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Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 416

6 Feb 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.

Havana1) Changes for U.S.-Cuban relations were announced by President Obama in December, but they fell short of ending the trade embargo outright or legalizing all travel to the island. Americans still need to be officially licensed to legally travel to Cuba, and such licenses are restricted to purposes such as education, religion, government business, and visiting family members. However, bipartisan legislation—S. 299, the “Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act”—was recently introduced in the Senate to repeal all restrictions on travel by Americans to Cuba, and a House version of the bill is expected shortly. The American Society of Travel Agents estimates “at least two million additional Americans would visit Cuba by 2017 if there were to be a full lifting of travel restrictions in 2015.”

2) This week the Miami New Times published an article titled “The End of the Embargo Could Kill Miami’s Cuban Cigar Industry.” While the headline may be sensationalistic, bordering on absurd, the story contains some fascinating history, in particular an in-depth interview with José Orlando Padrón. Padrón describes his fascinating and often tumultuous life experiences, which include: having his family’s Cuban tobacco farms seized by Castro’s government; meeting Castro and even sharing a cigar with the dictator while on a trip to push for the release of 4,000 political prisoners after the communist revolution; the violent backlash he faced in Miami and Nicaragua for being seen as too close to Castro after a newspaper published a photo of Castro smoking a Padrón cigar; meeting Nicaraguan strongman Anastasio Somoza who showed Padrón the potential of Nicaraguan tobacco; and fleeing Nicaragua for Honduras after the Nicaraguan Sandinista revolution led to his factory being burnt down. The whole article is worth reading for Padrón’s story alone.

3) According to Reuters: “Dr. Margaret Hamburg, who as commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for almost six years has overseen public health initiatives ranging from tobacco control and food safety to personalized medicine and drug approvals, is stepping down, the agency said on Thursday. Hamburg, 59, is one of the longest-serving FDA commissioners in the modern era. She was nominated by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in May 2009 and last year was named the world’s 51st most powerful woman by Forbes magazine… Dr. Stephen Ostroff, the FDA’s chief scientist, will fill Hamburg’s position until a new commissioner is named.”

4) Inside the Industry: Viva Republica is set to launch what will certainly be one of the most bizarre cigars of 2015. Called Jailbreak, it’s a lancero buried inside a larger cigar. “The cigar features a double-wrapper (Dominican Corojo and Ecuadorian Habano), undisclosed double-binder, and features ten different filler leaves,” according to a press release. “The lancero/center-chamber is rolled and aged prior to being re-rolled into the 6 x 58, which is then aged again.” Only 300 20-count boxes will be made. Jailbreak will retail for $12.50.

5) Deal of the Week: As we noted a few weeks ago, AVO’s re-branding/re-blending has resulted in some excellent deals on older AVO offerings. These deals from Emerson’s are no exception. Buy any box of AVO cigars and receive a 10-pack of AVO Classic No. 2 cigars (valued at over $100). We’d particularly recommend the AVO Heritage line, which starts at just $112 for a box (plus the bonus 10-pack).

-The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Flickr

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 415

30 Jan 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.

Rare Lapiz1) Punch Rare Corojo will be back at tobacconists starting February 16, including two new vitolas. The first, El Diablo (6.5 x 66), will be a permanent addition to the annual release. The second, Rare Lapiz (6.75 x 56), will only be available this year, and only to select retailers. “Punch Rare Corojo started the trend of seasonal cigars, and each year we’re pleased with the response to this annual collection,” said Ed McKenna, senior brand manager for Punch. “Given the range of frontmarks and the addition of Rare Lapiz to this year’s lineup, we are confident that Punch Rare Corojo will sell out quickly.” The Rare Corojo blend includes an Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper, a Connecticut Broadleaf binder, and a filler blend of Nicaraguan, Honduran, and Dominican tobaccos.

2) “Less than a week after New Orleans passed a local law to ban smoking in bars and casinos, some Baton Rouge medical professionals and local leaders are pushing the capital city to strike while the iron’s still hot,” according to The Advocate. The director or Tobacco Free Living, an organization that lobbied for the ban in New Orleans, is on record saying Baton Rouge should be next. Baton Rouge’s mayor is thus far publicly undecided.

3) Inside the Industry: José Blanco’s Señorial announced a distribution deal with House of Horvath to distribute the brand in Canada. Cuban cigar distribution company Habanos recently announced the introduction of Añejados, a limited series of cigars that have already been aged for 5-8 years.

4) Deal of the Week: Have fun with these coupon codes at Cigar Place to score some excellent deals. Our favorites include 20% off Undercrown and Oliva, 15% off Drew Estate MUWAT, and 10% off Ashton VSG. You can also use the promo to score 5% off Tatuaje cigars.

-The Stogie Guys

photo credit: General Cigar

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 414

23 Jan 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.

IPCPR1) Yesterday, the New Orleans City Council unanimously passed a smoking ban. But the International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers Association (IPCPR) was quick to point out the new law will not impact its 83rd Trade Show, slated to be held in the Louisiana city in July. “The ability to smoke in cigar bars, the convention center, and in facilities being used for private events is protected… Your representatives from IPCPR and the Cigar Association of America have been working diligently with the New Orleans City Council on behalf of retailers and manufacturers. Thank you to all IPCPR members who contacted the City Council to voice your concerns regarding the original legislation. With your help, we generated nearly 700 emails to the Councilmembers. Your active participation was critical to our success.”

2) In Tuesday’s State of the Union Address, President Obama called on Congress to end the longstanding trade embargo with Cuba, saying, “We are ending a policy that was long past its expiration date. When what you’re doing doesn’t work for fifty years, it’s time to try something new.” The next day, the highest level talks between the U.S. and Cuba in decades commenced, with clashes over immigration. Clearly, while a new course for Cuban relations has been set, we are still a long way away from ending the embargo. If you’re looking for a summary of what this all means for cigars, you can revisit our analysis here.

3) Randolph Churchill, great-grandson of Winston Churchill, accepted a lifetime membership in Cigar Rights of America (CRA). “It is difficult to think of my great-grandfather without a cigar,” he said via a CRA press release. “His love for great cigars spanned a lifetime, and he enjoyed them wherever he was, whether at home painting, or on the battlefield. I imagine he would be sad to find his enjoyment of them curtailed by regulation. I am proud to now be called a lifetime member of CRA, and would hope that all who share this noble indulgence can recognize that enjoying a cigar is truly a moment to enjoy one’s own liberty.”

4) Inside the Industry: Puro Sabor, Nicaragua’s annual cigar festival, took place last week with events in Managua and Estelí. At the festival, the Nicaraguan Tobacco Association announced that Juan Ignacio Martínez, executive president of Joya de Nicaragua, will replace the outgoing president and legendary cigar man Nestor Plasencia, who served five years at the head of the organization.

5) Deal of the Week: Fans of My Father Cigars will want to check out this store-exclusive lancero release of the highly-ranked Flor de las Antillas. Made for Stogies World Class Cigars in Houston, use the discount code “SG10” for 10% off your first order, plus land free shipping on all five-pack or box purchases.

-The Stogie Guys

photo credit: IPCPR

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 413

16 Jan 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.

AVO Domaine1) AVO this week announced a new era for the brand, which will include “contemporary packaging, new communication, and a streamlined range that focuses on core lines,” according to a press release from Davidoff. “The AVO portfolio has been streamlined to focus on its four celebrated core lines—AVO Classic, AVO XO, AVO Domaine, and AVO Heritage.” In addition, the brand presentation will more overtly associate itself with music, a nod to brand founder Avo Uvezian’s background as a jazz composer. “The elegantly modern wooden box design displays the AVO logo on the lid, flanked with music bars featuring authentic debossed notes from Avo Uvezian’s songs… It is finished with an intensity meter, developed from scaling musical notes, that allows consumers to easily select the perfect cigar for that moment.” The new AVO products will begin shipping to U.S. retailers later this month.

2) The International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association (IPCPR) is in the process of buying property in Washington to serve as the organization’s headquarters. A three-story commercial townhouse in the Capitol Hill neighborhood has been selected. “Currently, the association has employees in five different states with headquarters in Columbus, Georgia,” according to a recent press release. “Mark Pursell, IPCPR’s CEO noted that, ‘The new headquarters will enable IPCPR to house its staff in one location creating a greater focus on all of the services we provide members and the larger industry.’” The move is expected to result in greater access to policymakers and the ability to host congressional events.

3) Inside the Industry: The delayed, but much awaited, limited edition La Flor Dominicana Beer Stein has finally shipped to retailers; it comes complete with 20 1994 anniversary cigars. Altadis is launching a new Romeo cigar called Romeo Añejo, which will sport a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper, Dominican binder, and Nicaraguan and Honduran filler.

4) Deal of the Week: Nub fans should be all over this sampler. Just $25 gets you 8 cigars ($3.12 per stick). Included are two each of the four first Nub blends: Connecticut, Cameroon, Habano, and Maduro.

-The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Davidoff

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 412

9 Jan 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.

Nebraska Capitol Building1) Nebraska’s eleven cigar bars can continue to allow smoking, at least for a short while longer. Last August, the state Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional a longstanding exemption from the state’s indoor smoking ban. For now, paperwork and bureaucracy are delaying enforcement of the ban at the bars in question. In addition, “some lawmakers said there will be an effort to allow for cigar bars this upcoming session. Sen. Tyson Larson, who’s running to be chairman of the General Affairs Committee, believes they’ll come up with a proposal that is constitutional,” according to the ABC affiliate in Omaha.

2) Love it or hate it, you can’t deny Cigar Aficionado’s recent list of the Top Cigars of 2014 will have an impact on sales (and probably also influence the behavior of retailers and manufacturers). Highest honors went to the Oliva Serie V Melanio Figurado—the first time Oliva has topped the list. The top ten included the E.P. Carrillo La Historia E-III, Illusione Fume d’Amour Clementes, Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure Especial Tubo, Rocky Patel Royale Toro, Fuente Fuente OpusX PerfecXion X, Padrón Family Reserve 50 Years Maduro, Ashton Estate Sun Grown 22-Year Salute, Monte Jacopo No. 2, and A. Flores 1975 Serie Privada Capa Habano SP52.

3) Inside the Industry: Jordan Alexander III Cigar Company will be shipping it’s new Corojo cigar next month. The cigar—made with a Dominican corojo wrapper, Dominican binder, and Nicaraguan and Dominican filler at the Quesada factory—will come in four sizes with suggested prices ranging from $7.95 to $9.75. Also shipping in February is the new Room 101 Master Collection Three. The Camacho-made cigar will feature an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, Dominican binder, Nicaraguan filler, and will come in five sizes.

4) Deal of the Week: AVO’s upcoming rebranding/reblending will result in some excellent deals on the current AVO offerings. These deals from Emerson’s are no exception. Buy any box of AVO cigars and you recieve a 10-pack of AVO Classic No. 2 cigars (valued at over $100). We’d particularly recommend the AVO Heritage line, which starts at just $112 for a box (plus the bonus 10-pack).

-The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Wikipedia

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 411

19 Dec 2014

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.

Raul Castro1) On Wednesday, President Obama announced major changes for U.S.-Cuban relations as part of a prisoner exchange that was brokered with Cuban President Raúl Castro (pictured). While traveling to Cuba for tourism will remain banned, “licensed American travelers to Cuba will now be able to return to the U.S. with $400 in Cuban goods, including tobacco and alcohol products worth less than $100 combined,” according to the Associated Press. “This means the long-standing ban on importing Cuban cigars is over, although there are still limits.” Additional measures of the agreement include the U.S. reopening an embassy in Havana and an easing of travel bans for family visits and educational activities.

2) One article about President Obama’s new Cuban policy featured P.G. Cigars founder Paul Garmirian’s thoughts. His frank answer might shock those unfamiliar with the current state of Cuban cigars. “The character of the Cuban cigar has changed as the result of great pressures to meet the demand,” Garmirian said. “The quality of cigars from the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua has gone so high that people don’t miss (Cubans).”

3) In last month’s “Question of the Month” (which admittedly ran significantly longer than a month), we asked readers what factors most into your decision to select a new cigar to try. “Brand/cigar maker” was number one with 31% of the vote, followed by “online/forum reviews” (25%), “wrapper type” (15%), “cost” (13%), and “word of mouth” (13%). Mainstream cigar media and marketing efforts were rarely cited as main reasons to try a new cigar—although there’s clearly a selection bias since the survey was conducted on a cigar blog. Be sure to weigh in on this month’s question by voting in the sidebar to the right. And feel free to contact us if you’ve got a good suggestion for a future poll.

4) Inside the Industry: Cigar humidification accessory maker Boveda has ended its distribution agreement with Ashton. The maker of two-way humidification pouches will now handle distribution in-house and through independent reps.

5) Deal of the Week: Illusione fans may want to move quickly on the new Smoke Inn exclusive called Pactum. Five-packs are available for $45, and if you purchase a box ($135) you get a free Illusione Pactum shirt for a limited time.

-The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Flickr

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 410

12 Dec 2014

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.

Hirochi Robaina1) Hirochi Robaina’s “HR” cigar brand has started to appear at tobacconists across the U.S. HR, which is crafted in Estelí, Nicaragua, is the first non-Cuban made by the Robaina, proprietor of the Vegas Robaina farm in Pinar del Río, Cuba. According to a July press release, “The HR blend is a collaborative effort between Hirochi and Don Omar González” and features an Ecuadorian Habano 2000 hybrid wrapper around Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos. Four sizes are available—Belicoso (5.5 x 52), Hermoso (5.1 x 48), Toro (6 x 52), and Sublime (6.5 x 54)—with each selling in the super-premium $19 to $22 range. Hirochi Robaina is the grandson of the legendary (and late) Alejandro Robaina, a “roving ambassador for Cuban cigars” who is remembered as Cuba’s foremost producer of top wrapper leaves and for being the voice of small tobacco growers in Pinar del Río.

2) Smoking bans and heavy taxation are to blame for the “decimation” of the pub industry in Britain, according a recent study by the Institute for Economic Affairs. AFP reports 10,000 pubs have closed in only eight years. “Of the pubs that had closed since 2006, the bulk had shut due to a ban on smoking in enclosed public places and a tax on alcohol, according to the report… Overall alcohol consumption per person has fallen by 18 percent in the last decade, according to the study, while Britons increasingly chose to drink at home.”

3) Love it or hate it, there’s no denying Cigar Aficionado’s impact with its annual Top 25 and Cigar of the Year awards. The magazine will begin counting down on its website on December 15 with the 10, 9, and 8 selections, going down to the No. 1 slot on Dec. 18. Then, over the following two days, they’ll list 11-25 and their best bargains.

4) Inside the Industry: Señorial by José Blanco is shipping its limited edition cigar to celebrate Blanco’s 65th birthday. The Perfecto Elegance (5.75 x 55) is a $14 Dominican puro.

5) Deal of the Week: E.P. Carrillo is exclusively releasing two cigars as part of Bespoke Post, a monthly “box of awesome items” delivered to your door. The $45 (shipping included) “Churchill” box includes four E.P. Carrillo cigars (similar to the exclusive Bespoke Post cigar we wrote about here) along with cedar spills, a handcrafted wood ashtray/candle holder, candle, and cigar cutter. Past boxes include fine bar accessories, shaving kits, coffee, BBQ kits, and more. You can always skip months or cancel at anytime. Click here to sign up.

-The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Facebook