News of the Week – IPCPR Updates and More

Drew Estate Booth at IPCPR

Drew Estate Booth at IPCPR. Image credit: The Cigar Authority

As you probably know, the IPCPR trade show for this year just wrapped up, running from Monday, July 10th through Friday, July 14th. So there has been a lot of news over the past week. Let’s catch up on some of the highlights.

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Cohiba Talisman EL 2017 – Launch Evening

There are many new exciting releases this year. The new Cohiba 2017 limited edition, called Talisman is one of them. This big size cigar (154 X 54) may become another big collector items.

Like every year, Habanos S.A. will host a launch evening to promote the new Limited edition cigars. Last year the Romeo y Julieta Capuletos was presented first in the Italian city of Verona, organised by the country's exclusive distributor Diademas S.P.A.
A very limited number of guests including Habanos Specialists, representatives of Smoking Clubs, Habanos Exclusive Distributors from other countries, media and influencers are usually part of that special event.

This year the Cohiba Talisman will most probably be launched on the land of Hunters and Frankau. Exclusive distributor for the United Kingdom. If the city of London is almost confirmed to be presenting the new gold and black double banded cigar, the date is a total mystery. I would guess not before October or November...

Let's see if the inspector was right or wrong...

Happy Smokes!

It’s That Time of the Year – Final Countdown – 24 days!

19th Habanos FestivalFollow the Inspector's live diary from Havana.

Latest news, cigar reviews and trends will be shared with you on a daily basis. Don’t miss out and stay tuned…

In a few weeks, 24 days to be precise, many of us will be in Havana attending the 19th Habanos Festival.

I am always very pleased to see the number of participants growing every year to attend the Festival. When looking at the tobacco industry being the target of our governments, with strange laws sometimes, to reduce the cigarette consumption without differentiating the beautiful world of premium cigars. The Festival keeps growing and attracts more and more Habanos lovers, HOURAAA!!!

So far, nothing has been announced for a potential release celebrating the 20th anniversary of Vegas Robaina, I think I know why and I will tell you as soon as I get the confirmation!

From what we know the Gran Reserva release for this year will be the H. Upmann Sir Winston. Habanos S.A. will also present new vitolas increasing the Montecristo selection, with a new range called 1935 (year of creation of Montecristo), and French’s favorite marqua, Quay d’Orsay.

The inspector will be in Cuba during the Festival and will be your reporter sharing all the news and insights in “almost live”, so make sure you check out everyday my diary and as well reviews of all the cigars we will be enjoying.

Coming back to the awaited H. Upmann Sir Winston Gran Reserva, we will post a review of the current production Sir Winston just before flying to Havana and will share the Gran Reserva review from Havana. So let’s see the difference.

Happy Smokes everyone.

All Out Kings Delayed Until March, New Alec Bradley

All out Kings coming March 2017

Happy Holidays to all our readers here on Cigar Inspector! With 2016 drawing to a close, let’s check out what we have to look forward to heading into 2017 with new cigar releases. We’ll also share some industry and legislative news updates with you.

New and Upcoming Releases:

  • The 2016 Alec Bradley HJ10-I Fine & Rare blend is currently shipping out to retailers around the globe. This version will measure 6 inches with a 52 ring gauge. The Fine & Rare includes seven different types of filler tobacco from Esteli and Jalapa as well as the Trojes Region of Honduras. There is an Esteli and Trojes double binder and a Trojes corojo wrapper. In total, that is ten different types of tobacco. Only 2,000 boxes of ten cigars each will be released.
  • If you are a fan of Drew Estate or Caldwell Cigar Co., you probably have been closely following news about their collaboration, All Out Kings. Originally it was anticipated that All Out Kings would ship in November this year, but delays have pushed the release to next year. Now it has been announced that the All Out Kings cigars will finally be available in March of 2017. There will be four sizes in all: Smash (5 x 52), Foreverlast (6 ½ x 54), Give Me Your Lunch Money (5 ¾ x 46), and The Fourth Pose (6 x 54).

Industry News:

  • Sosa Cigars has just been acquired by A.J. Fernandez, who purchased them from the company by the same name. Included in this purchase are all the brands which fall under the Sosa family of cigars, including Santa Julia, Imperio Cubano, and Sosa Classic. What changes can we expect? Celina Contreras Sosa stated, “While the blends will remain the same, they will be made using the techniques and curing processes mastered by A.J. Fernandez as well as his own grown tobacco made with his special knowledge.”
  • As you likely have noticed, a lot of cigar companies are being forced to raise their prices to cope with the rising costs associated with new regulations. Perdomo is now the latest company to announce a price hike. This is expected to amount to an average of around 37 cents per cigar. The new prices will go into effect as of January 1st.

Legal News:

  • Cigar companies which are behind schedule implementing changes to conform to the new FDA regulations are being granted a six-month extension. The new registration deadline has been pushed back to June 30th, 2017.
  • Orange County, New York just became the latest to raise the minimum age for purchasing tobacco to 21. The new law will go into effect on June 1st, 2017. Retailers could be fined up to $1,500 per offense.
  • Bogalusa City, Louisiana just passed the most restrictive ban on smoking in the entire state. Smoking in Bogalusa City is now illegal in all indoor facilities inside city limits with the exception of tobacconists, hotel rooms, private residences, and vehicles. If you are visiting Bogalusa or reside there, you can no longer even smoke inside a bar or gaming facility.
  • Meanwhile, Clarkdale, Arizona has rejected a bill to push the minimum purchase age for tobacco to 21.

Thanks for checking in with us for this week’s cigar news updates! Check back in soon for more!

New Viaje, La Flor Dominicana + Legislative Updates

Viaje Holiday Blend 2016

Welcome back to another installment in our regular news feature here at Cigar Inspector. Quite a lot has transpired, particularly on the legal front. We have a few new releases to share with you as well.

New and Upcoming Releases:

  • Viaje fans can look forward to some holiday cheer in the form of a special Holiday Blend release (as yet unnamed). This cigar will be packaged with an Edición Limitada band. Only 200 bundles (not boxes) will ever be produced, each with 20 cigars. So far there are no details on either the pricing or the blend. We do know that the cigar will measure 5 x 58, making it the second thickest Viaje Holiday Blend to date, following the 2013 Christmas Tree. The Holiday Blend Candy Cane will also come back this year with the Edición Limitada band. In 2015, the Candy Cane cost $12 per cigar and featured an Ecuadorian and Brazilian wrapper with Dominican and Nicaraguan tobacco inside. There is no word yet on the pricing or blend this year.
  • La Flor Dominicana has just shipped out the TCFKA “M” Collector’s Edition to retailers. This year’s release is again a perfecto measuring 7 x 57. The wrapper is Ecuadorian Sumatra with oscuro accents. You can buy these cigars in boxes of five.
  • New releases have been announced for the upcoming Festival del Habanos. The first of these is the Sir Winston Churchill Gran Reserva Cosecha 2011, which will be the first Gran Reserva from H. Upmann. Another new introduction will be the Montecristo 1935, which will apparently include some sizes traditionally in the main line, but there are still no other details on this extension. Finally, Quai d'Orsay will introduce some new cigar sizes—no further information has been released concerning these either.

Industry News:

  • General Cigars has parted ways with its vice president of marketing, Alan Willner, who has been replaced (in the interim) by company president Régis Broersma. Broersma took over General Cigar operations almost exactly one year ago. The official statement provided no details to the reason for the change.

Legal News:

  • Starting with the good news first, Sioux Falls, South Dakota rejected a proposal to ban smoking in parks. It was a strong victory, with six of the city’s eight council members opposing the ban. A considerably reduced version was approved instead. Smoking is banned near playgrounds and youth recreation areas, but is still completely legal at the city’s two golf courses and other outdoor entertainment venues.
  • Meanwhile, Olympia, Washington has approved a ban on smoking in parks and recreation areas. This ban will go into effect on January 1, 2018, so Olympia residents can still smoke in these public venues for another year. The rumor about the ban is that it may not be used to target and fine smokers so much as to educate the public. Signage and polite reminders will generally be used to enforce the ban before fines are imposed.
  • Also in the pile of bad news, Columbus, Ohio has just approved an increase in the minimum age to purchase tobacco to 21. This change will go into effect 10 months from now. This is bad news for retailers in particular, who will have to purchase a $150 license every year to fund compliance checks with the new law.
  • You may know that there is a joint lawsuit which has been filed against the FDA by the CAA, CRA, and IPCPR. This lawsuit includes nine different complaints. The court date has just been set for July 28th, 2017. The outcome of this case will be momentous for the cigar industry.
  • With the transfer of power in the White House and Fidel Castro’s death, the future of Cuba-USA relations is uncertain. American Airlines is scaling back its USA-Cuba flights. As of February 16th, there will only be one flight a day to Varadero, Holguin, and Santa Clara. Even with the changes, American Airlines will remain the top airline for flights between the two countries. There is no comment as to the reason for the change save for the airline to “remain competitive.”

Thanks for dropping by to check on the latest cigar news updates! Be sure to check back in with us soon!

Fidel Castro Dead at 90, New Oliva, Montecristo

Fidel Castro Dead at 90

An astounding number of famous people have died in 2016 … and now we can add none other than Cuba’s cigar-toting President, Fidel Castro, to the list. Fidel Castro’s health had been deteriorating for some time, and he passed away on Friday, November 25th.

Everyone will remember Fidel Castro for something different. To some he was a heroic revolutionary, to others a tyrannical despot. But for the cigar industry, he was a revolution. It was Fidel Castro who made Cuba’s cigar brands and factories state property, nationalizing the entire industry.

Cuban cigars are of course known the world over for their quality. If you live in the USA, you have struggled to get your hands on them for decades thanks to long-standing trade embargoes between the two countries. But ever since President Obama started normalizing affairs with Cuba, that has started to change. You can now travel to Cuba and bring home as many cigars as you want.

Looking to the future now, we have no idea what to expect for Cuban cigars, or for trade between the USA and Cuba. With Fidel Castro gone and Trump the president-elect in the USA, it is impossible to guess at what will happen next. I suggest snapping up as many cigars as you can now; who knows how long open trade will be in place. It is best to take advantage while we can.

In the meantime, at least the rest of this week’s news is decidedly positive. Not a lot is going on in the regulatory world, but we have a number of new and returning cigar releases to report.

New and Upcoming Releases:

  • The Oliva Serie V Maduro 2016 has made its way to retailers. It is basically identical to last year’s version. Measuring 6 x 60, it has a Mexican San Andrés wrapper and carries a price of around $10 per stick. The total number which will be produced is 60,000.
  • A new box-pressed Montecristo cigar is being manufactured by Tabacalera AJ Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua S.A. in Nicaragua. This blend features Nicaraguan and Honduran fillers inside a Mexican San Andrés binder and an Ecuadorian Sumatra oscuro wrapper. It comes in five sizes: Churchill (7 x 50), Figurado (4 x 52), Gordo (6 x 58), Robusto (5 x 52) and Toro (6 x 50), and will cost between $9.95-$12.50.
  • Several of Tatuaje’s cigars are making a comeback, among them the highly sought-after Pork Tenderloin. The other two cigars which will once again be made available include the Porkchop and Le Vignoble. All three are being re-released as part of Pete Johnson’s Oh F*ck I’m Lost tour. During the tour, Johnson will visit seven different cities and participate in events at nine different retailers. This is the perfect time to restock on some of your favorite Tatujae cigars which you have been missing!
  • If you have been searching for the CAO Amazon Basin in the USA, good news—the sold-out brand is making a comeback in a single size, a 6 x 52 Toro. The Amazon Basin sold out very quickly in 2014, so act fast to grab a box of these before they are gone.
  • A new Cuban exclusive has just been released, the Saint Luis Rey Marquez. This cigar was first offered to participants attending the Partagás Festival in Havana a couple weeks ago. The cigar measures 5 7/8 inches with a 54 ring gauge, and comes in boxes of 10. Only 7,500 boxes are being produced. You can purchase a box of Saint Luis Rey Marquez cigars for 116 CUCs.
  • Drew Estate is bringing back Pappy Van Winkle cigars this year with a couple new sizes. In 2015, the only sizes available were Toro and Robusto. In 2016, the brand will add Churchill and Pappy Drew Limitada sizes. The latter is a distinctive figurado based on the Liga Privada Feral Flying Pig. The new cigars are currently being shipped to retailers, but are already available to order online.

Thanks for checking in with us for this week’s cigar news updates! Be sure to check back again soon!

Ballot Results, Fuente Updates and More

Viaje exclusive cigar for Atlantic

You may be aware that a number of ballot measures were up last week for raising cigar taxes in several states. In this week’s cigar news updates, I will let you know what happened. There is not a whole lot in the way of other news right now, but there are some Fuente updates and a new release from Atlantic Cigars.

New and Upcoming Releases:

  • If you have shopped for Arturo Fuente Don Carlos cigars recently, you may have noticed a change in their appearance. While the cigar itself is unchanged, the band is now different. The red background has been replaced by a black one for a new look.
  • Atlantic Cigar Co. is celebrating its 20th anniversary with a brand new Viaje release. This release is exclusive to the retailer and can only be purchased directly from Atlantic Cigars. Called the Viaje Atlantic 20th Anniversary WLP 20th Limited Edition Toro, it measures 6 x 52 and comes box-pressed. The blend is a Nicaraguan puro with Cuban-seed fillers an a criollo wrapper. It is being manufactured in Honduras, and costs $9 per cigar. Only 400 boxes are being produced, each containing 10 cigars.

Legal News:

  • The Dallas City Council just voted 8-6 to ban smoking in Dallas parks. While this is not great news, there are some exceptions to the ban. You can for example smoke at the State Fair of Texas in Fair Park. You also can still smoke at city-owned golf courses as well as the Elm Fork Shooting Range. So while we’d obviously prefer there were no ban, we can at least say that the city council has taken steps to ensure that cigar smoking is still permitted in outdoor venues where it is popular.
  • S.B. 2765 is a new bill which could limit the state taxes on New Jersey cigars. Right now the taxes on New Jersey cigars are set at 30% of the wholesale price. If passed, the bill would set a cap which would bring down costs for all cigars with a MSRP of $3.40 or more. For a cigar priced at $9, that could mean a $1 reduction in price. Let’s hope this passes.
  • Finally, the biggest news concerns last week’s polls. As you probably know, a few different measures pertaining to cigar taxes were on the ballots in North Dakota, Missouri, Colorado, and California. Voters in Missouri, North Dakota, and Colorado defeated the measures, so cigar taxes in those states will not be going up. In California however, Proposition 56 passed. Over sixty percent of voters backed the measure, which will drive up cigar taxes by an astonishing 153%. Right now cigar taxes in the state are 27.3%. Going forward the new tax should be around 69.2%. This change will go into effect on July 1st of 2017, so if you live in California, get your expensive purchases out of the way ASAP.

Thanks for checking in with us for this week’s cigar news updates. Be sure to check back in with us soon for more news!

Regulators Tighten Restrictions, New Releases from R. Patel

Davidoff Rooster

This week’s news on the regulatory front is mostly depressing, but thankfully we have some exciting new cigar releases to report to make up for it. Read on to find out what’s been going on in the cigar world.

New and Upcoming Releases:

  • Cuba’s 2016 Edicion Limitadas Trinidad Topes and Romeo y Julieta Capuletos are now being distributed to Casa del Habano stores around the globe. The third Edicion Limitada, the Montecristo Dantes, still has not made its way to stores, but one Casa del Habano owner in Germany has indicated that he should be able to start selling them to customers on the 1st of December.
  • To honor the Year of the Rooster, Davidoff of Geneva is introducing a limited-edition cigar to celebrate the Chinese New Year. These cigars are immediately eye-catching thanks to their unusual diadema figurado shape. The cigar measures 6 ¾ x 50, and will come in boxes of 10 at a cost of $40 per cigar. Along with this limited edition line of cigars, a line of Year of the Rooster accessories is also being produced. This includes a double-guillotine cutter which you can purchase in either steel or rose gold as well as a carrying case in red leather. 8,000 Year of the Rooster boxes are being produced.
  • Rocky Patel is now formally distributing the Dark Dominican. While the manufacturer has provided no information about the wrapper, binder or filler, retailers are stating that the cigar is a Dominican puro. Four sizes are available: Churchill, Robusto, Corona and Supremo.

Industry News:

  • Tabacalera USA has just acquired a Houston-based chain of retail stores called Serious Cigars. While Serious Cigars was originally founded as an online store in 1996, it now operates four of the largest cigar retail stores in the state of Texas. Through this acquisition, both Serious Cigars and Tabacalera should be able to grow and continue to expand their distribution.

Legal News:

  • You may remember a recent report that the FDA had banned cigar donations to U.S. soldiers. This seems so absurd that many in the cigar community held out hope that the ban was some kind of a mistake. But the Wall Street Journal has reported that the ban was not made in error; it was a deliberate action by the FDA. That’s right—U.S. soldiers can get themselves killed or injured in action, but they cannot accept your gift of stogies.
  • In one few positive regulatory developments this past week, Lane County, Oregon (home to the city of Eugene), has become the latest to reject a smoking ban in parks. Two factors helped to decide the commission against the ban; the first is the fact that it would’ve resulted in smoking bans in 240 campgrounds, which would have made enforcement quite thorny. The second is the concern that the new decree might have been used as an excuse for law enforcement officers to harass the homeless.
  • Last week, the Council of the District of Columbia voted to make age 21 the new minimum for tobacco purchases in Washington D.C. Anyone who violates the new decree will be fined $25. On the upside, this fine was going to be $50, but thankfully there was an amendment which lowered it to a more reasonable amount. The new minimum purchase age will go into effect in 30 days after being signed by Mayor Muriel Bowser.

Thanks for checking in for this week’s updates! Be sure to check back with us soon for more!

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