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Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 501

14 Oct 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.

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1) President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines—best known for his internationally condemned violent campaign against drugs that has left 3,600 dead since he took office in June—has his sights set on banning public smoking. Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial “said Mr. Duterte wanted a 100 percent smoke-free environment in public places, as in the southern city of Davao, where he was formerly mayor,” according to the Associated Press. “The measure would restrict smoking to designated outdoor areas away from the public, and would include e-cigarettes as well as traditional cigarettes, cigars, and pipes. Ms. Ubial said there was no reason for smokers and tobacco companies to oppose the ban. ‘We’re not stopping them from smoking,’ she said. ‘We are just telling them not to smoke around nonsmokers.’”

2) Not shying away from its reputation as a super-premium brand capable of commanding high prices, Davidoff has announced two Royal Release cigars—a Robusto and a Salomones—with MSRPs of $80 and $100 per cigar, respectively. The blend features an “Aromatica Dominicana” wrapper that’s exclusive to this release, a Habano Ecuador binder, and a variety of Dominican filler tobaccos. “The seeds themselves were created, germinated, and planted especially for this purpose,” according to a Davidoff press release. “The heritage and pedigree of today’s Royals can be traced back to the harvest of 2004/5, a year of near perfect growing conditions and ideal rainfall.” In addition to the cigars, which are sold in boxes of ten, Davidoff is also releasing a Royal Release lighter by S.T. Dupont ($970) and an ashtray made of handblown glass from Murano, Italy ($290).

3) Inside the Industry: Meier & Dutch, the distribution arm affiliated with Cigars International, which is owned by  the Scandinavian Tobacco Group (which is also the parent company of General Cigar), has announced the introduction of Lucious Lyon. Inspired by the FOX television program Empire, Lucious Lyon is named after the show’s lead character, portrayed by Terrence Howard. The cigar is made in Honduras in three sizes and features a Connecticut wrapper, dual Connecticut Broadleaf and Mexican binders, and filler from four countries: the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Mexico. Along with the cigar, Meier & Dutch is also releasing a line of accessories made up of a crystal ashtray, a high-gloss humidor, and a cutter and lighter by Xikar.

4) From the Archives: Coffee and cigars go together about as well as any pair we can think of. Whether you’re a fan of light roast or prefer thick, sweet café Cubano, there’s sure to be a cigar to fit your preference. StogieGuys.com has been making recommendations and offering coffee advice for years. Check it out here, here, and here.

5) Deal of the Week: Crowned Heads fans will want to jump on this deep discount (50% off) on the two limited edition Mason Dixon releases. Both the North and South blends are in stock for $99 for a box of 20. Add coupon code “StogieDeal” and get a free triple-flame table lighter (good on any purchase of $75 or more).

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Flickr

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 500

7 Oct 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.

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1) On July 14, 2006—over ten years ago—StogieGuys.com launched the Friday Sampler series, a weekly roundup of news and items of interest from the world of premium tobacco. Today we celebrate a milestone as we publish our 500th iteration of the series. Over the years, our Friday Sampler content has ranged from the latest news on smoking bans, taxes, and tobacco regulations to new releases, noteworthy deals, industry happenings, and—more recently—highlights from our extensive archives of reviews, tips, commentaries, and interviews. It’s been quite a journey, and we’ve covered a lot of ground. We’re not big on commemorating our own achievements (the anniversary of our establishment in May 2006, for example, almost always passes unnoticed), but we thought this was one milestone worth mentioning. Thank you for making it possible. We hope you’ve enjoyed this series as much as we’ve enjoyed keeping our finger on the pulse of the industry and reporting back to you with clear, concise summaries of the most important cigar news of the week.

2) Speaking of cigar news, this week was relatively quiet on the news front, likely in part due to hurricane preparations in Florida (home office for many cigar companies). Hurricane Matthew has already struck eastern Cuba—leaving tremendous damage in its wake—as well as the Dominican Republic. At the time of this writing, the storm is currently barreling towards Florida. Time reports Matthew may even hit Florida twice: “Forecasters say Matthew will likely hit the eastern edge of Florida Thursday night as a powerful category four storm and will continue up the coast through Saturday. But then, instead of shifting toward the Atlantic and slowly dying off, several models show the storm circling back to land and hitting Florida a second time next week.”

3) Inside the Industry: This year’s Tatuaje Halloween release is called “The Krueger” after the bad guy from A Nightmare on Elm Street. The box-pressed torpedo (7.25 x 48) features a Mexican Maduro wrapper. As is tradition, 13 “unlucky” retailers will be getting the majority of the 666 dress boxes, with the list announced on the private Saints & Sinners forum Monday (and publicly soon thereafter). The remaining dress boxes, plus plain ten-count boxes (which make up the majority of the release), will go to Tatuaje retailers nationwide.

4) From the Archives: Since this is the 500th, it makes sense to take a look at our first Friday Sampler, published over a decade ago. In it, we included a link to a video of JFK’s press secretary talking about his mission to buy 1,000 Cuban cigars before Kennedy signed the Cuban Embargo, an item about a cigar butt smoked by Winston Churchill that sold for almost $700, a tasting wheel to help identify cigar flavors, and more.

5) Deal of the Week: This weekly deal from Smoke Inn features 10 cigars for just $30. Included are cigars that have a combined suggested retail price of over $90. The featured sticks include the Aging Room Bin No. 1 B Minor, Nica Puro Robusto, Nestor Miranda Robusto, Asylum Dragon’s Milk, Wild Bunch Warrior Joe, Montecristo Double Corona, La Jugada Maduro Toro, and Rocky Patel Edge Corojo Toro.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 499

30 Sep 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.

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1) In a scathing—though perhaps unsurprising—story from Scientific American, it was revealed the FDA “has been arm-twisting journalists into relinquishing their reportorial independence” with a tactic known as the “close-hold embargo.” The entire article is well worth a read, but the gist of the unnerving scheme is that the FDA is offering certain media outlets briefings about upcoming announcements before those announcements are provided to their competition in exchange for the FDA’s ability to determine who the journalists can and cannot interview. “Documents obtained by Scientific American through Freedom of Information Act requests now paint a disturbing picture of the tactics that are used to control the science press,” reads the article. “For example, the FDA assures the public that it is committed to transparency, but the documents show that, privately, the agency denies many reporters access—including ones from major outlets such as Fox News—and even deceives them with half-truths to handicap them in their pursuit of a story. At the same time, the FDA cultivates a coterie of journalists whom it keeps in line with threats. And the agency has made it a practice to demand total control over whom reporters can and can’t talk to until after the news has broken, deaf to protests by journalistic associations and media ethicists and in violation of its own written policies.” This hardly seems like the behavior of an agency that works in the best interest of the public it supposedly serves. The revelation—which one observer described as “journalists become stenographers”—also may explain how so many supposedly reputable mainstream media outlets repeated many misleading FDA claims about the agency’s cigar regulations.

2) Major League Baseball may be officially anti-tobacco, but the players have no doubt what marks a special occasion. Before David Ortiz’s last game Sunday at Tropicana Field, the Tampa Bay Rays presented the Boston Red Sox slugger with gifts that included 34 cigars (his number) from local cigar company J.C. Newman. Reports referred to 34 Diamond Crown Maximus sticks, but a photo of the event (held off-field because of the death of José Fernández earlier that day) shows Rays’ star Evan Longoria with a box of Diamond Crown Julius Caeser and Big Papi holding the Maximus box. It’s not the first time cigars have figured in Ortiz’s retirement-tour celebration. The White Sox gave him a large cigar-filled humidor built by former Sox slugger-turned-woodworker Ron Kittle.

3) Inside the Industry:  A trio of products that pay tribute to the company’s history highlight La Aurora’s new offerings this year. La Aurora has long been known for using tobacco aged in rum barrels, but the new La Aurora 1903 Edition Double Barrel Aged doubles, by one year, the rum barrel aging period for the filler. The blend uses Ecuadorian wrapper, a Brazilian binder, and filler from the Dominican Republic, Brazil, and Nicaragua. The company is also introducing new formats of its flagship La Aurora Preferidos line, with non-tubo Corona, Robusto, and Toro sizes. Also new this year is the La Aurora 107 Cosecha 2006, which has tobacco from the 2006 harvest in three sizes: Churchill (7 x 50), Corona Gorda (6 x 47), and Robusto (5 x 50).

4) From the Archives: Picking a cigar to smoke is hard enough, but sometimes picking a tobacconist to buy it from can be equally frustrating. Based on lots of travel and visits to many cigar shops, this examination of “How to Spot an Excellent Tobacconist” will help you evaluate any shop.

5) Deal of the Week: Just $27 will land you this Lucky 7 Sampler. Included are three each of the Alec Bradley American Sun Grown and Oliva Serie O, plus a Punch Gran Puro, and a free cutter thrown in for good measure. Be sure to add the coupon code “stogie” for 10% off.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 498

23 Sep 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.

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1) Among the choices facing California voters in November is the option to increase the cigarette tax by $2 per pack, with equivalent increases on other tobacco products, including cigars. A “yes” vote on Proposition 56 would increase the tax on cigars and pipe tobacco by 145% in the country’s most populous state. California Citizens Against Special Interests and Wasteful Taxes set up a website to encourage voters to reject the tax hike, calling Prop. 56 “a $1.4 billion tax hike grab by insurance companies and other wealthy special interests to dramatically increase their profits by shortchanging schools and ignoring other pressing problems.” Cigars are already taxed at a rate of 27.3% in California. “At a time when the California state budget has billions in surplus revenue, is this really the right time to be raising taxes—especially when the revenue will have no taxpayer accountability?” asked Tom Hudson, president of the California Taxpayer Protection Committee.

2) Greensboro, North Carolina, is the site of the latest Davidoff Lounge, this one a 2,000-square-foot space with “a modern design with industrial touches” inside Havana Phil’s Cigar Company. The grand opening was yesterday. According to a press release: “Davidoff commissioned NYC urban artists, UR New York, to create a one-of-a-kind art piece, depicting the fusion of Davidoff luxury and Greensboro’s local flavor. The lounge also features a filigree polygon ‘base jumper’ sculpture by artist Moto Waganari, offering interesting perspectives that will take viewers on an experiential journey from virtual art to reality. All decorative elements give this Davidoff Lounge a recognizable stamp of quality and luxury.”

3) Inside the Industry: Yesterday, multiple reports surfaced indicating Michael Giannini, creative director at General Cigar, was departing the company where he had worked since 2000. Giannini has held many positions at General over the years, including working with Ernesto Perez-Carrillo on La Gloria Cubana, and then becoming the face of the brand after Carrillo departed. In more recent years, he launched Foundry Cigar Company, which was described as a boutique operation within the General Cigar umbrella. Quotes from both parties suggest they part with mutual respect. Giannini also hinted he will soon reemerge in the cigar industry: “A musician knows when to stop playing when they don’t have any more songs… I’m not done playing,” he said.

4) From the Archives: If you’re a new cigar smoker, you may suffer from too much—or too little—advice. The simple act of attempting to enjoy a cigar can even become a source of worry, which is the last thing it should ever be. Back in 2013, we presented some suggestions to help beginners more easily find pleasure in the hobby.

5) Deal of the Week: New cigars continue to flow in at Smoke Inn. Now, any purchase of $75 or more includes a free triple-flame lighter valued at $50. To get it, just add the coupon code “StogieDeal” in your shopping cart before checking out.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Flickr

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 497

16 Sep 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.

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1) A bill is moving through the New Jersey legislature that would decriminalize the establishment of new cigar lounges in the state. The General Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Committee recently passed the bill, which now moves to additional readings before potentially heading to the House floor for a vote. Interestingly, Reed Gusciora, a Democrat, is a primary sponsor of the bill, even though he considers himself “anti-smoking.” “Cigar smokers are a devoted and nuanced group of aficionados who gather and socialize in an environment that would be their own,” he told New Jersey 101.5. “This bill would give towns that want to expand their offerings and appeal to this niche market the option to do so. It would also create a new economic engine for entrepreneurs who want to cater to cigar enthusiasts, and give cigar smokers more places to go to and enjoy their hobby without affecting non-smokers.”

2) Pennsylvania-based online retailer Famous Smoke Shop has announced a new house blend that’s made by Plasencia Cigars S.A. in Estelí, Nicaragua. Called Seven Deadly Sins, it is the “brainchild” between Michael Vandenstockt, Famous’ vice president of operations and marketing, and Nestor Plasencia. Offered in all seven sins–Lust, Gluttony, Avarice, Sloth, Wrath, Envy, and Pride—each vitola has been given its own unique blend. As a whole, [the cigars] comprise filler and binder from Nicaragua, Honduras, Costa Rica, Brazil, Mexico, and Pennsylvania, while the wrappers… are from Nicaragua, Honduras, and Cameroon.”

3) This week the FDA announced 55 tobacco sellers nationwide who were receiving warning letters for reportedly selling newly regulated tobacco products to underage buyers. Of the products purchased, only two could be categorized as premium cigars, both flavored. The rest were mostly vaping products with some machine-made mass-market cigars. The FDA announcement did not say how many undercover stings it conducted where tobacco sellers appropriately asked for ID from the buyers.

4) Inside the Industry: In what would seem to qualify as a stealth cigar (i.e., a cigar released under-the-radar with little fanfare in order to get it on the market before the August 8 FDA deadline), one retailer is now selling Drew Dominicana by Drew Estate. Atlantic Cigar announced the addition in an email to customers Monday afternoon, but little is known, except that the cigar is made in the Dominican Republic by an undisclosed factory and comes in three blends with different wrappers: Maduro, Shade, and Rosado. (Although it is pure speculation, one potential source could be Royal Agio’s Dominican Factory where the Balmoral Añejo XO is made, as the company has a strong partnership with Drew Estate.) Also announced in the same email was the availability of Drew Estate Factory 2nds, with wrappers described as Connecticut Broadleaf, Connecticut Habano, and Sumatra Sungrown. To date, no details have come from Drew Estate about these blends.

5) From the Archives: Looking for a way to improve your palate? About three years ago, StogieGuys.com explored the unusual strategy of smoking two cigars at once. If you try alternating between two cigars that are relatively similar, the article notes, “you’ll be amazed at what flavors you can ‘discover’ in a cigar when searching for differences between two cigars that, smoked alone, would be described in very similar terms.”

6) Deal of the Week: Looking to try some (mostly) new cigars without committing to an entire box or even a five-pack? This 2016 Premium Sampler may be for you. Included in the 10-pack for $89 are such cigars as the Padrón Family Reserve No. 50 Natural, Caldwell Blind Man’s Bluff Toro, Avo Syncro Nicaragua Fogata Robusto, Gurkha Ghost Asura, New World Toro, PDR AFR-75 Maduro Sublime, and the Illusione Epernay Le Matin.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Flickr


Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 496

9 Sep 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.

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1) Drew Estate will apparently not have exclusive rights to the sun-grown Floridian tobacco produced by Jeff Borysiewicz, owner of the Orlando-area Corona Cigar stores. This week, Davidoff announced a cigar that will use his tobacco in a new limited edition release that commemorates Corona’s 20th anniversary. Sold exclusively at Corona’s three locations, the cigar will be a belicoso (6 x 52) with an Ecuadorian Connecticut Rojiza wrapper, a San Andrés binder, and filler tobaccos from the Dominican Republic and Florida. “We are very proud to be working with Davidoff and there is no way better to celebrate our 20-year milestone of becoming a leader in premium cigar retailing,” said Borysiewicz. “Our unique and exclusive Florida tobacco farm has truly allowed our company to come full circle as a premium cigar retailer, as well as the world’s only grower of prized Florida cigar tobacco. We are excited to be able to share with fellow aficionados this unique Davidoff cigar that is blended with our 2014 crop of heirloom Florida Sumatra-seed tobacco that was grown on our farm in Clermont, Florida.” Two years ago, StogieGuys.com broke the news that Borysiewicz was growing tobacco in Florida out of love of the leaf, and to avoid paying residential taxes on the land.

2) The second Burn by Rocky Patel cigar lounge will open in Pittsburgh, this one nearly twice the size of the original location in Naples, Florida. “Patel had always intended to expand the Burn concept to other cities like Washington DC and Las Vegas, but plans never came to fruition before now,” reports Cigar Aficionado. “As the second location, this marks the first expansion of Patel’s Burn concept. The venue features a complete portfolio of Rocky Patel cigars (plus third-party cigar brands), full bar, cocktail program, and food all set in a stylish, smoker-friendly nightclub environment.” The establishment is expected to be up and running by the spring. Patel is eyeing Indianapolis as the next potential Burn location.

3) Just in time for the kickoff of the NFL season, Nomad Cigar Co. is expanding distribution of the GB-19, a Candela-wrapped toro (6 x 60) that celebrates Nomad founder Fred Rewey’s favorite team, the Green Bay Packers. The cigar, which was previously relegated to mostly Wisconsin shops and retails for $10, is made at the Oveja Negra factory in Estelí with a green Honduran wrapper, an Ecuadorian binder, and filler tobaccos from Nicaragua.

4) Inside the Industry: MBombay announced the Vintage Reserve Lancero 1973. The yearly release weighs in at 8.5 inches long with a ring gauge of 38, and it features an Ecuadorian wrapper, Dominican binder, and filler tobacco from the Dominican Republic and Peru. Only 13,800 cigars are being made (500 boxes of 25).

5) From the Archives: In our Cigar Spirits articles, you’ll find everything from inexpensive, bottom-shelf bourbon to super-rare, high-end whiskey. Perhaps none we’ve written up is rarer than the A.H. Hirsch 16 Year Old Bourbon. In our article, we noted it is “refined and balanced with tons of oak and fruit and hints of mint, walnut, and maple syrup. The finish is long and spicy, with pepper, oak, and cedar.” At the time (2008), we also noted “two years ago bottles were available for around $80 [but today] expect to pay well over $100.” Now, in 2016, expect to pay around $2,000 to acquire a bottle.

6) Deal of the Week: In 2012, as part of the TAA exclusive offerings, My Father Cigars released the Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial TAA 2012. Even though it has been sold out for years, you now have a rare chance to acquire this limited edition cigar with four years of age. A box of 16 runs you $136.95 while supplies last.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Davidoff

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 495

2 Sep 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.

JetBlue

1) On Wednesday, for the first time in 50 years, a U.S. passenger airline completed a commercial flight to Cuba. The landing may go down as one of the enduring symbols of thawing diplomatic relations between Washington and Havana. “The JetBlue Airways Flight 387—with Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx on board—landed Wednesday in Santa Clara, Cuba,” reports Fortune. “Earlier this summer, the Transportation Department approved six U.S. passenger airlines including JetBlue and one all-cargo airline to serve cities in Cuba other than Havana. On Wednesday, the federal agency gave final approval for eight airlines to fly to Havana, including Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines, and United Airlines. The newly approved flights will provide service to Havana from Atlanta, Charlotte, Fort Lauderdale, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark, New York City, Orlando, and Tampa, Foxx said in a blog post about the historic flight.” In order to make the trip to Cuba, however, Americans must still cite a reason other than tourism, such as family visits, journalistic activity, religion, or educational activities. And, yes, there are cigar-centric tours that seem to qualify under the educational category.

2) Chicago tobacconist Hyde Park Cigars has been announced as the exclusive retailer of the new Drew Estate Liga Privada No. 9 Pork Beli (4.7 x 50). When it officially launches in the fall, the belicoso-sized smoke will boast a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper, Brazilian Mata Fina binder, and filler tobaccos from Honduras and Nicaragua. “When I noticed that the name of this special yearly release was ‘Pork Beli,’ I called my dear friend Pete Johnson, and asked his permission for use of the name, as he already has a Pork Tenderloin and Chop,” said Jonathan Drew. “He was cool, as always, a class act.”

3) Even though the FDA regulations on cigars went into effect weeks ago, the FDA is only beginning to issue guidance on how the industry will need to comply. One such guidance was issued this week on warning label requirements for cigars, although the agency is asking for public comments on the rules.

4) Inside the Industry: Nomad Cigar Company announced the expansion of the SA-17 Lancero to additional retailers. The cigar (7 x 38) was blended and rolled in Estelí at Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez, and it features a San Andrés wrapper and Nicaraguan binder and filler. It comes in 21-count boxes and sells for $9.75.

5) From the Archives: Even the best cigar can be ruined by a bad cut. So read our tip on getting a proper cut. In it, we walk you though how to pick the proper cut for each cigar.

6) Deal of the Week: StogieGuys.com recommends Bespoke Post, a monthly collection of awesome items delivered to your door for just $45. Past boxes include fine bar accessories, shaving kits, coffee, exclusive E.P. Carrillo cigars, and more. You can skip or purchase every month. Currently available are boxes with themes including beer tasting, pretzel making, Asian cooking, and pizza making. Click here to sign up today.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Financial Times