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Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 385

30 May 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.

No Smoking1) The looming threat of Food & Drug Administration regulations being imposed on premium cigars is still priority number one for defenders of cigar rights. The proposed regulations issued on April 24 could effectively halt cigar innovation, criminalize special editions or seasonal blends, and cost countless jobs in the U.S. and abroad, among other adverse consequences. If you haven’t already done so, please make your voice heard by clicking here to participate in the public comment period. But let’s also not forget about the many battles being fought at more local levels. DC, for example, is facing a proposal that would hike cigar tax rates to those equal to cigarettes (which is 80%). New Jersey is considering a ban on smoking at public parks and beaches, as well as an increase in the minimum age for purchasing tobacco to 21. Minnesota is looking to raise cigar taxes. And there are a host of other threats at various levels of government all around the country. This is a reminder to stay involved.

2) Experts typically characterize the so-called “Cigar Bubble” of the ’90s in the following way: Increased U.S. demand drove cigar prices higher, prompting even inexperienced cigar makers to enter the market, resulting in many sub-standard, overpriced cigars. The result was a resounding bubble burst as consumers became less willing to pay high prices for lower quality smokes. An interesting article in The Atlantic asks if a similar bubble is emerging in craft distilling. According to the author, the number of small distilleries in the U.S. has grown from about 70 to more than 600 since 2003 as consumers clamor for “local” spirits that are small-batch rather than mass-produced. But there is a growing weariness that many of the spirits aren’t up to snuff and are made by inexperienced distillers who simply entered the market due to booming demand.

3) Inside the Industry: Originally released as a limited edition in 2013, La Palina’s “Mr. Sam” collection is now a permanent offering. The cigar is made at El Titan de Bronze in Miami and utilizes an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper around Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos. Mr. Sam—named after La Palina owner Bill Paley’s grandfather—comes in three sizes: Corona, Robusto and Toro, which sell for $11, $12.50, and $13.50, respectively.

4) Deal of the Week: Here are lots of discount codes on cigars ranging from Drew Estate and Tatuaje to Rocky Patel and Oliva. Notable deals include the Tatuaje Reserva Regios (box of 25 for $181) and Drew Estate Undercrown (box of 25 for $104).

-The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Flickr

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 384

23 May 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.

FDA1) In a post on the Nomad Cigar Company website, brand owner Fred Rewey lays out five concerns about the proposed FDA regulations for cigars. The entire piece is worth a read, but one part is particularly noteworthy: “The process would be cumbersome and costly. So costly that I suspect you will see as much as 30% of cigar brands disappear overnight. My concern is that some of the big guys will actually see this as a benefit—not weighing in the long-term cost of being regulated…I know that sounds cynical, but we have seen it happen…even in our industry.” It’s a legitimate concern, and even though we haven’t seen any cracks in cigar industry unity so far, there’s always a chance that in pursuit of short-term profits one or multiple companies may see FDA regulations as a way to limit competition. (In fact, the FDA law was originally passed with the backing of Phillip Morris, who saw it as a way to lock in the market share of its brands, including Marlboro.) It’s another reason why the FDA needs to hear not only from the cigar industry but also from consumers who want to protect their right as adults to enjoy handmade cigars. Make your voice heard here.

2) In what must be a first, 262 Cigars released a song to go with their new cigar, Allegiance. The song was written and performed by 262′s Mike Justice along with guest rapper Brunson. The cigar is produced at the Tabacalera Carreras factory in Nicaragua with a Brazilian Mata Fina wrapper, Nicaraguan binder, and fillers from Nicaragua and Honduras.

3) Pinar del Rio is coming out with the Flores y Rodriguez 10 Anniversary Reserva Limitada in celebration of 10 years since Abe Flores and the Rodriguez Brothers came together to create the Pinar del Rio brand. The cigar is made with a Habano Ecuador wrapper, an Olor binder from the Dominican Republic, and the filler is comprised of seven-year-old Dominican Piloto Cubano leaf along with Nicaraguan tobaccos from Jalapa. The FyR 10th Anniversary Reserva Limitada will be released in three classic vitolas: Robusto, Grand Toro, and Wide Churchill with MSRPs of $9, $10, and $11, respectively.

4) Inside the Industry: Alec Bradley announced its new Family Blend Lineage featuring a Honduran wrapper, Nicaraguan binder, and Honduran and Nicaraguan fillers. Smoke Inn introduced the eighth blend in its Microblend Series, the 601 La Bomba Bunker Buster (5.5 x 56), a figurado variation of Espinosa Cigar’s 601 La Bomba.

5) Deal of the Week: Looking for nice bottle of booze? Caskers is an email newsletter that finds you quality spirits and gets them delivered to your door (in more states than anywhere else we’ve come across). Sign up here for access to their store and for the latest craft spirit offerings, including hard-to-find single malt and bourbon whiskey.

-The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 383

16 May 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.

FDA1) Several days ago, amid little attention and without fanfare, the White House finally responded to the petition that was submitted to two years ago asking the president to instruct the Food & Drug Administration not to regulate cigars. Many of you likely signed this petition. As you may recall, any petition that collects 25,000 signatures in 30 days is owed an official response. The answer, penned by Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, predictably changes nothing. Zeller says “it’s important to remember that regulating a tobacco product isn’t the same as banning it,” however he fails to mention that, without an exemption for premium cigars, the creation of new cigar blends will almost certainly grind to a halt. The deeming document the FDA recently issued with its proposed rules is still in effect—though the document provides more questions than answers—and the public now has the opportunity to formally provide comments before final regulations are issued. If you’d like to participate in the comment process to ensure your voice is heard, you can do so here.

2) National shipments of José Blanco’s Señorial, the inaugural blend from his new Dominican-based Las Cumbres Tabaco company, are scheduled for June 9. The blend follows Blanco’s departure from Joya de Nicaragua, where he crafted the CyB brand. Señorial will be available in five sizes ranging from $7 to $11 apiece. It will only be sold at tobacconist shops, not online. The cigars are made by Blanco’s cousin, Jochi Blanco, at Tabacalera La Palma.

3) Inside the Industry: Drew Estate announced yesterday that Willy Herrera has been named “master blender.” Herrera will not be in charge of La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate; rather, in this newly created role, he will maintain current blends, produce new ones, and report directly to Jonathan Drew. “Herrera was originally recruited by Drew Estate to create a signature brand illustrating his Cuban heritage and ‘Cubanesque’ blending style,” reads a press release. “After working with him over the past three years in Nicaragua, Drew Estate determined he was suited to lead their blending team. This represents a major change for Drew Estate, marking the first occasion where someone of Cuban descent has held a top-level position at the company.” The announcement comes at the heels of Nick Melillo’s departure.

4) Around the Blogs: Stogie Fresh fires up the Davidoff Colorado Claro. Cigar Inspector inspects Nestor Miranda Grand Reserva. Nice Tight Ash checks out Ezra Zion Tantrum. Stogie Review reviews Hex. Leaf Enthusiast smokes the EPC Inch Short Run 2014.

5) Deal of the Week: Casa Magna has won some pretty high accolades, which makes this deal particularly noteworthy. Buy a box ($79 and up) from any of the five Casa Magna lines and you get a five-pack of Casa Magna Perfectos thrown in for free.

-The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 382

9 May 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.

FDA1) On Tuesday, the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association (IPCPR) issued a legislative alert to prepare its members for the public comment period of forthcoming Food & Drug Administration (FDA) regulations. “We believe it is critical that the industry works together and takes a unified approach to the regulations we are facing,” reads the alert. “IPCPR’s first step is to request an extension of the 75 day comment period granted by FDA in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. We feel an additional 60 days is critical for affected parties to provide substantive comments, data, research, and other information to aid in FDA’s decision-making process.” IPCPR is also encouraging its member retailers to ask their customers to participate in the comment period, and will be distributing literature on how individual cigar smokers can participate in the process. In that same vein, Cigar Rights of America set up this page complete with talking points for individual comments and a link to submit them. Be sure to take action to ensure your voice is heard.

2) Prometheus and God of Fire yesterday announced the Lost City Scholarship Fund, which will provide college scholarships to the students who have graduated from the high school established by the Cigar Family Charitable Foundation. The fund is named after The Lost City, a 2005 film directed by Andy Garcia that included Chateau de la Fuente as a filming location. The Cigar Family Charitable Foundation was founded by the Fuente and Newman families in 2001 to support education, health care, and recreation for the people of the Dominican Republic.

3) Inside the Industry: Espinosa Cigars is launching the Sake Bomb, a small cigar (4.5 x 42) that will be included in the full-bodied La Bomba line. Quesada is commemorating Manuel “Manolo” Quesada’s 40 years in the industry with a San Andrés-wrapped, five-vitola series called Quesada 40th. Hedley Grange is expanding with a new Laguito No. 6 vitola (6.5 x 56) that includes a unique fanned cap. Alec Bradley plans to release The Lineage, a blend that celebrates both of his sons being old enough to smoke cigars.

4) Around the Blogs: Stogie Fresh reviews the Lou Rodriguez Habano Rosado. Cigar Inspector inspects the Padrón 1926 Serie 80 Years Maduro. Leaf Enthusiast checks out the Partagas 1845 Extra Fuerte. Seth’s Humidor lights up a Reinado Grand Empire Reserve Corona Gorda. Cigar Fan sparks an Ezra Zion FHK & Rodrigo Fortaleza.

5) Deal of the Week: Smoke Inn has a number of cigars on clearance, including deals on CAO La Traviata, El Tiante, La Dueña, Nestor Miranda Grand Reserve 2012, and the Xikar HC Series. Check them out here.

-The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 381

2 May 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.

Sindicato1) Sindicato, the first cigar outfit to be launched by a formidable “syndicate” of veteran tobacco retailers, is now shipping its new eponymous flagship cigar to hundreds of tobacconists. The line will be available in 6 sizes and sell for $10 to $14. Made at Casa Fernandez in Nicaragua, it will be a square-pressed Nicaraguan puro complete with a shade-grown Corojo wrapper. “Master blender Arsenio Ramos has combined this unique wrapper with a rich, bold Estelí double leaf binder, which encompasses a blend of strong, flavorful Jalapa and Estelí leaves and delivers a medium-full strength cigar with exquisite taste,” reads a Sindicato press release. Sindicato is headed by Jim Colucci, formerly EVP of sales for Altadis. The retailers who formed the company include Abe Dababneh (Smoke Inn in Florida), Dan Jenuwine (Quality Fresh Cigars in Michigan), Gary Pesh (Old Virginia Tobacco in Virginia), Robert Roth (Nice Ash Cigars in New York and Pennsylvania), and Jeff Borysiewicz (Corona Cigar Company in Orlando). Sindicato is also the maker of the Hex, Affinity, and Casa Bella lines.

2) Padrón Cigars turns 50 years old in September, and the company is celebrating with two new ultra-premium lines due out this fall. The first will be the Family Reserve 50, which will be made in small quantities yet become a permanent fixture in the Padrón portfolio. The second will be sold in 50-count quantities and packaged in special humidors. Only 500 humidors will be made, and only the owners of these humidors will be able to purchase 50-cigar refills once a year for up to 5 years.

3) Last Thursday, the FDA announced a proposed rule to regulate cigars that would devastate the handmade cigars we enjoy, and of course is on top of it. Read our primer on what the FDA deeming document means for cigars and also check out yesterday’s commentary on probably the most controversial aspect of the proposed rule, the $10 exemption for “premium cigars” and why it’s worse than you realize. We’ll have more in the coming weeks on this critical issue.

4) Inside the Industry: General Cigar announced the new 1907 by Dunhill, made with a Honduran Olancho wrapper, Dominican Olor binder, and Dominican Ligero and Brazilian Mata Fina filler; it will come in four sizes with suggested prices from $8.35 to $9.25. Drew Estate is adding a limited edition (2,000 boxes) Herrera Estelí in the Lancero size, available soon in 15-count boxes with a suggested retail price of $12 per cigar.

5) Around the Blogs: Stogie Review reviews a Camacho Diploma 11/18. Stogie Fresh fires up a Regious of London White Label. Leaf Enthusiast checks out the Davidoff Royal Robusto. Cigar Fan fires up the Ezra Zion FHK and Rodrigo Fortaleza. Cigar Inspector inspects the Curivari Buenaventura.

6) Deal of the Week: Emerson’s Cigars has pre-orders available on two new offerings from Tatuaje. Move quickly to pick up the new lancero sampler, which has ten Tatuaje blends each in a lancero size. Also available is the new Tattoo line. These are sure to go quickly.

-The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Sindicato

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 380

25 Apr 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.

FDA1) Yesterday the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) issued its long-awaited rule deeming cigars, e-cigarettes, and other types of tobacco to be regulated by the agency. The rule, if enacted in its current form, will require new tobacco products to get pre-approval from the agency before being sold. One promising aspect of the proposed regulations was that the FDA proposed two options for cigars, with the second being an exemption for premium cigars based on the lack of public health need for such regulation. Unfortunately, that proposed exemption is extremely narrow and would fail to exempt most handmade cigars, including any sold for less than $10. The next step is a public comment period on the proposed rule before the agency finalizes its regulations. Check back with next week for more extensive coverage of this important issue.

2) Site friend Jacob Grier, an Oregon-based freelance writer, has a good rundown of the rule and its impact on cigars. In his article he observes that even if the FDA decides to exempt cigars under the better of the two options, “the price will rise to $10 a stogie. Cuban cigars are pretty alluring already! If you enjoy the company of your local tobacconist, savor the next few years you have together. Their store may not be around much longer.”

3) Room 101 has launched Daruma Gold, a five-vitola line that features a Mexican wrapper around a Brazilian binder and a filler blend of Dominican and Honduran tobaccos. The sizes include Papi Chulo (4 x 42), Roxxo (4 x 48), Mutante (7 x 38), Sucio (7 x 48), and Monstro (5 x 60). “The modifications you will experience in this particular blend are the by-product of our evolution and growth working within the premium tobacco craft,” says Room 101.

4) Deal of the Week: This sampler lands you five premium (although not according the FDA; see above) cigars for just $20, including free shipping. Included are the Gurkha Status Maduro Torpedo, Rocky Patel Vintage 1992 Torpedo, Chateau Real Gran Templar by Drew Estate, Gran Habano Vintage 2002 Robusto, and Oliva Serie G Toro.

-The Stogie Guys

photo credit: FDA

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 379

18 Apr 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.

Tobacco Field in Nicaragua1) Nicaragua, which is on pace to surpass the Dominican Republic as the number one exporter of premium cigars to the U.S. market, has recently been hit by a series of earthquakes. For the population, the tremors are causing unease, and forcing many to recall painful memories of a disastrous earthquake 42 years ago. “Life in Nicaragua, whose capital was devastated in 1972 by a magnitude-6.2 quake that killed nearly 10,000 people, has become a tense game of waiting between shakes,” reports ABC. “The Sandinista government has placed the country on red alert, the highest possible level, and is urging Nicaraguans to sleep outside their homes until further notice.” In recent days, earthquakes with magnitudes of 6.6, 6.1, 5.6, and 4.6 have rattled the country of 6 million.

2) Atladis has announced a new H. Upmann brand called “The Banker,” which is expected to start shipping to retailers this month. It is reportedly named for a private label cigar two nineteenth century German bankers crafted from Cuban tobacco for their top clients. This time around, The Banker features an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, a Nicaraguan binder, and filler tobaccos from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. It will be available in three sizes and retail for $7 to $8.40.

3) Inside the Industry: Reinado Cigars’ highly-rated Grand Empire Reserve line will be distributed by Alliance Cigars. Alliance Cigars may not be a familiar name to consumers, but it sells numerous well-known cigar brands wholesale to cigar retailers.

4) Deal of the Week: Twenty-seven dollars lands you this five-cigar Silver Tray sampler. Included are the Nat Sherman Timeless Churchill, Wynwood Rout Corona, CAO Gold Double Robusto, Rocky Patel 1950 Robusto, and Room 101 Master Roxxo.

-The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Stogie Guys