THE SCOOP WITH COOP – EPISODE 346

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.

THE SCOOP WITH COOP – EPISODE 343

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.

THE SCOOP WITH COOP – EPISODE 342

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.

THE SCOOP WITH COOP – EPISODE 341

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.

THE SCOOP WITH COOP – EPISODE 340

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.

THE SCOOP WITH COOP – EPISODE 339

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