JRCigars blog

Happy Birthday

September 17, 2014 · By · No Comments

While last year marked the 10th anniversaries of both Tatuaje and My Father cigars, this does seem to be the year of birthdays.  Manuel Quesada and his family marked 40 years in business earlier this year with the release of their 40th anniversary line. The 40th anniversary cigars used a nice dark San Andres wrapper over Dominican binder and a combination of Dominican and Nicaraguan fillers.  These were limited cigars with a box press, but the good thing is the same cigars, albeit in different shapes, will be available on an ongoing basis.

La Flor Dominicana is celebrating its 20th anniversary. Ernesto Perez Carrillo is marking 5 years, which doesn’t sound like much but when you consider this is Ernie’s second (or third) time around.  He began with El Credito and his father back in 1977 working out of the little Miami factory.  While the Carrillos made El Credito, they also started making an old Cuban brand, La Gloria Cubana.  The success of La Gloria helped the company grow, to the point that in 1999, Perez-Carrillo sold it to Swedish Match.  Swedish Match eventually bought General Cigar and merged the El Credito factory into its Dominican operations.  Ernie stayed with General until 2008 when he retired.  But by the next year, Ernie opened EP Carrillo cigars in the Dominican Republic.  His Tabacalera La Alianza is now marking its 5th birthday.  Perez-Carrillo makes the E-Stunner, the popular Inch line of cigars including this year’s special Inch Short Run and the New Wave Connecticut.

The company with the biggest birthday this year though is Padron, which is marking its 50th year.  Starting in 1964 Jose Orlando Padron started selling his first cigars.  The first cigars the company made were medium fill but soon Padron was making cigars in Nicaragua.  The company’s backbone is the Padron series.  The 3000 is their biggest seller and during the cigar boom, Padron did not hike prices and kept stores with product, earning a lot of respect from tobacconists.  Even today, the Padron Londres retails for under $4.  The Padron’s ventured into the high end premium market with what was called the Anniversario (today called the 1964 anniversary series).  Going a bit up the scale, Padron brought out the 1926 series to mark the 75th birthday of Jose Orlando Padron.  5 years later, the 1926 80 years came out to mark his 80th birthday.  The Padrons also have the Family Reserve Series which was rated 94 in 2013.  This year the family is putting out the 50th anniversary cigar as part of the Family Reserve Series in a 5” x 54 size.  Cost is $25.  There is another cigar the company is making but in very limited quantities.  It comes in a special 50th anniversary humidor which we showed you from the show.  The cost for the humidor and cigars is $5,000.

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No CommentsTags: cigar industry · new cigars

Smoke 'em

September 16, 2014 · By · No Comments

There was a bit of bright news late last week. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie vetoed a bill that would have banned smoking in all state parks and would have severely limited smoking on the state’s beaches.  The fines were pretty steep too, $250 for a first offense, $500 second time around and $1,000 for the third time.  This is the face of anti-smokers…make them pay lots.

Environmentalists and anti-smoking advocates praised the bill as groundbreaking, saying it would curb secondhand smoke exposure, cut down on litter, and reduce the risks of fire.

Christie said in his veto message that he appreciates the concerns but derided the measure as a "prescriptive, one-size-fits-all" ban.

Yeah because there is so much to catch fire on beaches…that sand you know.  And unless I am wrong, there are already laws against littering.  Now many towns in Jersey have banned smoking and some towns have done so on their beaches.

"Too often, policy-makers at more centralized levels of government encroach into areas of public policy previously reserved for more localized governing bodies." Christie said in the message. "I do not believe that the state should substitute its judgement for that of our local elected officials or upset the careful balancing of interests that informs the decision-making process at the local level."

Even though the bill passed both houses in the legislature by wide margins, at least somebody had sense to knock this down.

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No CommentsTags: cigar laws

General Grows Again

September 15, 2014 · By · No Comments

Last Thursday, General Cigars announced its latest acquisition —Toraño Family Cigars.  In a way this is a logical extension for the company.  Scandinavian Tobacco Group in 2007 first bought CAO from the Ozgener family.  The cigars were made in the Toraño factories in Esteli.  The next year, STG purchased Toraño’s factories in both Nicaragua and Honduras. But the Toraño brands were not part of that deal except that STG helped with the distribution of the cigars.  In 2010, STG merged with Swedish Match in a joint venture that rolled everything into the General Cigar umbrella.  At that time, Toraño took back distribution of the family brands.  Toraño has a rich history, dating back to 1916. 

“There is a long-standing and proud history of partnership between General Cigar and Toraño, dating back to my family’s exodus from Cuba. There is no other company that I would rather have continue my family’s legacy, and I look forward to seeing the Toraño brands prosper under General Cigar’s expertise,” said Toraño president Charlie Toraño.

When Charlie’s grandfather was in Cuba, he sold tobacco to the Cullman family when it owned General Cigar, then when he fled Cuba in 1960, it was Ramon Cifuentes and General Cigar who gave him his first U.S. job growing Connecticut tobacco which he had been doing in Cuba before his exodus.

Says Dan Carr, president of General Cigar,

 “The acquisition of the Toraño brands represents an opportunity for us to strategically expand our portfolio. Our companies have been intertwined for over 50 years and I look forward to working with Charlie Toraño on plans to celebrate the upcoming centennial and to carry forward the vision, passion and innovation that is synonymous with the Toraño name while also leveraging our resources to bring even greater excitement and reach to our trade partners and consumers.”

Both General and Toraño say the blends of the current lines will remain the same.  My guess is this is a win for both companies in that General gets another line that can be sold overseas (remember the trademarks for Cohiba, La Gloria Cubana, Punch and Partagas are for the U.S. market only, Cuba has them elsewhere)  and Toraño gets wider distribution.  The deal was kept fairly secret…even Jack Toraño, Charlie’s cousin who worked for the company, said on Facebook he had no clue.  The fast changeover also begs the question of what happens to Sam Leccia’s lines.  Toraño had been his distributor for his Luchadore, Leccia White and Leccia Black cigars.  Sam says he is working to set up a new distributor. 

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No CommentsTags: cigar industry · General Cigar

Kuuts

September 10, 2014 · By · No Comments

Ok this is probably a name that you don’t know.  The company has been making and selling cigars in Europe for many years and only last year did it start knocking on U-S doors.  The cigars are made in Danli, Honduras at the company’s factory.  This year at the trade show they upped their presence.  Most of the company’s cigars are medium bodied and fairly reasonably priced.

Kuuts Tabacalera ZapataThe lightest one is the Tabacalera Zapata which uses a Connecticut seed grown in Honduras for the wrapper over a Nicaraguan binder and fillers from Honduras, Nicaragua and Mexico.  It is considered a mild to medium smoke, perhaps good for the morning.  It comes in 5 sizes from a 5.625” x 46 Corona, to a 5” x 50 Robusto, a 6” x 52 Toro, a 55” x 54 Torpedo and a 6” x 60 Toro Grande.  List prices run between $5 and $8.

Kuuts Placeres ReservaThe Placeres Reserva is a step up from the Zapata.  It uses a Habano seed grown in Jalapa, Nicaragua over a Costa Rican binder and Honduran and Nicaraguan fillers. It too has 5 sizes : Marevas at 5” x 42; Estrellas at 5” x 50; Belicosos at 5.5” x 52; Colosos at 6” x 54 and the 6” x 60 Toro Grande.  List prices run from just under $6 to just over $8.

Kuuts MiroThe Miro is the strongest cigar with a medium to full body, using Sumatran wrapper over Nicaraguan binder and Honduran and Nicaraguan fillers.  There are 5 sizes, but this one starts with the Momentos at 4” x 48 that was introduced at the show, Robusto at 5.25” x 50, Toros at 6” x 52 Torpedo measuring 6.125” x 52 and Gordos at 6” x 60. List prices run from $6 to $8.

The newest line from Kuuts was its Nicaraguan blend.  Again medium bodied, but with a touch more flavor.  The stick uses a Habano seed grown in Ecuador for the wrapper and then binder and fillers from Nicaragua.  Coming in 5 sizes from the above mentioned Momentos, to a Pequeño at 4.5” x 58, Robusto  5” x 52, Toro 6’ x 52 and a Gordo Especial at 7” x 60. List prices are just under $5 for the Momentos to just under $7 for the big boy.

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No CommentsTags: Kuuts · new cigars

Hypocrisy

September 09, 2014 · By · 3 Comments

Recently in a cigar store, I was asked if I favored the legalization of marijuana.  I said no. When asked why, I simply said that pot smokers are hypocrites.  They will light up a joint, but then hack and cough if one were to light up tobacco around them. If all the people in favor of legalizing pot backed tobacco smokers as well…it would be a different story.

A public opinion survey put out last week supposedly shows that the majority of Americans support the legalization of marijuana.   39 percent of the 450,000 surveyed show they strongly support the legalization, while another 19 percent somewhat favor it.

Jennifer Sikora, a spokesperson for CivicScience, explained to The Huffington Post that although the survey was online, the company uses browser cookies to keep respondents from answering the question more than once. In order to further hedge against a person answering the same question multiple times, the question is part of a pool of more than 1,000 rotating questions on multiple websites to further decrease the possibility that a respondent might happen upon the same question again. Still, Sikora says, there is a very small percentage of respondents who do repeat the answer (after all, cookies can be deleted), but the 453,653 U.S. adults in this survey are unique.

The question was “would you support or oppose a law that would legalize, tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol?”  23 states and the District of Columbia have legalized pot for medical uses and Colorado and Washington have legalized it for recreational use.  However, Washington and Colorado have bans on smoking tobacco.  Do they seem to think that all pot users will eat it?  After all, smoke is smoke.

And what of regulation?  It occurs to me that marijuana is a drug.  Isn’t the name of the federal agency that intends to put cigars out of business the Food and DRUG Administration?  They seem to have no interest in pot, but are more concerned about nicotine.  

At the end of last month, the FDA and CDC put out a release that was very deceptive.  They don’t want e-cigs, nor any other form of tobacco because, I think, it hurts pharmaceutical sales of Nicotrol, Nicorette, Chantix and the like.  The National Youth Tobacco Survey massaged the data to get results that could be exploited.

Intention to smoke conventional cigarettes was 43.9% among ever e-cigarette users and 21.5% among never users.

“The increasing number of young people who use e-cigarettes should be a concern for parents and the public health community, especially since youth e-cigarette users were nearly twice as likely to have intentions to smoke conventional cigarettes compared with youth who had never tried e-cigarettes.” said Rebecca Bunnell, Sc.D., M.Ed., Associate Director for Science in CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health and the lead author of the study.

Carl Phillips takes the report to task on several points:

So what did they find? They reported that according the 2013 NYTS, 263,000 never-smoking American youth, grades 6-12, had ever tried one puff of an e-cigarette. The lies start here. They describe this as “used e-cigarettes” even though no rational person would interpret “use” to mean “tried one puff ever”...    It is also worth noting that this is far lower than the roughly 5% of the “youth” in the population who are of legal age to buy cigarettes, cannabis where it is legal, and e-cigarettes where they are age-restricted.

Further, the quarter of a million number comes from the kids who EVER tried a puff, not just in 2013.  As for the percentage of “youth” that had intentions to use e-cigs, well they had to juggle the numbers.  When asked if they would smoke, the choices were basically definitely yes, probably yes, probably no and definitely no.  The FDA CDC decided that anything other than a definite no was intention to smoke.  Really?  This is the kids of “science” we are up against.  Liars.

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3 CommentsTags: cigar laws · FDA

New from F-U

September 03, 2014 · By · No Comments

Yeah that is Fabrica Unidas, not what you were thnking. F-U is the home of the brands for Christian Eiroa  and they have been busy  showing a lot of new stuff at the past show.  Christian added some new extensions to his lines and a new signature one.  The Asylum Ogre has been out for a while.  It has a Candela and a Nicaraguan wrapper in a barber pole.  The original Ogre was a 7 x 70 big boy.  This year, Eiroa and Tom Lasuka realized some people didn’t like the biggies, so they have come out with an Ogre 550, which is 5” x 50.  Much easier to smoke.  The candela combination gives it an interesting flavor, a bit better perhaps than the traditional Connecticut mix.  Oh, and if you realllly love big cigars, there is always the 6” x 80 Ogre.

The Asylum 13

Asylum has come up with a new line addition to the Asylum 13 edition.  Tom Lazuka says he is responding to customers in coming out with this new size, but Christian Eiroa says yeah right and Eiroa picked the name.  Called 99 Problems it is a traditional lancero.  Eiroa says the name is apt because retailers often ask for traditional sizes, but then once they get to the stores, they do not sell.  So the box holds 99 of the lanceros and Eiroa figures once a retailer buys it, HE now has the 99 problems to sell.  The lancero will retail for $7.

Hoill

Speaking of lanceros, Edgar Hoill who has his OSOK (One Shot One Kill)  line with Eiroa and his Edgar Hoill line, is also making a new lancero in the EH line. Called EH Lancero it is a true 7” x 38 and uses ligero from Jalapa and Esteli.  The wrapper is a dark Habano. It provides flavors like the OSOK line but in a smaller ring gauge.  The Lancero retails for $10 in boxes of 25.

Signature

As for Christian himself, he has his signature line of Eiroa…the first time he has put his name on a cigar.  They are more full bodied, but not over the top and are Honduran puros.  At the show, he released a new extension to the line called CBT which stands for Capa, Banda and Tripa—wrapper, binder and filler—and all are Maduro. (Guess they can’t call it triple maduro anymore.)   The result is a very rich tasting smoke.  Prices are similar to the original Eiroa running from $9 to $12.

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No CommentsTags: Asylum · Eiroa · Hoill · new cigars

No Exceptions

September 02, 2014 · By · No Comments

Who couldn’t have seen this coming?  Well probably most of the cigar industry.  In many talks with people about smoking bans and why we should always fight them, often many of the people in the business will say, I won’t be affected….I will get an exemption.  When you point out that exemptions may be only temporary things, they often scoff.

In Nebraska they aren’t scoffing anymore.  Last Friday the state Supreme Court struck down exemptions to the state smoking law as unconstitutional. Surprise.

In Friday’s ruling, Judge Kenneth Stephan, writing for the majority, said there is no substantial difference in circumstances between cigar bars and other public places or workplaces that justifies treating them differently.

An Omaha pool hall was fighting the ban trying to get the law scrapped.  Instead, now it is worse.  But the pool hall now says, at least the playing field is leveled.  Yeah everyone is gonna be in the basement.  I hope the pool hall goes out of business.

According to news reports the court decided the exemptions were contrary to the legislature’s initial intent to ban smoking from the workplace.  Nevermind that the legislature changed the law to include those exceptions.

The Supreme Court ruled that only the exemption for hotel guestrooms is constitutional, because the evidence against it doesn't overcome its presumption of constitutionality, Stephan wrote.

That's not the case for tobacco retail outlets and cigar bars, he said.

"Allowing patrons of such shops to smoke simply because it is convenient does not comport with the purpose of the Act, which is to protect the public and employees from the dangers of second-hand smoke," Stephan wrote.

While most articles concentrate on the state’s 11 cigar bars,  it also affects cigar stores.

Jason Hutchison, general manager of Jake’s in Lincoln, is already predicting a 10 percent to 15 percent loss of business. He said he hopes he won’t be forced to lay off employees.

“I don’t think the judges look at the repercussions for things like this,” he said

No they don’t.  And do not think that the anti’s feel this is a victory.

For Mark Welsch, president of Gasp Nebraska, the ruling is bittersweet.

“I'm very pleased that the Supreme Court has ruled that you can no longer smoke in cigar bars, in tobacco stores. I'm disappointed that they still allow hotels and motels to be smoky and am most concerned that they allow smoking at in-home day care's and foster home businesses,” said Welsch.

Right….not far enough.  You can never compromise with these people and be certain they will use this decision in the future in other states and cities to get rid of the exemptions.

Now let’s take this a step further.  The upcoming FDA ruling, many have said, will likely end up in court.  They are right.  The trouble is they don’t think about what could happen.  For example, if mass market cigars are covered by the FDA and premiums are not, don’t you think someone is gonna go to court?  I have been told that of course the mass market size will get an exemption after the court challenge.  They have wonderful lawyers you see.  My point is that any legal challenge can always go against you.  Witness Nebraska.  Bottom line…be afraid, be very afraid.

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No CommentsTags: cigar industry · cigar laws

The Science is Settled

August 29, 2014 · By · No Comments

You hear that a lot when the other side talks about tobacco.  But is it really?  Remember when ulcers were thought to be caused by spicy food and instead were the result of bacteria that simple antibiotics could cure?  Well the same is apparently true about salt and diets.  Remember that when Bloomberg was the nanny, er mayor, of NYC, not only did he wage war on tobacco but also on salt.  He got his health department to cut the amount of salt in foods in the city.  They pushed for a 25% reduction.  Salt is terrible for you, they said.

“We are trying to extend lives and improve the lives of people who live in this city,” Bloomberg said in a press conference in New York today. Life expectancy in the city has lengthened by 15 months over his eight-year tenure, the mayor said.

The city modeled its salt-reduction plan on England, which “has been very successful in getting packaged-good manufacturers to slowly reduce content,” Bloomberg said.

 The science is settled—the American Heart Association, another nanny, still says that is the case.  Not so fast.  A study this month said if you cut out too much salt you could be hurting your health.

Current guidelines from U.S. government agencies, the World Health Organization, the American Heart Association and other groups set daily dietary sodium targets between 1,500 and 2,300 milligrams or lower, well below the average U.S. daily consumption of about 3,400 milligrams.

The new study, which tracked more than 100,000 people from 17 countries over an average of more than three years, found that those who consumed fewer than 3,000 milligrams of sodium a day had a 27% higher risk of death or a serious event such as a heart attack or stroke in that period than those whose intake was estimated at 3,000 to 6,000 milligrams. Risk of death or other major events increased with intake above 6,000 milligrams.

Of course the nannies derided the study.

The new report has shortcomings, and as an observational study it found only an association, not a causative effect, between very low sodium and cardiovascular risk. Still, it spurred calls to reconsider the targets.

Wait, aren’t damn near all of the studies on tobacco, second hand and third hand smoke these types of studies?  Yeah well when the “science” isn’t to your liking, challenge the study but when it is, well it is gospel.

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No CommentsTags: cigar laws

Very, Very Small Batch

August 28, 2014 · By · No Comments

Herrera EsteliWilly Herrera, the master blender for Drew Estate, is coming out with a very limited cigar. So much so that only one store will get each release and there will only be a few releases per year. His regular cigar, the Herrera Esteli has been a hit although sometimes the supply is not as much as consumers would like and everyone seems to be waiting on his new regular line the Norteno.  It was supposed to be out by now, but like many things at Drew Estate, timing is flexible.  The new limited release is called “Tienda Exclusiva by Willy Herrera”.  (That means store exclusive.) If you can find the store that has them they will retail for $12 and come in 10 count boxes.

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Legendary

August 27, 2014 · By · No Comments

John Starks Legends cigarsJohn Starks is a former all-star with the NBA.  Growing up in Oklahoma, he first played for Golden State then it was onto the New York Knicks and the All Star team.  Starks retired in 2002 and was the Knick’s all time three-point leader. He was the first player in NBC history to make 200 three-pointers in a single season.  Why am I telling you this?  Well you see Starks is also a cigar lover.  Near the end of his professional career, he would travel down to the Dominican Republic a couple of times a year bring the kids down there new and used sports equipment.  During these trips, he started visiting cigar factories as well.  The result was Legend Cigars and his signature Dominican cigar simply called John Starks Legend.  They are medium bodied cigars with Dominican binder and fillers and come either in a natural Ecuadoran Connecticut or Brazilian maduro wrapper.  Their booth at the show was nice but the cigar was nicer.

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No CommentsTags: famous smokers · John Starks