JRCigars blog

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

Bubba's Smokes

August 26, 2014 · By · No Comments

Bill Clinton has been out of office now for almost a generation (14 years) but still in the limelight of course.   He is known as someone who smokes cigars (as seen in this photo from Reuters in 1999) and where he put them caused news during his presidency. This past week, he made cigar news again.   Kaizad Hansotia—the C-E-O of Gurkha – says the former President is a big fan of “His Majesty’s Reserve” cigars which fetch—are you ready? --$1,000 per stick.

"We hunt for the most exotic tobaccos around the world," Hansotia said, rationalizing the nearly $1,000 price tag. The company produces about 20,000 boxes per year, and has a three-year waiting list. Clients include business leaders, royal families and dignitaries. A-List celebrities like Matthew McConaughey -- and apparently one former president -- also smoke the company's premium cigars.

Now according to the news reports, Clinton may not actually smoke the HMR regularly instead Hansotia says Bill likes the Beauties, which only cost $600 each.  That must mean that Bill is not buying them from JR…. Of course Gurkha makes a lot of different cigars and many are available in 5 packs. But the HMR is not available in the 5-pack ….yet.  heh.

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No CommentsTags: Bill Clinton · famous smokers · Gurkha · luxury cigars

Camacho

August 21, 2014 · By · No Comments

Camacho Ecuador

One of the newer things at the Davidoff booth was the recently released Camacho Ecuador. The cigar with the blue band and box actually came out just before the show, but it was prominently featured at the booth.  The new Camacho uses a Habano seed grown in Ecuador for its wrapper with a Brazilian Mata Fina binder and high priming Honduran tobaccos along with Pelo de Oro ligero from the Dominican Republic for fillers.  It comes in 5 sizes from a 5” x 50 Robusto to a 6” 60 Gordo and prices start just under $7.

Davidoff also continued the Camacho Liberty Series for 2014, which also uses the Habano Ecuadoran wrapper but it is from 2005.  This cigar contains a 2006 Corojo binder and fillers from both the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua.  It is only one size, 11/18 and comes in 20 count boxes with a total production of only 2,000 boxes.  They retail for $17 each.

Another addition to the Camacho line is the Double Shock.  The logo for this cigar is the rare double-tailed scorpion.  Davidoff says this barber pole type of cigar was made in the Danli factory with tobaccos from 5 different countries. The wrappers are, again, the Ecuadoran Habano but paired with a dark San Andres leaf creating the barber pole effect.  The binder is Criollo and the fillers are from the Dominican Republic, Honduras and Pennsylvania.  The double shock is limited to 1,000 boxes of each size.  They come in three sizes, Toro, Figurado and Gordo and the retail is from $11.50 to $13.  They should hit store shelves in October.

Finally, part of the Camacho “Board of the Bold” is Hollywood writer, producer and director Rob Weiss.  He is best known for the HBO series Entourage.  Weiss now has partnered with Camacho and Davidoff to form the B.G. Meyer Company and has released a couple of cigars.  The first line is the Standard Issue, which uses Nicaraguan tobaccos made at AgroIndustrias Laepe S.A. in Danli—the old Camacho and now Davidoff factory.  It comes in five sizes, again from the 5” x 50 Robusto to a 6” x 60 Gordo.  Prices are from $8-10.  The second cigar is called Slackers which is a smaller stick being sold in 4 packs. Whereas the Standard Issue is medium to full, Slackers is more on the mild side with an Ecuadoran Connecticut wrapper, Dominican binder and fillers.  Cost will be about $4 each.

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No CommentsTags: Camacho · Davidoff · IPCPR · new cigars

See you in Court

August 20, 2014 · By · 1 Comment

One thing is pretty clear about the FDA…no matter what they rule, there will be court cases.  For one thing, Altria—the cigarette maker Philip Morris—is concerned that the FDA control may force them to change the name of one of the best selling cigar brands.  Altria owns John Middleton Co., which makes the Black and Mild brand.  Middleton dates back to 1856 and it has almost a third of the U.S. cigar market.

Under the Food and Drug Administration proposal, cigar makers would have to remove descriptions like "light," ''mild," ''medium" or "low" from their products, raising a unique question about the fate of Black & Mild.

The descriptions were banned for cigarettes under a 2009 law because many smokers wrongly thought they meant the products were less harmful than "full-flavor" cigarettes. Cigarette makers have since replaced those words with colors such as gold, silver, blue and orange on such brands, which usually feature different filters and milder-flavored blends.

The company contends that forcing it to change the name would be unconstitutional.

"Neither FDA's regulatory authority or the First Amendment allows the FDA to ban words such as mild for cigar and pipe tobacco regardless of the context," said Altria spokesman David Sutton. "Here, when the word is part of a longstanding and well-established trademark like Black & Mild, such a ban would violate basic constitutional guarantees."

But, of course, constitutionality matters to the government.  See Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder for confirmation. 

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1 CommentTags: cigar industry · cigar laws · FDA

FDA marches on

August 19, 2014 · By · No Comments

The FDA is going through the comments now and last week in talking with Glynn Loope about the comments submitted, he told me that on the last day the Cigar Rights of America group delivered about 40 pounds of letters.  Yup, the old fashioned pre-Internet kind on paper, not electronic.  That is a lot of letters from cigar smokers and is a good thing.  Loope says the CRA is drafting another letter for consumers to send to Congress. Yes there still is a way to stop this, via Congressional action. (This is an election year after all.)

In the meantime, Florida’s Attorney General gets a pat on the back.  Pam Bondi wrote into the FDA to say she thinks they are overdoing it.  Unfortunately she was alone.

Bondi’s letter was separate from a letter signed the same day by 29 other attorneys general that implored the FDA to make the proposed regulations even stronger, particularly in regard to electronic cigarettes

Bondi said the FDA should consider the economic impact of what it is doing.  (Remember it already has put people in San Antonio out of work when Finck’s cigar factory closed and I doubt there is much call for cigar makers in Texas anymore.)  Bondi is concerned that J.C. Newman in Tampa would have to cease its manufacturing in that city.

“This 119-year-old premium cigar company with 130 employees is truly unique in this industry and should not be regulated in the same manner as the nation’s largest cigarette companies,” Bondi wrote on Friday, the deadline for submissions on the federal plan.

Florida’s Senators also have been involved.

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., have requested an exemption to the new rules for companies that don’t mass-produce cigars, such as J. C. Newman. The FDA is already considering an exemption for premium cigars that are handmade. J.C. Newman uses vintage machines.

We’ll see how this plays out.

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No CommentsTags: cigar industry · cigar laws · FDA

Black Abyss

August 14, 2014 · By · No Comments

Black Abyss cigars

Speaking of Jochy Blanco, he has been a busy man.  Not only does he make all of Boutique Blends cigars, but he also is making his cousin Jose Blanco’s Señoral line of cigars. (Yes they are both named Jose Blanco, which is why Jochy uses his nickname.)  But somehow, Jochy found time to make another new cigar, Black Abyss.  This is what you expect from his factory Tabacalera La Palma, bold flavors with great construction.  He uses a San Andres maduro wrapper over Corojo binder and criollo fillers.  They are very reasonably priced with the MSRP ranging from $4.50 to $5.50.  The only bad news is that they sell out fast.

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No CommentsTags: boutique cigars · new cigars