check out this deal from Smoke Inn. Any purchase of a box of Alec Bradley cigars will, for a limited time, include a five-pack of cigars and a travel ashtray. Plus, use the code “Stogie10” at checkout for an extra 10% off any box purchase.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Davidoff

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 485

24 Jun 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.

Joya Black

1) The next new cigar from Joya de Nicaragua will be Joya Black, due out later this summer. The recipe includes a Mexican San Andrés wrapper—a first for the oldest cigar maker in Nicaragua—around Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos. “Since its inception, the Joya brand has pushed the limits of our factory and showcased a new side of our people and our products,” said Juan Ignacio Martínez, President of Joya de Nicaragua. “Varying from fun and easy smokes like Joya Red, to sophisticated and more complex smoking experiences such as the new Joya Black, and together with new upcoming variants, Joya’s portfolio will continue to generate excitement among modern smokers and make their smoking journey much more rewarding.” Four sizes are expected with per-cigar prices ranging from $5.50 to $8: Robusto (5.25 x 50), Toro (6 x 52), Doble Robusto (5 x 56), and Nocturno (6.25 x 46). Joya Black is considered to be a follow-up to the “very well-received” Habano-wrapped Joya Red, which debuted in 2014 and earned high ratings at

2) Black Label Trading Co. (BLTC) this week announced the follow-up to its popular Killer Bee cigar. Called the Green Hornet (5 x 48), it will retail for $9.50 and feature an Ecuadorian maduro wrapper with a “Candela linear cap” and a closed foot, all of which will enclose Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos. “It’s never easy following up your biggest hit, but I think the Green Hornet is the perfect addition to the Killer Bee Line. The Green Hornet started as an event-only cigar, however, after seeing the response from consumers and retailers, we knew it had to become a regular release,” said BLCT creator James Brown. “The blend is a touch stronger than the Killer Bee to compliment the larger vitola and the closed Candela foot creates a very unique profile from the first puff. The Green Hornet is big, bold, rich and spicy. Everything you expect from a cigar in the Killer Bee lineup.” The cigar is expected to debut at BLTC retailers starting in July.

3) For years, Florida-based retailer Smoke Inn has commissioned custom, limited edition blends from top manufacturers for its Microblend Series. On Wednesday, Smoke Inn announced its new Microblend Collection First Edition, which showcases one each of the first ten cigars in the series in a “custom-built collector’s box” with a “velvet inlet.” Priced at $135.00 per 10-count box, the sampler includes the Tatuaje Anarchy, Padrón 1964 Anniversary SI-15, My Father El Hijo, Arturo Fuente Solaris, Tatuaje Apocalypse, Room101 Big Delicious, Quesada Oktoberfest Dunkel, 601 La Bomba Bunker Buster, Illusione Pactum, and the Drew Estate Pope of Greenwich Village. Only 1,000 boxes will be made. Pre-orders start today at Smoke Inn. “The Microblend Series not only represents my love and passion for fine cigars but the appreciation and fellowship for the cigar manufacturers that were so amazing to work with on each release,” said Abe Dababneh, owner of Smoke Inn.

4) Inside the Industry: While details are still being worked out, has learned that a joint lawsuit challenging the FDA rules regulating cigars is in the works, backed by the International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers Association (IPCPR), Cigar Rights of America (CRA), and the Cigar Association of America (CAA). While the lawsuit is still being put together, it will probably not be filed until after the FDA’s regulations go into effect on August 8, at which point proving damages will be easier.

5) From the Archives: Back in 2010, interviewed Frank Hererra to discuss his cigar brand (La Caridad del Cobre), the state of cigar trademark disputes, and more. Hererra is now the lawyer behind the first cigar industry lawsuit challenging the FDA regulations. Read the whole interview here.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Joya de Nicaragua