EPISODE 489 – (Originally Aired 3/4/23)

STG Announces Transition for Alec Bradley and Plans for Rubin Family

Following the closure of the Scandinavian Tobacco Group’s acquisition of Alec Bradley, STG has announced its initial plans for integrating the company. STG has said following an (up to) 90-day transition period, Alec Bradley will be moved under Forged Cigar Company.  In addition, it announced that company founder Alan Rubin will become an advisor, and the company anticipates Alan’s sons Alec and Bradley Rubin will be a part of STG’s handmade business going forward.

In conjunction with Alan Rubin, STG will immediately begin working on an integration planning process for Alec Bradley that will take place in a period of up to 90 days. During this time, it will be business as usual for Alec Bradley. Following the transition period, Alec Bradley will become a part of STG’s Forged Cigar Company. There has been no mention of whether any Alec Bradley sales and marketing personnel will join Forged.

In his role as an advisor, Alan will report to Régis Broersma, president of STG’s North America and Rest of World division. While STG says it expects Alec and Bradley Rubin to join the STG team, specific roles were not disclosed.

In a press release, Niels Frederksen, CEO of Scandinavian Tobacco Group said, “The acquisition of the Alec Bradley cigar business is another important step toward our goal of being the undisputed global and sustainable leader in cigars. Through this impactful, bolt-on acquisition, STG will expand our portfolio of highly-regarded premium cigars and increase sales by continuing to meet the high expectations of Alec Bradley’s loyal consumers in the US and globally. We will also leverage the strength of the Alec Bradley brand portfolio to deliver more excitement to the handmade cigar category, benefitting the cigar enthusiast and our trade partners. We look forward to drawing inspiration from and working with Alan Rubin to uphold the legacy of the Alec Bradley brands.”

“I am extremely excited for the next chapter of the Alec Bradley cigar business and view the acquisition by STG as a pivotal point in the life cycle of the Alec Bradley brands. Our union with STG will further propel the Alec Bradley brands, enhancing our growing position in the market and opening the door to expanded global distribution. Together, we will leverage STG’s resources to bring the Alec Bradley brands to their full potential. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Alec Bradley team and the premium cigar community for their ongoing commitment to the Alec Bradley brands,” added Alan Rubin.

Régis Broersma, president of STG’s North America and Rest of World division added, “The acquisition of the Alec Bradley cigar business will have a transformational effect on STG’s global handmade cigar business. With a more comprehensive blend book and an expanded set of manufacturers in our network, we will deliver unprecedented innovation to our entire portfolio, further enhancing our strong position in the premium cigar space.”

STG announced on February 28, 2023, that effective March 1, 2023, the transaction to acquire Alec Bradley Cigar Company was completed. The transaction includes the Alec Bradley brand portfolio, blend book and other intellectual property, along with product inventory in the US, Canada, and Europe.

Macanudo Inspirado Tercio-Aged Coming in April

General Cigar has announced a new release under its Macanudo Inspirado line, the Macanudo Inspirado Tercio-Aged. As the name indicates, it features tobacco that has been aged in tercios. The cigar is expected to reach stores in April.

Aging a cigar in tercios involves aging in handmade bales made of royal palm bark. In this case, it is Dominican Piloto Cubano that is aging for six months. According to General Cigar, the tercios round out the tobacco in a way that is not attainable through other methods, delivering deep nuances and heightened aroma.

The blend itself is a four-country multi-national blend featuring a Mexican San Andreas leaf over an Indonesian binder and Colombian and Dominican filler. The cigars come in two sizes: Toro and Churchill. Each cigar will be packaged in ten-count boxes. A total of 3,400 boxes will be released in the U.S. market. Production comes from General Cigar Dominicana in Santiago, Dominican Republic.

In addition, a QR code will appear on the cigar bands and the box linking to a video showcasing the tercio-aging process.

AVO Seasons Limited Edition Series Announced

Last year, AVO Cigars announced it was bringing to a close its limited edition AVO Improvisation Series. This year, a new limited edition program has been put in place known as the AVO Seasons Limited Edition Series. This series will see four releases – one per season (Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter) done over the course of a year.

While each of the four seasons will feature a different blend, there is one common denominator in that each of the blends contains an (undisclosed tobacco) that has been aged for 14 years. All four releases will come in one size – a 50 x 6 5/8 dilemma. The first release of the AVO Seasons Limited Edition Series (Spring) will ship in March. A total of 4,000 ten-count boxes per edition will be released.

“This special release has been carefully created by our Master Blenders who have worked with tobaccos across multi-faceted origins to craft the perfect seasonal blends. Tobaccos from each cigar can be found from diverse growing regions such as Ecuador and the Dominican Republic, with tobacco aged for up to 14 years,” says Edward Simon, CMO at Oettinger Davidoff. “We encourage our aficionados to enjoy each cigar while experiencing a moment unique to each season: walking through a garden in spring, watching the setting sun on a summer evening, feeling the air turn crisp as autumn leaves fall, and sitting by a crackling fire in winter.”

Davidoff Millennium Lancero Makes Return

It seems that 2023 is the “Year of the Lancero” for Davidoff. Davidoff, a brand not known for its lanceros, has announced it is bringing back a second lancero for a limited run. This one is under the Millennium line, and it’s the Davidoff Millennium Lancero.

The release is described as a restaging of the former Millennium blend lancero. The blend itself is slightly different than the current Davidoff Millennium line. The Lancero still features the Millennium’s signature Ecuadorian 151 wrapper, but what’s different is the cigar uses a Mexican Sumatra binder. The remainder of the blend consists of all Dominican tobaccos. The lancero is a 7 x 40 vitola.

“Back in its day, the Millennium Blend Lancero was renowned for being the format to fully enjoy the blend’s special 151 wrapper. Today, the reborn limited-edition cigar once again stands representative of our ceaseless pursuit for perfection. It took our Master Agronomists 300 trials to create the special hybrid seed for this Ecuadorian wrapper leaf. Furthermore, the cigar’s pigtail format requires impeccable rolling skills, so only our most experienced torcedores touch this creation. I am convinced that this relaunch will make a difference for countless aficionados – be it appreciators of the lancero format and outstanding craftsmanship, collectors who enjoy the Millennium blend in its other highly acclaimed formats, or connoisseurs with a refined palate who wish to fill their time beautifully with this masterpiece,” says Edward Simon, CMO at Oettinger Davidoff AG in a press release.

The Davidoff Millennium Lancero follows a re-release of the Davidoff Signature No. 1, a lancero released earlier this year.

The launch of the Davidoff Millennium Lancero is set for April 6, 2023.

West Tampa Tobacco Company Red Coming in May

West Tampa Tobacco Company has announced a third regular production line its portfolio called Red. It joins the West Tampa Tobacco Company White and Black lines as core offerings, but in the case of the Red line, it is meant to provide a full-bodied, full-flavored offering.

The West Tampa Tobacco Company Red features a San Andres Mexican wrapper over Nicaraguan binder and fillers. The Mexican wrapper used on the Red is the same one used on the first release of West Tampa Tobacco Company’s limited edition Attic Series. Red will come in three sizes (Robusto, Toro, and Gigante). Each will be presented in 20-count boxes with pricing set from $8.99 to $10.99.

In a press release announcing the West Tampa Tobacco Company Red, Rick Rodriguez commented, “West Tampa Red gave me the opportunity to sit down with the factory and really focus on creating a blend that I enjoy.” “Normally when I blend cigars, I don’t blend for what I like, I blend cigars for what my fans enjoy. Red will be a reflection of what I believe is the next piece to lay in the West Tampa puzzle, a full-bodied cigar that delivers the full flavor consumers have come to enjoy from West Tampa.”

Rick chose to work once again with the Mexican San Andreas wrapper that he used for his inaugural Attic Series release. The wrapper is where the similarities end. He says that the changes he has made in the all-Nicaraguan binder and filler will deliver an unforgettable smoke.

The first shipments of West Tampa Tobacco Company Red will begin in May and will be available for both the US and international markets.

Vintage Rock-A-Feller Cigar Group Art of Magic Magician’s Wand Set to Launch

Vintage Rock-A-Feller Cigar Group is set to launch the third installment of its Art of Magic Series, the Art of Magic Magician’s Wand.

The Art of Magic is a limited edition series. The name Art of Magic is inspired by Rock-A-Feller Cigars’ owner Kevin Schweitzer’s love of magic. Schweitzer himself is a magician and a member of the Society of American Magicians. 2023 marks Schweitzer’s seventh year in the cigar business.

In a press release, the company explains the background of this project:

This all-new LE blend, the Magician’s Wand, took over 2yrs to come to market with the hard work and dedication of the team at Rock-A-Feller. Much like the art of cigar making, the magician’s wand has a history spanning hundreds of years. The wand helps guide the magician’s story as the audience is taken on a journey of sensory delights like one does while enjoying an amazing cigar.

For the Art of Magic Magician’s Wand Schweitzer turned to Victor de la Cruz’s Tabacalera L&V S.R.L. facility for production. That company is best known for producing the Rock-A-Feller Dominican Blue line. The Magician’s Wand features a Brazilian Cubra wrapper over an Indonesian binder and a combination of Nicaraguan and Dominican fillers. The cigar comes in one size – a 7 x 44 Lonsdale. A total of 200 piano-finish ten-count boxes (2,000 cigars) has been released. Pricing is set at $15.00 per cigar.

As with the previous two installments, the Art of Magic Magician’s Wand features the artwork of Jessi Flores on the box highlighted by a rendering of Karat the Great.