Swisher International to Purchase Drew Estate

Swisher International to Purchase Drew Estate

Big news today in the cigar world (you might already have heard the rumors if you follow the blogosphere closely...). Swisher International Inc. has just announced that they have entered into a purchase agreement with the Drew Estate Tobacco Company. Swisher International is one of the world’s leading tobacco manufacturers, best known for their top-selling brand Swisher Sweets. Drew Estate was founded in 1996, but quickly has grown into one of the world’s most successful cigar companies and is very well known among lovers of premium cigars for brands like My Uzi Weighs a Ton and Liga Privada. As a subsidiary of Swisher, Drew Estate will continue to operate under its current management team. The merger was a decision made for the mutual benefit of both companies.

Speaking about the acquisition of his company by Swisher, Jonathan Drew, co-founder of Drew Estate, stated, “This is a dream come true. From the moment we met the team at Swisher and began speaking of a possible acquisition, it was clear that, as a family business, they understood the culture we have created and completely supported our desire to keep our family at Drew Estate intact.”

Swisher President and CEO Peter Ghiloni commented, “The products produced by Drew Estate and its distribution partners Joya De Nicaragua, Royal Agio Cigars, and Tsuge pipes are top-quality market leaders in their respective segments. The creativity, passion and innovation of Drew Estate employees and management are a perfect match for Swisher, and we look forward to welcoming them to our family.”

This early on in the merger, the details of the transaction have yet to be disclosed. We do know at this point though that the transaction is expected to close during Q4 2014. Stay tuned for more updates as the year unfolds.

General Cigar Hires Sam Leccia, Acquires Leccia Tobacco

Sam Leccia

Today, General Cigar announced more major changes (just a few days after the acquisition of Torano cigar brand). Firstly, they have made the decision to hire Sam Leccia, famous to have worked on Cain and Nub cigar lines when he was at Oliva Cigar Company, to serve as “Cigar and Blend Specialist.” Secondly, they have acquired Leccia Tobacco Company as part of the deal. Beginning today, they will take over the marketing and distribution duties for the Black, White, and Luchador lines.

Sam Leccia has cultivated a reputation for unique approaches to crafting and marketing cigar lines. His contemporary blends are inspired by traditional blends, but put a modern twist on the flavors and aromas. That same creative quality is evident in his marketing campaigns. He will bring that same expertise and innovation to the table at General Cigar, where he will continue working on his own brands as well as other cigars manufactured by the company. This partnership should have incredible results for both parties.

Expressing his optimism about the new hire, Dan Carr, president of General Cigar, stated, “I am impressed with what Sam has achieved. He broke into the industry, worked tirelessly for years, and made a name for himself by developing interesting cigar brands. Sam will provide additional creative talent to complement the enterprise of our existing team.”

Sam Leccia stated, “To say that I am thrilled to be joining General Cigar Company is a gross understatement … Having creative freedom, access to the resources of General Cigar, and the ability to work with the company’s master blenders and tobacco experts is like a dream come true.”

General Cigar Acquires Toraño

General Cigar acquires Torano

General Cigar (known for their CAO and Macanudo brands, among others) announced on Thursday, September 11th, that they have acquired Toraño Cigars. The transfer took place on the same date as the announcement, and is the union of two legendary cigar companies. With a century of experience in the industry, Toraño has developed a number of prominent blends, including Exodus, Loyal, Casa Toraño, Vault and Master Collections. These popular lines will remain unchanged under General Cigar. General Cigar will see to it that they are produced with the same quality and care as ever.

Speaking about the acquisition, Dan Carr, president of General Cigar stated, “The acquisition of the Toraño brands represents an opportunity for us to strategically expand our portfolio. Our companies have been intertwined for over 50 years and I look forward to working with Charlie Toraño on plans to celebrate the upcoming centennial and to carry forward the vision, passion and innovation that is synonymous with the Toraño name while also leveraging our resources to bring even greater excitement and reach to our trade partners and consumers.”

General Cigar and Toraño have been working together ever since the Toraño family left Cuba. Reflecting on their long partnership, Charlie Toraño stated “There is no other company that I would rather have continue my family’s legacy.”

Cigar Release: Tienda Exclusiva by Willy Herrera

Tienda Exclusiva by Willy Herrera

Drew Estate Tobacco Co. announced today the release of the first “Tienda Exclusiva by Willy Herrera”, a concept cigar by Willy Herrera. Made at La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate in extremely small batches, the Tienda Exclusiva line is specially crafted for one retailer per release, with only a few releases scheduled per year. The inaugural “Tienda Exclusiva by Willy Herrera” blend was produced for the owner of Barrister Cigars in Union, New Jersey, David Mallow, following the 2013 New Jersey Cigar Festival.

When asked about the blend, Willy Herrera responded from Estelí, Nicaragua: “This was one of the blends that I was working on through 2012 and 2013. David smoked it at the Festival and kept coming back for more. Eventually, he smoked every cigar I had brought, which I thought would be enough for the entire week! I knew he loved the blend and it felt right assigning it to him for my first Tienda Exclusiva.”

David Mallow, owner of Barrister Cigars, said that, "the ‘Tienda Exclusiva by Willy Herrera’ is a truly beautiful project that I am honored to be involved with. It’s no secret that Willy is one of the most talented tobacco blenders out there, and we can’t wait to have the cigar in our humidor.”

As stated previously, every “Tienda Exclusiva by Willy Herrera” blend is a limited quantity production cigar made at La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate. Jonathan Drew noted, “I recommend you don’t sleep on this one. These are one and done. Willy has a lot on his plate right now as Master Blender of La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate. As I’ve said before, ‘Boutique is in the Heart’ and Willy has spent so much time creating and experimenting with blends. We have some real gems out of the blends he has worked on. Now, it’s time to get them into production.”

The “Tienda Exclusiva by Willy Herrera” for Barrister Cigars is packed in 10-count boxes and will sell for $12.00 MSRP per cigar, plus applicable state taxes. They will be offered for sale on September 2nd from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM at a Barrister Cigars event in Union, New Jersey, with Willy Herrera and Jonathan Drew hosting the event.

Cigar Release: Dunhill 1907

Dunhill 1907

General Cigar announces the world premiere of 1907 by Dunhill®, a medium-bodied, four-cigar collection that will be available at fine cigar shops nationwide, and at premium tobacconists worldwide, beginning in May.

1907 by Dunhill marks the first full-time new Dunhill brand since its Signed Range was introduced in 2001, and commemorates the first box-pressed cigar in the entire Dunhill portfolio, with the range’s new Toro size.

Yves Politi, head of British American Tobacco Ltd.’s Dunhill cigar division said, “In the century since opening its flagship tobacco shop in London, Dunhill has remained synonymous with exquisite cigars in elegant packaging. 1907 celebrates the Dunhill brand’s time-honored tradition of tobacco mastery, while incorporating elements that speak to the modern cigar smoker’s passion points: a fuller taste profile, accessible pricing and classic sizing.”

Dunhill 1907

Handcrafted by artisans in Santiago, D.R., 1907 by Dunhill is made with a proprietary blend of Dominican ligeros and Brazilian Mata Fina, bound with Dominican Olor and wrapped in a hearty Honduran Olancho leaf. The new Dunhill expression delivers complex flavor with nuances of spice, and a rich, creamy finish.

1907 by Dunhill consists of these four sizes: Rothschild (4.5” x 48; SRP per cigar $8.25); Robusto (5” x 52; SRP per cigar $8.50); Churchill (7” x 49, SRP per cigar $9.25) and the box-pressed Toro (6” x 54, SRP per cigar $9.00). Each frontmark is packaged in an 18-count wooden box with a sliding lid.

FDA Increases Restrictions on Tobacco, May Exempt Cigars

FDA Logo

On Thursday, April 24th, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that they intend to heighten the restrictions on tobacco products in the US. The FDA has had oversight of the tobacco industry since 2009. Under the new rules, the FDA would become more involved in tobacco product manufacturing and distribution than ever before, and will impose harsher restrictions than in the past. The FDA has however stated that premium cigars may be exempted from some of these harsh measures.

Nothing has been decided for sure at this juncture, but the FDA has proposed an option which could “exclude from the scope of this proposed rule certain cigars that we refer to as ‘premium cigars.’” For the next 75 days, the public is invited to comment on the proposed exception. Now is the time to reach out to the government and let them know why premium cigars are special and deserve special status.

The majority of cigars which sold in the US are mass-market cigars, made by machine and not by hand. These cigars may range in size from cigarette-sized to full-sized, and are generally made of lower-quality tobacco. As they account for the majority of cigars in the USA at this point in time, it is easy to see why the FDA would want to regulate them. That being said, premium cigars are quite different, and are rolled by hand, and made out of higher-quality tobacco. Whereas mass-market cigars, like cigarettes, are made for mass-market consumption, premium cigars are designed for the aficionado.

Speaking about the FDA’s proposal to exempt premium cigars from their restrictions, J. Glynn Loope, executive director of Cigar Rights of America, stated, “It appears that two years’ worth of education work has paid off to a degree because it does seem that (the FDA is) recognizing the difference between premium cigars and e-cigarettes and mass market products.” Cigar Rights of America is a lobbyist group which is comprised of cigar manufacturers as well as cigar enthusiasts and customers.

Eric Newman, president of Tampa’s J.C. Newman Cigar Co., recognized the huge role played by the Cigar Rights of America lobby when he stated, “Where I was pleasantly surprised was the reference to the FDA taking a special look at premium cigars. I think that’s a real credit to the people involved with the CRA.”

Loope emphasized that the 75-day period is a critical one, and that it is absolutely vital for cigar smokers, sellers, and manufacturers to take this opportunity to speak up and explain to the FDA why it is important to support cigar smokers’ rights. Anyone can speak up for the premium cigar world, so if you enjoy your premium cigars and wish to have unfettered access to them in the future, now is the time to implore the FDA to support the option for premium cigars.

La Sirena Cigars Acquires Old School Cigars

La Sirena acquires Old School

The newly independent La Sirena Cigars announced today the acquisition of New York based cigar brand, Old School Cigars. The acquisition was a strategic move for La Sirena to increase their portfolio and gain immediate market share. Old School Cigars is best known for its 3 Lines: Stixx, Jaxx and Jaxx LT.

“La Sirena’s acquisition of Old School Cigars represents a natural fit. Both companies are New York based premium cigar brands featuring unique blends and a high level of cigar expertise,” said Arielle Ditkowich, President and Founder of La Sirena Cigars. “It just made sense to me, as we [La Sirena] continue to grow quickly. I was looking to blend a mild cigar and, during my research, I came across the sweet Connecticut wrapper on the Jaxx LT.”

Beginning immediately, the distribution of Old School Cigars will be handled by the La Sirena Sales team. All orders may be placed through the La Sirena Cigars website, by telephone or email, or by contacting La Sirena regional sales managers. La Sirena Cigars will continue to produce the La Sirena Original and Merlion by La Sirena blends.

“La Sirena continues to gain momentum since our independence in January. Arielle realized we needed to produce a mild, yet full flavored cigar to even out our portfolio. We liked the Jaxx LT so much, we made an offer to buy the company,” said Max Mogil, Vice President of National Sales & Marketing. “This is just the first of many exciting announcements for La Sirena. In addition to the Stixx, Jaxx and Jaxx LT, we’re looking forward to the 2014 IPCPR where we will debut our third line under the La Sirena brand.”

Old School Jaxx and Stixx

Daniel Ditkowich and the Holman Family founded Old School Cigars 7 years ago producing a number of blends over the life span of the company. La Sirena will continue to produce the “Jaxx” made by Tavicusa S.A. in Nicaragua, the “Jaxx LT” made by Plasencia in Honduras and the “Stixx” made by the Quesada Family in the Dominican Republic.

The acquisition will be effective as of April 25th, 2014. As part of the transition, existing Old School stock will be sold with original Old School labels with future production to be labeled “Jaxx by La Sirena”, “Jaxx LT by La Sirena” and “Stixx by La Sirena”.

Cigar Release: Room 101 Daruma Gold

Room 101 Daruma Gold

From the recent press release (Room 101 Daruma Gold will be available starting April 30th):

Evolution is the process that separates those in motion from those who are standing still. As we at Room101 grow, we evolve in every way fathomable. Within this box you will find the evolution of the Daruma. The modifications you will experience in this particular blend are the by-product of our evolution and growth working within the premium tobacco craft.

This life has been nothing short of an adventure and we are proud to offer you tastes of this adventure encapsulated within these smoke-able vessels. With humility, we present to you an evolved taste of one of our finest cigars to date. We hope you dig it.

Cigar Stats: Room 101 Daruma Gold

WRAPPER: San Andres (Mexico)
BINDER: Mata Fina (Brazil)
FILLER: Corojo, Criollo & Pelo de Oro (Honduras & Dominican Republic)

Room 101 Daruma Gold Vitolas

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