THE SCOOP WITH COOP – EPISODE 362

Litto Gomez Diez Small Batch Set to Hit Retailers

After nearly a four-year wait, fans of La Flor Dominicana have a new installment of the Small Batch series to look forward to. Next week retailers are expected to take shipment on the 2019 edition of Litto Gomez Diez Small Batch.
This is a series that was first introduced by La Flor Dominicana back in 2006. It was named for company founder Litto Gomez. The cigar is Dominican puro that uses the concept of taking the best tobaccos from Litto Gomez’s La Canela farm.
The previous installment was the Litto Gomez Diez Small Batch No. 6. The company has dropped numbering the releases with this installment.

Crowned Heads Announces Headley Grange Chamuco LE2019

There will be at least one more Crowned Heads limited edition cigar to close out 2019. Today the company announced the Headley Grange Chamuco LE2019. This cigar introduces a Mexican San Andres wrapped offering under Crowned Heads’ Headley Grange brand.
It’s the third Maduro released under the Headley Grange line following the Headley Grange Black Dog and Headley Grange Black Lab LE2018. Both of these cigars are Connecticut Habano maduro cigars.
The Chamuco is a name for a dog frequently called the Mexican Pit Bull. It builds on the theme of Headley Grange. The dog breed is said to have originated in central Mexico back in the 1970s as a cross between American Pit Bull Terrier and the now-extinct Mexican Bull Dog. Headley Grange is named for the famed recording studio. Led Zeppelin was a band that recorded at that studio. It was John Bohnam’s opening drum track from “When the Levee Breaks” that inspired the original Headley Grange blend.  The Headley Grange Black Dog is a play on another Led Zeppelin song, with the same name “Black Dog.” This was followed by the Headley Grange Black Lab which refers to a labrador retriever that was said to have inspired the Black Dog song.
In addition to the Mexican San Andres wrapper, the blend incorporates Nicaraguan tobaccos for the binder and filler. As with all Headley Grange cigars, production is handled at Ernesto Perez-Carrillo Jr’s Tabacalera La Alianza.
The cigar comes in one size – a 5 1/4 x 54 box-pressed Robusto. It is packaged in 12-count boxes with a total production of 1,500 boxes. Pricing is $10.95 per cigar.

Florida Department of Agriculture Provides “Fresh from Florida” Logo for FSG Tobacco

Jeff Borysiewicz, owner of the Florida Sun Grown Tobacco (FSG) farm has announced the Florida Department of Agriculture has provided a “Fresh from Florida” logo that can be used for Florida-grown tobacco. The logo is meant as a way to assure consumers FSG tobacco used in a product has been grown right in the State of Florida. In addition, J.C. Newman’s “The American”, a product that uses FSG-grown tobacco for its wrapper and is made in the State of Florida will be on display at the State Capitol in December.
In a statement, Jeff explains the background behind the “Fresh from Florida” project:
If you’ve been following the storied journey of our Florida Sun Grown Tobacco Farm you know that it was our goal to resurrect the 175 year old tradition of growing prized cigar tobacco in the state of Florida. The Florida Department of Agriculture has been very helpful along the way providing expert soil analysis, tissue analysis and University of Florida, PHD Agronomists if needed. Now I must admit, these folks don’t have any hands on experience with growing cigar tobacco since no one had grown cigar tobacco in Florida in the past forty years, but nevertheless they have the tools, training and resources when it comes to plant science.
There are no cigar tobacco farms left in Florida for a simple reason…with all labor required to grow hand picked or primed, Cuban style cigar tobacco, it is just too expensive to grow when compared with the lower labor costs in Central and South America. The U.S. still grows plenty of the quicker to harvest stalk-cut broadleaf cigar tobacco in Connecticut and in a few places in Pennsylvania, but the more labor intensive American grown, single leaf, hand picked shade cigar tobacco industry in Connecticut is dead, and for the very same reasons…cost.
I’ve been in the cigar business for 23 years and it’s always been a pet peeve of mine how cigars with a light colored shade wrapper have been called Connecticut, no matter what county they are grown in. No other industry would have allowed this. For example, you simply can’t take grapes from France, plant them in Ecuador and then make a wine there and call it French. The same rule would apply to Scotch whisky, Bourbon, Tequila or Champagne. Same goes for expensive varieties of coffee like Jamacian Blue Mountain and Hawaiian Kona Coffee. You can’t take a Jamacian or Hawaiian coffee seed, grow it in Nicaragua and call it Kona. But in the cigar industry, there is a plethora of cigars marketed and labeled “Connecticut” even though there is NOTHING Connecticut about it. Sure, some manufacturers will say they use seed from Connecticut and grow it in another country and therefore it’s OK. So since our Florida Sun Grown tobacco is grown from Cuban seed, does this make our FSG cigars Cuban? Of course not. What’s even more comical is that Connecticut shade tobacco is actually grown from a variety of seed that was originally imported from the island of Sumatra, Indonesia.
Ironically, several years ago, Cuba’s Habanos S.A. started filing global cease and desist orders to any cigar company that used the word “Habanos” in their name in order to protect Cuba’s name and country of origin. Unfortunately, the tobacco farmers and a few politicians in Connecticut recently tried to address the misuse of the word “Connecticut” in the cigar industry but after letting the mislabeling to go on for nearly two decades, it’s a little hard to put that genie back in the bottle. Pretty sad that the communists in Cuba protected their country of origin better than we did in America.
Florida learned its lesson about labeling back in the 1970’s when ship loads of cheap Brazilian orange juice was imported in bulk and then packaged in Florida and labeled and marketed as Florida orange juice. The Florida farmers fought back and thankfully our state through the Fresh From Florida program protects and promotes the name “Florida” on its agriculture products. You may have seen the Fresh From Florida logo on some of Florida’s most prized commodities such as orange juice, citrus, strawberries, blueberries, lobster and those delicious stone crab claws. So I’m happy to share the news that the Florida Depart of Agriculture has created and provided us with a “Fresh From Florida” logo, just for Florida grown tobacco. All of our cigar tobacco is inspected at the farm by the USDA and a Certificate of Origin is issued by the state for all our Florida Sun Grown tobacco. So rest assured, you are guaranteed that if a cigar has FSG and “Fresh From Florida” on the label, that tobacco was grown right here in America, in the great state of Florida.

THE SCOOP WITH COOP – EPISODE 361

Amendment Added to Exempt Premium Cigars Over $12.00 from Anti-Tobacco Bill

An amendment was added to HR 2339, a comprehensive anti-tobacco bill that last week passed a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee. In the amendment to the bill is language that would exempt premium cigars from a ban on internet and catalog sales as well as exemption from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s costly premarket approval/substantial equivalency process. However, the amendment includes in the definition of a premium cigar a minimum price point of $12.00.
The amendment passed by 28-24 vote. As for next steps, the timeline for consideration by the full House of Representatives and Senate is still to come.
The news of the minimum price point is expected to be a controversial one. Five years ago a minimum price point of $10.00 was included as an “Option B” when the FDA was soliciting feedback on whether to exempt premium cigars from regulation.

Crowned Heads La Coalición Heads to Market

Crowned Heads La Coalicion, the long-awaited collaboration produced at Drew Estate’s La Gran Fabrica is heading to stores.
The cigar features a Grade A Dark Connecticut Broadleaf, a Sumatra binder, and fillers from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. It will come in four sizes: Corona (5 x 46), Gordito (5 1/2 x 50), Siglo (6 x 52), and Sublime (6 1/2 x 54).

CRA 2019 Freedom Sampler Heads to Retailers

Cigar Rights of America has announced its latest sampler pack, the 2019 Freedom Sample is Heading to Great American Cigar Shop Retailers. This sampler contains 10 cigars with an MSRP of $150.  The 10 cigars in the pack are as follows:

  • Alec Bradley – Alec Bradley Ltd. Mundial PL #56
  • Arturo Fuente – Fuente Fuente OpusX
    Destino Siglo Limited Edition
  • Ashton – La Aroma de Cuba Noblesse Viceroy
  • J.C. Newman – Diamond Crown Black Diamond Emerald
  • La Flor Dominicana – La Flor Dominicana Andalusian Bull
  • My Father – Don Pepin Original Connecticut
  • Oliva – Oliva Serie V Melanio Figuardo
  • Padrón – Padrón Black No. 200
  • Rocky Patel – Rocky Patel 50th Anniversary Toro
  • Tatuaje – Tatuaje Fausto Limited SA

Of note are inclusions of the Don Pepin Original Connecticut, Padrón Black No. 200, and the Tatuaje Fausto Limited SA

THE SCOOP WITH COOP – EPISODE 360

Comprehensive Anti Tobacco Bill Passes House Subcommittee

H.R. 2339, a comprehensive anti-tobacco bill that includes the banning of internet sales and flavored, tobacco has passed a House Subcommittee. The bill was introduced by Rep. Frank Pallone [D-New Jersey], and while it is aimed at e-cigarettes and vapes, it does also include premium cigars.
The bill also calls for setting a minimum age of 21 nationwide to purchase tobacco products, an increase in user fees, and implementation of graphic warning labels on cigarettes.
Passing the subcommittee advances the bill to a full committee where it is expected there will be additional amendments. In order to become law, the bill would also be required to pass the U.S. Senate, and get the President’s signature. At press time there has been no companion bill introduced to the Senate.
According to CRA Executive Director Glynn Loope, Pallone has pledged to work with Rep. Kathy Castor [D-Florida] and Rep. Donna Shalala [D-Florida] on language that would protect the premium cigar industry. Castor has sponsored legislation calling for an exemption for premium cigars from U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulation. While Shahala’s name is on H.R. 2339, she recently has visited the El Titan de Bronze factory in Little Havana.

Karl Malone Named Keynote Speaker for TPE 2020

The Tobacco Media Group (TMG) has announced that 14-time NBA All-Star Karl Malone will be the Keynote Speaker for the Tobacco Plus Expo 2020 (TPE 2020).
Malone is best known for his Hall of Fame career with the Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Lakers and is the NBA’s second all-time leading scorer. He also is a member of the premium cigar industry. He has partnered with La Aurora Cigars to create the Barrel Aged by Karl Malone cigar brand. In additon he owns Legends Cigar & Vape in Louisiana with his daughter Kadee.
The TPE 2020 Trade Show opens in Las Vegas on January 29, 2020.

Miami Cigar & Company to Begin Shipping Don Lino Africa November 18th

Miami Cigar and Company has announced it will begin shipping its Don Lino Africa line the week of November 18th. Earlier this year, Miami Cigar had announced the return of this brand into its portfolio – this time being done in conjunction with AJ Fernandez.
“After much anticipation, we’re excited to say that Africa will be shipping next week,” commented Jason Wood in a press release. “This is our first collaboration with AJ Fernandez, and our sales team is already out in support of the brand at the local level. Pre-sales have been robust, and we cannot wait to enjoy these with our retail family and their customers.”
“There is a mystery and depth to Africa that captivates my spirit, always drawing me to come back,” added company President Nestor Miranda. “This blend captures the way going there makes me feel. It’s truly an amazing, even mesmerizing cigar.”
Fernandez has revamped the blend and it now features an Ecuadorian Habano 2000 wrapper, an African Cameroon binder, and a combination of Piloto Dominicano, Ometepe, Jalapa, and Estelí fillers. It is available in four box-pressed sizes.

Alec Bradley Fine & Rare HOF / 506 Arrives at Stores

The Alec Bradley Fine & Rare HOF / 506, the 2019 installment of the Fine & Rare series has arrived at retailers.
The Fine & Rare HOF / 506 is a special cigar to the Rubin family as it pays homage to David Rubin, the father of Alec Bradley owner Alan Rubin who passed away late in 2018. Alan had worked beside his father in the fastener business. After they sold the business, Alan went into the cigar business and David retired.
Fine & Rare made its debut in 2011. Each year it has been released in a variety of sizes and blends. The common denominator is that each year, ten tobaccos are chosen for a blend, and then rolled into a size that best represents the blend. 2019 marks the first time the HOF / 506 blend is being used. It is being released in one size – a 6 1/4 x 54 box-pressed Toro – also marking the first box-pressed Fine & Rare release.
The blend uses a wrapper from the Trojes region of Honduras over a blend of Honduran and Nicaraguan tobaccos. The cigars are packaged ten-count boxes with a total of 2,500 ten-count boxes allocated. Pricing is set at a suggested retail price of $21.90.

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Caldwell Far Eastern Standard Becomes Latest Cigar Dojo Collaboration

First there was Eastern Standard, now there is Far Eastern Standard. Today, Cigar Dojo announced its 17th collaboration with the Far Eastern Standard by Caldwell Cigar Company. The cigar will make its debut November 6th and will be offered exclusively through South Florida retailer Smoke Inn.
Far Eastern Standard becomes the first Cigar Dojo collaboration to be released in a lancero format. The cigar is a 7 x 40 vitola featuring a Nicaraguan Habano wrapper, Indonesian binder, and a combination of Nicaraguan and Dominican fillers. The cigars will be presented in 10-count bundles with a total production of 300 bundles. Pricing is set at $9.00 per cigar or $89.95 per bundle
The packaging is a mash-up of Caldwell’s Eastern Standard lines and Dojo’s penchant for Asian cultures. It uses a similar style to the one found on the Eastern Standard line but uses a hand-drawn likeness of Emperor Meiji, who ruled Japan from 1867 to 1912.
In a press release announcing the Caldwell Far Eastern Standard, Caldwell Cigar Company owner Robert Caldwell stated, “I was very excited to take part in this collaboration with Dojo. We wanted to put together a product that would really be top-notch. This cigar is a cigar that I have been smoking almost every day since we first blended it. It really is my perfect cigar. It’s medium-bodied, rich, creamy, smooth and balanced.”
Eric Guttormson, owner of Cigar Dojo, added, “We have been hoping to do a lancero for a long time and Robert nailed the perfect blend combination with this Far Eastern Standard. This cigar oozes tons of flavor and has instant-classic written all over it.”
A pre-release event is scheduled November 6th at Smoke Inn’s Boynton Beach store with Robert Caldwell and Eric Guttor

Altria to Explore Sale of Nat Sherman International

Tobacco Giant Altria has announced today it is exploring options for Nat Sherman International, including the possibility of a potential sale. A part of the potential sale includes its wholesale premium cigar business as well as the lease of the company’s flagship Townhouse store in Manhattan.
Altria acquired Nat Sherman International early in 2017. Prior to the acquisition, Nat Sherman International had been a family-run operation owned by the Sherman family.
“Nat Sherman International is a terrific business. While we recognize the strength and value of the premium cigar business, it’s not core to Altria’s tobacco portfolio so we are exploring options for NSI,” said Jessica Pierucki, Altria’s General Manager and Managing Director for Nat Sherman in a press release.
“We will remain steadfast to maintaining business as usual through this transition” added Michael Herklots, Vice President of Nat Sherman International. “I’m honored to have had the opportunity to lead the development of Nat Sherman International’s premium cigar business since 2011, and I am eternally grateful to the Nat Sherman International Team, our loyal retailers and consumers, and our manufacturing partners.  I look forward to the next chapter of our story.”
Herklots told Cigar Coop that he’s extremely proud of what he has been able to accomplish at Nat Sherman, including growing that segment of the business for Altria and the restructuring of the cigar portfolio in 2019. “I’m genuinely excited about what the future will hold for Nat Sherman International!”
Nat Sherman International’s premium cigar brands include: Timeless, Metropolitan, and Epoca. It also includes premium pipe tobacco Metropolitan Tabac and accessories brand Ancora.  

Fabien Ziegler Leaving Drew Estate

Drew Estate, has announced that Fabien Ziegler, Director of Consumer Engagement, is leaving the company to pursue other interests.
Ziegler is a twenty-year veteran of Drew Estate who served as an ambassador working on the sales and marketing ends – most recently leading Drew Estate’s Consumer Engagement team. He also served as a face for Drew Estate’s infused cigar business.
“My years at Drew Estate have been incredibly rewarding, most importantly because of the opportunity to work and build relationships with so many retailers and cigar enthusiasts around the country and the world,” said Ziegler in a press release. “I want to thank everyone at Drew Estate as well as the countless store owners and employees and cigar fans that have made this a fantastic journey for two decades.”
Jonathan Drew, Founder and President of Drew Estate adds, “Fabien is truly one of a kind. He’s a giant dude with a heart and personality to match. Fabien’s warm smile and fun persona immediately connect him to everyone he meets. Sometimes in the sales department, sometimes in Marketing, Fabien spent the last 19 years dedicated to Drew Estate, spreading the company’s message and vision throughout the trade and to the masses of consumers. I want to personally thank Fabien for all he has done for Drew Estate.”
Drew Estate CEO Glenn C. Wolfson commented, “Fabien will always be a part of the heart and soul of Drew Estate. We thank him for all his contributions to the Company over the years, many of which will endure for a long time to come, and we wish him great success in all his future endeavors.”

FDA To Appeal Maryland Court Ruling on Substantial Equivalence Date

The FDA is helping the cigar industry in the fight against the agency itself. Yes, it’s happening as today the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has filed an appeal on the decision of Judge Paul Grimm of the United States District Court for the District of Maryland which moved to accelerate the timetable where Substantial Equivalence filings would take place from August 8, 2021 to May 12, 2020. That case was filed by the American Academy of Pediatrics who argued the FDA did not have the authority to delay the implementation of the Deeming Regulations to August 2, 2021.
The FDA’s motivation for this appeal is that the rulemaking process for implementation of Substantial Equivalence has not yet been completed.
The CRA, CRA, and IPCPR (now PCA) have been fighting the FDA in regards to the Deeming Regulations the FDA issued which impact premium cigars. There is ongoing litigation between the trade associations and the FDA in the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia. The cigar trade associations tried for a motion of summary judgement to have the District of Columbia court thrown out the Maryland court ruling. Last week, Judge Amit Mehta of that court denied that motion.
When the Deeming Regulations were announced in May 2016, the plan was that product approval, which includes Substantial Equivalence, would be implemented beginning August 8, 2018. Shortly after U.S. President Donald Trump named Dr. Scott Gottlieb FDA Commissioner, Gottlieb announced a delay that pushed FDA approval out nearly three years to August 8, 2021. This triggered a lawsuit filed by the American Academy of Pediatrics in the U.S. District Court of Maryland against the FDA claiming the FDA did not have the authority to delay the implementation. It created an interesting scenario where the cigar industry and FDA were on the same page as far as the 2021 deadline. In May 2019 Judge Paul Grimm of the Maryland Court ruled against the FDA, restoring the original August 8, 2018 deadline. Since that time had passed, Grimm implemented a new date of May 12, 2020.
Cigar Rights of America stated that, “The original Guidance was issued during our litigation against the agency and allowed Premium Cigar manufacturers to hold off the expansive and outrageous requirements of preparation, fining and prosecution of SE Reports. While Judge Mehta denied our Motion to overrule Judge Grimm’s Order with respect to CRA, PCA and CAA Members on strictly procedural grounds, we are proceeding to vigorously contest the application of the SE Rules to Premium Cigars and towards that end, endorsed and filed an Amended Complaint this week with Judge Mehta including new and clarified claims with respect to SE Reports.”

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Alec Bradley Fine & Rare HOF / 506 Announced

On OAlec Bradley Cigar Company has announced the ninth installment of its Fine & Rare line. The 2019 installment will introduce the HOF / 506 line, which pays tribute to company founder Alan Rubin’s father David who passed away late in 2018.
Fine & Rare made its debut in 2011. Each year it has been released in a variety of sizes and blends. The common denominator is that each year, ten tobaccos are chosen for a blend, and then rolled into a size that best represents the blend. 2019 marks the first time the HOF / 506 blend is being used. It is being released in one size – a 6 1/4 x 54 box-pressed Toro – also marking the first box-pressed Fine & Rare release.
The blend uses a wrapper from the Trojes region of Honduras over a blend of Honduran and Nicaraguan tobaccos. The cigars are packaged ten-count boxes with a total of 2,500 ten-count boxes allocated. Pricing is set at a suggested retail price of $21.90
“The 2019 release is the most important of the Fine & Rare releases since its inception,” commented Alan Rubin in a press release “This is an homage and dedication to David Rubin, my father; who inspired me to always work hard and never give up – so we strive to be the best. My true commemorative piece in honor of my father David Rubin. We love and miss you; Alan Rubin and family” says the press release.
A photo of David Rubin is prominently displayed on the front of the band, on the back are the words: “In Honor Of David Rubin.”
The Alec Bradley Fine & Rare HOF / 506 is scheduled to reach retailers this November.

Davidoff Year of the Rat Limited Edition 2020 Announced

Next month, Davidoff will release the ninth installment of its annual limited edition Chinese Zodiac seres with the Davidoff Year of the Rat. As the name indicates, the cigar pays homage to the year 2020 which is the Year of the Rat on the Chinese calendar.
The Davidoff Year of the Rat features an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, Nicaraguan binder, and a combination of Nicaragua and Dominican fillers. The cigar is offered in one size – a 6 x 52 Toro presented in ten-count boxes.A total of 9,300 boxes are slated to be released worldwide. Pricing is set at $39.00 SRP.
For 2019, Davidoff is also releasing a commemorative two-finger case along with a commemorative pipe, pipe tobacco, and pipe pouch – each sold separately.

Drew Estate Takes Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve Barrel Fermented National and Adds Flying Pig

Drew Estate has announced the Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve Barrel Fermented, a release previously sold exclusively to Pappy & Company will now also be available to Drew Diplomat (preferred) retailers. In addition, Drew Estate is adding a Flying Pig Vitola to the line and that is the one size that will sold exclusive to Pappy & Company.
The cigar features a barrel fermented “tapa Negra” wrapper over a Mexican San Andres base wrapper, as well as aged Nicaraguan filler tobaccos, personally selected by Jonathan Drew. The cigars  are presented in hand-crafted boxes of 10, sold in brick and mortar stores exclusively by Drew Diplomat Retailers in the following vitolas: Robusto (5 ¼” x 52), Toro (6 x 52) and Churchill (7 x 48).
In addition, Drew Estate announces the release of the Pappy Van Winkle Barrel Fermented Flying Pig to be sold exclusively through Pappyco.com. This cigar is a 3 15/16” x 60 flying pig vitola, which remains one of the most consumer demanded sizes in the Drew Estate portfolio.
Judge Rules Against Cigar Industry in Delaying Substantial Equivalence Deadline
The cigar industry suffered another defeat in court when Judge Amit P Mehta of the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia ruled against Motion for Partial Summary Judgment filed by the cigar industry trade associations (Cigar Association of America, Cigar Rights of America, and the International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers Association) to delay the implementation of substantial equivalence which is scheduled to be enforced on May 12, 2020.
The argument by the cigar industry has been the specifics of what this process entails has not been defined.
When the Deeming Regulations were announced in May 2016, the plan was that product approval, which includes Substantial Equivalence, would be implemented beginning August 8, 2018. Shortly after U.S. President Donald Trump named Dr. Scott Gottlieb FDA Commissioner, Gottlieb announced a delay that pushed FDA approval out nearly three years to August 8, 2021.
This triggered a lawsuit filed by the American Academy of Pediatrics in the U.S. District Court of Maryland against the FDA claiming the FDA did not have the authority to delay the implementation. It created an interesting scenario where the Cigar Industry and FDA were on the same page as far as the 2021 deadline. In May 2019 Judge Paul Grimm of the Maryland Court ruled against the FDA restoring the original August 8, 2018 deadline. Since that time had passed, Grimm implemented a new date of May 12, 2020.
The cigar industry trade associations turned back to the District of Columbia Court asking them to throw out the Maryland decision. Judge Mehta’s decision has denied this request meaning the cigar industry will now have to find a different way.

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Los Angeles County Bans Flavored Tobacco

On October 1st, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to ban flavored tobacco products. As a part of the decision, there was an appeal made to Governor Gavin Newsom to issue a statewide ban on vaping.
The new ordinance goes into effect for Los Angeles County, which includes the city of Los Angeles. Los Angeles County is the most populous county in the United States. Under the ordinance, tobacco retailers have 180 days to obtain new licenses that will now be required and to clear their shelves of any remaining tobacco products. Online sales are not prohibited under the ordinance.
The vaping ban comes after the Centers for Disease Control linked multiple deaths to vaping.
With the City of Los Angeles being in Los Angeles County, this is the second major city in California to ban flavored tobacco. In 2018, the votes of the city of San Francisco approved a proposition to ban flavored tobacco.
Both Cigar Rights of America and the Premium Cigar Association have not publicly commented on the Los Angeles Country Board of Supervisors’ decision.

Tatuaje Announces Unlucky 26 for Tatuaje The Chuck and Tatuaje The Tiff Dress Boxes

Tatuaje Cigars has announced the Unlucky 26 retailers who will receive dress boxes of this year’s Monster Series releases – Tatuaje The Chuck and Tatuaje The Tiff.  Since there are two Monster releases, this year the total number of retailers who will receive the dress boxes is doubled. In previous years, the retailers were referred to as the Unlucky 13.
The Unlucky 26 will have the opportunity to carry this cigar in special limited edition “dress boxes”. While the dress boxes will be made available to the Unlucky 26, other authorized Tatuaje retailers will get the opportunity to carry the cigar in plain cedar boxes.
Over the past few years, this has typically become one of the most anticipated cigar releases of the year by many cigar enthusiasts.  The name Unlucky 26 comes from the fact that the retailers selected to carry the dress boxes often have to deal with a frenzy of consumers trying to acquire a box.
Tatuaje Chuck and Tiff made their debut as a part of the Pudgy Monsters Series. These blends carried over into the Skinny Monsters, but haven’t had a full-sized release until now.
Both Chuck and Tiff measure 5 7/8 x 52. Tatuaje The Chuck is officially dubbed as the 11th Monster installment – it features an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper over Nicaraguan binder and filler. Meanwhile, Tatuaje The Tiff has been dubbed the 12th Monster and features an Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade wrapper over Nicaraguan binder and filler.
The Unlucky 26 includes:

  • Ambassador Fine Cigars: ‪Phoenix, AZ ‬
  • Belle Meade Premium Cigars: ‪Nashville, TN‬
  • Castro’s Back Room: Manchester, NH‬
  • Cigar Cigars: Horsham, PA
  • Cigars Ltd: Fresno, CA‬
  • Cigars on 7th: Eugene, OR
  • Club Humidor: San Antonio
  • Elite Cigar Cafe: Addison, TX
  • ‪Habana Premium Cigar Shoppe‬: Albany, NY
  • Havana Connections: Richmond, VA
  • Havana Manor: Louisville, CO
  • Humidor Pipe Shop: Hunstville, AL
  • Lake Country: Delafield, WI
  • Mane Street Lounge & Tobacco: Woodridge, NJ
  • Metro Cigars: Germantown, W
  • Michael’s Tobacco: Keller, T
  • Regency Cigar Emporium: East Greenwich, RI
  • Sanford & Son: Chattanooga, TN
  • Smoke on the Water: Weston, FL
  • Sturman’s Smoke Shop: Boise, ID
  • The Humidor: Lisle, IL
  • Tobacco Grove‬: ‪Maple Grove, MN
  • Twins Smoke Shop: Londonderry, NH
  • Up Down: Chicago, IL
  • World Famous Cigar Bar: Fort Myers, FL
  • W. Curtis Draper’s: Washington, DC‬

Imperial Brands CEO Alison Cooper to Step Down

Imperial Brands PLC has announced that Chief Executive Officer Alison Cooper will step down from the role of CEO. The move will take place once the Board of Directors finds a successor.
In a press release Imperial Brands PLC Chairman Mark Williamson, said: “Alison has worked tirelessly and with great energy and passion during her 20 years with Imperial, nine of which have been as CEO, and the Board would like to thank her for the tremendous contribution she has made.
“During her tenure as CEO the business has been significantly simplified and reshaped to strengthen its long-term growth potential, and more than £10 billion in dividends has been returned to shareholders. I am pleased that Alison has committed to continue to lead the business until a successor is appointed, ensuring an orderly transition of responsibilities.”
In the interim, Cooper will continue in the role of CEO, including the divestment program that includes its premium cigar business. The company expects to realize proceeds of up to  £2 billion by May 2020. No announcement of who will acquire this business has been made at this time.
The board is also searching for a successor to Chairman Mark Williamson in order to comply with a new UK Corporate Governance Code on the tenure a Chairman can serve on a board.

Several IPCPR Releases Ship

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Scandinavian Tobacco Group to Acquire Royal Agio Cigars

Scandinavian Tobacco Group has announced its intent to acquire all of the shares of Agio Beheer B.V. from Highlands Beheer B.V. Agio Beheer B.V. is the holding company of the Royal Agio Cigars. The deal is expected to complete in the first half of 2020 and is subject to regulatory approval. On a debt and cash free basis (the enterprise value), the transaction is valued at 210 million euros or 231.63 million dollars with the acquisition financed by cash at hand and debt.
Royal Agio Cigars is based in the Netherlands and is known for its Mehari’s and Panter machine-made brands as well as the Balmoral premium cigar brand. Royal Agio employs 3,200 full-time employees. In 2018, the company reported annual net sales of 133 million euros (146.70 million dollars) with an EBITDA of EUR 18 million (19.85 million dollars). If the transaction is completed, the combined group would form a company of 10,000 employees and the combined group’s net sales for 2018 would be 7.7 billion DKK (Danish krone) or 1.14 billion U.S. dollars
While many in the U.S. market have gotten to known Royal Agio Cigars for its recent growth in the U.S. market, the company is a monster in Europe when it comes to its machine-made portfolio – particularly with its Mehari’s and Panter brands.
In a press release announcing the acquisition, Scandinavian Tobacco Group said, “Royal Agio can provide Scandinavian Tobacco Group access to a strong product portfolio and important market positions in key European machine-made cigar markets. The acquisition can secure leading positions in France, Belgium and The Netherlands and significantly improve the position in key cigar markets such as Spain and Italy.”
Scandinavian Tobacco Group CEO Niels Frederiksen commented: “I am very pleased and proud that we have taken this important step towards an acquisition of Royal Agio. If completed, the acquisition will be an important step in our ambition of becoming the global leader in cigars, as it significantly strengthens our position in several key machine-made cigar markets in Europe and enables us to deliver an attractive range of cigars of the highest standards to our consumers.”
The company was founded by Jacques Wintermans and now is run by fourth-generation family member Boris Wintermans.  The company has built a reputation as an independent family company.  In 2004, for the company’s centennial, her Majesty Queen of the Netherlands awarded Agio Cigars with the Royal Warrant of Appointment.  The company has production facilities in the Netherlands, Belgium, Sri Lanka, and the Dominican Republic – and sells to over 100 countries.
“This decision has not been easy. We have a wonderful company with highly committed employees and loyal business partners, some of whom have been working with us for over 50 years. But the combination of the two companies will be in a better position to deal with the financial consequences of ever-increasing legislation and regulations. We carry responsibility for the continuity of Agio and consider our decision to be inevitable in the long term. When the buyer came forward, we began constructive discussions regarding the benefits and resilience the combination of our companies could achieve,” commented Boris Wintermans.
Royal Agio Cigars says for now its business-as-usual, “We are now focussing on a proper dialogue with the works councils and staff representatives within our company, and of course we are committed to communicating responsibly with our employees,” added Wintermans.
Scandinavian Tobacco Group is best known in the U.S. as the parent company of General Cigar Company and Cigars International.
The move also comes as surprise to some as Scandinavian Tobacco Group has been rumored to be one of the players in contention to acquire the premium cigar brands of Imperial Tobacco Group. Earlier this year, Imperial announced it was divesting its premium cigar portfolio.
The news comes less than four days before the opening of Inter-Tabac 2019, Europe’s largest tobacco trade show.

Alec Bradley Magic Toast Chunk Line Extension Announced

Alec Bradley Cigar Company has announced it is adding a fourth size to its Magic Toast line. The new size will be a 4 1/2 x 60 vitola known as “Chunk.”
Prior to the 2018 IPCPR Trade Show, Alec Bradley announced it was releasing a “mystery” cigar at the show. That cigar turned out to be the Alec Bradley Magic Toast. The cigar would debut in three sizes: Robusto, Toro, and Gordo.
As for the name, the story traces back to when Alan Rubin and his partner Ralph Montero were down in Honduras at a tobacco field in the late night/early morning hours. At dusk, with help from pickup truck headlights, he saw the new crop and knew it was something special. A bottle of scotch was grabbed from the truck and a toast was proposed. Alan’s business partners referred to the crop as magical. Alan stuck with the concept and later named the cigars featuring tobacco from that field Magic Toast.
The Alec Bradley Magic Toast is highlighted by the dark Honduran wrapper. As with many Alec Bradley cigars, the Magic Toast utilizes two binders – one from Honduras and one from Nicaragua. The fillers used are also from Honduras and Nicaragua. Production is handled at the Raices Cubanas factory in Honduras. The 4 1/2 x 60 Magic Toast Chunk will be presented in 20-count boxes. Pricing is set at $9.25 per cigar before taxes. Plans are for the Magic Toast Chunk to arrive at retailers in November.
“Premium cigar enthusiasts really embraced the story of Magic Toast; after that, it was a must-try” said Director of Sales & Marketing, Jonathan Lipson. “The flavor profile is exquisite and the cigars are an unbelievable value. Adding a short 60 ring gauge cigar to the line will help expose more enthusiasts to Magic Toast and Alec Bradley as a whole.

Espinosa Premium Cigars Adds Corona Line Extensions to Crema, Habano, and Laranja Reserva Lines

Espinosa Cigars is adding three Corona extensions to it Espinosa Crema, Espinosa Habano, Espinosa Laranja Reserva lines. Each of the cigars will be a classic 5 x 42 size.
“We kept hearing from our consumers up in the northeast and our cigar connoisseurs, when are you going to release some corona sizes? Some wanted a quick smoke because the weather can be tough up there and then the others wanted that corona experience. We never want to let down any of our fans and customers, so we added that vitola to the rotation, have at them…” commented Erik Espinosa in a press release.
All three sizes are presented in 20-count boxes.
The Espinosa Crema Corona features an Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade wrapper over Nicaraguan binder and filler. Pricing is set at $7.95 per cigar.
The Espinosa Habano Corona features an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper over Nicaraguan binder and filler. Pricing is set at $6.95 cigar.
Finally, the Espinosa Laranja Reserva Corona features a Brazilian Mata Fina wrapper over Nicaraguan binder and filler. Pricing is set $8.95 per cigar.
Hector Alfonso, Director of Operations added, “These coronas are perfect; they are smoking incredibly and are a fantastic take on each of these blends.”

Drew Estate Undercrown Dogma Heads to Retailers

Drew Estate has announced the 2019 release of its limited production Undercrown Dogma has shipped to Drew Diplomat retailers. The release will include a new packaging design featuring blue soft bundles and corresponding sales trays.
The Dogma was first released in 2014 as a small batch limited production sold initially through Smoke Inn. It’s a  6 x 56 Box Pressed Gran Toro that features a San Andres Mexican wrapper, Connecticut Stalk Cut Habano binder, and a combination of Nicaraguan and Brazilian Mata Fina filler. Dogma is based off the Undercrown Corona ¡Viva!, a slightly tweaked version of the original Undercrown line. It is now an ongoing limited release to Drew Diplomat retailers.
“The 2019 limited release of the Undercrown Dojo Dogma is a smash hit. Wrapped in these beautiful, royal blue soft packs, the cigars simply illuminate beauty. Now with the accompanying shelf merchandizer it’s much easier for our retailers to showcase the product and for our consumers to find it on the shelf. Dogma really makes the geek squad component within Drew Estate uber proud and satisfied,” commented Drew Estate Founder and President Jonathan Drew.

Eddy Guerra Resigns from Altadis U.S.A.

Eddy Guerra, who served as a Senior Brand Manager at Altadis U.S.A. has announced he is leaving the company.
In a statement published on his social media channels, Guerra commented:
I just wanted to formally announce, that I have resigned from my position as Sr. Brand Manager at Altadis U.S.A. I would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank the entire team, for an amazing experience. It was truly an honor to have managed such legendary brands: Montecristo, Henry Clay, and Trinidad. Most of all, I wish to express gratitude to the marketing and sales departments, which I had the pleasure to work very closely with during my tenure at Altadis U.S.A. I look forward to announcing my next move in the very near future!
Guerra joined Altadis U.S.A. in January 2018. Prior to that, he worked a Gurkha Cigars where he served as Director of Marketing.

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Nick Jonas Magazine Cover Puts Premium Cigars in Mainstream Spotlight

Three years ago, musician Nick Jonas said in an AMA Reddit Chat that someday he hoped to be on the cover of Cigar Aficionado magazine. Later this month when the September/October issue of Cigar Aficionado hits the newsstands, Jonas’ wish will officially come true. However, when news of Jonas being on the cover hit social media, it was greeted with a firestorm of controversy and in a way gave the cigar industry a much-needed ally in Jonas.
Nick Jonas, together with his older brothers Kevin and Joe make up the band The Jonas Brothers. The band was formed in 2002. After a decade of success, the brothers went separate ways, pursuing solo careers. In 2018, the brothers came back together for a reunion tour.
Nick Jonas is also a serious cigar enthusiast. Tatuaje Cigars Pete Johnson learned this first hand when he had an opportunity to tour with the Jonas Brothers. He then informed Cigar Aficionado Senior Editor David Savona about Jonas. Savona confirmed this on the Cigar Aficionado Instagram page saying “Nick Jonas is a multi-talented star, and his interest in cigars is off the charts. Pete Johnson is the one who first put him on my radar, and when Pete says a guy is a serious cigar smoker I take them seriously. I did the interview and had a cigar with Jonas—he knows his stuff.”
Perhaps what was most interesting was Nick’s general enthusiasm for being on this magazine cover. “First person under 30 (Jonas is 27) to hold a cigar on the cover of one of my favorite magazines. So pumped about this one! Thank you @cigaraficionado! Issue on newsstands September 24th.”

Altadis USA to Introduce Romeo y Julieta 1875 Connecticut Nicaragua

One can say that 2019 has been a quiet year for Romeo y Julieta at Altadis USA, but that is going to change this fall as the brand is going to unveil its Romeo y Julieta 1875 Connecticut Nicaragua project. The Romeo y Julieta 1875 Connecticut Nicaragua is a groundbreaking project that incorporates a Connecticut seed wrapper grown in Nicaragua. It’s believed to be the first major cigar release to use a Nicaraguan grown Connecticut Shade wrapper. Details on this project was first reported by Cigar Aficionado.
The project is a collaboration done with the Plasencia family. The wrapper is a Connecticut Shade varietal grown by the Plasencia family on their farms in Nicaragua under cheesecloth. The remainder of the blend utilizes all Nicaraguan tobaccos. The Nicaraguan-grown Connecticut Shade wrapper has thus far been an experimental crop,
The cigars come in four sizes: Bully (Robusto), Toro, Churchill, and Magnum. All are presented in 25-count boxes except the Magnum which comes in a 20-count format.
Cigar Aficionado reported pricing ranging from $7.20 to $8.35 SRP depending on size.

Graycliff Reports Minimal Damage from Hurricane

Last week Hurricane Dorian, a deadly category five hurricane, smashed through the Bahamas. Graycliff Cigar Company, the most prominent cigar maker in the Bahamas, issued a statement reporting there was no significant damage to its facilities as well as any associated properties.
Graycliff issued the following statement on its website and social media channels:
THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts to all of you that called, messaged, emailed etc. to see if we are all ok!
The Hurricane passed north of us and severely hurt our friends and families in Abaco and Grand Bahama. Thankfully all of us in Nassau, New Providence Island have had minimal impact and are fully operational.
We’re going to be doing some fundraising activities shortly to support our friends and families in Grand Bahama and Abaco and will make an announcement, but in the meantime feel free to donate to these charitable organizations which we are supporting.
Graycliff Cigar Company was founded by Enrico Garzaroli who developed an affinity for cigars and wanted to find his own cigar to complement the cuisine, fine wine, and luxurious accommodations that Graycliff is known for. In 1997 Graycliff began production of its lines out of its factory.

Alec & Bradley Gatekeeper Heads to Retailers

Alec Bradley Cigar Company has announced the Alec & Bradley Gatekeeper, the second release by second generation cigar makers Alec and Bradley Rubin are now heading to retailers.
Alec & Bradley is a subsidiary founded by the Rubin brothers in 2018. Last year Alec & Bradley released its first line, Blind Faith. For its sophomore release,  Alec & Bradley turned to Ernesto Perez-Carrillo Jr and Tabacalera La Alianza.
Gatekeeper features an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, Nicaraguan binder, and a combination of Nicaraguan and Dominican tobaccos. The Dominican tobaccos are something very different than what have been seen in Alec Bradley blends.
“Working with Ernesto opens up new doors for Bradley and me,” said Alec Rubin a press release, “Ernesto is a gatekeeper to new opportunities and experiences for us- thus the name Gatekeeper.”
“We are a part of the next generation of the premium cigar business,” Bradley added. “Ernesto is a legend and we are humbled to be able to work with him.”
Gatekeeper is available in four sizes: Corona (5 1/8 X 42, MSRP $8.75 cigar), Robusto (5 X 50, MSRP $10.50/cigar), Toro (6 X 52, MSRP $11.50/cigar) and Gordo (6 X 60, MSRP $12.25/cigar)

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Report – José Dominguez Arrested in the Dominican Republic

Multiple news sources in the Dominican Republic are reporting the arrest of Dominican cigar maker José Dominguez on charges of tax evasion. Dominguez is best known for being the manufacturer of Victor Sinclair and José Dominguez-branded cigars.
The arrest occurred this past week in Santiago by the Dominican Republic’s National Drug Control Directorate (DNCD). This arrest was made due to a request for extradition by the United States.
In 2017, Dominguez was indicted by a U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania on charges of tax evasion on products he had imported in the U.S. The report references the arrest warrant was issued at the request of the United States relating to the same case.
No further details were announced in terms of what happened after the arrest. Dominguez had been scheduled to do several events in the U.S., but these appearances did not occur.

Foundation Cigar Company IPCPR Releases Ship

Foundation Cigar Company has shipped its major releases from this year’s IPCPR.
Highclere Castle Cigar Company, the joint venture that includes Foundation Cigar Company owner Nicholas Melillo and George Carnarvon (the 8th Earl of Carnarvon and the owner of the famed Highclere Castle Estate located in Hampshire, England). It’s a brand distributed by Foundation Cigar Company.  Two years ago, there first Highclere Castle was released with a premium Ecuadorian Connecticut offering. This year, the second release by Highclere Castle, the Victorian was unveiled. The Highclere Castle Victorian uses a high priming dark Habano Ecuador wrapper. It’s the first Ecuadorian Habano wrapper used on a line under the Foundation Cigar Company umbrella. The cigar is called Victorian because it is meant to be reminiscent of the very first cigars imported to England during the Victorian era, which took place in England under the reign of Queen Victoria from 1837 to 1901.
Last year, Foundation Cigar Company introduced its first Habano offering, The Tabernacle Havana Seed No. 142. While the new Highclere Castle Victorian uses an Ecuadorian grown Habano wrapper, the No. 142 features a hybrid Havana Seed wrapper (called No. 142) grown in Connecticut not far from Foundation’s company headquarters. This year the No. 142 line saw its first line extension in the form of a 7 x 40 Lancero.
For the past couple of years, Foundation Cigar Company has had a quiet event only release known as Menelik. This year the Menelik became a regular offering.
Menelik was the name of an ancient emperor of Ethiopia, who was said to be the son of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. Menelik was also known as Ibn al-Hakim, which translates into “Son of the Wise Man.”  This ties to two of the company’s flagship brands El Güegüense (The Wise Man) and The Tabernacle (the resting place of the Ark of the Covenant which was said to have been dismantled by King Solomon). The blend is highlighted by a San Andres Mexican wrapper and it joins The Wise Man Maduro as a San Andres wrapped offering by Foundation. Menelik is available in one size – a 4 1/2 x 52 soft box-pressed petit robusto.

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JSK Nuggs 100mg Maduro Slated for Release

Jas Sum Kral (JSK) Cigars has announced the second installment of its Nuggs line, a line of cigars infused with CBD( Cannabidiol). This one is the maduro counterpart to the original JSK Nuggs Habano and it’s going to have 100mg of CBD infused in it.
The cigar itself features a Broadleaf Maduro over an Indonesian binder and a filler of Nicaraguan tobaccos. The cigar comes in one size – a 4 1/2 x 48 Short Robusto. The cigars are packaged in 25-counts and pricing is set at $24.00 MSRP.
The 100mg in the JSK Nuggs 100mg Maduro contains more CBD than the original Nuggs Habano which contained 20mg.
The cigars are targeted to ship to retailers next week.

Casa Cuevas La Mandarria Heads to Retailers

Casa Cuevas Cigars’ La Mandarria, a cigar that made its debut at the 2019 IPCPR Trade Show is now heading to retailers.
This year, the company was a victim of a well-publicized warehouse robbery. A sledgehammer (La Mandarria in Spanish) was used to break into the warehouse and over 25,000 of the Casa Cuevas brands which included the Casa Cuevas Limited Edition Flaco and Casa Cuevas core line of cigars were stolen. Following that crisis, the Cuevas family made a decision to forge ahead and mark an era where they faced and overcame adversity – thus La Mandarria was born.
La Mandarria is offered in one size – a 6 x 52 Toro. The cigar itself features an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper with a pig-tail and shaggy foot. It is described as the first full-bodied/full-strength cigar in the Casa Cuevas lineup. Pricing is set at $12.00 per cigar and production is limited to 500 20-count boxes.

Drew Estate ACID Kuba Arte Heading to Retailers

It was the last of Drew Estate’s product announcements prior to IPCPR, but now it’s among of the first showcased products at IPCPR to be released. Today Drew Estate announced it is shipping its ACID Kuba Arte Collection. It’s a cigar that was released as a part of the ACID brand’s 20th anniversary.
The ACID Kuba Arte will be a limited edition cigar that is packaged in a series of seven collectible water towers. The water towers feature art by five Brooklyn, NY based graffiti artists.
ACID Kuba Arte features a Broadleaf maduro wrapper, Indonesian binder, and all-Nicaraguan fillers. The cigar comes in one size – a 5 13/16 x 54 torpedo. Each water tower humidor contains 20 cigars. A total of 1,750 sets of 7 humidors were created. Pricing is set at $238.00 per humidor
For additional details on the ACID Kuba Arte, see our IPCPR Pre-Game coverage

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Facebook Announces Restrictions.on Cigar Sales and Giveaways

(Report via CNN)

Espinosa Habano Lancero to be Released

Espinosa Cigars has announced it is releasing a lancero size of its popular Espinosa Habano line.
The Espinosa Habano Lancero will be a classic 7 1/2 x 38 size. It features an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper over Nicaraguan binder and fillers. It will be packaged in ten-count bundles.
“Listen, this is an outstanding cigar.  We don’t want to limit ourselves to 3 or 4 sizes. We want to get this habano in everyone’s hands. If you aren’t smoking this cigar you are missing out, I’m telling you,” commented Erik Espinosa President of Espinosa Cigars in a statement to Cigar Coop.
The Espinosa Habano Lancero is priced at $10.00 per cigar or $100.00 per bundle.

Cohiba Spectre 2019 Launched at 2019 IPCPR

Last year General Cigar launched its most premium offering in its most premium line, the Cohiba Spectre. This year the company unveiled an all-new version of the Cohiba Spectre at the 2019 IPCPR Trade Show.
The Cohiba Spectre 2019 is highlighted by a deeply fermented high priming Nicaragua Jalapa wrapper that underwent an additional fermentation process for six months. A total of eight barrels of wrapper tobacco were set aside for the Cohiba Spectre.
The remainder of the blend consists of a Connecticut Broadleaf binder and fillers consisting of Brazilian Mata Fina and Nicaraguan tobaccos. The Nicaraguan tobaccos originate from the Estelí and Jalapa regions that have been aged between four and sixteen years. The Nicaraguan tobaccos underwent a special finishing process in Spanish Sherry Cask barrels.
The cigar itself is a 6 x 49 vitola with each cigar packaged in an individual case. A total of 180 boxes consisting of ten cigars was produced. Pricing is at $90.00 per cigar – the same pricing as the Cohiba Spectre 2018.
The cigars were crafted by a single pair: roller Céspedes and buncher Ruben Dario Perez Peña. General Cigar said the pair has a total of five decades experience.

Asylum Pandemonium Launched at 2019 IPCPR

At the 2019 IPCPR Trade Show, Asylum Cigars launched a three-vitola line known as Asylum Pandemonium. It’s a cigar described as the company’s fullest offering to date.
The Asylum Pandemonium is a Nicaraguan puro. Each of the three sizes measures 8 1/2 inches. The sizes in the series include 52 x 8 1/2, 60 x 8 1/2, and 70 x 8 1/2. The 52 x 8 1/2 size has been seen most notably seen on Camacho’s Imperial brand.
The cigars ship in 60-count trays with compartments to hold each of the three sizes. 20-count bundles can be ordered to refill the trays.

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STG Begins Search for New President of General Cigar

General Cigar will be looking for a new President. Today Scandinavian Tobacco Group announced that Régis Broersma, President of General Cigar and Senior Vice President of Scandinavian Tobacco Group’s North America Branded Business Division has accepted a new role in Scandinavian Tobacco Group (STG) and will be relocating to Europe shortly to take over the responsibility of the company’s Smoking Tobacco & Accessories Division. Scandinavian Tobacco Group will now begin a search for a new President.
Régis Broersma has been with Scandinavian Tobacco Group since 2002. After working his way up through the company he was named President of General Cigar in 2016. In 2018, he added Senior Vice President of the North America Branded Business Division to his responsibilities
While Scandinavian Tobacco Group searches for a new President of General Cigar and Senior Vice President of the STG North America Branded Business Division, Broersma will continue to lead these units along with Gene Richter VP US Sales Premium and will take on the further responsibility of Mass Market Sales US, Commercial Excellence and Contract Manufacturing. The latter two roles will be on an interim basis until a successor for Régis Broersma has been identified.

Joya de Nicaragua Antaño CT to Launch at IPCPR

At the 2019 IPCPR Trade Show, Joya de Nicaragua will release a Connecticut Shade cigar under its Antaño brand known as Antaño CT.
With the Antaño CT, Joya de Nicaragua says, “it seems tamer than its bolder Antaño brethren. Don’t be fooled. Antaño CT is a masterful and paradoxical blend of what a cigar with attitude can be.”
The blend features an Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade wrapper over Nicaraguan binder and fillers. It is available in four sizes – each in 20-count boxes including: Robusto, Toro, Belicoso, and Corona Gorda.

Giannini and Perez-Carrillo Reunite for Archetype Chapter 3

Michael Giannini and Ernesto Perez-Carrillo Jr. are once again joining forces. Today Ventura Cigar Company announced the pair will collaborate on Archetype Chapter 3. Archetype Chapter 3 is a pair of blends that Ventura will launch at the 2019 IPCPR Trade Show.
Giannini and Perez-Carrillo have known each other for two decades. Giannini worked for Perez-Carrillo Jr at La Gloria Cubana, and continued to do so after General Cigar acquired La Gloria Cubana. After Perez-Carrillo Jr. departed General, the duo reunited for a collaboration in 2014 appropriately called Re+United.
The name Chapter 3 is symbolic because it marks the third time Giannini and Perez-Carrillo have worked together – and it also makes the third installment of the Archetype series.
Chapter 3’s Sacred Scales is described by General as “the inflection point in this journey, beginning the hero’s return to the real world from the imaginary.” It’s a San Andres Maduro wrapped blend over an Ecuadorian binder and fillers from Nicaragua. Sacred Scales will be available in a 5 x 50 Robusto, 6 x 52 Toro, and 6 x 60 Gordo.
Meanwhile Ventura describes Chapter 3’s Dawn of Destiny as “the hero’s return to reality as it travels across the threshold of flavor.” This cigar fears an Ecuadorian wrapper over tobaccos from Nicaragua. Dawn of Destiny will be available in 5 x 50 Robusto, 6 x 52 Toro, and 6 x 60 Gordo.
The Archetype Series was inspired by the work of psychologist Dr. Carl Jung and mythographer Joseph Campbell, The cigars utilize a common storytelling arc that document the story of a Hero’s Journey

Boris Wintermans and Litto Gomez Team up for Balmoral Serie Signaturas Paso Doble

Royal Agio Cigars USA has announced its second installment in its Balmoral Serie Signaturas series. Balmoral Serie Signaturas is a collaboration line launched by Royal Agio Cigars in 2018. The first release was a collaboration between Royal Agio CEO Boris Wintermans and Ernesto Perez-Carrillo called the Balmoral Serie Signaturas Dueto. This time, Wintermans is teaming up with La Flor Dominicana’s Litto Gomez for the Balmoral Serie Signaturas Paso Doble.
According to a press release from Royal Agio Cigars, “PASO DOBLE combines each cigar makers’ dearest tobaccos and intertwines them into a distinct dance of flavors that stays true to each cigar maker’s signature blending style – the dark, full-bodied opulence of Litto Gomez’ La Flor Dominicana and the sophisticated, balanced complexity of Boris Wintermans’ Balmoral cigars.”
Like Dueto, Paso Doble incorporates tobaccos both Wintermans and Gomez work with.  It incorporates tobaccos from Gomez’s La Canela farms and Brazilian tobacco that is a staple of Wintermans’ blend. The cigar features an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, Ecuadorian Sumatra binder, and fillers from the Dominican Republic and Brazil.  It will be available in three sizes presented in 10-count boxes – Robusto, Gran Toro, and Brindis. Production is handled at Tabacalera La Flor.

H. Upmann 175th Anniversary to Debut at 2019 IPCPR

With 2019 marking 175 years of the H. Upmann brand, Altadis U.S.A. has announced a special commemorative limited cigar appropriately called the H. Upmann 175th Anniversary. The cigar will make its debut at the 2019 IPCPR Trade Show in Las Vegas.
This cigar has its origins back in Cuba. German banker Herman Upmann had moved to Havana, Cuba to open a branch for his family bank. After creating some cigars for his clients, he developed a passion for working with tobacco. That led him in 1844 to start his own cigar brand with his brother August, and the two eventually would open their own cigar factory in Havana.
For the 175th Anniversary cigar, Altadis U.S.A. turned to AJ Fernandez, who has been involved in several projects for the company, including the H. Upmann Nicaragua by AJ Fernandez. Fernandez delivered a Nicaraguan puro featuring a high priming Media Tiempo wrapper (a priming that grows above the ligero leaves on a very small percentage of plants.)
The H. Upmann 175th Anniversary comes in one size – a 7 x 50 Churchill priced at $18.00 SRP per cigar. A total of 14,750 ten-count boxes will be made. In addition, 50 special 50-count humidors containing the cigar will also be made available retailing at $1,250.00 per unit.
While 2019 is the 175th anniversary of the brand, Altadis U.S.A. has been busy for over a year with the brand. In anticipation of the 175th milestone, Altadis U.S.A. released the H. Upmann Connecticut Grupo de Maestros. In addition this year Altadis U.S.A is relaxing the H. Upmann Hispaniola by Jose Mendez which will also debut at the 2019 IPCPR Trade Show.
The 2019 IPCPR Trade Show opens June 29th in Las Vegas, Nevada. Following the trade show, the H. Upmann 175th Anniversary will ship to retailers in July.

Aganorsa Leaf to Launch JFR Lunatic Loco at 2019 IPCPR

At the 2019 IPCPR Trade Show, Aganorsa Leaf will introduce three unique giant perfecto sizes under its JFR Lunatic line collectively known as Lunatic Loco. The cigars will be highlighted by Aganorsa’s Leaf proprietary Shade Grown Corojo Maduro wrapper grown on its Aganorsa Farms in Jalapa, Nicaragua.
The new Lunatic Loco sizes include perfectos measuring: 4 3/4 x 60, 4 3/4 x 70, and 5 1/2 x 80. The Shade Grown Corojo Maduro wrapper is something Aganorsa Leaf has recently introduced. For many years, Aganorsa Leaf has sourced most of its maduro leaves from Mexico, but with the Shade Grown Corojo Maduro, Aganorsa Leaf is using its own maduro wrapper grown in Jalapa. This wrapper was recently unveiled on the Aganorsa Leaf Signature Maduro.
The remainder of the blend for Lunatic Loco also features 100% Aganorsa farm tobacco.
Each of the three sizes is packaged in boxes of ten cigars. Pricing will range from $8.70-$9.99 SRP.

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STG Begins Search for New President of General Cigar

General Cigar will be looking for a new President. Today Scandinavian Tobacco Group announced that Régis Broersma, President of General Cigar and Senior Vice President of Scandinavian Tobacco Group’s North America Branded Business Division has accepted a new role in Scandinavian Tobacco Group (STG) and will be relocating to Europe shortly to take over the responsibility of the company’s Smoking Tobacco & Accessories Division. Scandinavian Tobacco Group will now begin a search for a new President.
Régis Broersma has been with Scandinavian Tobacco Group since 2002. After working his way up through the company he was named President of General Cigar in 2016. In 2018, he added Senior Vice President of the North America Branded Business Division to his responsibilities
While Scandinavian Tobacco Group searches for a new President of General Cigar and Senior Vice President of the STG North America Branded Business Division, Broersma will continue to lead these units along with Gene Richter VP US Sales Premium and will take on the further responsibility of Mass Market Sales US, Commercial Excellence and Contract Manufacturing. The latter two roles will be on an interim basis until a successor for Régis Broersma has been identified.

Joya de Nicaragua Antaño CT to Launch at IPCPR

At the 2019 IPCPR Trade Show, Joya de Nicaragua will release a Connecticut Shade cigar under its Antaño brand known as Antaño CT.
With the Antaño CT, Joya de Nicaragua says, “it seems tamer than its bolder Antaño brethren. Don’t be fooled. Antaño CT is a masterful and paradoxical blend of what a cigar with attitude can be.”
The blend features an Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade wrapper over Nicaraguan binder and fillers. It is available in four sizes – each in 20-count boxes including: Robusto, Toro, Belicoso, and Corona Gorda.

Giannini and Perez-Carrillo Reunite for Archetype Chapter 3

Michael Giannini and Ernesto Perez-Carrillo Jr. are once again joining forces. Today Ventura Cigar Company announced the pair will collaborate on Archetype Chapter 3. Archetype Chapter 3 is a pair of blends that Ventura will launch at the 2019 IPCPR Trade Show.
Giannini and Perez-Carrillo have known each other for two decades. Giannini worked for Perez-Carrillo Jr at La Gloria Cubana, and continued to do so after General Cigar acquired La Gloria Cubana. After Perez-Carrillo Jr. departed General, the duo reunited for a collaboration in 2014 appropriately called Re+United.
The name Chapter 3 is symbolic because it marks the third time Giannini and Perez-Carrillo have worked together – and it also makes the third installment of the Archetype series.
Chapter 3’s Sacred Scales is described by General as “the inflection point in this journey, beginning the hero’s return to the real world from the imaginary.” It’s a San Andres Maduro wrapped blend over an Ecuadorian binder and fillers from Nicaragua. Sacred Scales will be available in a 5 x 50 Robusto, 6 x 52 Toro, and 6 x 60 Gordo.
Meanwhile Ventura describes Chapter 3’s Dawn of Destiny as “the hero’s return to reality as it travels across the threshold of flavor.” This cigar fears an Ecuadorian wrapper over tobaccos from Nicaragua. Dawn of Destiny will be available in 5 x 50 Robusto, 6 x 52 Toro, and 6 x 60 Gordo.
The Archetype Series was inspired by the work of psychologist Dr. Carl Jung and mythographer Joseph Campbell, The cigars utilize a common storytelling arc that document the story of a Hero’s Journey

Boris Wintermans and Litto Gomez Team up for Balmoral Serie Signaturas Paso Doble

Royal Agio Cigars USA has announced its second installment in its Balmoral Serie Signaturas series. Balmoral Serie Signaturas is a collaboration line launched by Royal Agio Cigars in 2018. The first release was a collaboration between Royal Agio CEO Boris Wintermans and Ernesto Perez-Carrillo called the Balmoral Serie Signaturas Dueto. This time, Wintermans is teaming up with La Flor Dominicana’s Litto Gomez for the Balmoral Serie Signaturas Paso Doble.
According to a press release from Royal Agio Cigars, “PASO DOBLE combines each cigar makers’ dearest tobaccos and intertwines them into a distinct dance of flavors that stays true to each cigar maker’s signature blending style – the dark, full-bodied opulence of Litto Gomez’ La Flor Dominicana and the sophisticated, balanced complexity of Boris Wintermans’ Balmoral cigars.”
Like Dueto, Paso Doble incorporates tobaccos both Wintermans and Gomez work with.  It incorporates tobaccos from Gomez’s La Canela farms and Brazilian tobacco that is a staple of Wintermans’ blend. The cigar features an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, Ecuadorian Sumatra binder, and fillers from the Dominican Republic and Brazil.  It will be available in three sizes presented in 10-count boxes – Robusto, Gran Toro, and Brindis. Production is handled at Tabacalera La Flor.

H. Upmann 175th Anniversary to Debut at 2019 IPCPR

With 2019 marking 175 years of the H. Upmann brand, Altadis U.S.A. has announced a special commemorative limited cigar appropriately called the H. Upmann 175th Anniversary. The cigar will make its debut at the 2019 IPCPR Trade Show in Las Vegas.
This cigar has its origins back in Cuba. German banker Herman Upmann had moved to Havana, Cuba to open a branch for his family bank. After creating some cigars for his clients, he developed a passion for working with tobacco. That led him in 1844 to start his own cigar brand with his brother August, and the two eventually would open their own cigar factory in Havana.
For the 175th Anniversary cigar, Altadis U.S.A. turned to AJ Fernandez, who has been involved in several projects for the company, including the H. Upmann Nicaragua by AJ Fernandez. Fernandez delivered a Nicaraguan puro featuring a high priming Media Tiempo wrapper (a priming that grows above the ligero leaves on a very small percentage of plants.)
The H. Upmann 175th Anniversary comes in one size – a 7 x 50 Churchill priced at $18.00 SRP per cigar. A total of 14,750 ten-count boxes will be made. In addition, 50 special 50-count humidors containing the cigar will also be made available retailing at $1,250.00 per unit.
While 2019 is the 175th anniversary of the brand, Altadis U.S.A. has been busy for over a year with the brand. In anticipation of the 175th milestone, Altadis U.S.A. released the H. Upmann Connecticut Grupo de Maestros. In addition this year Altadis U.S.A is relaxing the H. Upmann Hispaniola by Jose Mendez which will also debut at the 2019 IPCPR Trade Show.
The 2019 IPCPR Trade Show opens June 29th in Las Vegas, Nevada. Following the trade show, the H. Upmann 175th Anniversary will ship to retailers in July.

Aganorsa Leaf to Launch JFR Lunatic Loco at 2019 IPCPR

At the 2019 IPCPR Trade Show, Aganorsa Leaf will introduce three unique giant perfecto sizes under its JFR Lunatic line collectively known as Lunatic Loco. The cigars will be highlighted by Aganorsa’s Leaf proprietary Shade Grown Corojo Maduro wrapper grown on its Aganorsa Farms in Jalapa, Nicaragua.
The new Lunatic Loco sizes include perfectos measuring: 4 3/4 x 60, 4 3/4 x 70, and 5 1/2 x 80. The Shade Grown Corojo Maduro wrapper is something Aganorsa Leaf has recently introduced. For many years, Aganorsa Leaf has sourced most of its maduro leaves from Mexico, but with the Shade Grown Corojo Maduro, Aganorsa Leaf is using its own maduro wrapper grown in Jalapa. This wrapper was recently unveiled on the Aganorsa Leaf Signature Maduro.
The remainder of the blend for Lunatic Loco also features 100% Aganorsa farm tobacco.
Each of the three sizes is packaged in boxes of ten cigars. Pricing will range from $8.70-$9.99 SRP.

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Espinosa Wasabi Corona Heading to Stores This Month

This month, fans of Espinosa Cigars’s candela offering the Espinosa Wasabi will have a new size to look forward to. Today the company has announced a new 5 x 46 rounded corona will become the second size of the Wasabi line.
The Wasabi Corona joins the 6 x 52 box-pressed robust as offerings in the line. Like the box-pressed robust, the Corona blend features the same blend highlighted by a candela wrapper. The Corona will be available in ten-count boxes. Pricing is set at $6.99 per cigar or $69.99 per box. The company describes the production of the Wasabi as limited.
The Espinosa Wasabi Box Pressed Robusto originally had a limited release as a part of the company’s Backroom Series, a series of cigars for Espinosa-branded lounges. Last year, Espinosa Cigars brought back the Box-Pressed Toro for a limited production run.
Espinosa Cigars also says the Wasabi Corona will be available for retailers to order at the 2019 IPCPR Trade Show.

Crowned Heads La Coalición to Debut at 2019 IPCPR

At the 2019 IPCPR Trade Show in Las Vegas, Crowned Heads will debut its first regular production cigar out of Drew Estate’s La Gran Fabrica known as La Coalición. The name coalicíon is Spanish for coalition, and it’s appropriate for this cigar in that it is positioned as a collaborative project between Crowned Heads and Drew Estate
The cigar features a Grade A Dark Connecticut Broadleaf, a Sumatra binder, and fillers from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. It will come in four sizes: Corona (5 x 46), Gordito (5 1/2 x 50), Siglo (6 x 52), and Sublime (6 1/2 x 54). Pricing is set from $10.95 to $14.95 per cigar.
Since its inception, Crowned Heads has worked with Ernesto Perez-Carrillo Jr’s Tabacalera La Alianza and the Garcia family My Father Cigars’ factory. While these partnerships continue, over the past year the company has started to work with other manufacturing partners, most notably Drew Estate. Crowned Heads’ Ohio regional release Buckeye Land and the Hawaii exclusive Paniolo 2019 have been produced by Drew Estate. However La Coalición represents the first regular production cigar to come out of Drew Estate for Crowned Heads
While Crowned Heads has done several limited edition projects, La Coalición marks the first new regular production line for Crowned Heads since the Four Kicks Maduro in 2017.

Miami Cigar & Company to Bring Back Don Lino Africa

As a part of the company’s 30th anniversary celebration, Miami Cigar and Company has announced it will bring back its Don Lino Africa line. This time Miami Cigar and Company will partner with AJ Fernandez to handle production of the line. Don Lino Africa will officially have its return at the 2019 IPCPR Trade Show.
“Anyone that knows Nestor knows his love of travel, and years ago his travels to the African continent inspired his creation of Don Lino Africa, ” said Jason Wood, Miami Cigar & Company Vice President in a press release. “Africa was an extremely popular line for us, and it made sense as part of our continued 30th anniversary celebration in 2019 that we bring it back to light. From the blend, to the boxes, store pieces, and presentation Africa was a complete work of art and our goal at the beginning was to see to it that the customer can experience all that once again.”
Fernandez has revamped the blend and it now features an Ecuadorian Habano 200 wrapper, an African Cameroon binder, and a combination of Piloto Dominicano, Ometepe, Jalapa, and Estelí fillers. It will be available in four box-pressed sizes and is expected to ship in September.
“There is a mystery and depth to Africa that captivates my spirit, always drawing me to come back,” added Miami Cigar Company co-founder Nestor Miranda. “This blend captures the way going there makes me feel. It’s truly an amazing, even mesmerizing cigar.”

Tabacalera G. Kafie y Cia Renamed to Tabacalera La Unión

Tabacalera G. Kafie y Cia is going to have a new name. Dr. Gaby Kafie has announced the factory is being renamed Tabacalera La Unión.
Kafie says the reason for the name change is that the factory has grown from producing its own brands (Kafie 1901 and San Jerónimo Cigars) to now handling production for eight other brands.
“Both the Ferrera family of Honduras and the Kafie family of Honduras have joined forces to build a completely vertical cigar factory. Together we are stronger. It is not about 1 person or 1 brand, it’s about all of us helping each other achieve new heights,” commented Kafie on his Facebook page.
The name La Unión refers to a small fishing village on the Pacific coast of El Salvador. It’s where Kafie’s father was born and its the place where the Kafie family had first settled in Central America. La Unión also means “the union” in English.

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A.J. Fernandez Días de Gloria to Launch at 2019 IPCPR

At the 2019 IPCPR Trade Show in Las Vegas, A.J. Fernandez Cigar Company will have a full launch of a new line known as “Días de Gloria”.
The name translates to “days of glory”. According to a report by Cigar Aficionado,. the name pays homage to the period of Cuban history prior to the 1959 Cuban revolution. It’s a cigar that incorporates tobaccos from four of Fernandez’s farms in Nicaragua: Finca los Cedros, Finca los Cedros, La Lilia, La Providencia 1, and La Soledad.
The cigars come in four sizes: Robusto (5 1/2 x 52), Toro (6 x 56), Gordo (6 x 58), and Short Churchill (6 1/2 x 48). Production is handled out of the Tabacalera Fernandez factory in Estelí, Nicaragua.
Dias de Gloria had a limited release a few years ago following the enactment of the deeming rule regulations by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

My Father La Promesa to Launch at 2019 IPCPR

At the 2019 IPCPR Trade Show, My Father Cigars will launch its seventh regular production cigar branded under the “My Father” name, the My Father La Promesa.
La Promesa translates to “The Promise.” According to a report by Cigar Aficionado, La Promesa features an Ecuadorian Habano Oscuro wrapper over Nicaragua tobaccos owned by the Garcia family farms in Nicaragua. The cigars are available in five sizes – each presented in 20-count boxes. Pricing is set between $7.80 and $10.00. In addition, the cigars were released in small quantities prior to the implementation of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Deeming Rule.

J.C. Newman to Launch The American

One of the most anticipated projects in the premium cigar market will finally have an official launch. It’s a cigar called The American, and it comes from J.C. Newman Cigar Company. It’s a project spearheaded by Drew Newman, the son of co-owner Eric Newman, under his Fourth Generation Cigar Company Project. The American is not only the resurrection of an old brand produced by J.C. Newman, but it’s a name that is appropriate because it is a truly a U.S. project through and through.
For starters, the blend consists of 100% American grown tobacco. This is highlighted by a Florida Sun Grown (FSG) wrapper grown on the farm owned by Jeff Borysiewicz. It’s the first major project where the FSG leaf is being used for a wrapper. It also features a Connecticut Broadleaf binder grown by eighth-generation family farmer Jon Foster in South Windsor, Connecticut. Finally, the filler consists of a blend of Foster’s Connecticut Havana tobacco and Lancaster Pennsylvania tobacco grown by the Mennonites.
Second, the cigar is rolled at the Newman’s 109-year old El Reloj factory in Ybor City in Tampa, Florida. In recent years, machine-made cigars have been the focus of production at El Reloj, however, a small number of pairs have been brought in to make The American entirely by-hand. Incidentally, The American is the name of the first cigar brand rolled at the historic factory.
Besides the tobacco and the production being U.S. based, just about everything else about The American also originates from the U.S. The boxes are produced by Millennium Wood Box in Miami, Florida; the bands come from Printing Action Label in Sanford, Florida; the molds used for The American come from HSA Cigar Molds in Dade City Florida; and the cellophane tubes come from Technical Packaging in Nanticoke, Pennsylvania.
The cigar is being released in four sizes: Robusto: 4 1/2 x 50, Toro: 6 x 54, Torpedo: 6 1/8 x 52,amd Churchill: 7 x 47 – each presented in 20-count boxes.

IPCPR Announces Date Change for 2020 Convention & Trade Show

The International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers (IPCPR) announced a date change for its 2020 Convention & Trade Show. The new dates will be scheduled for July 10 through July 14, 2020.
Last year the IPCPR Trade Show announced that the 2019 and 2020 Trade Shows were moving back to the Sands Convention Center. While the change of venue was welcome, some date changes that came along with that were not well received. This year’s show takes place June 29 through July 2, 2019. The 2020 show was originally scheduled for June 27 through June 30, 2020. The new July 10th start date for the 2020 show pushes the show out two weeks to a time period that IPCPR has traditionally scheduled in the past.
Complaints about the original dates were focused around it being too close to the July 4th holiday and at the tail-end of graduation season in the Northeast.

George Sosa Departs Alec Bradley

George Sosa Vice President of Sales and a long-time fixture at the company has resigned.
“I would like to thank George for his many years of service,” Alec Bradley founder, Alan Rubin said in a press release. “Over the last 12 plus years, George has been an integral part of the brand; increasing both domestic and international sales. The wind down plan was in place over the last few months. On behalf of the Alec Bradley family, I would like to wish George the best of luck in his future endeavors!”
No replacement for Sosa has been announced at press time.

White Hat Cigars Adds Todd Vance and Erica Arroyo

White Hat Cigars has hired Todd Vance as Vice President of Sales and Erica Arroyo as Director of Marketing and Social Media. Both were most recently with Cornelius & Anthony Cigars.
Vance is the former National Sales Manager for AJ Fernandez and Director of Sales for Cornelius & Anthony. Ironically, Vance replaced Drake at Cornelius & Anthony when Drake departed to found White Hat Cigars.e.
Arroyo served as Cornelius & Anthony’s Social Media Director and now also joins White Hat and the Robaina Family of brands. Arroyo commented, “Social media marketing in the cigar industry has taught me a lot about quality products and what the culture looks for in a company. I’m thankful for this new opportunity and super excited for what’s to come with The Robaina Family of Brands.”e.
White Hat Cigars is best known for distributing the HR and Soneros cigar brands.

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Courtney Smith & Todd Vance Out at Cornelius & Anthony After Major Staffing Shakeup

Courtney Smith and Todd Vance, two key players at Cornelius & Anthony, are no longer with the company. The move came yesterday as result of a shakeup of the sales force within the company.
Smith was Cornelius & Anthony’s Smith Director of Business Development. She came to the company in 2015 after spending five years as Vice President at La Palina Cigars. During her tenure, much of the brand development that took place at Cornelius & Anthony was under her watch.
Vance came to Cornelius & Anthony a few months after Smith as the company’s Director of Sales. Prior to that, he was Vice President of Sales at AJ Fernandez Cigars.
In a letter to retailers, the company said “Courtney and Todd played a vital role in the launch and expansion of Cornelius & Anthony. Their industry insight was significant to our growth and we wish them success in their future endeavors.”
In addition, Cigar Coop has learned that most of the salaried sales force has been let go, but the cigar brokers who represented the brand have remained.
The move comes almost two months after the Bailey family, who owns Cornelius & Anthony sold its cigarette operation, S&M Brands.

Altadis U.S.A to Release Trinidad Espiritu

Add Trinidad to the list of classic brands AJ Fernandez has developed blends for. Today Altadis U.S.A. announced it is once again partnering with Fernandez, this time on the Trinidad Espiritu. It’s a release that coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Trinidad brand and also celebrates vintage Caribbean culture.
The cigar itself is a Nicaraguan puro. It is available in four sizes (Robusto, Toro, Belicoso, and Magnum) plus one event-only size (a Fundador Lancero). The event-only size will be a part of a series of nationwide events with a retro-Latin Caribbean theme. The vintage Latin Caribbean music used for the events is available on Spotify.
The cigars are packaged in 20-count boxes reflecting a vintage Latin Caribbean theme. The cigar is officially called Series No. 1. Cigar Aficionado is reporting the No. 1 represents that the Espiritu will be part of a three-part series.
Trinidad joins Montecristo, Romeo y Julieta, H. Upmann, and Gispert as brands Altadis U.S.A. has teamed up with Fernandez on.

Kristoff Cigars to Add Kristoff Shade Grown

This year, Kristoff Cigars will add a  line into its portfolio known as the Kristoff Shade Grown.
The Kristoff Shade Grown is highlighted by a Connecticut Shade grown wrapper cultivated in Honduras. The remainder of the blend consists of a Dominican binder and fillers from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. The cigar will be available in three sizes: Robusto (5 1/2 x 54), Churchill (7 x 50), and Matador (6 1/2 x 56).
Kristoff National Sales Manager Jarrid Trudeau described the profile of the Kristoff Shade Grown to Cigar Coop as “Mild-Medium.”
The Kristoff Shade Grown is expected to be showcased at the 2019 IPCPR Trade Show.

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Villiger Cigars North America Will Not Attend 2019 IPCPR Trade Show

A major company will be passing on this year’s IPCPR Trade Show and Convention. Today, in an open letter from Villiger Cigars North America President Rene Castañeda, he announced his company would not be attending this year’s trade show.
In the letter, Castañeda explains his company will direct its efforts toward the Tobacco Products Expo (TPE) in Las Vegas this coming January. Castañeda explained that IPCPR is focused around the premium hand-made cigar segment. While he reaffirmed Villiger’s commitment to that segment, he also noted Villiger also has cigarillo and machine-made segments and thus has decided to focus on TPE.
With Villiger skipping the 2019 IPCPR Trade Show, it is one of the larger companies to stay home from IPCPR in recent years.

Imperial Brands Announces Plans to Sell Premium Cigar Division

Imperial Brands PLC has announced it is selling its worldwide premium cigar business. The move comes almost one year since the company first announced plans for divestiture opportunities.
Imperial Brands premium cigar business includes brands of Tabacalera Premium Cigars, Altadis U.S.A., JR Cigars, Casa de Montecristo retail operations, Santa Clara Cigars, and Imperial’s 50% stake in Habanos S.A. The company also owns two factories, Tabacalera de Garcia in the Dominican Republic and Flor de Copan in Honduras, both of which will be a part of the sale.
Imperial Brands will remain focused on its cigarette business.
According to a press release by Imperial “Premium Cigars has performed well over a number of years with good revenue and profit growth; however, it is a unique luxury business with a different consumer base and route to market relative to Imperial’s other businesses. The sale of the business provides an attractive opportunity to realize shareholder value.”
Imperial says the divestment program will pay down debt, and where appropriate invest in its own growth agenda. Under the program, Imperial expects to generate proceeds of £2 billion by May 2020, if not earlier.

Crowned Heads Las Calaveras EL 2019 Slated for June Release

For the sixth year in a row, Crowned Heads will have a release of its annual limited edition cigar, Las Calaveras. Since it was introduced in 2014, each release has featured a different wrapper. For the Crowned Heads Las Calaveras EL 2019, the release features an Ecuadorian Habano Oscuro wrapper, the wrapper used on the first release of Las Calaveras. The cigars are scheduled to reach retail shelves in June.
Las Calaveras pays homage to those who have passed away over the past year. As opposed to being a mournful symbol, it is intended to be a celebration of those lives and remembrances of those who are no longer with us. In the past, the bands of each release of Las Calaveras have contained the initials of four individuals who have passed away. This year, the cigar contains the initials of one person – the late Cano Ozgener, founder of CAO Cigars who passed away last June. Crowned Heads co-founders Jon Huber and Mike Conder both worked with Ozgener at CAO Cigars.
In addition to the Ecuadorian Habano Oscuro wrapper, the Las Calaveras EL 2018 features a 100% Nicaraguan binder and filler. The cigars will be available in three sizes LC46 (6 x 46, $10.50, LC 50 (5 x 50, $ 11.75), and LC54 (5 1/2 x 54m $12.95). Each is presented in 24-count boxes. A total of 1,700 boxes per size will be produced.
In addition, an exclusive 6 1/8 x 52 size will be included in a four-cigar sampler that also contains one of each of the other three sizes. A total of 2,500 samplers have been produced.
Production once again comes from the My Father Cigars S.A. factory.

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Aganorsa Leaf Signature Maduro Coming this Summer
(Covered with Terence)

This summer, Aganorsa Leaf will debut a maduro offering under its Aganorsa Leaf Signature line. While Aganorsa Leaf has done madras before, this will mark the first time it is using one one of its Agrnorsa farm corojo leaves as a maduro wrapper for one of its releases.
The Aganorsa Leaf Signature incorporates tobaccos found in the original Aganorsa Leaf signature covered by a proprietary Shade Grown Corojo Maduro Leaf. The wrapper was selected from higher primings of Corojo 99 Cuban seed grown on the Aganorsa Leaf farms in Jalapa, Nicaragua under shade. The leaf was then naturally cured for a long period of time to produce a maduro wrapper.
The cigar will come in four sizes: Robusto (5 x 52), Toro (6 x 52), Corona Gorda (6 x 44), and a Belicoso/109 Head (6 1/4 x 52 – each presented in 20 count boxes. Pricing ranges from $9.99 to $10.99. The Aganorsa Leaf Signature Maduro will be released in allotments with a 250 box allotment scheduled to ship this summer.

Alec Bradley Project 40 Heading for Global Release in May

Next month Alec Bradley will have a global release of the Alec Bradley Project 40 line. It’s a cigar that is not only a value-priced line, but one that is a change of pace cigar for Alec Bradley.
Project 40 was conceived by Alec Bradley founder Alan Rubin. According to Alec Bradley, “Project 40 is not just a line, but a concept representative of the search to find a deeper understanding as to why cigars have a positive cognitive impact on the mind and body.”
According to Alec Bradley, Rubin believes that similar to music, cigars have a calming effect that allows connoisseurs to feel in control and rewarded. As a result, specific tobaccos were selected and blended to bring a cigar to market showcasing the qualities Project 40 represents.
The blend is somewhat a departure from what has been seen with Alec Bradley. It features a Nicaraguan Colorado wrapper over a Brazilian Habano binder and Nicaraguan fillers. The cigar is being produced at the J. Fuego Cigar Co. de Nicaragua located in Estelí, Nicaragua.
The name Project 40 comes from a theory that 40 percent of one’s happiness can be influenced by intentional thoughts and actions, leading to life-changing habits. Incorporating this theme, Rubin says the mantra for Project 40 is “Take control of your happiness.”

Montecristo Espada Oscuro Slated for May Release

Altadis U.S.A. has announced the next installment under its Montecristo Espada line, the Montecristo Espada Oscuro. The new release is slated to hit retail shelves in May.
It was back in 2014 when the Montecristo Espada first was introduced. Produced at the Plasencia factory in Estelí, Nicaragua, it not only marked the first time a Montecristo was produced in Nicaragua, but it would be the first Montecristo to feature all Nicaraguan tobacco.  Like the original Espada, the Montecristo Espada is also a Nicaraguan puro produced at Plasencia, but it uses a special Habano Rosado Oscuro wrapper that was uncovered at the Plasencia factory. Altadis U.S.A. Head of Product Capability Rafael Nodal worked with Pedro Ventura of Altadis’ Grupo de Maestros team and the Plasencias to develop the final blend.
The Montecristo Espada Oscuro is available in three sizes: Ricasso (5 x 54, $13.27 MSRP); Guarde (6 x 50, $13.80 MSRP), and Quillon (7 x 56, $14.60). Each size is presented in 10-count boxes.

Diesel Whiskey Row Sherry Cask Coming in June

Last year General Cigars and Rabbit Hole Distillery collaborated for the Diesel Whiskey Row. This year, the two companies are once again teaming up for a second collaboration known as Diesel Whiskey Row Sherry Cask. The new collaboration is set to ship to all distribution channels beginning June 3, 2019.

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Drew Estate Announces Release of Flying Pig Series for 2019

Drew Estate has announced it is releasing six of its signature Flying Pig releases to its Drew Diplomat retailers. The company also announced it will now be going to a cycle where Flying Pigs will be released twice a year.
The Flying Pigs being shipped include the Liga Privada No. 9, Liga Privada T52, Undercrown (Maduro), Undercrown Shade, and Undercrown Sun Grown blends as we as the return of the Kentucky Fire Cured Flying Pig.
The Flying Pig is a 3 15/16 x 60 (100mm x 60) ring gauge perfecto that is based off an 1895 cigar salesman’s size selection stake. Drew Estate describes it as one of the most difficult cigars Draw Estate has made as it requires specialized training by the buncheros at rollers at the La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate facility in Estelí, Nicaragua.
The company has also said the Flying Pigs will now be released twice a year with targeted Fall and Spring releases.

La Aurora 115th Anniversary Limited Edition Cigars Hit U.S.

At the 2018 Inter-Tabac Trade Show, La Aurora Cigars debuted a line to commemorate 115 years in operation. The cigars are appropriately called the La Aurora 115th Anniversary. Now the two limited edition installments of the series are heading to distribution – the Belicoso and the Gran Toro.
Both 115th Anniversary Limited Edition Cigars consist of an Ecuadorian Corojo wrapper, a Dominican binder from the Cibao Valley, and a combination of fillers from the Cibao Valley and Brazil. The Belicoso measures 6 1/4 x 52 and is available in 15-count boxes. A total of 500 boxes have been made available for the U.S. market. Pricing is $18.67 MSRP.
Meanwhile, there are two other sizes in the series, a Robusto and Churchill, that use a different blend and are regular production. Currently, these are not available in the U.S. market.

Alan Rubin Acquires Lars Tetens Brands

Alan Rubin, best known as the founder of Alec Bradley Cigar Company has announced he has acquired Lars Tetens Brands. As a part of the acquisition, a separate company is being formed between Rubin and Lars Tetens. In addition, a strategic partnership between Alec Bradley and the new company where Alec Bradley will now handle distribution for the brands of Lars Tetens.
Tetens has over thirty years in the cigar business. He is best known for making premium flavored cigars which he refers to as “conditioned.” Tetens is also known for his bespoke leather, clothing, and horological lines. He also is known for his artistic, musical, and culinary talents.
Under the agreement, Rubin will be the primary owner and Tetens maintaining a minority stake.
Financial terms of the agreement are not being disclosed.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell To Introduce Senate Bill to Raise Tobacco Purchase Age to 21

The Senate has introduced its bill to raise the tobacco purchase age to 21, and it will have a very powerful sponsor. Yesterday, Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell [R-Kentucky] announced he will introduce the Tobacco 21 bill.  This bill joins House Bill 2084 that was introduced by Rep Robert Aderholt [R-Alabama] to raise the tobacco purchase age to 21 as well as HR 2339 introduced by Representatives Frank Pallone  Donna Shalala [D-Florida] that includes language to raise the tobacco purchase age.
McConnell introduced the plans for a bill at a press conference this past Thursday.
The planned McConnell bill is the latest development in the steamrolling Tobacco 21 movement.as 11 states have raised the tobacco purchase age to 21.

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Thompson Cigar Tampa Operations Shutting Down

Last year, Scandinavian Tobacco Group (STG) acquired long-time online retailer Thompson Cigar. Now STG has begun the process of consolidating its retail operations and as a result, Thompson Cigar’s Tampa-based operations will shut down and result in a layoff of the supporting staff.
STG is also the owner of Cigars International, the massive retail operation located in Eastern Pennsylvania which is where STG will consolidate its online retail operations. The consolidation effort will include shutting down Thompson’s warehouse and retail operations as well as laying off the 112 employees based in Tampa.  The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity was given notice on Friday of the pending layoffs. Employees being laid off include warehouse staff, retail staff, Human Resources, IT, and administrative staff.
The Tampa Bay Times is reporting 82 employees will lose their jobs on June 29th, with the remainder of the shutdown done in phases scheduled to compete by the end of the year.
STG announced the acquisition of Thompson Cigar on January 31, 2018. The transaction officially closed in April. The purchase price was 62 million USD.

Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust to Release Sobremesa Brûlée

For those who were waiting for Steve Saka to release his first Connecticut Shade cigar, the wait is over. However, for those who were expecting a new-age Connecticut cigar in the mold of the bold cigars Saka is known for, that will not be the case. This week on a Facebook video, Saka announced  Sobremesa Brûlée, a Connecticut Shade cigar, will make its debut at the 2019 IPCPR Trade Show.
According to Saka, he was looking for a blend that “reminded me of those blends I was smoking in the 80s and very early 90s.” Sobremesa Brûlée is described by Saka as a cigar that captured that sentiment that he had when he first started smoking cigars.
In a day when we hear about many Connecticut Shade cigars not being “your father or grandfather’s Connecticut”, Saka says “this is exactly what your father and grandfather’s Connecticut was like.”. It’s a mild plus cigar that he says is creamier and more flavorful than the new age Connecticut Shade cigars.
The Sobremesa Brûlée will be available in three traditional sizes – Robusto, Toro, and Gordo.
Saka also announced a pair of line extensions to Mi Querida known as Trique Traca. These are bolder versions of the Mi Queria also set to debut at the 2019 IPCPR Trade Show.

H.R.1854 Introduced for 116th Congress to Exempt Premium Cigars from FDA Regulation

It took a while but the House of Representatives now has a companion bill to the Senate Bill released earlier this year to exempt premium cigars from regulation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The bill was introduced by Representatives Bill Posey and Kathy Castor.
H.R. 1854 joins Senate Bill  S.9 introduced by Senator Marco Rubio at the start of Congress as bills calling for an exemption on premium cigars.
Every two years when a new Congress is in session, it becomes necessary to reintroduce previous pending bills in order the keep proposed legislation alive. This is the fifth Congress to which this bill has been presented.
At press time the bill has 34 co-sponsors.

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Nat Sherman to Release Epoca Reserva

 Nat Sherman’s Epoca brand is getting a second offering. Today Nat Sherman announced it is releasing the Epoca Reserva, a reincarnation of the Nat Sherman 1930 line.
In a press release, Michael Herklots, Vice President of Nat Sherman International commented, “This is a welcomed addition to the Epoca brand. It is much richer and fuller-bodied than our classic Epoca blend, but still quite complex and refined.”
The press release goes on to say, “This is the final step in the brand realignment project we successfully executed in 2018. Formerly known as ‘Nat Sherman 1930’, these incredible cigars will surely suit the Epoca brand well and set it up for continued growth for the long term. The blends remain unchanged from their original version and will share the same vitola names as they did under the 1930 brand.”
The blend for the Epoca Reserva consists of a Dominican grown wrapper, Dominican binder, and fillers from the Dominican Republic. It will be available in five sizes priced from $9.95 to $17.00. Shipping to retailers begins in the late spring.
It was in 2014 when Nat Sherman brought back the Epoca brand. Epoca was the first brand owned by Nat Sherman. At the time it was a “Clear Havana” using Cuban tobaccos and a domestic wrapper. When Epoca returned, the goal was to capture the essence of the original Clear Havana release.

2019 TAA Exclusive Series

Boutique U.S. Factories and CRA Form Coalition of American Rollers

At the end of the 19th century, there were 42,000 cigar factories in the U.S. Now with only around 50 remaining, a group of them have, along with Cigar Rights of America, have joined together and founded “The Coalition of American Cigar Rollers.”
The goal of the Coalition is to advocate against regulation that threatens the survival of these remaining factories in the U.S. The organization will employ a strategy that includes: Briefings for each of their state governors, letters and briefing for their delegation to the U.S. Congress, outreach and meetings with the Trump Administration, and engaging their customers in the fight against federal regulation into the artisan craft of premium handmade cigars. Currently, the  Coalition of American Cigar Rollers includes thirty-six companies from sixteen states.
Heading up the organization will be two prominent small factory owners: Danny Difabio, owner of the Rodriguez Cigar Factory in Key West, Florida and Sandy Cobas, owner of El Titan de Bronze cigars in Miami. Other prominent cigar factories in the U.S. who have been listed as charter members include Aganorsa Leaf Miami,  El Titan de Bronze, EL Rey de Los Habanos, and J.C. Newman Cigar Company.
In a press release announcing the Coalition, Difabio stated, “This is an important new step. The Cigar Aficionado story brought national attention to our very presence, and the skilled artisans that we each employ. The cigars produced in our small factories are among the best in the world, and made in America. That’s our message to the President’s Administration, Congress, our governors, and customers throughout the nation. We just want to continue this art form that has been passed down from generation to generation.”

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Dr. Scott Gottlieb Addresses His Resignation as FDA Commissioner

Dr. Scott Gottlieb appeared on a videocast with The Hill where he addressed his resignation as FDA Commissioner. Dr. Gottlieb confirmed the reasons he was leaving were due to the toll the job was taking on his family. Each week, he was commuting to Washington, DC from his home in Westport, Connecticut, leaving only weekends with his family. “Two years of that got hard. It got hard on the family.”  Gottlieb also denied he was leaving due to any policy differences with the Trump Administration.
Dr. Gottlieb addressed the tweet he made in January where he denied he was leaving the job as FDA Commissioner. In the interview, Gottlieb backed off that denial and acknowledged he was considering leaving, but timing became an issue.
“Timing wise. That tweet you alluded to was out during the shutdown. I certainly wasn’t going to be leaving during the shutdown. Just looking at the calendar, it became too hard to find a week that made sense. I knew I wasn’t going to stay much longer. Every week either I was testifying or the Secretary was testifying and this was a week where we had a break between testimony and it just seemed like the right time to do it,”  commented Dr. Gottlieb in the interview.
Most of the discussion regarding tobacco revolved around vaping and e-cigarettes. While there was no mention of premium cigars, Dr. Gottlieb did say he supported raising the national age to purchase tobacco products to 21.
When asked if he would ever come back Dr. Gottlieb replied, “I’d certainly consider coming back. I need some time home with my family.”
Our story on Dr. Gottlieb’s resignation iFDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb Resigning   

FDA Delays HPHC Testing Compliance Deadline

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has announced it is delaying the November 8, 2019 deadline for cigar and and pipe tobacco manufacturers to report Harmful and Potentially Harmful Constituents (HPHC) in their products. The deadline has been extended six months for large manufacturers and nine months for small manufacturers after the FDA releases the guidance on how this testing should occur.
HPHC testing is considered to be the most costly of the regulations imposed by the FDA on the cigar industry. The cigar industry had argued against these regulations, and in particular, the November 8th deadline, because the FDA had not provided guidance and that the technology to do such testing on premium cigars did not exist.
During the past few weeks, the Cigar Association of America (CAA), Cigar Rights of America (CRA), and International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers (IPCPR) Association had made several presentations to the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia outlining what they considered to be the unfairness of requiring testing and reporting in the absence of guidance and rules. The trade associations had put a March 11th deadline by which they were going to move for an injunction against the original November 8th deadline if the FDA had not delayed it.
The FDA considers small manufacturers to be companies that produce any regulated tobacco product while having 350 employees or fewer and annual total revenues of $5,000,000 or less.

AVO Improvisation LE19 to Launch in March

This month AVO Cigars will release its annual limited edition cigar for 2019. The cigar will once again be a part of the brand’s AVO Improvisation Series and is appropriately titled the AVO Improvisation LE19.
The cigar is the seventh release under the AVO Improvisation Series. The concept behind this series is to draw inspirations from previous AVO releases to create a whole new cigar. Since 2015, each of the brand’s limited edition releases has been under the Improvisation Series.
The “Improvisation” comes from the cigar molds that are used in the packaging. “Avo Uvezian broke conventions as the first cigar manufacturer to produce an annual limited edition cigar in the year 2001. In honor of his legacy, we decided to “break the mold” once again, with this unique 2019 release.” commented Scott Kolesaire, Director of Marketing at Davidoff of Geneva USA in a press release. “The AVO Improvisation LE19 packaging is inspired by the box pressed cigar molds used to shape the cigars in the rolling process. The cigar’s secondary band draws further inspiration from the mold and ties in this concept with a unique typographic “2019” lockup incorporated into a mold pattern.”
The AVO Improvisation LE19 will feature a box-pressed format in the form of a 6 x 52 Toro. This is the second time in three years a box press will be used as a part of the Improvisation Series. The blend incorporates an Ecuadorian wrapper over a Dominican binder and a combination of Dominican and Peruvian tobaccos. The cigars are packaged in 20-count boxes and a total of 2,500 boxes are being made available for the U.S. market. Pricing is set at $15.00 per cigar.
There will also be a rounded version of the LE19 that will be targeted at the International market outside the U.S.

Davidoff Robusto Real Especiales 7 Returns

Davidoff is once again going back to its past and re-releasing one of its iconic limited editions. Later this month, the company will begin shipping the Davidoff Robusto Real Especiales 7″ a blend first released in 2004.
The “7” in the name refers to the fact that there are seven tobaccos in the blend. The filler has five different Dominican tobaccos wrapped around a Dominican Olor binder. The cigar is finished with an Ecuadorian Habano. The Davidoff Robusto Real Especiales 7 is available in one size – a 5 1/2 x 48. The cigars are presented in ten-count boxes.
There will be 4,000 boxes released or the U.S. market. The cigars begin shipping to the U.S. on March 29th. The cigars will also be available in four packs for global travel retail locations worldwide.

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Crowned Heads The Angel’s Anvil 2019 Announced

Crowned Heads has become the first company to announce it is releasing a cigar for the Tobacconist Association of America (TAA) Exclusive Series for 2019. A new installment of The Angel’s Anvil is planned. The Angel’s Anvil 2019 will be the sixth installment of the series by Crowned Heads for the TAA. The cigars are expected to be made available at the TAA’s Annual Convention  March 17-21 at Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic.
As with the previous five installments, The Angel’s Anvil 2019 comes from Ernesto Perez-Carrillo Jr’s Tabacalera La Alianza factory. For the first time, The Angel’s Anvil will feature a Brazilian Arapiraca wrapper. The remainder of the blend uses an Ecuadorian Sumatra binder and Nicaraguan filler. It will come in one size measuring 6 1/8 x 50. It will be made available in 20-count boxes with pricing per cigar set at $$11.75 per cigar or $235.00 per box SRP.

Michael Cellucci and Quality Importers Part Ways

Quality Importers’ President Michael Cellucci is departing the company.
Cellucci is best known for his tenure at Drew Estate where he rose to the position of President of the company. Cellucci would depart Drew Estate in July 2016 and land six months later at Quality Importers as its company President reporting to CEO Michael Giordano.
In January 2018, in the midst of Cellucci’s tenure at Quality Importers, the company acquired Kansas City-based Xikar, Inc – one of the most recognizable brands in cigar accessories.

Camacho Imperial Stout Barrel Aged Goes National

With virtually no fanfare whatsoever, the Camacho Imperial Stout Barrel Aged has returned – this time as a limited production national release.
Camacho Imperial Stout Barrel-Aged was originally a release done in collaboration with Cigar Dojo and sold exclusively through Smoke Inn. Over the past few weeks, Camacho has been informing retailers the cigar would now be available nationally, and some have reported receiving shipment.
The Camacho Imperial Stout Barrel-Aged uses a corojo leaf aged and fermented in a beer barrel. In this case, the beer is a bourbon barrel-aged version Ten FIDY by Oskar Blues.
The blend for the Camacho Imperial Stout Barrel-Aged is based on the Camacho Triple Maduro blend. The barrel-aged corojo leaves were blended with Brazilian and Dominican maduro leaves. The cigar is finished with an Original Corojo maduro binder, and a San Andrés maduro wrapper. Like the previous release, the Camacho Imperial Stout Barrel-Aged is offered in the same 6 x 50 Toro size. While the Smoke Inn release was sold in ten-count bundles, the national release is available in ten-count boxes

Cigar Industry Officially Files Appeal in FDA Lawsuit

The cigar industry trade associations (Cigar Association of America (CAA), Cigar Rights of America (CRA), and the International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers (IPCPR) have officially filed an appeal in the lawsuit against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s Deeming Regulations. Most specifically, the crux of the lawsuit focuses around the implementation of warning labels on packaging.  The appeal was filed to U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.
Last May the cigar industry took a crushing defeat when U.S. Circuit Court Judge Amit P. Mehta upheld FDA’s warning label and user fee plans. Basically, the judge ruled that the FDA Deeming Rule’s health warning requirements did not violate the TCA (Tobacco Control Act) the APA (Administrative Procedure Act) or the First Amendment. This meant plans were still in place to implement warning label requirement enforcement on August 10th, 2018.
The cigar industry asked for an injunction or delay against warning labels pending an appeal. In a surprise turn of events, on July 6th, 2019 the injunction against implementing warning labels was granted. The injunction was granted by Judge Mehta as the result of another precedent set in a case subsequently ruled in the California Supreme Court. Under the injunction, warning label requirements could not begin until 60 days after the conclusion of the appeal being filed by the cigar trade organizations.
Assuming no delays, summary judgment briefings are scheduled to conclude June 13, 2019, with oral arguments slated for July 11, 2019.

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Quesada 1974 to Debut at ProCigar 2019

Next week, the Dominican Cigar community holds its annual ProCigar festival. Once again, Quesada Cigars will use the event to showcase a signature release for the year. This year, Quesada will unveil Quesada 1974. It’s a cigar that pays homage to the year the company first started producing Dominican cigars, 45 years ago.
The blend for the Quesada 1974 features an Ecuadorian wrapper over a Dominican binder and a combination of Dominican and Nicaraguan fillers. The cigar will be available in four vitolas: Short Robusto, Robusto, Corona, and Lancero. Each is presented in 25-count boxes.
“The combination of Dominican and Nicaraguan fillers makes this blend a medium to full body with rich notes of cedar, pepper and dry fruits. The sweetness comes from blending Dominican and Nicaraguan tobaccos. A great smoke overall”. Said Miguel “Miguelin” Núñez, Production Manager at Quesada Cigars in a press release.
As for the launch schedule for the Quesada 1974, it is scheduled to first be released in Spain. Cigar Aficionado is reporting that Quesada Cigars is planning on a launch for the U.S. market later this year at the 2019 IPCPR Trade Show in Las Vegas scheduled to open June 28 in Las Vegas. A special edition box will be presented when the cigar makes its debut at ProCigar
“This project truly embodies, in my opinion, our heritage and history. A cigar and a presentation that will speak for itself. I hope many of the cigar enthusiasts enjoy it as much as I do,” said Manuel Quesada, President of Quesada Cigars.
Quesada Cigars is known to use the ProCigar festival to do a major release, although last year the company chose not to do so.

Crowned Heads Announces Four Kicks Mule Kick LE 2019

Crowned Heads will be releasing the fourth installment of its limited edition Four Kicks Mule Kick series. This cigar will be the first in the Four Kicks Mule Kick LE 2019 series to feature an Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper.
Mule Kick is an LE that holds a special place in all our hearts,” commented Crowned Heads co-founder Jon Huber in a press release. “We’re always looking towards not necessarily re-inventing the wheel, but how can we innovate and improve upon existing ideas. I’ve always maintained that Ernie (Ernesto Perez-Carrillo Jr.) is the master of Sumatra wrapper and once we smoked the samples, we immediately knew that the Sumatra wrapper added another dimension of flavor and layer of complexity to the Mule Kick blend.”
The remainder of the blend consists of Nicaraguan tobaccos that are a slightly modified blend of the original Crowned Heads Four Kicks Mule Kick 2012 release.
The cigar will be a 5 7/8 x 52 Toro release presented in ten-count boxes. Production is limited to 2,500 boxes. As with previous Mule Kick releases, the cigar is produced at Perez-Carrillo’s Tabacalera La Alianza in the Dominican Republic.
When Mule Kick was first released in 2012, it featured the same blend that was used on Crowned Head’s inaugural release, Four Kicks – but it added a darker priming Ecuadorian Habano wrapper. The Four Kicks Mule Kick Limited Edition 2012 had a limited production of 5,000 cigars and achieved a cult following.  Five years later, the company re-released the cigar as the Four Kicks Mule Kick Limited Edition 2017. Last year, the company switched gears and released the Four Kicks Mule Kick LE 2018 with a Connecticut Habano wrapper.

Virginia Becomes Seventh State to Raise Tobacco Purchase Age to 21

Governor Ralph Northam of the Commonwealth of Virginia has signed into a law a bill that will raise the legal age to purchase tobacco products to age 21.
Virginia joins Hawaii, California, New Jersey, Maine, Oregon, and Massachusetts as states where the tobacco purchase age is now 21.
Based on the Virginia code, any laws passed during the general assembly session will take effect on July 1.
The movement to change the tobacco purchase age to 21 has been something seen across many legislative sessions this past year. It’s a movement supported by Tobacco Free Kids, Tobacco 21, and most recently Altria has announced support for a federally-mandated minimum tobacco purchase age of 21. For the most part, this has not been a battle the premium cigar industry has opted to take up.

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House Bill Introduced That Would Ban Internet Sales and Flavored Tobacco and Raise Taxes

As the 116th Congress came into session on January 8, 2019, a new bill was introduced by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) to House of Representatives that could have devastating consequences for the cigar industry. While H.R. 293 is called the “Youth Vaping Prevention Act of 2019”, it is a bill designed to take extreme actions aimed at reducing the use of all tobacco and e-tobacco products. Included in the bill is language that would ban Internet/mail-order sales, flavored tobacco, and increase taxes.
For banning Internet and mail-order sales, the bill proposes language to modify the Jenkins Act. In its current state, the Jenkins Act bans mail order and Internet sales of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco. Premium cigars, pipe tobacco, e-cigarettes, and other tobacco products are currently exempt to it. H.R. 293 proposes language to remove the exemption.
Late in 2018, DeLauro introduced H.R.7337, the “Stop Tobacco Sales to Youth Act of 2018”. This was a bill that was also aimed at modifying the Jenkins Act to Internet/mail-order sales.  H.R. 293 goes further. It includes language to ban all flavored tobacco, including cigars. Meanwhile, there are proposals to the current tax code that would increase federal taxes on cigars. Currently, cigars weighing more than 3 pounds per thousand, are taxed at 52.75 percent of the price for which sold but not more than 40.26 cents per cigar. H.R. 293 would change it to “$24.78 per pound and a proportionate tax at the like rate on all fractional parts of a pound but not less than 5.033 cents per cigar.”.
DeLauro is a staunch anti-tobacco supporter. She is best remembered for trying to remove an exemption for premium cigars from a proposed Appropriations Bill back in 2016.
Mail Order/Internet sales and flavored tobacco are a large component of business for many retailers and cigar brands. Banning flavored tobacco is already something in the crosshairs of proposed regulations by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
At press time, the Trade Associations of the premium cigar industry have not issued a public statement on the proposed bill.

Aging Room Bin No. 2 Announced

This spring a second installment of the Aging Room Bin is coming – and this one is appropriately titled the Aging Room Bin No. 2. Details of the announcement were first reported by Cigar Aficionado.
Aging Room Bin No. 2 is a project that comes from the Plasencia Cigars factory in Estelí, Nicaragua. It’s a 100% Nicaraguan puro, and the cigar is highlighted by the use of Ometepe tobacco for the binder and filler.
Made at Plasencia Cigars S.A. in Nicaragua, the cigars contain only Nicaraguan leaf. The binder, however, is from Ometepe, as is most of the filler. The rest of the tobacco is from Estelí and Jalapa. According to Rafael Nodal, owner of Boutique Blends who makes Aging Room Cigars, the Ometepe tobacco was used as the basis of the blend.
The Aging Room Bin No. 2 is being released in three sizes: C Major (5 3/4 x 54), B Minor (5 x 52), and Grande (6 x 60). Each size is presented in 20-count boxes. Cigar Aficionado reported the pricing in the range from $11.50 to $12.50 each.
Aging Room Bin No. 2 is the first new blend in the Aging Room Bin line in nearly five years. It was in 2014 when the Aging Room Bin. No. 1 was released. This was a cigar that was produced in Tabacalera Palma in the Dominican Republic. The “Bin” line was inspired by an area of Tabacalera Palma that contained aged tobaccos that would go into the Bin No. 1 line.
The Aging Room Bin No. 2 is the Aging Room second cigar to come out of Plasencia. Last year, the Aging Room Pura Cepa was released.

Gurkha Sales Force to Sell Sindicato and Names Jim Colucci President & COO

Gurkha Cigars will be taking over the sales of Sindicato Cigars. As a part of the announcement, Sindicato Cigars President and CEO Jim Colucci will be taking on a dual role as he will become Gurkha’s new President and Chief Operating Officer (COO)..
Under the agreement the Gurkha sales force will  now begin selling Sindicato products. Colucci said he will also assume the day to day operations of Gurkha reporting to Gurkha CEO Kaizad Hansotia while concurrently keeping his responsibilities at the helm of Sindicato.
Sindicato Cigars was founded in 2013 by a group of 45 retailers wishing to work with leading manufacturers to distribute products to all retail shops. When the company was formed Colucci was named the company’s President and CEO, a role he has held until this day. Prior to that, he spent over three decades with Altadis and its predecessor company, Consolidated Cigar.

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Legendary Roller Maria Sierra Passes Away

Maria Sierra, the acclaimed Cuban roller who built a second career in the United States at the famed iconic El Titan de Bronze factory in Little Havana has passed away. She was 70 years old.
Sierra’s career spanned six decades. She started out as an apprentice at Cuba’s Fabrica de Tabacos El Laguito, which at the time was managed by the late Avelino Lara. Lara was the first director of that factory. In 1966 at El Laguito, Lara handled projects such as the launch of Cohiba in 1966, and the first singularly branded Davidoff of Geneva in 1968. During her tenure at El Laguito, Sierra learned the art of rolling cigars and mastered the difficult skill of rolling the thin ring gauge cigars. Sierra retired in 1998, and over a decade later she would relocate to the United States. She was then hired by El Titan de Bronze, owned by Sandy Cobas. Starting in 2012, she was selected to be the exclusive roller of every La Palina Goldie produced. Sierra remained in that role until her retirement in 2017.
El Titan de Bronze issued a statement, “We at El Titan de Bronze are saddened to hear of the passing of our dear Maria Sierra. Maria was legendary, showcasing her incredible skills and talent throughout her distinguished career, both in Cuba and here with us. Cigar enthusiasts from all over the world came to see her work her craft for the exclusive Goldie series for La Palina Cigars. We were blessed to have called her one of our own. We at El Titan will miss her incredibly her legend will live on forever. Our hearts and prayers go out to her family.”
La Palina Cigars owner Bill Paley also issued a statement, “Maria was a cigar icon and the architect and sole roller of The Goldie, the crown Jewel of the La Palina Cigar company. Maria will be greatly missed.”

MoyaRuiz Hand Gripper Becomes 13th MicroBlend for Smoke Inn

Back in November 2018, MoyaRuiz Cigars announced on KMA Talk Radio it would be producing an installment for Smoke Inn’s MicroBlend Series called The Hand Gripper. Today details of the cigar were announced by Smoke Inn. This is the thirteenth installment of the MicroBlend Series. Plans are for the Hand Gripper to go on sale at Smoke Inn’s “The Great Smoke” event on February 16th.
The Hand Gripper features two cigars connected together to represent a pair of flexing forearm hand grippers. If the concept of connecting two cigars together sounds familiar, this is similar to a project MoyaRuiz did in 2014 with its La Jugada Nunchuck – which had two cigars connected together representing a pair of Nunchucks. MoyaRuiz owns the patent on the Nunchuck cigar concept.
Produced at the La Zona factory, the blend for the Hand Gripper features an Ecuadorian Habano Oscuro wrapper over binder and fillers from Nicaragua. The size of each cigar is a 5. 52 Robusto. A total of 300 numbered boxes were produced. Each box will contain 12 cigars (6 pairs of Hand Grippers) and will be priced at $99.00 MSRP per box.

Black Label Trading Company and Emilio Cigars “Merge

Emilio Cigars is officially joining the Black Label Trading Company family. Today it was announced that Emilio Cigars will be merging with Black Label Trading Company. Under the agreement, Black Label Trading Company will take over the branding and marketing of Emilio Cigars. In addition, all cigar production for Emilio Cigars will move over to Black Label Trading Company’s Fabrica Oveja Negra.
Scott Zucca is the founder of Emilio Cigars. From 2010 through 2015, Gary Griffith served as a the face of the brand in the role of brand developer. During this time Emilio built its own distribution company known as House of Emilio. At its height in 2014, House of Emilio distributed nine blends. In 2015 Griffith retired from the cigar industry. A few months later House of Emilio was rebranded as Boutiques Unified. Shortly afterward, Boutiques Unified took over distribution for Black Label Trading Company. Meanwhile, over the past three years, the distribution arm of House of Emilio streamlined and saw many of the brands it distributed leave. With the sale of Nomad Cigar Company to Ezra Zion, the last two brands remaining in Boutiques Unified were Emilio and Black Label Trading Company (and its associated brand Black Works Studio).
It was also following Griffith’s retirement where the Emilio brand began to streamline its offerings, and come up with a new image. Following the arrangement with Boutiques Unified, Zucca turned to James Brown and Fabrica Oveja Negra to handle its production. This has resulted in projects such as Cavatina, LJZ, and the return of the Grimalkin. Brands such as Emilio AF1, Emilio AF2, and Emilio Suave which were previously produced at Tabacalera Fernandez will have production move to Fabrica Oveja Negra.
Boutiques Unified will continue to handle distribution for Emilio Cigars and Black Label Trading Company.

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Nestor Miranda Special Selection Returning This Spring

Miami Cigar & Company will be celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2019. To commemorate the occasion, the company announced the original line named for its founder Nestor Miranda will be making a return this spring – the Nestor Miranda Special Selection.
According to Miami Cigar & Company, the Habano Rosado wrapper blend will be the one returning. Production will once again be handled out of the My Father Cigars factory Estelí, Nicaragua. While specific sizes haven’t been announced, the line will be offered in “traditional formats” priced in the $7.00 range.
“2019 is going to be an exciting year”, said Jason Wood, Miami Cigar & Company Vice-President in a press release. “We try as much as possible not just to hear customer feedback but to act on it, and one common request was to bring Special Selection back to retail. Customers will know it the moment they see it as well because of our choice to enact very minimal adjustments to packaging and presentation. We can’t wait to share the enthusiasm with cigar enthusiasts again around this line. For now, we’re only bringing back the Habano Rosado, with much more to come this year in celebration of our 30th anniversary at MCC.”
In 2014, when Miami Cigar & Company celebrated its 25th anniversary, the company released the Nestor Miranda Collection. At that time, the line replaced the Nestor Miranda Special Selection line.
“Special Selection is going to be a celebration of Nestor’s work ethic and grind”, added Nate McIntyre, Marketing Coordinator. “‘Here’s to the Hustle’ means something to us. We work every day to reflect that work ethic seen in Nestor even to this day, so we wanted to offer a cigar for the every-day, hardworking people out there who simply love cigars, with a price point allowing anyone to enjoy it.”

Padilla Finest Hour Launching This Month

Padilla Cigar Company has a new line that is inspired by celebrated cigar enthusiast Winston Churchill. This month, Padilla Finest Hour, a three-blend line, will begin to arrive at retailers nationwide.
Padilla Finest Hour draws its inspiration from Churchill’s legendary “This was their finest hour” speech that he delivered to the House of Commons on June 18, 1940 as Great Britain was in the midst of the Second World War.
There will be three blends. The Padilla Finest Hour Connecticut will feature an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper over a double Nicaraguan binder and fillers from Honduras. Finest Hour Sungrown is a 100% Nicaraguan puro highlighted by a Habano seed wrapper. Finally, Finest Hour Oscuro features a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper, double Nicaraguan binder and a combination of Nicaraguan and Honduran fillers. All three blends will be offered in three sizes: Robusto (5 x 52), Toro (6 x 52), and 6 x 60. Each size is presented in 20-count boxes. The company is not disclosing the factory name.
Padilla Cigar Company owner Ernesto Padilla has said a soft launch will be done for Cuban Crafters Cigars (Miami, Florida) Mt. Vernon Tobacco (Baltimore, Maryland); Lordsburg Cigar Lounge  (La Verne, Calfornia), Brown and Sons Premium Cigars (Olympia, Washington), and Lake Worth Cigars (Fort Worth, Texas). A national launch party is scheduled for Casa De Montecristo by Prime Cigar & Whiskey Bar in Miami on January 24.

RoMa Craft Tobac Taking Intemperance Whiskey Rebellion 1794 Line National

RoMa Craft’s Whiskey Rebellion marches on. Yesterday RoMa Craft Tobac co-owner Skip Martin confirmed on Prime Time Episode 82 that the company’s Intemperance Whiskey Rebellion 1794 line is heading national to select retailers.
The line pays homage to the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794. It was in 1791 when the first tax on any product was imposed by the United States federal government on whiskey. When farmers in Western Pennsylvania protested, it led to the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794.
The Intemperance Whiskey Rebellion 1794 made its debut earlier this month as an exclusive cigar for the Cigar Dojo community, distributed by Famous Smoke Shop. The cigar sold out in hours when pre-orders when made available to the Cigar Dojo community. That cigar was a one-time limited edition Robusto size.
A couple of months later, Intemperance Whiskey Rebellion 1794 became a full line exclusive to Famous Smoke Shop in Easton, Pennsylvania. It was released in five sizes, but the original Robusto that was released to Cigar Dojo was never released with the regular line.
Numerous retailers have confirmed to Cigar Coop that the Intemperance Whiskey Rebellion has been offered to them.
There are five sizes: Hamilton (4 x 46), Jefferson (4 1/2  x 52), McFarlane (5 x 50 Perfecto) Bradford (5 x 56), and Washington (5 1/2 x 54). All of the sizes will now be available in 24 count boxes with the exception of Hamilton which will be available in 30 count boxes. THe blend features an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, Indonesian binder, and Dominican and Nicaraguan fillers.
Meanwhile, a second exclusive size in the form of a  6 1/4 x 44 Lonsdale is planned for the Cigar Dojo community in 2018.
For more details on Intemperance Whiskey Rebellion 1794, see our coverage from 2016

D’Crossier Moves Three Lines to ABAM Factory

Pure Aroma Cigars, makers of the D’Crossier brand of cigars will bring production of three of its lines from Costa Rica to the Dominican Republic. Owner Isaias Santana Diaz has said production of the lines will now be handled by the ABAM factory in the Dominican Republic.
The three blends moving are the D’Crossier Imperium Class Vintage, the D’Crossier Pennsylvania Avenue, and the Flor de D’Crossier Enormous 360. These lines will now incorporate a 2008 vintage dark wrapper grown in the San Andres region of Mexico. The wrappers have been aged in rum barrels and have been part of a project in process for the past few years
It was in 2017 when Diaz started working with the ABAM factory for his blends. ABAM is the factory best known for making several of Villiger Cigars’ premium lines. The factory is run by José Matias Maragoto, who has been collaborating with Diaz on the project.

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Drew Estate Brings Back Herrera Esteli Norteño Edicion Limitada Churchill

Drew Estate has announced the return of the Herrera Esteli Norteño Edicion Limitada Churchill. It’s a cigar that was last released in a limited run back in 2015.
The Herrera Esteli Norteño Edicion Limitada Churchill is a 7x 48 box-pressed vitola that features what the company terms a “modified” blend of the original Herrera Esteli Norteño. This includes a San Andres wrapper, a Honduran binder, and a mix of Nicaraguan fillers. According to Drew Estate, the cigars were rolled in 2016 and have been aging in the molds for the past two years.
The cigars are packaged in 15-count boxes featuring the new box design introduced to Norteño this past summer. Pricing is set at $217.96 per box.

Espinosa Crema Rabito Announced

A new size is coming to the Espinosa Crema line. On Tuesday, Espinosa announced it is adding the Espinosa Crema Rabito offering.
The Rabito is a size that is a 6 x 46 Corona Gorda featuring a pig-tail. It’s a size that was made popular in the Espinosa Murcielago line. It is the fourth size to be offered in the Crema line.
The Espinosa Crema line was launched in 2016 with a milder profile in mind.  Made at the company’s La Zona factory, the Espinosa Crema uses a Connecticut Shade wrapper from Ecuador over Nicaraguan binder and fillers.  The Crema Rabito now joins the original three sizes: Robusto (5 1/2 x 52), Toro Grande (6 x 56), and Churchill (7 x 48).
The Espinosa Crema Rabito will be presented in ten-count boxes. Pricing is set at $84.00 MSRP per box ($8.40 MSRP per cigar).

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Jack Toraño Joins Espinosa Cigars as Director of Sales

Once again – Jack is back. Today Espinosa Cigars announced that industry veteran Jack Toraño will be its new Director of Sales effective January 2, 2019.
“I’ve known Jack for years, he will bring a different dynamic to the company and having him on board is a perfect fit for us. Jack will be a huge asset, traveling the country, promoting the brand, reaching new customers and growing existing accounts,” said company president Erik Espinosa in a press release.
“This is definitely the right move for us, we have been waiting to fill this role and I am very excited about what Jack brings to the table,” added company vice-president Erik Espinosa Jr.
Jack Toraño stated, “It’s no secret that I’ve been a big fan of Erik and Espinosa Cigars for a long time. We came close to collaborating on a cigar in 2014 and I’ve always remained very close to the Espinosa Team. Working for Espinosa Cigars is something I’ve thought about for years. The time has finally arrived and I’m so excited about this new chapter in my life and look forward to helping continue to grow this wonderful brand.”
“This is a great time for our company. I am very excited about this move because Jack brings us immediate customer credibility and another strong sales presence alongside Erik’s. His rapport with consumers, as well with sales staff will be very impactful. I am very excited about 2019, very excited”, says Hector Alfonso Sr.
In his new role, Toraño will be traveling throughout the country and overseeing Espinosa sales representatives and brokers; as well as coordinating cigar events and festivals nationwide.
Toraño joined his cousins Carlos and Charlie Toraño in the cigar business in 2011 as Marketing Manager at Toraño Family Cigars. Following the acquisition of the Torano brands by General Cigar in 2014, Torano joined Duran Cigars as a Marketing and Sales Manager. In June 2016, Toraño reunited with his family’s brand when he joined General Cigar in a consultative role as Brand Ambassador for Toraño before that turned into a permanent role six months later. Just before the close of 2018, Toraño parted ways with General Cigar.

Mark Weissenberger Resigns from Rocky Patel Premium Cigars

Mark Weissenberger, Vice President of Marketing of Rocky Patel Premium Cigars, has announced he is resigning his position effective January 4th, 2018.
“Due to personal reasons, I have resigned as VP of Marketing from RPPC, effective January 4. This is an amicable parting, and I will continue to work independently for Rocky maintaining the company’s social media platforms for the immediate future as my family and I relocate to the northeast,” said Weissenberger in an email to Cigar Coop.
“I am forever appreciative of the professional experience and industry knowledge gained over 14 productive years helping RPPC flourish. Moving forward, I will be pursuing sales and marketing ventures within this amazing industry that we all love so much,” added Weissenberger.
Weissenberger was a long-time territory manager for Rocky Patel Premium Cigars, joining the company in 2005. In 2017, he was named Vice President of Marketing. Before joining Rocky Patel, he worked for Cigar Aficionado.

New Senate Bill for Premium Cigar Exemption Launched

With the 116th Congress now in session, the time has come to re-introduce proposed legislation. This past week, Senate Bill S.9 was re-introduced by Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. The purpose of the bill is to introduce legislation to exempt premium cigars from regulations being proposed by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In addition, the bill has already signed on an additional five co-sponsors.
In announcing the bill, Senator Rubio commented: “I will also continue the fight for small, traditional cigar manufacturers, a quintessential Florida industry, that are on the verge of being snuffed out by egregious federal overreach.”
Co-sponsors the bill included Senators Corey Gardner (R-CO), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), and Joni Ernst (R-IA).

Davidoff Winston Churchill Limited Edition 2019 Announced

Davidoff Cigars has announced a new installment under its Davidoff Winston Churchill brand. The Davidoff Winston Churchill 2019 is slated to be the second limited edition cigar under the Davidoff Winston Churchill line – and first since 2016. The cigars will be available at Davidoff Appointed Merchants and Flagship stores in January 2019.
The Davidoff Winston Churchill 2019 is a multi-national blend featuring a Dominican wrapper, Mexican San Andres binder, and a combination of Dominican and Nicaraguan fillers. The cigars will be available in two formats – a Robusto and a Corona. The Corona size will be sold in five packs an exclusively at Duty-Free locations outside the U.S. According to Davidoff the Corona size will have the same strength and flavor but more intense aroma.
A total of 8,000 ten-count boxes of the Robusto format will be released worldwide. The boxes are inspired by leather travel cases and include a Boveda humidification device that will allow it to be reused as a humidor.
The leather travel boxes and the Coronas being sold at Duty-Free stores honor Sir Winston Churchill’s passion for traveling. In particular, the icon applied to the cigar boxes reflects some of the key places that marked Sir Winston Churchill’s paths: cities like London and Washington that built the Commander and the Statesman and places that inspired his art like Marrakesh. The icon is also applied to the Corona five pack.

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Cigar News: Drew Estate Ships Three Offerings in Revamped Herrera Esteli Line

Drew Estate has announced that it is shipping three lines of its recently revamped Herrera Esteli line. This includes the all-new Herrera Esteli Brazilian Maduro and the repackaged  Herrera Estelí Norteno and Herrera Estelí Habano. These are lines that made their debut at the 2018 IPCPR Trade Show.
As the name indicates, the Herrera Esteli Brazilian Maduro added a Brazilian Mata Fina wrapped offering into the Herrera Esteli portfolio.
“With the Herrera Esteli Brazilian Maduro, I wanted to bring the Mata Fina to the forefront of this blend. This tobacco has such a unique texture and it showcases the lush floral and earthy notes I wanted to capture in this cigar. In addition, now that the Herrera Esteli line has been repackaged blending modern simplicity with classic Cuban style, it really shines on our retailers’ shelves and brings unity to the brand”, commented Drew Estate Master Blender Willy Herrera in a press release.
Meanwhile, Norteno and the original Herrera Esteli lines have been rebranded as Herrera Esteli Norteno and Herrera Esteli Habano, and have received packaging consistent with the Herrera Esteli brand.

Cigar News: Extremely Pistoff Kristoff Coming Soon

A massive new size is coming to Kristoff Cigars’ Pistoff Kristoff line. It’s an 8 1/2 x 60 Gordo and it’s been dubbed Extremely Pistoff Kristoff. The company says a limited production first shipment of Extremely Pistoff Kristoff will be heading out of the factory in a few weeks.
Pistoff Kristoff made its debut in 2016. It is positioned as Kristoff’s strongest cigar. The blend consists of a Natural San Andres wrapper, an Indonesian binder, and Nicaraguan fillers.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, a petit robusto size of the Pistoff Kristoff is planned in 2019 as the next installment of Two Guys Smoke Shop’s Firecracker series.

Cigar News: IPCPR Names Lisa Cox Senior Director of Trade Show & Events

The International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association (IPCPR) has named Lisa Cox, CMP (Certified Meeting Professional) its new Senior Director of Trade Show and Events. Cox assumes the position effective January 2nd, 2019.
“Lisa’s impressive background in trade show and event management, as well as her track record of crafting new strategies around attendee experiences and working to maximize the value to both exhibitor and attendee, is going to be a great asset to IPCPR as we look to reimagine our annual event,” said Scott Pearce, IPCPR executive director in a press release.
Cox most recently served as Vice President of the National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions (NAFCU) where she oversaw 13 meetings and that organization’s annual trade show. The press release says during her tenure there, trade show revenue grew 50%.
“I’m looking forward to meeting IPCPR’s members and exhibitors and using my background to maximize value for our stakeholders,” said Cox.
Ken P. Neumann, added. “Not only does Lisa come to IPCPR with a great history of success in running large-scale trade shows and events, but she understands our industry culture,” Neumann said.
Cox replaces Dawn Conger, who in recent years oversaw the IPCPR Trade Show. Shortly after the 2018 IPCPR Trade Show, Conger departed IPCPR and took a similar position at TMG.

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Foundation Cigar Company’s Tabernacle Havana Seed CT No. 142 Heads to Retailers

The Tabernacle Havana Seed CT No. 142., a cigar by Nicholas Melillo and Foundation Cigar Company that was showcased at the 2018 IPCPR Trade Show, is now making its way to retailers.
There’s a new blend under The Tabernacle brand and its called Tabernacle Havana Seed CT No. 142. The name comes from the fact that the cigar uses a hybrid Habano seed grown in Melillo’s home state of Connecticut. According to Melillo, the resulting leaf from this hybrid seed required three years of fermentation at Tabacalera Fernandez (where production is handled), but the wait was worth it.
In addition to the Habano wrapper, the Tabernacle Havana Seed CT No. 142 features a San Andres binder and filler tobaccos from Nicaragua and Honduras. It is available in four sizes: Corona (5 1/4 x 46), Robusto (5 x 50), Toro: (6 x 52 ), and Double Corona (7 x 54). The cigars are packaged in 24-count boxes.

Fuente Fuente OpusX Serie Heaven and Earth to Feature Purple Rain, BBMF, and Taurus the Bull

Numerous retailers are reporting they are slated to receive a set of rare vintage Fuente Fuente OpusX known as “Heaven and Earth”. The series consists of three separate releases, each packaged in Prometheus humidors, with a portion of the sales being donated to the Cigar Family Charitable Foundation.
First up is the Fuente Fuente OpusX Serie Heaven and Earth Forbidden X Purple Rain. It’s a long thin torpedo that’s a Dominican puro. The cigar sells for $45.00 SRP. It’s presented in a ten-count box that doubles as a humidor. A total of 300 boxes have been produced.
Next up is the return of the BBMF size with the Fuente Fuente OpusX Serie Heaven and Earth BBMF. It’s a giant Diadema featuring the ForbiddenX 2013 vintage banding on it. This Dominican puro is packaged in ten-count boxes that also double as humidors. Pricing is set at $75.00 per cigar. There is also a total production of 300 boxes allocated.
Finally the Taurus the Bull size returns with the Fuente Fuente OpusX Serie Heaven and Earth Taurus the Bull. This is a Gordo that also features the ForbiddenX 2013 vintage banding on it. Like the other Heaven and Earth releases, this Dominican puro is packaged in ten-count boxes that double as humidors. Pricing is set at $60.00 per cigar with a total allocation of 300 boxes.

The Oscar Habano Winter Edition Hits Stores

Oscar Valladares Tobacco & Company has shipped a fourth size of its popular “The Oscar” Habano line. This one is a 5 1/4 x 44 Corona size known as the The Oscar Winter Edition.
According to to the company, this will be a seasonal release available during the winter months only. The corona size is designed to be a shorter smoke for those who smoke outdoors during the colder winter months in the U.S.
Like the previous installments, The Oscar Habano Winter Edition is packaged in 11-count boxes shaped like cigar molds. Each cigar is placed inside a sleeve made from a candela wrapper.
The blend features an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, Honduran binder, and a combination of Honduran and Nicaraguan tobaco in the filler.

José R Oliva Named Florida Speaker of the House

As expected, Oliva Cigar Company José R. Oliva has been named the Speaker of the House for the State of Florida for 2019-2020. He succeeds current Florida Speaker of the House Richard Corcoran (R-Land O’Lakes, Florida).
Hailing from Miami Lakes, Florida, Oliva was first elected to the Florida House of Representatives back in 2011 in a special election. Oliva’s designation as Speaker is not a surprise as for several years he has been in the line of succession (something that is also designated in advance) for the job. In 2017, he was officially named Florida Speaker of the House Designee meaning he would succeed Corcoran if his party (Republican) held a majority in the State. Cororcan is stepping down due to term limits.
Last year, the Oliva family sold Oliva Cigar Company to J. Cortès, a company based in Belgium. Following the sale, Oliva has remained as the Oliva brand’s CEO, but has continued to focus on his burgeoning political career.
Meanwhile, another industry member also has joined a state legislative house. Almost ignored by the industry has been IPCPR member and retailer Todd Johnson’s election to the North Carolina State Senate.

Crowned Heads Headley Grange Black Lab LE 2018 Announced

Crowned Heads has announced a new limited edition extension under its Headley Grange brand known as the Headley Grange Black Lab Limited Edition 2018.
Made at Ernesto Perez-Carrillo’s Tabacalera La Alianza, the Black Lab utilizes the original Crowned Heads Headley Grange blend. It then incorporates a Connecticut Habano Maduro wrapper. The cigar is then box pressed and utilizes a closed foot. Black Lab is the first Crowned Heads cigar to feature the closed foot. The cigar is available in one size – a 6 x 52 box pressed Toro.
Connecticut Habano Maduro is a wrapper that Crowned Heads has used before – namely on its Four Kicks Maduro. The remainder of the Black Lab blend utilizes Nicaraguan tobaccos for the binder and filler.
The cigars are available in 12-count boxes.  A total of 1,500 boxes (18,000 cigars) have been produced.

Two Releases for Oliva Serie V Maduro Especial 2018

As has become the norm, Oliva has done its annual release of the Oliva Serie V Maduro Especial with little fanfare. This year will see two releases, one familiar one from recent years, and one returning for the first time in five years.
For the fifth consecutive year, the 6 x 60 Double Toro size is being released as a part of the Oliva Serie V Maduro Especial. The Double Toro size was first introduced in 2014 and has been a staple of the line since then.  Also returning to the Oliva Serie V Maduro Especial for 2018 is the 5 x 54 Double Robusto. The Double Robusto made its only appearance in the series in 2013.
As has been the case since 2010, the Oliva Serie V Maduro Especial 2018 consists of a San Andres Maduro over Nicaraguan binder and filler. Both the Oliva Serie V Maduro Especial 2018 Double Toro and Double Robusto are presented in ten-count boxes.

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José R Oliva Named Florida Speaker of the House

As expected, Oliva Cigar Company José R. Oliva has been named the Speaker of the House for the State of Florida for 2019-2020. He succeeds current Florida Speaker of the House Richard Corcoran (R-Land O’Lakes, Florida).
Hailing from Miami Lakes, Florida, Oliva was first elected to the Florida House of Representatives back in 2011 in a special election. Oliva’s designation as Speaker is not a surprise as for several years he has been in the line of succession (something that is also designated in advance) for the job. In 2017, he was officially named Florida Speaker of the House Designee meaning he would succeed Corcoran if his party (Republican) held a majority in the State. Cororcan is stepping down due to term limits.
Last year, the Oliva family sold Oliva Cigar Company to J. Cortès, a company based in Belgium. Following the sale, Oliva has remained as the Oliva brand’s CEO, but has continued to focus on his burgeoning political career.
Meanwhile, another industry member also has joined a state legislative house. Almost ignored by the industry has been IPCPR member and retailer Todd Johnson’s election to the North Carolina State Senate.

Crowned Heads Headley Grange Black Lab LE 2018 Announced

Crowned Heads has announced a new limited edition extension under its Headley Grange brand known as the Headley Grange Black Lab Limited Edition 2018.
Made at Ernesto Perez-Carrillo’s Tabacalera La Alianza, the Black Lab utilizes the original Crowned Heads Headley Grange blend. It then incorporates a Connecticut Habano Maduro wrapper. The cigar is then box pressed and utilizes a closed foot. Black Lab is the first Crowned Heads cigar to feature the closed foot. The cigar is available in one size – a 6 x 52 box pressed Toro.
Connecticut Habano Maduro is a wrapper that Crowned Heads has used before – namely on its Four Kicks Maduro. The remainder of the Black Lab blend utilizes Nicaraguan tobaccos for the binder and filler.
The cigars are available in 12-count boxes.  A total of 1,500 boxes (18,000 cigars) have been produced.

Two Releases for Oliva Serie V Maduro Especial 2018

As has become the norm, Oliva has done its annual release of the Oliva Serie V Maduro Especial with little fanfare. This year will see two releases, one familiar one from recent years, and one returning for the first time in five years.
For the fifth consecutive year, the 6 x 60 Double Toro size is being released as a part of the Oliva Serie V Maduro Especial. The Double Toro size was first introduced in 2014 and has been a staple of the line since then.  Also returning to the Oliva Serie V Maduro Especial for 2018 is the 5 x 54 Double Robusto. The Double Robusto made its only appearance in the series in 2013.
As has been the case since 2010, the Oliva Serie V Maduro Especial 2018 consists of a San Andres Maduro over Nicaraguan binder and filler. Both the Oliva Serie V Maduro Especial 2018 Double Toro and Double Robusto are presented in ten-count boxes.

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FDA Calls for Ban on Flavored Cigars

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has announced a series of reforms designed to take steps to curb underage smoking. As a part of the program, the agency is calling for a sweeping ban on flavored tobacco, flavored e-cigarettes, and the use of menthol in tobacco products.  This ban includes flavored cigars. The announcement was made via a press release today.
The move on flavored cigars is not a surprise. Last month when the FDA published its Unified Agenda, it listed that it was considering a ban on flavored cigars. The FDA now plans on prioritizing this proposed rule.
While liquids used in ENDS (Electronic Nicotine Delivery System) were a target, this time banning flavors in premium cigars was explicitly called out.  In a statement released by FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb: “Finally, to ensure that we’re taking a comprehensive approach, we must evaluate our regulatory approach to flavored cigars. Flavors are added to cigars and other tobacco products for various reasons, such as reducing the harshness, bitterness and astringency of tobacco products during inhalation and to soothe irritation during use. Research shows that, compared to adults (25 or older) who smoke cigars, a higher proportion of youth who smoke cigars use flavored cigars.” The FDA contends eliminating flavors from cigars would prevent initiation by younger people.
Gottlieb made several points in regards to flavored cigars:

  • He believes flavored cigars should no longer be subject to the extended compliance date for premarket authorization — regardless of the location in which the products are sold.
  • In addition, Gottlieb is calling for those flavored cigars that are grandfathered to be removed. Accordingly, the FDA intends to propose a product standard that would ban flavors in all cigars.
  • In July, the comment period for ANPRM on flavors in tobacco products closed. The FDA has expedited review and analysis of these comments, and intends to proceed with developing a proposed regulation. As included in the most recent Unified Agenda, the FDA intends to prioritize the issuance of this proposed rule.

Gottlieb also stated that he has the full support of his boss, Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar.
Flavored tobacco was the focus of one of three ANPRMs that included reducing nicotine levels, and how or if premium cigars should be regulated. In particular premium cigars were mentioned as a part of the ANPRM on flavored tobacco.
The FDA also said it would crack down on marketing ENDS (Electronic Nicotine Delivery System) products and liquids marketed to minors. They specifically mention using children’s cartoon or animated characters or names of products favored by kids like brands of candy and soda. There is reason to believe this will extend to all tobacco products. Ironically one cigar company rebranded one of its products today using marketing similar to a popular soda.
The FDA has not mentioned a timetable for enforcement of the planned regulation, but it is expected to set off a long industry battle challenging this decision.
Gottlieb’s full statement can be read here.

Quesada Cigars Completes Revamping Fonseca Brand

At the 2018 IPCPR Trade Show, Quesada Cigars showcased a revamped look for its original Fonseca Classic brand. Today the company has announced it has revamped the other four lines under the brand. The new look will be presented at a launch event scheduled to be held in New York City at the Nat Sherman Townhouse on Wednesday, November 28th.
The changes will affect the Fonseca Vintage, Fonseca Cubano Exclusivo, Fonseca Cubano Limitado, and Fonseca Nicaragua. Each of these lines will now feature the red, white, and wood designed style box introduced when Fonseca Classic was revamped this past summer. In addition, all of the Fonseca cigars will now have the red and white Fonseca logo band. In addition, a secondary band will be added to each line (with the exception of the Fonseca Classic which will remain with a single band).
While the blends remain the same, one big change is coming to the Fonseca Cubano Limitado line. Previously this was a box-pressed offering under the Fonseca brand. It is now be shifted to a parejo offering and like the other lines continue to use the same tobaccos.
“With Fonseca we have managed to offer cigar enthusiasts all types of smokes in one brand. From a medium but flavorful smoke such as the Fonseca Classic to a more intense and full-bodied smoke in the Fonseca Nicaragua. Now was the time to redesign the brand, and we have managed to do so with something that cannot be missed, a solid red lid with the iconic Fonseca Logo on it,” said Manuel “Manolo” Quesada, President of Quesada Cigars in a press release.
“We are very proud of what we have achieved with this brand over the years, and now we are prouder to reintroduce it to the market with a fresher look. From a brand image perspective, it was very important to identify Fonseca with this new and unified packaging,” added Fruela Roces, CEO of Quesada Cigars.
“For over 44 years we at Quesada Cigars have carried this amazing brand in our portfolio, and now we are proudly bringing to customers a more attractive and modern look. An eye-catching packaging that for sure will call the attention in every humidor or lounge that it sits in and; of course, a great cigar that will satisfy all smoker’s palates,” commented Senior Brand Director and Manolo’s daughter, Raquel Quesada.
The company says pricing will remain the same through the end of the year. The new presentation will be available to retailers immediately following the November 28 launch.

Gran Habano Brings Back Los Tres Reyes Magos

Gran Habano has announced the return of its limited edition culebra set, Los Tres Magos. It’s a a culebra package that includes three of Gran Habano’s most popular blends.
The name Los Tres Reyes Magos stands for “The Three Wise Men”. Each culebra contains three 7 x 32 panatela cigars tied together and will include one cigar from the Gran Habano #1 (Connecticut Shade blend) blend, one cigar from the Gran Habano #3 (Nicaraguan Habano wrapped blend), and one cigar from the Gran Habano #5 (Nicaraguan Corojo wrapped blend).
Each culebra is packaged in an individual coffin. Boxes will be available containing ten coffins. Each box has a suggested retail price of $140.00