It is sadly the last day here at the 2015 IPCPR. We’ve laughed, we’ve cried, we did a lot of different bodily functions. The buyers have done a great job picking up the best products for our customers and ensuring they will be delivered to our warehouse promptly. On this the final day, let us take a look at some more amazing products you can expect from JR Cigar.
La Mission du L’Atelier- Inspired by a famous French winery, Pete Johnson is rolling out another great smoke from L’Atelier Imports. This year he is debuting the La Mission. It is wrapped in a dark Mexican San Andres wrapper and includes the very limited Sancti Spiritus leaf, made famous by Pepin Garcia of My Father. It is available in 3 different sizes that correspond to famous vintages from the winery: The 1959 (4 ¾ x52), the 1989 (5 5/8 x 54) and the 2009 (6 ½ x 52). The MSRP will be $8, $9, and $10 respectively. Be careful with the cork!!!
My Father Centurion H-2K-CT- I know this cigar sounds like it has a government designation, but what it truly has is some amazing flavor. It is the same filler and binder as the previous Centurion, but now with a unique and spicy new wrapper. It’s a hybrid Habano wrapper that’s actually grown in Connecticut. It truly shows you that not everything out of that state is light and creamy. This cigar is medium to full with a great mix of spicy and sweet. Its available in 2 box press vitolas: A corona for $7.10 and a Toro for $8.10.
Murcielago By Erik Espinosa- My dear friend Erik is bring back an old favorite. The Murcielago line was originally made by his previous company United tobacco. He is now bringing it back with a vengeance. It features a dark, oily, Mexican San Andres wrapper that’s exceedingly rich and flavorful. Its filler and binder is made from choice Nicaraguan long filler tobaccos and of course it is all rolled at his La Zona factory in Esteli. It will be available in 3 distinct sizes: the Noir (5 x 52), the La Lune (6 1/2 x 54) and the Nocturne (5 1/2 x 56). Its time to let the bat out of the cave!
In my mind day three seemed to be the most important day of the show. The glitz and glamour of the big manufacturers was fantastic, yet in terms of the cigars, well most of them have been announced for a few weeks now at least. With all that hype behind them today was a big day for our buyers. After sitting with Padron, Tatuaje, and Perdomo, let's see what they came up with!!
Padron Damaso- Last year, Padron spun heads at the trade show with the introduction of the 50th Anniversary and its corresponding humidor. This year, in order to top that, they are thinking outside the box. More specifically they are thinking outside the box press. The Damaso is one of Padron's only rounded parejo shaped cigar. What’s more unusual is it is the first Padron that comes in cellophane. Yet the most surprising aspect of this cigar is it is the first Padron offered in a Connecticut seed wrapper. It is a mild cigar with a light wrapper over vintage Nicaraguan filler. It is offered in 4 sizes: No. 8 (5 1/2 x 46), No. 12 (5 x 50), No. 15 (6 x 52) and No. 17 (7 x 54).
Tatuaje Verocu- For those of you who are Tatuaje fans, you know theVerocu has been around for a few years. Well this year not only did we acquire the original line, we also now have the new size, which launched this year. This line was originally a limited extension of the Havana VI, but now is a stand-alone blend. It uses a Nicaraguan Café Rosado Oscuro wrapper and a great blend of Nicaraguan long filler tobaccos. The new size is known as the No.3 and is a 6 x 46 corona gorda. The MSRP is going to be around $8.50
Perdomo Special Craft Series- Finally a company has made the perfect cigar for beer pairings. Perdomo’s much anticipated Special Craft series has been the talk of the town for a long time, and now they are finally here. There are 3 different wrappers that are made to pair with 3 different beers. The first is known as the Pilsner and it uses a creamy Connecticut wrapper. Its made to pair with lighter beers such as pilsners or light lagers. The Amber uses a Sun Grown wrapper from Condega and is best with pale ales, lagers, or ambers. The last is known as the Stout. It uses a dark maduro wrapper is paired best with stouts, porters, or brown ales. The filler and binder on all three vary slightly but it is the wrappers that make these parings perfect. All 3 will also be available in 4 sizes: a Robusto, an Epicure, a Churchill, and a Gordo. The MSRP is $6.99, $7.50, $7.99, and $8.50 respectively. Cheers!!
Another fantastic day here at the trade show. Some of these booths are absolutely phenomenal and the cigars I’ve tried have been great! Yesterday I had the pleasure of sitting down with Matt Booth of Room 101 for a few minutes, which is always a pleasure. I then was invited to attend a special presentation by Rafael Nodal and his great Aging Room line. You’ll be able to see portions of the presentation and my interviews later on, but I know what you want to know…what did we buy today? Well today was all about Altadis, so lets see what we got!
Montecristo Estoque- One of the many anticipated releases this year from Altadis U.S.A, they have taken their highly successful Espada and taken it to the next level. The Estoque, named after the sword of the Spanish matadors, is bold and delicious. It uses special upper priming Nicaraguan Cuban Seed Viso Jalapa wrapper. Its binder and filler are select vintage Nicaraguan tobaccos, some dating back to 2002. It's smooth, but with a great spice to it. It is available in one size, the 6 x 50 and will MSRP for around $14.50.
Montecristo White Vintage Connecticut- If you think of the Montecristo White as the BMW of mild cigars... well it's time to meet the Bentley. The White Vintage Connecticut is a superb mild to medium smoke. Each box is hand painted with a very artistic rendering of a Connecticut tobacco barn. It uses a 7-year-old Connecticut shade wrapper, along with a terrific blend of Dominican, Nicaraguan, and Peruvian tobaccos for the binder and filler. It’s smooth and creamy with a hint of hazelnut and vanilla. It will be available in 3 sizes: No.3(5 ½ x 44), the No.2 Belicoso(6 x 50), and the Double Corona(6 ¼ x 50). The MSRP will be $10.50, $14.50, and $12.50, respectively.
Henry Clay Tattoo- This is probably the cigar I was most excited for from Altadis. Long time Henry Clay admirer Pete Johnson (yes from Tatuaje), has worked closely with the Grupo de Maestros to reinvent the brand. Enter, The Henry Clay Tattoo. It’s a rich and dark smoke that uses a limited 2010 vintage Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper. Its binder and filler use vintage Dominican tobacco with a dash of 2-year-old Nicaraguan Criollo. Even though the blend has changed, Pete has kept the tradition of the original Henry Clay alive. It is available in 1 size; a 6 x 54 with a pigtail and the MSRP is around $9.50 a cigar.
H. Upmann Banker- It's time to make it rain, with the new and improved H. Upmann Banker. After its release last year, this reinvigorated brand has spread across brick and mortar stores around the country. What’s new about it this year is the addition of a new size, the Basis Point. It’s the only Belicoso in the Banker line and is 6 x 52. It uses the same great Ecuadorian Habano wrapper as the rest of the line as well as a terrific blend of vintage Dominican and Nicaraguan long filler tobaccos. The MSRP will be around $8.30. This is one banker that won’t hurt your wallet!
Yes my friends, it is the first day of the 2015 International Premium Cigars and Pipe Retailer trade show. IPCPR is the oldest and largest organization that represents tobacco retailers. Their tradeshow has been occurring once a year for over 8 decades and has become the ultimate event for tobacco buyers. This is the time where all of the manufacturers lay out their newest lines for that year. Think of it as a smoking New York Auto Show. It is like Christmas for members of the cigar industry. Everyone is so excited to see the new products and to show off their new toys, it is a terrific blend of business and pleasure. One of the greatest characteristics of the show is that it is closed off to ordinary consumers. It is strictly for retailers and manufacturers. This makes this event a very coveted occasion and a sort of dream for me for a number of years. Today was my first day on the floor of the show and I was like a kid in a candy store. I couldn’t stop from gazing at the amazing setups of some of these cigar giants like Davidoff, Padron, and Fuente. Some of these booths are extremely luxurious and showy in order to draw in new clients. However, it takes more than just a flashy booth to make an impression at this event. You need to have an outstanding product at a good price and that’s available for retailers as soon as possible. Let's take a look at some of the new products our buying department has picked up so far.
Davidoff Escurio- This cigar is one of the most anticipated releases of the year. The Davidoff Escurio will join their black labeled cigars such as the Davidoff Nicaraguan, which was the talk of the town last year. It’s a medium to full bodied cigar and uses a very bold blend of tobaccos. Its dark oily wrapper is an Ecuadorian Habano. It's wrapped around a delicious Brazilian criollo seed binder and vintage Dominican and Brazilian long filler. The name Escurio is meant to evoke the emotion of a night in Rio. It is the first Davidoff to utilize Brazilian tobacco. It will be offered in three sizes: A petite Robusto, a Robusto, and a Gran Toro. The MSRP will be $8.50, $15.95, and $17.90 respectively.
Caldwell Cigars Blind Man's Bluff- It has been a huge year for Robert Caldwell. Since last year's show, his brand has blossomed into one of the most sought after boutique cigars on the market. He enters this year with a new line titled Blind Man's Bluff. What’s unique about this smoke is it was crafted in Honduras at the Agroindustrias Laepe S.A., the same factory as the famed Camacho. They utilize an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, a Honduran Criollo binder, and a blend of aged Dominican, Criollo, and Honduran ligero long filler. It will be available in 3 sizes: a Robusto, a toro, and a 6x60. The MSRP is $7.50, $8.50, and $9.50 respectively. Coming off of a recent 91 rating in Cigar Aficionado magazine, let's see how this new smoke holds up.
Futuro by Warped and Casa Fernandez- Kyle Gellis is the new young prince of the cigar world. He debuted at last year's trade show and has taken the industry by storm. This year, he is debuting a new project with which he collaborated with Casa Fernandez. It has a Nicaraguan corojo 99 wrapper, a criollo 98 binder and a mix of corojo 99 and 98 long filler. Expect it to be quite spicy but with that usual smooth floral taste of a Warped. It is available in 2 sizes: The Seleccion 109 which is a 6 x 52 and the Seleccion Supreme which is a 5 5/8 x 46. The MSRP is in the $9.00 range. I am very excited so see the combination of these two great companies.
La Imperiosa – By Crowned Heads Get ready for an amazing cigar that’s now in a new package. The highly successful release of the Las Calaveras EL 2014 from Crowned Heads has made them determined to make that blend into a regular production line. Enter the La Imperiosa. It uses the same great Ecuadorian Habano Oscuro wrapper and vintage Nicaraguan long filler as its predecessor. It will be sold in 4 different sizes: Corona Gorda (5 3/4 x 46), Magicos (4 1/2 x 52), Double Robusto (6 3/8 x 50) and Dukes (5 1/2 x 54). MSRP will be between $8.25 to $9.75. Its back baby!
One of the joys of being in the Cigar Biz for more than a quarter of a century is the fact that I have had the opportunity to smoke just about every premium cigar ever made. I must admit though, today it is getting harder to keep up with the workload. It seems that with every stick that is retired to the ashtray, a new one is hitting our store shelves. (I’m happy to report that our beloved industry is in the midst of a major Renaissance!) The majority of these are limited production, independently owned cigar companies making “boutique” cigars. Unlike a large cigar company with a myriad of brands in its portfolio, the boutique cigar will have just a handful of vitolas, all under a single brand name. If you don’t do your homework, this Small Batch invasion can be very perplexing, but discovering new brands is what makes this centuries old hobby so much fun!
Not to be outdone by all of these new kids on the block, one of the major players in the industry, Altadis USA has three new cigars that continue to redefine the company’s once conservative, mainstream profile. Today, we are going to take an in depth look at all of them. I’m excited! Are you?
For those of you not familiar with Altadis, they are responsible for many of the world’s most renowned brands including Montecristo, Romeo y Julieta, H. Upmann, and Trinidad. In fact, these guys have been cranking out great cigars since 1918. Over the years, Altadis U.S.A. has grown into one of the largest cigar manufacturers in the world and has gained access to the best tobacco leaves from growers worldwide. Today, they are always poised to create new brands that will accommodate the ever-changing tastes of the modern smoker, and so far, they are off to a great start. So let us a take a close look at the latest goodies that Team Altadis has to offer.
Romeo y Julieta RYJ
Altadis USA released the RyJ by Romeo y Julieta late in 2013. Not exactly a new brand, but, since some of you may not have been fortunate enough to smoke one, and it is their first Nicaraguan Puro, It certainly warrants another look.
RyJ by Romeo y Julieta utilizes a Nicaraguan Corojo Jalapa wrapper that is silky smooth and milk chocolate in color. A double binder from the Estelí & Jalapa valley growing regions in Nicaragua and a vintage blend of 2010 Nicaraguan long-fillers completes package.
But how does it taste you ask?
Let’s go to the video where are very own, the lovely Nick Libretti, better known as the #CIGARchitect will give you an in depth review of this beauty.
H. Upmann Golden Nicaragua
The legendary H. Upmann brand, established on Cuba in 1844 one of oldest and most reliable marques in the industry has just gotten a major face-lift!
Set aside to age in cedar since 2012, this brand new offering is now a coveted treasure featuring the very best that Nicaragua has to offer.
Full-flavored and literally overflowing with rich, sweet and spicy flavors, H. Upmann Golden Nicaragua features a lustrous Cuban-seed wrapper grown in an area of Jalapa that receives early-morning sunlight, and afternoon shade from the adjacent mountains. The binder—also Cuban-seed tobacco—is grown in the Estelí area where the natural cloud cover allows just enough sun to result in full and robust flavor without any harsh or bitter notes. This blend of double-fermented leaf from Estelí, Jalapa, and the small La Comia farm is finished with just a touch of Honduran tobacco to round out the cigar into a truly luxurious experience befitting the Upmann name.
Now it’s time for you to light up a stogy, grab some popcorn, and sit back and relax as our vivacious and adorable Nick Libretti, #CIGARchitect extols the virtues of this stunning stick.
Romeo y Julieta Star Crossed Dark
When fashioning the original Romeo y Julieta Star Crossed, Altadis USA set out to create a bold bountiful medium-bodied premium stick that captured the essence of this legendary brand while still offering some luxurious nuances for the modern smoker. Now on the heels of this bestselling offering, we are proud to introduce the Romeo y Julieta Star Crossed Dark. The idea for this venture came to us because we wanted a Romeo that utilized one of the hottest wrappers out there, the” Ecuadorian Habano”. Our resident experts in conjunction with the nice folks at Altadis felt this beautiful leaf would perfectly compliment the Star Crossed line! A lot of time, effort, and sampling went into choosing the perfect mixture of top quality tobaccos to earn the title of Romeo Star Crossed Dark, and boy did we find the winner! This new cigar is more robust than the original, and it literally blew us away with its sweetness and smooth, well-balanced flavor profile. An aggressive Romeo is what we wanted and it is exactly what we got. More importantly, we also think this is exactly what you want. We challenge you to experience the Dark, and enjoy what we think is one of the finest Romeo Y Julieta’s ever created.
Our resident Romeo, the sexy #CIGARchitect Nick Libretti,nearly jumped off his balcony after smoking this Dark gem. Just listen to his passionate review!
Where can you get all three of these top-quality smokes? Right here at JR Cigar your one stop shop for all of your smoking needs! And for hours of entertainment, and cigar knowledge, including interviews with many of the big players in the industry, be sure to follow the #CIGARchitect, and crew, on our sensational YouTube channel!
So while sitting back with an astounding maduro Robusto, that was rich, sweet and loaded with zesty notes of sweet spice and cocoa, (more about that later), I began thinking about how many new premium cigars crafted by up and coming stogy rock stars have hit the scene in just this past year alone. That would be a bad thing if all these new sticks were crap, but these new young guns are cranking out some real quality products. Some might say that we are in the midst of a new Renaissance in the tobacco industry. Skeptics would disagree, claiming that the market is over-saturated. Just follow any internet cigar group and watch this endless battle rage on. At one point, Padron was a new company, and so was Arturo Fuente and Drew Estate, just to name a few. New brands provide energy into the market, a breath of fresh air, and they keep things new and exciting. In addition, it keeps the older established companies on their toes so they can never rest on their Laurels, (Or Hardy’s for that matter)! Best of all, it boosts the economy, both in the countries of origin, and right here in the States.
Therefore, I say, (for what it’s worth) keep bringing on the goodies; you just can’t have too many great cigars to choose from!
Speaking of new cigars, we have a real top-quality gem that is making a lot of (good) noise in the industry.
The Congress Cigar Company and its leading brand, La Palina, had its beginnings when Samuel Paley emigrated from Ukraine in the late 1800s.
Arriving in Chicago, Sam started his career in a local cigar factory as a lector. That person reads either fiction or popular current event stories to the rollers to break up the monotony, and to keep them from slapping a moist wrapper leaf on a co-worker's head for sipping his espresso too loudly.
His interest in the tobacco industry steadily grew, and Sam devoted his personal time to studying cigars, the nuances of their blending and the tradition of their manufacture. His employer eventually recognized his diligence, and Sam was promoted to roller and then blender.
In 1896, Sam opened a cigar shop of his own in Chicago with an adjacent factory that he named Congress Cigar Company. Their first product was La Palina, in honor of his wife Goldie Drell Paley. Sam was a turn-of-the-century master artisan and would sit in the window every day rolling cigars.
His dedication and skill made the brand a household name and it shared a spot among the best smokes of the day. Sadly, when Sam retired in 1926, his beloved La Palina retired with him.
Bill Paley, a third generation cigar maker, learned an important lesson about quality from his grandfather’s proud history with La Palina and Congress Cigar. Those values would guide the Paley’s for the next three generations and would take Bill Paley back to his roots, and the resurrection of this once famous brand.
This iteration isn’t just some run-of-the-mill remake of an old brand looking to make a quick buck, Paley set out to create some edgy modern nuances to super-charge the classic original recipe.
La Palina cigars are available in two incredibly tasty varieties!
La Palina Classic La Palina Classic cigars are medium-to-full-bodied, earthy, smooth, and brimming with a perfectly balanced combination of sweet and spicy goodness, thanks to its mouthwatering blend of Dominican and Nicaraguan long fillers, a silky Ecuadorian binder, and a deep and oily Brazilian Habano seed wrapper.
La Palina Black Label
This amazing premium handmade is wearing a lovely seamless Brazilian Habano wrapper that is black as coal, and glistening with oil. Underneath reside some of the finest aged Dominican and Nicaraguan fillers held together by a bold and zesty Ecuadorian binder.
Being a huge maduro maven, I chose the La Palina Black Label Robusto to smoke while writing this blog. If you will kindly revert to the very beginning of this story, I believe I suitably described its magnificent flavor… I’ll bet you guys were going crazy trying to figure out what I was smoking! No? … Oh, well!
Anyway, whether you smoke the Classic, Black Label, or both, rest assured, you are in for a very special treat!
Gurkha Cigars, which claims to have the world’s most expensive cigar—His Majesty’s Reserve – is going upscale once more with another pricy stick. His Majesty’s Reserve is infused with Louis XIII Cognac and that costs about $2500 per bottle -- each one of the cigars costs about a grand. The newest entry to Gurkha is going to be called the Maharaja, which will only cost $500 per cigar. The new Maharaja, according to the release, is a “secret blend of the best quality tobaccos available” using a Maduro wrapper over Dominican binder and filler. If you are looking for this one, good luck - it is extremely limited. Only 1,000 cigars are to be made. They will come in humidors of 10 and there are only going to be 100 boxes.
General Cigar has a much more affordable option…the new Punch Signature. The company just announced the yearly release of the Punch Rare Corojo and now comes the Signature. Now not many details are available about it yet…the cigar debuts the first of March. But in the meantime, the sarcastic Mr. Punch is in full glory, accepting twitter photos and making comments about them making memes on his new webpage. (Example: Don’t smoke premium cigars, you must like Sex and the City too)
The new Punch is coming out of General’s Honduran factory:
Master Blender Agustin Garcia hinted that Punch Signature “was inspired by the original Punch” and that it “mixes tradition with modern tastes.” He also said that he and his team “spent three years developing the blend.”
Here is info on the box and band…
The band is a re-creation of artwork developed in the 1800s for the first Punch cigars. The back of the band features Mr. Punch and his dog, Toby - a throwback to the original Mr. Punch character.
The box will hold 18 cigars and features an acrylic window on it. Details about the blend and prices will be released as we get closer.
La Aurora is the oldest cigar factory in the Dominican Republic. They’ve been making cigars since 1903…a long time. And La Aurora is known for its quality. That you know, but for most of you the name Rene Castañeda means nothing. However, Rene is a friend of mine for a long time. We have worked together in the past and Rene knows a thing or two about cigars. Recently, he has come out with his own brand of cigars called simply Castañeda. I will be honest and tell you that he did not blend these himself, although he had worked on the blends. Instead these were some ideas and blends from La Aurora. (Rene and I both used to work for the company.) Rene was wandering around the factory and tried these blends and realized there was a big market for them. Having a good relationship with JR, Rene has given them to us at a great price. (Ya see Rene used to live close to the mother ship in New Jersey and still carries his Jersey cell phone number.)
All of the tobaccos in these cigars are over 2 years old and the cigars have been resting for at least 3 months making certain the tobaccos have married and provide a clean smooth smoke. Honestly, I did not know about this until I happened to be talking to Rene and he said he forgot to tell me before. The cigars come with different wrappers and blends-- Cameroon,Connecticut, Corojo, Double Maduro, Maduro and Ecuador Sumatra. If you like La Aurora products, you are going to love these cigars. There is something for everyone here and the prices are terrific.
Punch is making its annual release of the Rare Corojo. This was a cigar that was around for a long time, but was discontinued when there was not enough wrapper. In 2001, it was re-introduced, albeit on a limited basis. It comes out during the winter and when it is gone…well you know. The Rare Corojo uses an Ecuadoran Sumatran wrapper over Connecticut Broadleaf for a deep rich taste. The fillers give it some spice as they come from the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Honduras.
For 2015 there are going to be two new entries to the Rare Corojo line… the El Diablo, which is a 6.5” x 66 big beefy cigar with a suggested retail of $8.25 and the Rare Lapiz, a unique figurado measuring 6.75” x 56. These will come in ten count boxes and will be the rarest of the Rare Corojos. Overall this is a line of Punch that sometimes gets overlooked. The flavors are great and with pricing from $3.99 to $8.25 retail…it is a pretty good deal as well.
When it first came out, the Camacho Corojo was one of the strongest cigars on the market. The Camacho Corojo today is still up there in terms of strength, but others have surpassed it going further. (An example is Aging Room’s Bin #1.) But starting next month, Camacho is going back to its roots, trumpeting the Corojo as “The Original Bold Smoke”. A part of the re-launch the company is adding two new sizes to the Corojo line…A Corojo Gordo at 6” x 60 and a Corojo Robusto Tubo. They will be shipping soon. The Corojo originally came out in 2000. The first addition to the line was the Diploma that initially was only available to retailers who made the trip down to Camp Camacho. Since then Camacho added the lighter Connecticut, the Criollo, the Triple Maduro, the Ecuador and more recently the Double Shock and the Blackout.
But the Corojo was always the workhorse of the line. Corojo was originally developed in Cuba in the 30s and 40s and was so named because this hybrid was grown on the El Corojo farm. Corojo is a hybrid of Criollo and Sumatran and became a very much in demand wrapper for Cuban cigars. According to the Camacho release:
Since its development and through the Cuban revolution, the famed Corojo seed thrived and continued to gain global notoriety. It was until 1978, when a widespread devastation of blue mold hit the island, that the story of Original Corojo and tobacco in Cuba begins to take a different course. After the attack of ’78 – ‘79, the Estacion Experimental del Tabaco (San Juan y Martinez) begins to develop disease resistant hybrids, 208 new strains to be exact. However, only two made the cut and are known today as Havana 92 and Havana 2000. With new hybrids in hand, Cuba bid farewell to the famed seed and in 1996 the last crop of Original Corojo touches Cuban soil.
Julio Eiroa and his son Christian (the family that developed the Camacho Corojo) got some of the original seeds and began growing it in the Jamastran Valley of Honduras. Today Camacho is owned by Davidoff, but still uses that Corojo tobacco.
The new Corojos will retail for $8.50 for the Gordo and $7.25 for the Tubo. Also Camacho is running a special starting next week…buy a box and get a four pack of the Corojo Robusto free.