Entries for month: July 2014
Rocky Patel is launching several new lines. The Super Ligero is an amped up stick which uses a Habano St. Augustin wrapper with a special hybrid called super ligero and double ligero. Coming in four sizes from a lancero up to a sixty ring gauge the price is $7-$8. The company also is launching a Cameroon version of the Decade. Same blend as the regular Decade just with a Cameroon wrapper. It will come in three sizes and will run $9.75 to $11.25. He also has Catch 22, a line without his name on the brand. This is a value play with pricing starting at $4.50 for a Rothschild up to $5.50 for a 6” x 60.
Probably the most fun and politically incorrect launch is Prohibition. The cigars are packed in mason jars, 16 to a jar and come in a crate. If you have seen Boardwalk Empire, think about how the booze was smuggled into the U-S during Prohibition. Says Rocky, “ With the current atmosphere against tobacco we are probably heading towards a time of Prohibition again, so I wanted to make a statement and I hope get people fired up about working to stop this proposed control by the FDA.”
The cigars in the jars have either a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper or Mexican San Andres. The binder is Brazilian Matafina and the filler is all Nicaraguan. They are one size 6.5” x 52 and will retail for $8.
Rocky also is making a bigger Edge…the 7” x 70 Howitzer in both Corojo and Maduro. It will retail for $10.
new cigars · IPCPR
Jon Huber over at Crowned Heads is releasing a new line addition called Jerico Hill. This augments the original Four Kicks, Headley Grange and J.D. Howard Reserve. The company began only in 2011 and has scored some impressive hits. The Jerico Hill. The name was inspired by Johnny Cash’s version of Cocaine Blues from the Live at Folsom Prison album. The song is about a guy who is brought to justice by a sheriff from Jerico Hill…hence the name. The wrapper is a dark San Andres leaf over Nicaragua filler and binder. Most of the cigars from Crowned Heads come from the factory of Ernesto Perez Carrillo in the Dominican Republic…but this one comes from Pepin and the My Father factory in Nicaragua. It brings a new flavor to the line. It comes in four sizes from 5.125” x 44 up to a 6” x 54 with prices ranging from $7.95 to $9.75.
Speaking of the Perez-Carrillos, Ernesto’s daughter Lissette wanted to bring out a cigar as an homage to the family’s Cuban roots. The result is La Historia featuring a beautiful band showing Lissette’s grandmother in Cuba on one side and Lissette herself in Miami on the other. The blend is medium to full using a Mexican San Andres wrapper over Ecuador Sumatran binder and Nicaraguan fillers. There are three sizes –6.125” x 50, 5.375” x 52 and 6.875” x 54 with prices running from $7.75 to $8.75.
At Toraño, Charlie Toraño is putting his name on a cigar this year. It is called Captiva named for the small island off the southwest coast of Florida and one of Charlie’s favorite places. The cigar uses a nice oily Ecuador wrapper over Nicaraguan fillers for a medium to full bodied smoke with very good flavors. It comes in 4 sizes and is priced from about $8 to $9 for the 6” x 60.
new cigars · IPCPR
Going through last week and the show was certainly interesting. New people with new cigars and some old favorites. I never did get to everyone even though things seemed quieter than normal, probably because of the bigger space we are in. I want to try to cover more stuff, so today we’ll do some quick hits.
Padron is showing its latest creation the 50th anniversary. This specially aged cigar comes in a fantastic gold trimmed humidor. There is not an agreement on the price but most likely it will retail for between $4,700 and $5,000. The humidor is trimmed with real gold and holds 50 of the special 50th cigars. The deal is that if you buy one of the 500 humidors the company is making, you will be able to re-stock the humidor by being able to buy more of the cigars for the next five years.
Pete Johnson released the Tattoo robusto earlier this year. It is a $5 retail cigar. Here at the show, as promised, Pete released three more sizes in the Tattoo line: a 6” x 50 Toro for $5.50, a 6.125” x 52 Torpedo for $6 and a 5.5” x 58 Toro Grande for $6.50.
Over at L’Atelier there is the new Extension de la Racine... extention of the root. This year it is a torpedo at 6.125” x 52. The ER 14 uses a Criollo wrapper with the Sancti Spiritus in the binder along with all Nicaraguan fillers to give the unique L’Atelier taste. It will run $9.50 and is a limited run. K.C Johnson and Dan Welsh also are adding to the Surrogates line with Satin Glove which uses a San Andres wrapper for full flavor . It comes 7” x 47 and box pressed with a retail of $8.75. They are also adding to their Special Selection collection with the LAT Torpedo for $9.50 and the 38 Special a 7.5” x 38 lancero for $9.75. The special selection uses a higher priming wrapper for more strength and flavor.
new cigars · IPCPR
Today began with the General Cigar booth. The trip took two hours. There is a lot to see. Starting with Macanudo, the company is releasing another Estate Reserve. What makes this cigar unique, aside from its limitation of only 1800 boxes per size, is that it goes back to Macanudo’s roots in Jamaica. The cigar features a Connecticut Shade wrapper over a Mexican binder, but the fillers are from Jamaica. Macanudo was originally made in Jamaica and used local tobacco in the blend. This one harkens back to that time. Coming in three sizes, a 5” x 50 Robusto for $16, a 7” x 50 Churchill at $17 and a 6” x 57 Belicoso for $18.
Dunhill’s Signed Range got a facelift and the company has released its Dunhill 1907 a couple of months ago.
Rick of the Jungle
CAO has been more ambitious. Rick Rodriguez has been playing with a unique tobacco. The tobacco is called Braganca and comes from deep within the Amazon jungle. The crop is organically grown by the tribes who live in the jungle. Of course it is organic, they have no other chemicals or tools at their disposal. The tobacco is harvested once every three years and then takes six months to cure. The tobacco itself is unique, having had a small sample of it a couple of years ago I can say by itself I can see why the locals probably use it for religious and medicinal uses. Ricky says in the blend the tobacco is earthy and nutty and a pleasantly dry finish. Because of the low yield of the crop and it’s harvesting every three years, the Amazon Basin will be a limited production. In addition to the Braganca, the blend uses Nicaraguan binder and filler with an Ecuadoran Sumatran wrapper. There is one size 6” x 52 and will cost $9.25 per stick. The band on the cigar is also made out of tobacco.
The Amazon Basin is jointed by CAO Colombia which is now part of the CAO world series (That would include Brazila, Italia, America, and the above Amazon Basin)
The tobacco for Colombia is grown by a family of farmers in a remote mountainous section of the country. It is derived from an original Cuban seed, but that was back in the 1820s so the tobacco has changed a bit since then. Ica Mazinga, as the strain is known, has a toasty nutty flavor and adds to this medium bodied cigar. It comes in four sizes ranging from 5” x 50 to 6” x 60 and priced between $6 -$7.75.
La Gloria Cubana has its final Rival Twin package. This is a friendly rivalry between La Gloria Cubana’s Dominican factory and the Honduran factory. It comes in a unique double box, which is held together by magnets. It is pretty cool. The Dominican blend uses Ecuadoran wrapper and binder with Nicaraguan and Honduran fillers. The Honduras version uses a Honduran wrapper over an Indonesian binder and Honduran, Mexican and Colombian fillers. These cigars measure 8” x 52 and cost $9.50.
La Gloria also is back with its Trunk Show, for this year there are only 500 boxes of each blend. The Liga YG 23 (from Yuri Guillen) uses a Connecticut wrapper over Dominican binder and Dominican, Brazilian and Nicaraguan fillers. Jhonys Diaz has his Liga JD-05 and it uses an Ecuadoran Wrapper and Binder with Honduran and Nicaraguan fillers. And Michael Giannini has his MG-08 using Ecuadoran wrapper over Connecticut Habano binder with Honduran, Colombian and Nicaraguan fillers. Each cigar is 7.25” x 54 and will retail for $9.95.
Back to the Future
Speaking of Michael Giannini (the creative director of General and head of Foundry Tobacco Company), he is back at it again. His newest creation is the Worm Hole, which takes smokers from 1964 to 2014 to 2064. For the 1964, Giannini plays off of the New York World’s Fair booth General Cigar had. It was the one that produced smoke rings and was a look into the future ( from 1964’s viewpoint) . There are two sizes in the 64 series—Expect and The Unexpected. The 2014 series is Worm and Hole and the 2064 series is Hell-i-EN and Hal-ion, As usual Giannini does not talk about the blends because he wants people to experience it without any preconceived notions. But he says for the 2064 series he expects it to be using tobacco from Mars. He thinks we will grow it there one day. These Foundry cigars run just below and above $8.
The Compounds series has three new additions, Dubnium, Lithium and Cobalt. These run under $7.
Another limited production is the Rare Air. This is an interesting product in that General is using some very old seeds. The seeds were found many years ago in an old warehouse. They were from the 1960s and maybe even earlier. Over the past few years, the company has been regenerating these seeds. The first seed that gave the company the idea was a Habano seed grown in Connecticut. Under the supervision of then president Daniel Nunez the company developed the old seed back into a viable crop. From that germination, the company has been taking other seeds as part of the Mao Project where it is bringing these other old seeds back to life. Giannini is taking these small batches of tobacco and putting them into the Rare Air. These are truly rare tobaccos and the price for these cigars is $9.45.
Foundry also is releasing a value prices line called Chillin Moose. It comes in three sizes – Corona, Robusto and Gigante—and runs between $3.25 and $4.
new cigars · IPCPR
When you are in Vegas, you lose all sense of time. Especially when you are walking the huge Sands convention center floor for IPCPR. Traffic seems a bit lighter this year, but it could be due to the layout.
The first day was a long one, not only on the floor, but then there was a tasting last night at Lavo—a club inside the sister hotel of the Venetian. Starting at 8 am with the breakfast and going til 9 at night makes a long day and generally that is what the trade show is like.
There is a lot of new product here. At Altadis USA, much of what is new, has already come out. The company seems to have decided that rather than flooding the market with a bunch of new stuff in July, when the product is ready, the company releases it. Earlier this year, The Banker by H. Upmann was released and it pays homage to the Upmann brothers who 170 years ago decided to make a cigar they could give to the clients of their bank. It uses this year’s hot wrapper—Ecuador Habano over a Nicaraguan binder and Dominican and Nicaraguan fillers.
The second product released right before the show was Espada, the new Nicaraguan Montecristo made in partnership with Nestor Plasencia, in his Nicaraguan factory. The Espada represents a new taste profile for Montecristo, offering smokers a deeper flavor. The Espada uses all vintage tobaccos in the blend. A Habano seed from Jalapa is the wrapper with a vintage of 2000, the same leaf is the binder but its vintage is 2009. The fillers are from 2008 and are Habano seed coming from three different Nicaraguan areas, Jalapa, Ometepe and Condega. Espada comes in three sizes 5” x 54, 6” x 50 and 7" x 56, priced from $11.25 to $12.50.
The newest release for the show is the 1875 by Romeo and Julieta. This line sits between the classic Romeo flavor profile and the stronger RyJ which is another Nicaraguan cigar. Made in Honduras, the 1875 by Romeo and Julieta uses a 2010 vintage shade grown Indonesian wrapper over aged Dominican piloto binder and aged fillers of Olor and Dominican tobaccos. It comes in five sizes from the Dos measuring 44 x 5.5” to the 6” x 60 Gordo. This is not to be confused with the existing Romeo Y Julieta 1875.
But other additions to the company’s portfolio are the Vegafina Sumum 2013—a limited edition cigar using a Cameron wrapper over Nicaraguan binder and Nicaraguanb and Dominican fillers. There are only 2,000 boxes for this one size Toro and it will retail for $9.50. The Juan Lopez line is getting a big boy - the new Juan Lopez will be a 7” x 70 with a retail price of $6.75…and the Casa de Garcia also is adding a 7” x 70 for the price of $3.50.
Altadis USA president Javier Estades says the company is focused on bringing new profiles and sizes to its lines as a way a satisifying consumer demand.
Connecticut My Father
The My Father line from Pepin and Jaime Garcia has added a new flavor to the line with a Connecticut wrapper. Known for the spice and power of most of their cigars, the Garcias are using an Ecuador Connecticut wrapper over Nicaraguan Habano Criollo binder and Nicaraguan Corojo 99 fillers. But in addition to those tobaccos, the cigar features another aromatic leaf to give the Connecticut My Father a unique taste. It comes in 4 sizes from a Corona Gordo at 6” x 48 up to a Toro Gordo at 6” x 60. Pricing ranges from $7.50 to $9.40.
It has been 10 years since Ashton has added to its core line. This year marks the introduction of Symmetry, the latest expansion for the company, and, like the other Ashton cigars, it comes from Tabacalera Fuente in Santiago. Symmetry uses an Ecuador Habano wrapper over a Dominican binder and fillers from the Dominican Republic and the Fuente farm in Nicaragua and this is the first Ashton to use Nicaraguan tobacco. The cigars will come in 5 sizes the smallest is 5.625” x 46 and the largest is 6” x 52. Prices for the Symmetry will run from $11.50 to $12.75.
The Company’s La Aroma de Cuba line is showing a limited edition called Noblesse. The cigar comes in one size, a 6.5 x 52 toro and will retail for $16 (the highest prices La Aroma de Cuba ever). It also uses an Ecuador Habano wrapper but the rest of the tobacco comes from the farms of Pepin Garcia and his family who make the vitola for Ashton.
Davidoff is continuing to show tremendous growth. The company is up 23% this year. The Davidoff Nicaragua blend has been a big seller for the company. At its booth, the company unveiled its newest Nicaraguan size, the Diadema which will retail for $18. But this year at the show, the company introduced more affordable options for those who love the blend Primeros by Davidoff in the Nicaraguan blend. These are small panatelas which come 6 to a tin for about $30. B.G. Meyer is another line under the Camacho segment. The company has more, but for today that’s it from me.. I am beat.
new cigars · IPCPR
The 82nd annual International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers Association trade show is underway in Las Vegas. There were seminars held Saturday along with a welcoming cocktail party. Sunday had the retailer breakfast where the group was introduced to the organization’s new CEO Mark Pursell and was told not to panic about the FDA. California Congressman Jeff Denham said this year that Congress might change control and if it does, that could be the best thing for the retailers as a way to stop the FDA.
SPAIN and SHORT
At the Quesada cigar booth this year, the family was showing off its 40th anniversary cigars. They actually were unveiled at this year’s Pro Cigar. While the limited editions of this cigar were quickly snatched up and are sold out (well, we still have some), the plan is for the blend to continue as part of Quesada’s core line in the Toro Real at 6” x 65, a Toro at 6“ x 54 and a Robusto at 5” x 52. They will retail from just under $9 to $10. The new packaging for the Oktoberfest is clean and nice—it was done so consumers can differentiate between the different year vintages because, since each year is a limited release and the blend slightly changes year to year, the old packaging did not show the release year. Oktoberfest comes in 6 sizes ranging from the Uber at 6” x 65 to the Krone at 5” x 43. Prices run from $7.25 to $9.50.
The biggest news was that the wildly popular and very limited Quesada España is now being offered to U.S. retailers. The cigar was developed for the Spanish market and is a fantastic blend. A handful of stores across the country did have some, but now more accounts will be opened. The Españas come in three sizes, a Robusto, Short Robusto and the magnificent corona with prices hitting $7.25 to $8.50.
The newest thing from Quesada is a brand new petit smoke called the Quesada Petits. This is a 4” x 25 (yup really narrow) short smoke. It uses an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper over Dominican tobaccos and unlike many other petits it is handmade and uses long filler. This little stick packs a punch. Priced at $11 for a 10-pack, it is a good value for either cold winter nights, or even for the blistering Vegas heat.
From Drew Estate, there are extensions to ACID, Kentucky Fire Cured, Herrera Esteli and the MUWAT lines. One of the company’s most popular ACID cigars is the Blondie and now it is coming in a maduro version. The company has changed out the traditional Connecticut Shade wrapper with one from San Andres, fermented to a dark maduro color. The company says it will make the Blondie a little bolder.
Speaking of Mexican wrappers, the Herrera line is getting Norteño, which translates to northerner. Willy Herrera has been working on this blend for over a year. He had some samples at last year’s show, but he was not satisfied with the blend as we have noted before. The new cigar is a maduro using the Mexican San Andres wrapper over a spicy Honduran binder. The fillers come from Esteli and Jalapa in Nicaragua. There will be six sizes: Coronita at 4” x 46, Corona Extra at 4.75” x 48, Belicoso Fino at 5” x 50, Robusto Grande at 5.5” x 54, Toro at 6” x 50 and the Lonsdale Deluxe at 6.5” x 44. The prices range from $9 to $12.
The Kentucky Fire Cured line, which debuted last year, is adding three sizes to its portfolio. Delfinas is a 6” x 26; Kyotos is 5.5” x 34 and the Hamhock is a 3.75” x 56.
And the MUWAT line is getting Nightcrawler, which is a 4.5” x 50 robusto, but it is based on the stronger Baitfish blend. MUWAT also got a facelift for its packaging.
new cigars · IPCPR
We got the 30 day extension for comments to the FDA, and we will most likely need all that time. But recently the state of Florida is fighting back at the FDA. Last month, I wrote about one cigar manufacturer who was moving production offshore—Finck in San Antonio. Now the J.C.Newman company in Tampa is involved in the death match.
Tampa was once home to more than 150 cigar factories but today only one remains, the Newman factory. While Newman is known for its Cuesta Rey and Diamond Crown cigars in the Dominican Republic , it also makes machine made cigars. The Newmans have enlisted some help in the form of Florida’s Governor and Lieutenant Governor.
The duo wrote to the head of the FDA a couple of weeks ago, urging an exemption for the Newmans. The letter cited Tampa’s history as cigar city and said the new FDA regulations will put undue and excessive burdens on the family.
To require these companies to charge $10 for a premium cigar would unnecessarily inhibit future sales. Making matters worse, these artificial price floors only apply to small, family-owned businesses while big tobacco companies are unaffected. In addition, requiring FDA approval for each new size, shape or brand would require upward of 5,000 hours of testing at the company’s expense – a massive burden for a company like J.C. Newman, which simply does not have the financial bandwidth of national cigarette companies that have long incorporated these kinds of requirements into their bottom line.
They ask for an exemption for premium cigar companies…which is different than excluding premium cigars since the Newmans do make the machine products. Remember to get your testimony in as well.
FDA · cigar laws
Gene Tipton has been a fixture at the trade shows. As VP of Premium Cigars for Altadis USA, Gene is one of those great guys who everybody likes. This year will be his last trade show. He is retiring after a 50 year career. He started way before Altadis even existed in June of 1964 by working for Havatampa Cigar. Eventually that company became part of Altadis. His advice to new comers…
“If you love what you are doing, stick with it.” He admits he’s seen his share of change – some of it good, some bad – but it always works out in the end, he says. “If you work hard, people will notice.”
At 69, Gene now plans to get in a little relaxation. He’ll spend time with his family and enjoying sport fishing and some golf. Most likely Gene will still visit local shops in Florida where he lives to take some time with a good cigar. We wish him well…but he certainly will be missed.
As we inch closer to the upcoming trade show next week more cigars are being announced. But even though it seems like lots of stuff is being talked about now, next week will be nuts.
From A.J. Fernandez is a new cigar line called New World. According to the press release, this cigar line will be more of a value line for the company. It is also the first blend A.J. has done with his father Ismael Fernandez. According to the release:
A.J. Fernandez said: “The New World Cigar relates to expanding one’s knowledge and questioning the status quo by discovering our personal New Worlds as we go through life. The team at A.J. Fernandez Cigars is grateful for the amazing support we have received from the consumer and therefore will offer the New World Cigar at a value price as we invite everyone to join us on our New World journey. Furthermore, I am especially proud to announce that my father Ismael Fernandez who recently retired after 17 years with the Plasencia family has now joined the A.J. Fernandez family. New World marks the first cigar that we work on together since he joined the company. “
The Cigar will be box-pressed and uses a dark Nicaraguan wrapper over a Jalapa binder and Ometepe viso, Condega ligero and Esteli-Finca Soledad ligero fillers for a medium to full taste. The suggested retail is six bucks. They will come in 21 count boxes in four sizes: Navagante, a 5.5” x 55 Robusto, Almirante measuring 5.5” x 55 Belicoso, Gobemador at 6.5” x 55 Toro and Virrey a 6” X 58 Gordo.
Cigars for Learning
Tobacconist University is an online place where retailers can become certified tobacconists. (Of course never forget we have the J.R. University as well.) It is an educational pursuit run by Jorge Amenteros in New Jersey. I got my certification several years ago. Jorge really wants people to learn about tobacco and cigars. To that end, he is coming out with his own special line from his “R & D Labs”. Jesue Fuego is making Brazilian Corojo Capa Especial Serie 1 for Jorge and the certified tobacconists. The idea here is that you can buy the cigar AND also the components to help you better identify the flavors in the final blend. This is a bit similar to La Aurora’s Connoisseur series where the basic cigar blend was the same but the wrappers were different so you could see how the wrapper affects the taste. Jorge apparently has gone one step further giving you puros of each component. It will be interesting to say the least. No word on pricing yet, I guess we’ll find out next week.
La Palina Black
La Palina Cigar—the company run by CBS heir Bill Paley—is launching a new line called La Palina Black. It will be made in the Dominican Republic, most likely by Abe Flores, and will use a Brazilian Bahia wrapper with a double binder of Dominican and Nicaraguan tobacco with Dominican and Nicaraguan fillers. The cigars will come in four sizes—6”x 60, 6” x 50, 5” x 52 and 6” x 40 petit lancero.
George Rico of STK and Gran Habano is coming out with a limited edition Barracuda this year. It will be the S.T.K Miami Barracuda Maduro 2014. George’s family has G.R. Tabacaleras Unidas in Honduras making the Gran Habano, and George himself has a nice little factory in Miami on Calle Ocho. He originally released the Barracuda while on a trip to Hawaii and da boyz there loved it. Last year, Rico made the American Puro which was made in the Miami factory with all American tobaccos. George fell in love with Pennsylvania broadleaf and now he is using that for the limited edition Barracuda Maduro. He is making 3 sizes—5” x 52, 6.5” x 54 and 5.625” x 46. Price will range from $7.50 to $8.50 but the bad news is that the factory is only making 200 boxes of each size. The actual blend, George says, will be tweaked for each size to make certain the taste is the same throughout the sizes.