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.
Gurkha · luxury cigars · new cigars · Punch
This is the time of year when the Dominican Republic celebrates its cigar heritage with Pro Cigar. The week-long event is limited to about 300 people so there are no huge lines, nor congestion as participants get to interact on a personal level with the nation’s leading cigar makers.
The festival began at La Romana, home to the world’s largest cigar factory, Tabacalera de Garcia—home to Altadis USA’s brands. On Tuesday night the festival moves to Santiago--home to most of the Dominican’s cigar factories. We will be visiting La Aurora, Quesada, Davidoff, Jochy Blanco’s Tabacalera Palma, Ernie Carrillo’s Tabacalera Alianza among others. Gonna be a busy week and I’ll report back next week.
cigar industry · cigar shows
Davidoff, whose motto is ‘Time Beautifully Filled’, has come up with a way to do that for cigar aficionados. The company has developed a high-end luxury concierge service called Hourglass Lounge. Davidoff CEO Hans-Kristian Hoejsgaard says time is one of life’s greatest luxuries and the Hourglass lounge fills that time richly. The service can book a sold-out show, set up a golf game with a legend, or maybe a private dinner prepared by a celebrity chef. Really top end stuff.
According to the release:
The Hourglass Lounge enables its members to enjoy unparalleled levels of service: from responding to their everyday needs to fulfilling their extraordinary requests and wishes. This service is designed to fill the cigar aficionado’s time beautifully, exquisitely, and exclusively with unforgettable experiences.
That level of customer service is also evident in the innovative “Bespoke Lounge & Cigar Cellar Design by Davidoff/Atelier Oï”, where members can have their personal cigar cellar and lounge designed by a renowned Swiss design team and carefully crafted for them to enjoy cigars in the comfort of their own home. Or, as the world’s first concierge service utterly dedicated to the cigar aficionado, the Hourglass Lounge can ensure its members their chosen cigars will be ready for them, wherever and whenever they want them, VIP access to enjoy some of the world’s finest cigar lounges and events or new Davidoff blends; and unique, limited editions to be experienced before anyone else in the world.
The core offices are in London, New York, Hong Kong, Dubai, Geneva and Munich. There is no information on what this service costs, you can request a call back, but my guess is if you have to ask you can’t afford it.
cigar life · cigar news · Davidoff
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.
Castaneda · La Aurora · new cigars
The Cigar Rights of America is busy right now. Legislatures across the country are back in session and there is the new session of Congress. Lots of places to look for legislation aimed at screwing cigar smokers. But as I have reported CRA is making progress in Nebraska last week the Senate voted 34 to 2 to advance the bill allowing cigar smoking in the state’s cigar lounges. While the supporters hold for fast passage, one Omaha Senator vows to filibuster the bill. Stay tuned...
In Washington there are a couple of bills getting attention. One is the reintroduction of the bill to keep the FDA out of our humidors. Rep. Bill Posey is sponsoring the legislation (which was pending last session so to keep moving forward it had to be put in again.) Already the House version has 35 co-sponsors. The text is not yet available but the title says the bill clarifies the FDA’s role over certain tobacco products to protect jobs and small businesses involved with traditional and premium cigars.
And in the President’s new 4 trillion dollar budget, once again he calls for increases in the federal tobacco tax. The plan is to double the federal tax to help fund health insurance for low income children. This is the S-CHIP program that already added about 40 cents to every cigar. The President’s budget calls for nearly doubling cigarette taxes from $1.01 to $1.95 with a similar increase on cigars. The tax, if passed, which fortunately is doubtful, would take effect in 2016.
Bottom line the CRA has a lot to do. Why not help them by joining today?
The Tobacco Plus Expo was held in Vegas last week. There were about 400 plus vendors including Rocky Patel, Altadis, General Cigar, Drew Estate, Oliva, and CLE, but the biggest thrust of the show was Vapes. Over 80 vendors came from China, where most of the products for vaping are made. The show was attended by about 1400 considering the “blizzard” on the east coast (yes some areas were hit hard but others just got a dusting and one mayor overreacted) that wasn’t bad. Most were pretty optimistic. I admit I know little about vapes, although I do have a few friends who use them as a means of quitting cigarettes. What I can tell you is some of the vapers at the show were almost as bad as non smokers. I saw several walking by cigar booths and waving the smoke from the cigars away as they puffed on their electronic device. Then there is this:
These women were in a booth and demonstrating what I found out is called Cloud Chasing. Apparently the idea is to get as much vapor as you can into your lungs and the blow out the biggest possible cloud. In the picture I think they were only getting started. I first saw this when I was outside the show waiting to go in and wanted to get a photo of people going in. Two guys were behind me and they were able to basically obscure the entrance with their clouds. I was enveloped in vapor. Oh and it does have a scent. While I liked the optimism of the show, I am not certain if it is born from true optimism or ignorance. I do believe that the FDA will come down hard on the vape products, and with vapor “enthusiasts” making nuisances of themselves with clouds, cities and states will crack down too—not to mention the taxes on them. Alas I see the vape revolution going on now as much the same was as the cigar boom. Ours ended naturally, I believe theirs will end by fiat.
cigar industry · vapes
Last week I told you about the legislation moving through Nebraska to once again allow smoking at cigar bars and in tobacco shops. Well that bill has now moved forward. It came out of the state legislature’s general affairs committee by a 7-0 vote with one abstention from a legislator who wanted more legal scrutiny on the bill to be certain it would hold up in court. Under the bill only cigar and pipe smoking would be allowed, no cigarettes.
The bill differentiates cigars and pipes from cigarettes by saying that cigar lovers often pair cigars with various types of alcohol and that cigar and pipe smokers may take an hour or more to enjoy their smoking “rather than simply satisfying an addiction.”
The bill carries an emergency status so it would go into effect as soon as it passes and is signed. Look for fairly quick progress on this.
In New Orleans, Mayor Mitch Landreau signed the new bill to remove exemptions in the city’s smoking laws…that means no more smoking at casinos or bars. Conveniently, it goes into effect after Mardi Gras.
In Washington state, it has been ten years since voters approved a smoking ban which prohibits smoking even in cigar stores. (The only places you can smoke as far as I know are the Indian casinos.) That could change, but the odds are still highly against it. Legislation is moving again to try to carve out a niche for cigar bars. This is the fourth time since the ban went into effect. This time the bill passed unanimously through the House Commerce and Gaming committee. The proposal would legalize cigar bars and smoking rooms in tobacco shops up to a total of 115.
Proponents say the state would gain tax money and give users of a legal, controlled substance a place to use what they're buying. Opponents see an immense public health concern and a betrayal of the voters who passed the smoking ban in 2005.
Right there are always the spoilsports.
"It's a bad idea," said Rep. Eileen Cody, D-West Seattle. "They're basically trying to get around the Clean Indoor Air Act that was supported by a wide margin."
Cody chairs the House Health Care and Wellness community and helped thwart earlier House bills to allow cigar bars. Cody said she plans to oppose the latest attempt to make Washington the 36th state to legalize cigar bars, possibly by bringing the bill into her committee for review.
"Somebody's going to be working there, and they're going to be exposed to it," Cody said.
The last time the proposal came up it was more ambitious creating 100 cigar bars and 500 smoking rooms. This one is much more modest calling it at 40 cigar bars and 75 smoking rooms.
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.
new cigars · Punch
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.
Camacho · new cigars
This week in Nebraska, the Cigar Rights of America is giving testimony in efforts to let Nebraska’s cigar bars and cigar shops keep smoking. Last year, a state Supreme Court decision ruled the legislative exemptions to allow smoking was against the constitution. As the legislature convened, new legislation with perhaps more nuance was introduced to get those exemptions back. For a while after the court’s ruling, smoking was still permitted as the state’s bureaucracy worked to issue new permits that prohibited smoking. Now that work has been done and the smoking lamp for the Cornhuskers has gone out. Glynn Loope has been in Nebraska and testified before a committee this week as it hears the new legislation. Loope says he is encouraged in that this legislation has an emergency clause that would mean it could go into effect as soon as it is passed and signed by the Governor. He is cautiously optimistic that it will get done sooner rather than later.