Entries for month: March 2014
In New Jersey, the legislature must have all the other state problems solved because this past week, the assembly voted to ban smoking at all public parks and beaches. If you live in the Garden State or vacation there, you may want to call the legislature to show your disapproval. This would affect all parks and beaches run by the state, counties or towns.
Anti-smoking advocates said the ban would “generate health, environmental and economic benefits.”
“It normalizes smoke-free outdoor environments where children engage in recreational activities, reducing the likelihood they’ll start smoking,” said Karen Blumenfeld, executive director of Global Advisors on Smokefree Policy, in a statement.
What it actually does is add to coffers with fines ranging from $250 to $1,000. (There is an online poll here.) When the bill came to committee no one spoke against it.
Speaking of tax, Jersey Governor Chris (I’m not fat I’m fluffy) Christie and the morons in the state are going tougher on cigars and e-cigs. Christie has proposed taxing e-cigs on a par with regular cigarettes. That means a tax of $2.70 per pack or for a 30 ml bottle a tax of $100. Fortunately, the state assembly’s point man on the state budget says he won’t support that tax. Also in both the Assembly and Senate there are bills to triple the tax on cigars and other tobacco products, going from 30% to 90%. They say they want the taxes to be comparable to cigarettes. Again fortunately for us neither the Senate nor the Assembly bills are going anywhere right now… but that could change so keep an eye out.
Well new to JR anyway. We were just speaking of the Nicaraguan RyJ, but now JR also carries another sought after Nicaraguan, the Davidoff Nicaraguan Series. This was a top rated cigar made in the Dominican Davidoff factory but with all Nicaraguan tobaccos—a first for the luxury brand. And still on the subject of Davidoff, the company has broken ground for a new artist studio facilities at the Davidoff Art Residency at Altos de Chavon School of Design in La Romana. Davidoff is deeply invested in art and its newest cigar will be called the Art Edition, which should debut in a month or so. The box was designed by a Cuban artist living in the Dominican Republic and the box turns into an art piece which can be framed. The first preview of the cigar was at Pro Cigar last month when one size was available. The Art Edition will join Davidoff’s line of Special Series, Puro d’Oro, Millenium Series, Mille Series, Maduro Series, Aniversario Series, Grand Cru Series, and its Classic Series.
My Father Cigars, the operation run by Jose “Pepin” Garcia, his son Jaime and his daughter Janny are getting ready for another new cigar. After 2012’s hit Flor de las Antillas the family concentrated on their anniversary cigars which also were successful. For this year, the family is talking about their newest blend called La Antiguedad, the antiquity. According to the family, the newest cigar will embrace the “authenticity and historic value of the original Cuban art.” It will be a super premium ( meaning a higher price) and come in 5 box pressed sizes in 20 count boxes. The cigar will be a using Cuban-seed tobacco grown on the farms of San Rafael, Las Quebradas and San Jose – all farms under the control of the Garcia family for the fillers. The tobaccos will have been cured for no less than three and a half years. The wrapper is a Habano Rosado Oscuro leaf grown in Ecuador. No word yet on pricing nor the sizes.
J•R Cigar, the world's largest cigar store, proudly announces it will now offer their vast, discerning customer base a diverse selection of highly regarded tobacco products and smoking accoutrements by Davidoff Cigars. The long-awaited collaboration between these two esteemed leaders in the premium-cigar landscape is exciting news for cigar enthusiasts. The Davidoff name is synonymous with craftsmanship, sophistication and elegance. Every stage of the cigar making process is controlled by Davidoff, crop-to-shop. It's a simple way of ensuring unparalleled quality, time after time. Zino Davidoff believed in the importance of time. How it should, at every opportunity, be filled beautifully. Time lies at the heart of the Davidoff philosophy. It is, after all the one thing everyone at Davidoff – then and now – has dedicated to cultivating, drying, curing, blending and tasting the very best tobacco in the single-minded pursuit of creating the very finest cigars. Rob Norris, CEO of 800-JR Cigar, Inc., provided his company’s perspective on the Davidoff alliance, “Our aim at JR Cigar is to offer our loyal consumers the opportunity to taste and enjoy the best and widest variety of premium cigars in the US. This new collaboration with our partners at Davidoff of Geneva is an exciting new step for us, and if initial sales are anything to go by, our consumers are also incredibly excited.” To suit the needs of all cigar enthusiasts, J•R will offer the following Davidoff premium cigar lines:
To order Davidoff cigars, please call 1-800-JR CIGAR or visit www.jrcigars.com
The Montecristo Social Club has been an online group from the folks at Altadis USA. It is a way to connect with cigar smokers. Up until this weekend, it was cyberspace only. But then that changed. The Montecristo Social Club held its first ever real live events this past weekend in Dallas and Houston. It was a chance for the cyber people to put real names and faces with each other.
Larry Palombo, who buys all of the tobacco for Altadis, put on an informative seminar, which covered the first two parts of the Certificates of the Maestros program. This is a set of online lessons associated with the Montecristo Social Club where you can learn more about tobacco growing, aging and even making cigars. When you pass a section you get a certificate naming you a Maestro. The event also featured adult beverages and the new Nicaraguan Romeo, the RyJ. Everyone attending thought it was a great idea, even if it was up against March Madness, and the Montecristo Social Club intends to continue these sessions, so be looking for one in your area in the coming weeks and months.
We shouldn't get cocky because they keep coming at us but in Alabama a House health committee killed a bill that would have banned smoking in workplaces. Why did the bill get shot down?
The government relations director of the American Cancer Society's Cancer Action Network, Ginny Campbell, says she's glad the bill was killed because it was rewritten by the Senate last month to add too many exceptions.
Those exceptions included bars, private clubs and RETAIL TOBACCO stores. Oh the horror, people being able to smoke in Smoke Shops. Of course they are going to start over with another bill next year. Stay alert people.
And maybe lose again
In New Jersey, another town may soon pass a smoking ban for its beaches. Belmar is looking at a beach smoking ban on April first. But the state is also trying to go and make a statewide smoking ban.
A bill is pending in the Legislature that would stamp out smoking at all public beaches and parks in the state, in what one assemblywoman called an effort "to change the culture of the next generation."
"It's the right thing to do. It's clearly in the public interest to expand these laws," said Democratic Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle, the primary sponsor of the bill, which is up for a vote in the Assembly this week.
The bill is getting some push back though and they are right. They see the bill as social engineering ( which it is) and an intrusion on freedom… again correct.
"They're attempting to de-normalize smoking," said Michael J. McFadden, the Mid-Atlantic regional director for Citizens Freedom Alliance, a smoker's rights group. "Now, if you want to smoke, they're going to make it so difficult for you that you have to go hide behind a dumpster."
Even some nonsmokers sympathize with the smokers.
"The roped-off areas on the beach are stupid," Anna Wassil, 77, of Belmar, said of the designated smoking areas currently on Belmar's beaches. "They (smokers) look so embarrassed, standing there."
And this analysis is spot on.
McFadden, author of "Dissecting Antismokers' Brains" and "TobakkoNacht — The Antismoking Endgame," said that 20 to 30 years ago, one would be hard pressed to find people who would be bothered by a whiff of tobacco smoke outdoors.
He said that if lawmakers pass Huttle's bill, they'll only go further.
"Remember, first anti-smokers wanted a section on the plane (banned of smoking). Then, they wanted the whole plane," McFadden said. "Then, they took the entire airport terminal."
If you are in New Jersey, contact your state representatives and tell them to butt out. Also you can join the Cigar Rights of America to help fight this.
By popular demand, on June 7, from noon until 5:00pm, the biggest cigar bash in North Carolina will be back! And this year, it’s gonna be better than the last! Is that even possible? You betcha! Now, close your eyes and imagine a gigantic row of big tents as far as the eye can see, all filled with your favorite cigar manufacturers and vendors, a colossal Southern BBQ spread with all the fixin’s and pint after pint of brewskies courtesy of the famed Red Oak Brewery. Yup, J•R’s Second Annual Smokin’ in the Carolinas is the place to be. In addition to awesome cigars and delicious Southern BBQ, I’m a big beer connoisseur (a nice word for beer-drinking slob) and believe me, folks, Red Oak is one of the best locally brewed beers you’ll ever have the pleasure of tasting. And for you sophisticated types who love the crushed grapes, you’ll have the opportunity to sample fine wines from some of North Carolina’s most noted vineyards.
Sound good so far? Well, fellow smokers, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet! The minute you set foot on the lavish campground, which is, coincidentally, directly adjacent to our amazing Burlington store), you’ll be handed one big-ass bag of first-rate premium cigars and ultra-cool swag that we promise you is worth a heck of a lot more than the price of the admission (which, by the way, is only $125.00). How could you pass up such a deal!
After you rip into your bag of goodies (and jump for joy), you’ll have the arduous task of negotiating this tobacco Disneyworld, where you’ll have the opportunity to meet and greet representatives from your favorite cigar vendors, such as Alec Bradley, Davidoff, Room 101, Drew Estate, Arturo Fuente, General Cigar, Altadis, Miami Cigars, Nat Sherman, Oliva, Rocky Patel, Lex12, Xikar, to name a few, plus Cigar Snob magazine and even more vendors that are still jumping on board for this monster event as I write this blog!
Did you ever want to see how cigars are rolled? Not a problem; we’ll have an actual cigar roller to show you this centuries-old process. Have you ever tasted a freshly rolled cigar? Well, my friends, you are in for a treat!
Now, I hope none of my fellow pipe smokers feel left out! Don’t, because this event is for you guys too! Gas up the old-school Buick and swing by to see our incredible display of some of the best pipes from some of the world’s greatest artisans! I kid you not! While you peruse the fantastic pipe exhibit, keep a sharp eye on the incredible pipe trunk sale for some smokin’ deals! And if that isn’t enough, we’ll also have some of the finest pipe tobaccos and accessories to fill your bowls.
And just when you thought it couldn’t get better… it does! We’ll be running hourly tours of our ginormous eight-zillion-square-foot humidor. If anybody ever told you that J•R is not the world’s largest cigar store, you’ll want to slap them in the kisser after you see this massive humidified mecca of just about every brand on the planet.
Now, if I were you, I would hurry up and get your tickets now because last year we had to turn people away (honest!).
So, put down that spreadsheet or drop that rake and get on over to JRCIGARS.COM or call (800) 572-4427 for more information. I promise you, J•R’s Second Annual Smokin’ in the Carolinas will be a day you’ll never forget! And one last thing, the folks from Cigar Rights of America will be there. Please pay them a visit and jump on the bandwagon to help prevent our bloated self-serving politicians from taking away your rights to enjoy our wonderful hobby.
That being said, our whole crew at J•R is as excited as you are to attend this spectacular event! And we look forward to seeing y’all there!
Topper cigars have a long history. They started in 1896 in McSherrystown, Pennsylvania. The original Topper factory started by making hand made cigars using Cuban long filler with Broadleaf for the wrappers. In the mid-60s when the Cuban embargo hit in the 60s and labor prices shot up, the company moved the production into machine made cigars over at a nearby factory. That factory in McSherrystown is still home to the F.X. Smith cigar factory, which actually predates Topper, Smith started in 1863 and is run by 5th generation cigar maker Craig Smith.
Eventually, Topper had to move production to the Dominican Republic because of labor costs. Today, Topper cigars are going back to its roots and once again is a handmade product.
Says Topper owner Chris Topper—a fourth generation cigar maker—“We have gone back to making Toppers by hand, replicating what we did when we first changed over to machines, while keeping our prices down.”
The new handmade Toppers still use short filler, but it is a bit longer than what had been used in the recent past. Says Chris, “The longer cut short filler is much better. Before it was all chopped and now there are bigger pieces, which we could not use because the bigger pieces would clog the machines. Being handmade, we no longer have that problem.”
The wrapper is still Connecticut Broadleaf over a Dominican binder and a mix in the filler of Dominican, Nicaraguan and Honduran tobaccos. As part of this throwback, Topper has replicated the old boxes with 30 cigars that look like vintage boxes complete with fake water stains on the labels. They are medium bodied and have the look and feel of the cigars of yesteryear. The brand, comes in four sizes: Breva, 5” x 4, Grande Corona, 6” x 47, Ebony, 5 .5 x 47 and Old Fashioned Perfecto, 4.875”x 48. Each retails for about $3. unless you get em here.
Renacer means re-born in Spanish and we’ve told you about Matilde and its rebirth is the Renacer line made in the Tabacalera La Matilde in La Romana, Dominican Republic. The reborn is apt because Matilde was the first cigar factory in the Dominican Republic (founded in 1876) and under Jose Seijas’s leadership it has been reborn and for Seijas it is a rebirth after working for Altadis for many years he returns to the cigar industry with this brand.
The Matilde Renacers are shipping out this week. They are very limited in production since the factory is small and Seijas is known for his quality control. His rollers are paid a salary and are limited to making 200 cigars per day. Each cigar is weighed and draw tested. They will come in 20 count boxes in 4 sizes, a 5.5” x 44 Corona, a 4.5” x 54 Robusto, a 6.5” x 54 Toro Bravo and a 6” x 60 Grande. The wrapper is Ecuadorian Habano over a Dominican binder and mostly Dominican fillers with a touch of Nicaraguan. They come in a cabinet style box with a Boveda humidifying pack built in. Price will be $7-9.
When we were down at the little factory that could—El Titan de Bronze—right after Pro Cigar, we noticed Maria Sierra rolling a new lancero. We were asked not to say anything but now we can. It will be a new Goldie for La Palina.
The Goldie is a unique cigar and, if you don’t know, Maria is a unique roller. La Palina was the cigar company that basically founded CBS. Sam Paley founded La Palina as part of the Congress Cigar Company in Philadelphia in 1896. The brand sold well and Sam brought his son William S. into the company. The younger Paley was in charge of promoting the brand and he saw a little radio station in Philadelphia called WCAU. There he decided to use the new medium of radio to promote the smokes. WCAU had a loose network of 15 stations called the Columbia Phonographic Broadcasting System and Paley started running the La Palina Hour on them. When his father sold the company in 1927, the younger Paley continued with the radio group, buying them and turning it into the Columbia Broadcasting System or CBS.
Fast forward to today and Bill Paley—Sam’s grandson—who decided to recapture the family heritage. La Palina VP Courtney Smith had an idea to create a cigar by women to honor Bill’s grandmother and Sam’s wife Goldie Drell Paley. She went to Sandy Cobas—owner of El Titan de Bronze in Miami—in 2012 and developed the Laguito Number 2 (6 x 38) Goldie. It was blended by Sandy and Maria, who was one of the first women rollers trained in Cuba and who spent 32 years at the famed El Laguito factory in Cuba.
This year, the 2014 edition of the Goldie is a Laguito with its fan cap in a 7 x 40 size and, like the previous Goldies, uses a Medio Tiempo leaf for its power. Maria is the only one who makes the Goldies and the production will be limited to 2500 boxes of 10.
Avo Uvezian is turning 88 this year. To mark the occasion this month Davidoff is releasing his birthday cigar. According to Cigar Aficionado, the new cigar will be called the Avo 88, which not only represents his birthday, but also the number of keys on a piano. If you didn’t know Avo is a musician, specifically the piano. Davidoff is carrying the notion throughout the series by releasing 8,888 boxes, of which 888 will be signed by Avo himself. There will be 1,888 limited edition ashtrays and 488 minature grand pianos for retailers to display. The cigar uses only Dominican tobacco and is a 6” x 52.
It is that time of year again when General Cigar comes out with its Punch Rare Corojos. These cigars come out only once a year, from Honduras and this year there is a special new size.
The Rare Corojo has a big brother, the Rare Salomon. Coming in boxes of 10 the 7.25” x 57 figurado will carry a suggested retail price of about $8. The other Rare Corojos are out as well ranging from the Champion Figurado at 4.5” x 60 and Elite at 5.25” x 45 up to the Double Corona ay 6.75” x 48 and the El Doble at 6: x 60. All of the Rare Corojos use a reddish Ecuadorian Sumatran wrapper over a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper and fillers from Nicaragua, Honduras and the Dominican Republic. They are on sale now.
Pete Johnson, of Tatuaje fame, was in town late last week and was talking about his latest creation, Tattoo. The Robusto in the line will come out sometime in May, with the rest of the sizes hitting after the trade show this summer. In all, there will be 4 sizes, the Robusto at 5” x 50, a Toro at 6” x50, a Torpedo at 6.125” x 52 and what Pete is calling a Toro Grande at 5.5’ X58. The cigars use a Habano wrapper grown in Ecuador over Nicaraguan binder and fillers. The cigar is being made in Pepin Garcia’s original factory Tacuba in Esteli. The flavor is exactly what you expect from something by Pete and Pepin but perhaps the best thing about Tattoo will be its price, ranging from around $5.50 to $6.
Yup there is still more from Pro Cigar. Thursday night everyone had the chance to have dinner with one of the cigar makers. I picked Manuel Quesada because I knew he would be releasing his 40th anniversary Quesada at the party. The food was wonderful and the cigar… certainly different, unlike anything I have ever seen.
The commemorative cigars will be limited. The picture does not give you the full effect but it is a 6.75” X 50 Salomon which is box pressed in the center to 33 ring gauge. It is basically flat in the center. Yet it does not affect the draw. The wrapper is a nice San Andres maduro. The other limited cigar is a box pressed Toro measuring 6 “ x 49. The blend will not be going away after this limited run, instead 3 cigars measuring 6” x 75, 6” x 54 and 5” x 52 will become part of the core Quesada line. Prices are going to run from about 8 to 13 dollars. They will begin shipping next month.
Friday at Pro Cigar was a tour of La Aurora and a luncheon with rum pairings with cigars. There was nearly a riot here. We simply did not have enough time. But the first cigar we had was the Family Reserve blend paired with Ron Barcelo Imperial. It was pleasant and a good pairing. But here is where things got dicey. The second pairing was a special commemorative version of the Imperial, a 30th anniversary rum finished in white oak and burgundy wine barrels. It was paired with the Black Diamond Perferido. The broadleaf wrapper really set off the rum and they were a perfect match. When we were told to put them down, about half way into the cigar… people were grumbling.
But the final pairing was the best yet. La Aurora had a special rum made by Barcelo to mark the cigar company’s 110th year and that rum was paired with an original release Cien Anos robusto from 2003. Alas we could not take our time to truly enjoy this remarkable pairing because there was still more to do. I was fortunate and able to catch a ride with Manuel Inoa, La Aurora’s master blender, so I didn’t have to get on the bus. It is good to know people.
Friday afternoon was a poker game to benefit charity, the top winner or last man standing got a free ride to next year’s Pro Cigar. Congrats to Carl Cheek, who got lucky.
Friday night, the finale was held at the Centro Espanol club in Santiago. Here about 750 people in all had dinner, listened to fantastic music and bid on items for charity. There were special boxes of cigars and even a humidor shaped like the city’s famous monument. In all, between the poker tournament and the auction, Pro Cigar raised about $80,000 for Voluntariado de Jesus con los Ninos ( a charity for children) and the Sociedad San Vicente de Paul ( a retirement home for low income seniors.)