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!

Rocky Patel Raises Prices & New Releases

Rocky Patel

In this week’s news, we have some exciting new releases from Drew Estate, Alec Bradley and La Flor Dominicana. Let’s check them out!

New and Upcoming Releases:

  • Drew Estate has announced the release of a new cigar exclusively for Stogies World Class Cigars of Houston, Texas, called the Herrera Estelí Edicion Limitada H-Town Lancero. This 7 x 38 cigar will come in packages of 10 and will feature Nicaraguan fillers in a Brazilian Mata Fina binder and a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper.
  • Yet another new cigar has inconspicuously made its way to retail shelves. This time it is the Alec Bradley Medio Fuerte Liga de Reyes, which appeared sneakily on the shelves of Atlantic Cigar. The new smoke includes filler leaves from Nicaragua and Honduras inside a Nicaraguan binder and Nicaraguan Habano wrapper. It is classified by the retailer as a “solid medium-bodied smoke,” and comes in seven sizes: 770, Churchill, Corona, Gordo, Robusto, Torpedo, and Toro.
  • Meanwhile, La Flor Dominicana is reviving the 2000 Series and adding two brand new sizes. All but one of the existing sizes was discontinued back in 2013. All the old sizes are being brought back, along with the new Lancero and Chisel sizes. The new version of the 2000 Series will include the same Cameroon wrapper, Dominican binder and Dominican filler.

Industry News:

  • As you are likely aware, many cigar companies have been raising their prices lately in response to the new regulations by the FDA. Rocky Patel is the latest to join the lot, having recently sent out a letter to retailers announcing a 5% increase on all products across the board—with the exception of the Rocky Patel Decade (which will increase in cost by 2.5%), and the Rocky Patel Vintage Juniors (which will go up in price by 5 cents for each cigar). The new costs will be implemented starting on November 15th. So now is the time to get in those Rocky Patel orders—before prices go up!

Legal News:

  • Two cities in California have just banned smoking in parks: Calistoga and Kerman. The Calistoga ban additionally prohibits smoking in lots which are adjacent to parks. The Kerman ban prohibits the sale or exchange of tobacco products in parks along with smoking.

Thank you for checking in with us for this week’s cigar updates!

Visiting Cuba? You Can Now Bring Back Cigars & Rum

Visiting Cuba?  You Can Now Bring Back All the Cuban Cigars You Want

With elections just around the corner, the Obama administration has given one last gift to the cigar community domestically and abroad—and that is a complete lift of the ban on Cuban cigars and rum.

As of Monday, you will now be able to bring back as much Cuban rum and as many Cuban cigars as you want when you visit Cuba and return to the US. You also can purchase Cuban cigars in other countries and bring them back. So long as you are importing the cigars and rum for your own personal consumption (and not for retail purposes), you are good to go.

The only restriction still standing is on online sales. Sadly you do still need to travel in person to pick up your cigars. You cannot buy them through a website and have them shipped to you stateside.

This is the latest step in the normalization process announced by US President Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro on December 17th, 2014.

On Friday, Obama also charted a path for the future which will hopefully cancel out the economic embargo on Cuba altogether. The goal is to build numerous ties between the US and Cuba so that the fates of the two countries are positively intertwined. This will make it difficult for any future administration to try and reinstate the embargoes and cut off relations.

As you may be aware, some action was already taken in January of 2015 to reduce restrictions on Cuban rum and cigar imports. But previously, you could only bring back $100 worth of cigars and rum in your carry-on. Now there are no restrictions, save for this: “normal limits on duty and tax exemptions will apply.”

Speaking on the change, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said, "These steps have the potential to accelerate constructive change and unlock greater economic opportunity for Cubans and Americans.”

There is no doubt that this will be a game-changing boon to the cigar industry. While the benefits will center on Cuba and the US, there will be a positive ripple effect which stimulates cigar sales throughout the world!

Habanos Festival Date and New Releases

Habanos Festival.

It’s that time again … time for a round-up on all the news in the cigar industry! This week we have some updates for you on new releases from some of your favorite cigar brands. There is also some news on the legislative front (a mixed bag, as usual), and a festival announcement from Habanos. Let’s check it out.

New and Upcoming Releases:

  • This month, Davidoff will be launching the New Royal Series. Sound familiar? This release is more than a new look. The wrapper is changing from the Ecuadorian one used previously to an Aromatica Dominicana. This wrapper will be exclusive to the New Royal Series. Only 8 individuals are involved with wrapping the cigars by hand, each of whom has 15 or more years of experience.
  • Tatuaje has announced its “Unlucky 13” list of retailers for the year, each of which will receive special boxes of the 2016 Monster Series, starting with the Krueger, which has already shipped.
  • Viaje has just announced a couple of new projects. This includes the Full Moon release for 2016 (Full Moon has been shipped every year since 2013), which will be a Collector’s Edition, and the new Viaje Exclusivo Nicaragua. This cigar looks a lot like the Exclusivo line which already exists, except that there is a new band and packaging, and it is also a brand new blend manufactured at the TABSA factory in Nicaragua.
  • As you likely know, a lot of cigar releases this year have been simply “appearing” on shelves because manufacturers have been forced to release them early in limited quantities to select retailers to get in under the new FDA deadline. Well, the newest one to turn up is the Alec Bradley Corojo, found at STOGIES World Class Cigars in Houston. It comes in five sizes: Gordo, Robusto, Churchill, Torpedo and Toro, and costs $6-8.
  • Habanos S.A. will be releasing the Cohiba Selección 50 Aniversario Travel Humidor at the Tax Free World Association Exhibition in Cannes, France. As you might guess, these humidors will go on sale at duty free shops worldwide. Each comes with a special gift inside: eight Cohiba cigars. No release date or price has been announced yet.

Legal News:

  • Live in Fulton County, Georgia? Unfortunately, you will no longer be able to smoke in parks throughout the county. The seven-member board approved the ban unanimously, and tacked on a hefty fine to boot: $1,000 and 60 days in jail. Just in case you don’t live in Georgia, you need to know that this is a big deal, because Fulton County is very populous; it contains around 90% of the city of Atlanta. The cities of Alpharetta, College Park, Sandy Springs, and East Point are all inside county lines as well. So that is a lot of people who can no longer smoke in public parks.
  • In happier news, if you live in the state of California, you can still smoke cigars at state beaches and parks. As we recently reported, Governor Jerry Brown struck down a bill that would have banned smoking on public campuses throughout the state. Now he has vetoed a second bill which would have prohibited smoking at state parks and beaches. Brown’s veto message does suggest that some regulatory steps should be taken, but, “The complete prohibition in all parks and beaches is too broad.”

Industry News:

  • President Obama has just nominated the first ambassador to Cuba since 1961, Jeffrey DeLaurentis. This is a huge step forward in the normalization of relations, and like all other steps in that process, represents excellent news for cigar lovers in the US.
  • In one more exciting news item relating to Cuba, Habanos S.A. has just announced the dates for the 19th Festival del Habanos, which will commence on Monday, February 27th, and run through Friday, March 3rd. The featured cigar has yet to be announced.

And that wraps it up for this week’s cigar news updates. Be sure to check back soon for more industry news!

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