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Weekly Cigar News Sampler: FDA Delays Cigar Regulation Deadlines, Reaction from Cigar Makers, Sean Williams Joins General Cigar, and More

5 May 2017

As we have since July 2006, each Friday we’ll post our sampling of cigar news and other items of interest from the week. Below is our latest, which is the 529th in the series.

1) In response to multiple legal challengess, including a lawsuit brought jointly by the Cigar Association of America (CAA), Cigar Rights of America (CRA), and the International Premium Cigar and Pipes Retailers Association (IPCPR) that was filed in July 2016, the FDA on Monday agreed to push back all future tobacco regulation deadlines by 90 days. This applies to deadlines that were scheduled to hit within the next 90 days (including the date to apply for substantial equivalence), but not to deadlines that have already passed. In a press release, IPCPR CEO Mark Pursell praised the news, stating, “This is certainly good news for our retail and manufacturing community, given the nature of the rules the industry is facing, and the uncertainty they create. This gives everyone, the industry and the administration alike, time to revisit the regulation, to determine the best path forward.” Meanwhile, attorney Frank Herrera, whose boutique law firm specializes in cigar trademark and FDA compliance issues, told StogieGuys.com he thinks “the new administration is causing the FDA to be cautious and to reevaluate these deeming regulations with a fresh look. I don’t believe the deeming regulations will be wiped away. Rather, the FDA was previously shoving these regulations down our throat without any pause for reason. The arguments made in litigation are sound and demand the FDA reevaluate the regulations. Had the regulations been solid, the FDA (under any administration) would have pressed forward with summary judgment.”

2) Several notable cigar makers took to social media this week to react to the news about the FDA delay. “I know I should be happy, but I gotta admit I am kind of pissed off,” said Steve Saka of Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust (DTT). “I just spent well over 80 man hours preparing DTT’s warning label plan submittal to comply with the original May 10 deadline! Plus $$$ on legal counsel. Our government has simply no understanding or care for the burden these type of regulations place upon us small business owners.” Skip Martin of RoMa Craft Tobac agreed. “From where I’m sitting, not much has changed in terms of the risk and uncertainty to my business since May 2016. Clearly, there is a lot of work being done and a lot of resources being invested that may change something in the future, but a short delay nine days before a compliance deadline doesn’t help a great deal…”

3) Inside the Industry: General Cigar announced the appointment of Sean Williams as a full-time ambassador for the Cohiba brand. Williams is former owner of El Primer Mundo. “We have brought Sean on board as part of the continued expansion of our experiential platforms,” said General Cigar President Régis Broersma. “Our focus is on deepening retailer and consumer engagement around this pivotal brand in our portfolio. With Sean, we are gaining a passionate cigar maker who is also a connoisseur of the finer things in life.” El Primer Mundo will continue with Williams’ partner Will Bolling at the helm.

4) Today is Cinco de Mayo. Here’s a rundown of related content: Thoughts About Mexican Tobacco on Cinco de Mayo. Cigar Spirits: The Perfect Margarita Recipe. Cinco de Mayo Pairings with Corralejo Tequila.

5) From the Archives: Enjoying a cigar is one of life’s great, simple pleasures. Just a little technical expertise can go a long way. In that spirit, here are a few tips to help ensure you’re properly cutting your smokes.

6) Deal of the Week: The cigars are a mystery, but you do get a lot of them. They’re all name brands, not house brands or no-name bundles, and they come for less than $3 per cigar. These Grab Bags tend to sell out fast, so if you need to fill up your humidor on the cheap, act quickly.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Weekly Cigar News Sampler: Cohiba Blue Announced, Drew Estate Ships Swamp Thang and Swamp Rat, and More

28 Apr 2017

As we have since July 2006, each Friday we’ll post our sampling of cigar news and other items of interest from the week. Below is our latest, which is the 528th in the series.

1) General Cigar is expanding its Cohiba brand with a new line called Blue. “The Cohiba blending team created a velvety, medium-bodied cigar with a rich, complex taste and enticing aroma,” reads a press release. “To achieve the desired flavor, they began with a silky, rosado-hued Honduran Olancho San Agustin (OSA) wrapper and took a unique approach by selecting Honduran OSA for the binder as well. The layered wrapper-binder deepens the smoking experience and imparts subtle, earthy notes. The blend consists of Honduran Jamastran, Nicaraguan Ometepe, and Dominican Piloto Cubano to provide hints of cocoa and caramel, with a light touch of sweetness.” Four vitolas will retail in the $8.99 to $10.99 price range, each packaged in bright blue boxes of 20: Churchill (7.5 x 50), Robusto (5.5 x 50), Rothschild (4.5 x 50), and Toro (6 x 54).

2) Drew Estate announced on Wednesday it will begin shipping Kentucky Fire Cured Swamp Thang and Swamp Rat, two cigars that debuted at the IPCPR Trade Show last summer. Both represent the company’s first foray into Candela-wrapped cigars. Three formats will be offered—Swamp Thang Toro (6 x 52), Swamp Thang Robusto (5 x 54), and Swamp Rat (6 x 46)—each of which will be packaged in 10-count bundles (similar to the current Kentucky Fire Cured lines). “Pairing the smokiness of fire-cured tobacco with the sweetness of Candela wrapper… [creates] a uniquely balanced, complex, and savory cigar,” reads a Drew Estate press release. “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.

3) You don’t have to pay an arm and a leg for good bourbon or rye. Here’s a list of solid American whiskeys you can actually find on the shelf of most decent liquor stores.

4) From the Archives: Warm days were made for rum, whether you prefer light, dark, golden, or spiced. Here are five delicious concoctions you’ll want to try.

5) Deal of the Week: For today only, here are 100 deals including cigars from Fuente, L’Atelier, E.P. Carrillo, Davidoff, Drew Estate, Tatuaje, and more. Free shipping is included on any purchase. If you really want to stock up, add promo code “GBP20D” at checkout to knock $20 off an order of $150 or more.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Weekly Cigar News Sampler: John Drew Brands Launch Party, NYC Anti-Tobacco Plans, LFD Invites You to Visit, and More

21 Apr 2017

As we have since July 2006, each Friday we’ll post our sampling of cigar news and other items of interest from the week. Below is our latest, which is the 527th in the series.

John Drew Brands

1) On Wednesday, Florida-based retailer Corona Cigar Co. hosted a launch party for John Drew Brands and the spirits venture’s three inaugural products: Brixton Mash Destroyer (55% bourbon, 45% rum), Dove Tale Rum, and John Drew Rye. The event included DJ Maseo from De La Soul and rare Drew Estate cigars. “The movement that began on the production floor in Estelí, Nicaragua that changed premium cigars forever. From a broken down little green house with five employees to the second largest premium cigar maker in the world. Jonathan Drew Announces: John Drew Brands, a consumable start-up, bent on product development, mixed media, culture collaboration, and a reckless spirit to destroy,” reads the John Drew Brands website. Jonathan Drew announced his foray into the spirits industry in April 2016. Swisher International, Inc.—the largest cigar company in the world by volume—acquired Drew Estate in 2014. Two years later, Drew was named president and founder of Drew Estate and once again returned to occupy an executive operating role at the company he founded, including responsibility for the entire portfolio of brands.

2) This week New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced new anti-tobacco measures, including hiking prices/taxes ($13 per pack will be the minimum allowed for a pack of cigarettes) and limiting  the number of licensed tobacco retailers in the city. According to the New York Times: “The goal, Mr. de Blasio said, is to persuade or coerce 160,000 of the 900,000 New York City residents who smoke to stop doing so by 2020.”

3) Originally released in 2015, Blade and Bow Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey 22-Year-Old is being released in limited quantities next month. When it first came out, we wrote of the hard-to-find $150 bourbon: “Dark copper hue and one of the most fantastic noses I’ve ever encountered… The palate doesn’t quite live up to the high standard set by the aromas, but it does show off its age with deep wood, brown spices (clove, nutmeg, and cinnamon), figs, and burnt caramel. The finish is long with wood and more vanilla.”

4) Inside the Industry: La Flor Dominicana has announced the creation of its own tobacco farm and cigar factory tour in Santiago, Dominican Republic. The five-day itinerary includes a welcome dinner, premium hotel accommodations, factory tour, blending session, pig roast, farm excursion, and opportunities to take advantage of beach, golf, and spa amenities. Cigars will be included, not sold; airfare is not included. Trip availability and prices can be obtained by contacting ligero@lfdcigars.com.

5) From the Archives: Warm days were made for rum, whether you prefer light, dark, golden, or spiced. Here are five delicious concoctions you’ll want to try.

6) Deal of the Week: We recommend Bespoke Post, a monthly collection of awesome items delivered to your door for just $45. Available boxes include a mint julep set, fine bar accessories, shaving kits, wine, workout gear, coffee kits, and more. You can skip or purchase every month. Sign up today and you’ll be able to get the May shipment.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: John Drew Brands

Weekly Cigar News Sampler: BLTC Ships Bishops Blend, Unconventional Cigar Pairings, and More

14 Apr 2017

As we have since July 2006, each Friday we’ll post our sampling of cigar news and other items of interest from the week. Below is our latest, which is the 526th in the series.

BLTC Bishops Blend

1) This week saw two announcements from Black Label Trading Co. (BLTC). The first, issued on Monday, concerned the shipment of the 2017 vintage of Bishops Blend. “It’s great to get Bishops Blend back in the market,” said BLTC creator James Brown. “This is a very special cigar. It is a representation of how I have grown as a cigar maker… The 2017 Bishops Blend has an extremely rich and sophisticated profile.” Bishops Blend is made at BLTC’s Fabrica Oveja Negra factory in Nicaragua and sports an Ecuador Habano Maduro wrapper, an Ecuador Habano binder, and filler tobaccos from Nicaragua, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania. Two sizes will be offered: Corona Larga (6.25 x 46, $10.50) and Robusto (5 x 48, $10.00). In addition to Bishops Blend, yesterday BLTC introduced the return of the Ecuador Habano Maduro-wrapped Last Rites Box Press Robusto (5 x 54, $10), which will debut on April 28 and be exclusive to R. Field Wine Co. in Honolulu.

2) NPR published a feature yesterday about how “cigar specialists” are working on unconventional cigar pairings as part of tobacco programs at luxury hotels and restaurants. It includes the tidbit that Tobacconist University is “currently developing a ‘certified cigar sommelier’ degree.” There’s also this: “Because a high pH level makes cigars fairly alkaline, [Mason] Foster [who works as a certified tobacconist at Bourbon Steak, a restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington, D.C.] relies on acidity to help balance the flavors, starting with consuming a tart candy, like Skittles, to neutralize the palate. Having only begun smoking cigars less than two years ago, the 25-year-old cigar sommelier has gone full-bore into his new passion, smoking a few cigars each day and going through some two pounds of Skittles or Starburst candies a week.”

3) In case you’ve missed it, bourbon has been experiencing a boom in recent years, with consumers (including quite a few cigar smokers) drinking it up in record amounts. High demand for your product is obviously what every company hopes for. That said, the problem for the bourbon industry is the product requires years to make, and ten or more years for many of the most sought-after brands. So what’s a bourbon producer to do? The anonymous BourbonTruth lays out the many imperfect options.

4) Inside the Industry: Crowned Heads’ Headley Grange Drumstick, their limited annual release, has begun arriving at retailers. One thousand boxes of ten in a lancero format (7.5 x 38, $9.90) are being released this year.

5) From the Archives: Hot, sweltering summer days can take a toll on your stogies if you aren’t prepared. Get your humidor in order with these tips.

6) Deal of the Week: For today only, here are 100 deals including cigars from Fuente, L’Atelier, E.P. Carrillo, Davidoff, Drew Estate, Tatuaje, and more. Free shipping is included on any purchase. If you really want to stock up, add promo code “GBP20D” at checkout to knock $20 off an order of $150 or more.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: BLTC

Weekly Cigar News Sampler: Support Grows for Kentucky Smoking Ban, Cigar Dinner Raises $1.6 Million for Cancer Research, and More

7 Apr 2017

As we have since July 2006, each Friday we’ll post our sampling of cigar news and other items of interest from the week. Below is our latest, which is the 525th in the series.

Kentucky Flag

1) Support is growing for a smoking ban in Kentucky, one of the nation’s largest tobacco-producing states. More than seven in ten people support a statewide ban, according to recent phone survey of adults. As reported by the Philadelphia Tribune: “Across the country, 27 states plus the District of Columbia have passed workplace smoking bans, with many more local governments also adopting bans. In Kentucky, 25 local governments have some kind of smoking ban, covering nearly 33 percent of the state’s more than 4.3 million residents…” Kentucky is notable in that “more people smoke… per capita than anywhere else in the country.” These statistics probably say more about cigarettes than premium cigars, but they nonetheless weigh heavily in public policy considerations that could impact cigars.

2) This week, Cigar Aficionado’s annual charity cigar dinner, Night to Remember, raised $1.6 million for prostate cancer awareness and research. The event took place at The Pool, a New York City restaurant where smoking is not permitted; however, a post-dinner smoking tent was made available outside on Park Avenue. Guests included Ray Lewis (formerly of the NFL), John Salley (formerly of the NBA), financier Michael Milken, Rudy Giuliani, and Rush Limbaugh. Marvin Shanken—publisher and founder of M. Shanken Communications, which owns Cigar Aficionado—said, “I haven’t added it all up exactly, but over the years, we’ve raised $20 million to $30 million for prostate cancer,” with most of these charitable donations coming from the cigar, wine, spirits, and financial industries.

3) Want to smoke one of Sir Winston Churchill’s cigars? You can, but it will cost you. Also, he smoked half of it already. In May 1947, Sir Winston left half a victory cigar behind at a Paris airport, and now, via an auction, it can be yours. But be prepared to drop £2,500 (at least), according to one report.

4) Inside the Industry: Tabacalera El Artista released details about a limited edition Big Papi by David Ortiz humidor. Each is adorned with David Ortiz’s autograph and filled with Big Papi by David Ortiz cigars, part of the remaining original production run from 2013. The limited edition piece carries a retail price of $2,500. The cigars feature an Ecuadorian Habano claro wrapper, Criollo binder, and Dominican and Nicaraguan filler in a toro vitola.

5) From the Archives: With spring heralding lovely weather, there’s no better time to enjoy a cigar in the park. You’ll find more about enjoying these urban oases here.

6) Deal of the Week: Fans of Mi Querida will want to jump on this deal. Use this link and, with the purchase of a box, you land a free five-pack of the Mi Quirida Short Gordo Grande. Add promo code “GBP20D” to knock $20 off the total for an even better deal.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Wikipedia

Weekly Cigar News Sampler: Lawmakers Target Military Tobacco Use, States Seek to Raise Minimum Age, and More

31 Mar 2017

As we have since July 2006, each Friday we’ll post our sampling of cigar news and other items of interest from the week. Below is our latest, which is the 524th in the series.

Veterans Affairs Seal

1) Lawmakers have set their sights on tobacco use in the military. “Legislators held hearings Wednesday on the issue, with Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin lashing out at the Pentagon for not working hard enough to curb tobacco use among young servicemembers,” reports The Daily Caller. “On the House side, members of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs directed their attention to legislation that would target veterans, instead of the usual practice of slapping the Pentagon’s hand regarding tobacco consumption. This new legislation, forwarded by Republican Rep. Brad Wenstrup, would ban smoking inside any VA health facility. Additionally, the bill would ban outdoor smoking at VA medical centers by 2022.”

2) Famous Smoke Shop yesterday announced the debut of a new Cigar Smokers’ Rights Hub. According to a press release, the hub “presents cigar enthusiasts with a history of legal actions affecting the tobacco industry… and offers cigar smokers a detailed understanding of how FDA’s new regulations will negatively impact the premium cigar industry, and the legal challenges that have been mounted against the agency’s sweeping new rules.”

3) According to an article published by Cigar Aficionado on Wednesday, 24 states have “introduced some form of legislation this year that seeks to raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco to 21 years old. Currently, only Hawaii and California have enacted such laws, but the sheer amount of proposed legislation is an indication that more states could soon follow suit… The states where active legislation is threatening an age hike to 21 years old include Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Washington and West Virginia.”

4) Inside the Industry: Perhaps no cigar company has more offerings than General Cigar, which boasts a portfolio of about 5,000 SKUs and 300 blends. According to reports, around fifty of those are being discontinued this year. One notable cut is the elimination of the entire Charlie Toraño Captiva blend.

5) From the Archives: A great cigar shop is like an old friend. Here are some of the attributes that create a standout.

6) Deal of the Week: Tatuaje fans may be interested in this Tatuaje five-pack. The sampler features five classic Tatuaje blends (Red Label, Black Label, Cabaiguan, La Riqueza, and Tattoo) all in a size that’s not regular production (5.5 x 55). Buy two, or simply add another $30 in product to your purchase, and you can add coupon code “StogieDeal” to land a free triple-flame table lighter.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs

Weekly Cigar News Sampler: Smoking Ban Costs Casino Millions, Davidoff Announces Chefs Edition, New Cohiba Siglo, and More

24 Mar 2017

As we have since July 2006, each Friday we’ll post our sampling of cigar news and other items of interest from the week. Below is our latest, which is the 523rd in the series.

Harrahs Casino New Orleans

1) According to Caesar’s Entertainment officials, Harrah’s Casino & Hotel in downtown New Orleans—once a favorite hangout among IPCPR Trade Show attendees when the convention is held in The Big Easy—lost approximately $70 million in revenue in the two years following the city’s smoking ban, which took effect April 2015. As reported by the Times-Picayune: “Caesar’s Entertainment president and CEO Mark Frissora said… the ban makes it difficult to compete with venues in the surrounding area, because it only affects Orleans Parish. ‘It’s not fair because everyone else around us doesn’t have the smoking ban,’ Frissora argued. Caesar’s Entertainment president for the south region of the U.S., Dan Real, said the company’s first quarter in 2015 was its best in that property’s history, just before they were ‘hit’ by the ban.” The officials were reporting to the Riverboat Economic Development and Gaming Task Force on Tuesday. “The Northwest Louisiana and New Orleans locations have collectively contributed $2.3 billion to the state in gaming tax revenues. Those two locations also have contributed $52.3 million in other state and local tax fees and $344.5 million in salaries and wages between 2013 and 2016, according to the presentation given by the Caesar’s representatives.”

2) Davidoff has teamed up with six international chefs to create a new cigar line called Limited Chefs Edition, which will be available in April. “The Davidoff Chefs Edition is the equivalent to a culinary masterpiece,” reads a Davidoff press release. “Just like the perfect meal, it begins gently with complex layers of subtle flavors and builds up to a sublime and unforgettable crescendo.” The cigar will be presented in a Toro format with a Habano 2000 wrapper and an Ecuadorian Connecticut binder. The filler is a combination of San Vicente Mejorado Seco, San Vicente Mejorado Visus, Piloto Visus, and San Vicente Visus. Only 3,000 boxes will be made.

3) Medio Siglo—the first new Cohiba since the Siglo VI was introduced in 2002—is now widely available (though the cigar was actually introduced at last year’s Habanos Festival in Cuba). The cigar measures 4 inches long with a ring gauge of 52. Cigar Aficionado reports “it’s probably the most expensive regular-production petit robusto you’re going to find” since Medio Siglo is expected to retail for $14 in Cuba and about $33 in London.

4) Inside the Industry: Also new from Davidoff is a cigar exclusive to Famous Smoke Shop to celebrate the company’s 75th year in the business. The Davidoff Famous 75th Anniversary Cigar is one of several special editions made for Famous to commemorate this milestone. (Romeo y Julieta and Padrón have already announced, and others in the works). The toro (6 x 50) comes in boxes of 10, with cigars retailing for $22 each. Only 500 boxes were made. The blend includes filler from the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua surrounded by a Mexican San Andrés Negro binder and an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper.

5) From the Archives: What is meant by Cigar Texture? It’s not flavor, but you’ll notice it on your palate. Find out here.

6) Deal of the Week: Today only, here are 100 deals that include free shipping. Notable picks include the Drew Estate Sampler, Oliva Serie V, Mi Querida, HR Habano 2000, and Tatuaje Tatoo. Plus, at checkout, add promo code “APPRECIATE20” and you’ll save $20 off orders of $100 or more.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: New Orleans Online