Help Save Cigars from FDA Regulation

Help Save Cigars from FDA Regulation

The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has announced their intent to regulate cigars in the United States three times now — the most recent being on February 13th of this year. If the FDA is allowed to regulate cigars, we will see an end to walk-in humidors, and the FDA could start requiring that new cigar blends be submitted for testing. We also may see an end to the beautiful packaging which is part of the premium cigar experience (like in Australia). Many cigar makers may simply turn away from the US market, and numerous boutiques and tobacconists could close outright.

This is the time to fight back, once again. Two bills have been filed in the House and the Senate, H.R. 1639 and Senate Bill 1461, respectively. They are both filed under the name Traditional Cigar Manufacturing and Small Business Jobs Preservation Act. If passed, these bills will protect premium cigars from FDA regulation. More than 85,000 Americans work in the cigar industry, and of course, many more than that enjoy cigars. If cigars are an important part of your life, then please take action now to sign the petition (almost 10,000 signatures as of today) to protect cigars from the FDA. Call up your senators and representatives and ask them to support these preservation acts. Act now while we still can!

Help choose the next CAO blend: “Last Stick Standing”

Last stick standing

Ever wish you could have a say in which blends your favorite cigar companies manufacture? With CAO’s “Last Stick Standing” promotion, we all get a chance! Ed McKenna, CAO’s senior brand manager, explains, “Rick Rodriguez has been developing blends with our team in Nicaragua and has come up with three which we think are all great. So we’re calling on CAO fans to help us pick the blend that will ultimately be launched as a new CAO collection, to be released late this year, or in early 2013.”

It gets even better; the Last Stick Standing promotion comes in a three-pack tin which you can receive for free when you buy any six CAO cigars at participating tobacconists. The three blends are currently referred to only as C, A and O, and each features a sleek, simplistic band with the applicable letter. Each measures 5 ½” x 54. Once you’ve tried out the prototype blends, you can log onto www.lss.caocigars.com and vote. The website allows you to provide ratings on different criteria so that you can really speak your mind. This will provide the company with valuable feedback which will help them to evaluate and improve their cigar blends based on flavor, construction and other factors.

Last stick standing

As if this wasn’t generous enough, you get entered into a drawing to win a box of the winning blend when you submit your rating. There is also a grand prize all-expenses paid vacation to Nicaragua; the grand prize winner will be able to visit and tour the CAO factory to learn all about the cigar production process. This is a very exciting opportunity for CAO fans and there are participating cigar shops all across the country offering the Last Stick Standing promotion. The cigars are available now, so check out the website and get involved in selecting the next CAO blend!

Cigar Release: La Palina El Diario “Kill Bill”

La Palina El Diario Kill Bill

Going against the grain of the industry’s focus on large ring gauge cigars, La Palina is bringing a petit corona to market. The petit corona has always been a favored vitola in Bill Paley’s humidor, and is his preferred size for the daily drive home from the office. Jokingly referred to as the "Kill Bill" during initial blending stages of the El Diario line, the name stuck. The La Palina El Diario KB is a line extension of El Diario's current 5 facings.

The KB is a richly flavored full bodied cigar. The sweet characteristics of the Honduran rosado wrapper round out the spicy notes of the Nicaraguan filler. The double binders from Honduras refine and complete the blend creating beautiful balance.

Cigar Stats

Origin: Honduras
Factory: Raices Cubana
Wrapper: Honduran Corojo '99 Rosado
Binder: Honduran Criollo '98 (x2)
Filler: Nicaraguan Corojo '99 and Criollo '98
Size: 4.25x40
Packaging: sleeve of 5 - 4 packs
MSRP: $35.00 4pk or $8.75 each

Cigar Release: Urbano Economy Bundles

Urbano Economy Bundles

“With five wrappers (we reviewed the Corojo) and five shapes, we haven’t left any cigar smoker behind.” The speaker is Matt Urbano, founder and owner of Urbano Cigars, Inc. “Our new 100% long-filler, hand-made Urbano Economy Bundles meet every smoker’s criterion for variety, satisfaction, and affordability. These mild- to medium-bodied cigars are our latest introduction, and are targeted at the many daily smokers who are looking for an honest cigar that won’t break their budget.”

Urbano Economy Bundles’ wrapper selections are Connecticut Shade, Sumatra, Habano, Corojo and Maduro. They are available in Robusto, Torpedo, Toro, Churchill, and the company’s new 6" x 60 shape. As an extra quality touch, the heads are double-capped, to prevent the messy frustration of having a cap unravel in the mouth.

There’s real value in these smokes ... the long filler and binder are all top-quality Dominican tobaccos that have been painstakingly fermented, then patiently aged. They are hand-made by a Cuban-owned Dominican boutique cigar factory, then aged another three months. Each cigar is individually cellophane-sheathed, and packaged in plastic-wrapped bundles. All shapes are packaged 25 cigars to the bundle, except for the 6" x 60, which comes 20 to a bundle.

Manufacturer’s suggested retail pricing for the Connecticut and Sumatra start at $48 (Robusto), and top out at $55 (6" x 60). The Corojo, Habano and Maduro-wrapped cigars retail for $48 (Robusto) to $60 (6" x 60).

Quoting Urbano, “Long-filler, hand-made Economy Bundles compete head-to-head with mass-produced, ‘no-names,’ factory seconds and overrun items. They’re perfect for today’s depressed economy, delivering premium flavor, quality and affordability to the everyday guy.” Urbano Economy Bundles are now available at tobacco retailers nationwide.

Cigar Release: 7-20-4 1874 Series by Kurt Kendall

7-20-4 1874 Series by Kurt Kendall

The year 1874 saw the establishment of what would become one of the world’s largest cigar manufacturers, the 7-20-4 Cigar Company. Founder R. G. Sullivan built his company’s reputation on his motto: “Quality Still Impels Its Growth.” The Manchester, New Hampshire, company was flourished until the Cuban Embargo closed it and many other world-renowned premium cigar labels.

Founder and company president of the newly-reborn company, Kurt A. Kendall, is a successful New Hampshire cigar retailer, with three stores in the state. He became intrigued with the historic brand, and acquired the defunct trademark in 2009, determined to return the brand to prominence. When asked the origin of the company’s name, he explained, “It was the original factory showroom’s address at 724 Elm Street.” All 7-20-4 boutique premium cigars are now hand made from 100% long-filler tobaccos, in Danli, Honduras and Esteli, Nicaragua.

The 1874 Series is Kendall’s second introduction, following the 7-20-4 brand’s 2009 debut. The first cigar was noted for its deeply complex six-nation blend, which has now grown to eight shapes. The premiere 7-20-4 boutique cigar received wide acclaim for its performance, and the 1874 Series has followed, receiving kudos in the cigar media.

Three 1874 Series shapes are offered: a 6" x 46 Corona Especial, a 5-1/4" x 52 Robusto Especial, and a 6" x 54 Torpedo Especial. The complex blend consists of a filler from Nicaragua’s Jalapa Valley and the nearby cigar-making capital of Esteli, an Indonesian binder, and a Jalapa-grown Habano wrapper.

New Australian smoking laws aimed at small businesses

New Australian plain cigarette packs

Note: we didn't want these new packs to be freely visible on the site. If you really want to see what they look like, click on the picture below (not for the faint-hearted).

Recent “health” legislation passed in Australia will harm small cigar retailers but is unlikely to actually curb cigar smoking or protect the health of cigar smokers. The new laws — similar to those being considered by the FDA in the US right now — will require that all tobacco products sold in the country be packaged drably without style or flair and include large, clear health warnings on their labels. This will include cigars as well as cigarettes — even though cigar smoking is a completely different industry.

The Australian government believes (as the FDA in America does) that this will prevent youthful smokers from purchasing cigars, and that it will reduce the amount of smoking which takes place in Australia. This is a fallacy for more reason than one. For starters, the average cigar smoker is male, age 35 and older. Youthful smokers usually turn to cigarettes and not cigars. The other reason that applying the legislation to cigars won’t reduce smoking is that cigar smokers don’t smoke the same way and for the same reasons as cigarette smokers.

Smokers of premium cigars are connoisseurs—they don’t smoke out of habit, they smoke instead to enjoy a hand-made product which has been artfully crafted for a unique experience (the packaging is part of this experience). Premium cigars aren’t cheap, and they are enjoyed slowly at a leisurely pace. While the Australian legislation may curb cigarette smoking (or not), it is unlikely to curb cigar smoking, since cigar smokers will simply turn to online retailers for their cigars. One Brisbane cigar retailer, Rob Ayala (owner of Cigar Czar), took a poll of his customers and found out that 58% of them would simply buy their cigars online instead of from him. Only 1.3% said they’d cut back on smoking. "No one who purchases premium cigars at $15-$50 ($300-$1,250 a box), will purchase plain-packaged, plain-banded cigars when they have so many options internationally," said Ayala.

"We must challenge perceptions that cigars are in any way more glamorous, or a less harmful alternative, to cigarettes," said Health Minister Tanya Plibersek.

There is no scientific evidence to suggest that cigars aren’t as unhealthy as cigarettes in the most basic sense (at least I can't find any - got a reference?), but the differing habits of cigar smokers typically are less unhealthy, starting with the fact that cigar smoke is not meant to be inhaled. Here is scientific evidence - thanks Cameron! Furthermore, cigar smokers don’t burn through packs of cigars each day. Many treat themselves to just one nice premium cigar every few days, or even just once a week. Cigars cost a lot more, and are meant to be enjoyed in the moment—not burned through rapidly and mindlessly. The new legislation ignores this fact and is punishing premium cigar smokers and retailers without regard to these facts — and all that will do is harm small businesses in Australia and cut into the rights of the consumer.

Cigar Aficionado releases their Top 25 cigars of 2011

Cigar Aficionado releases their Top 25 cigars of 2011

Every year, as most cigar publications (online and offline) release their top lists, there's one list that probably gets more attention than others. Cigar Aficionado, a major cigar magazine, knows how to create a lot of buzz for its controversial "best of". What do I think about their list? For me, it's just a list like any other bloggers' lists out there, i.e. a totally subjective opinion that doesn't pretend to be the ultimate truth and shouldn't be considered as such.

Cigar smokers may ask themselves how come the Alec Bradley Prensado, a definitely good smoke but rarely qualified as exceptional, can earn the #1 spot, but I say why not (congrats, guys!)? For instance, Cigarfan, a highly-respected BOTL, ranked it as his #2. By the way, his #1 is Cigar Aficionado's #2. We may also wonder why the CA's list only has two four Cuban cigars, with the Partagas Serie P No. 2 taking up the 4th spot, is this the right proportion? Not really, at least for me. But everybody is free to determine his/her own proportions and favorites, so like every year I'll scan the list, add a couple of smokes to my "gotta try it" basket, and move on.

Cigar Release: Litto Gomez Small Batch No. 4

Litto Gomez Small Batch No. 4

Coral Gables, FL December, 2011: La Flor Dominicana will introduce the fourth in a series of "Small Batch" Litto Gomez Diez cigars. This limited production item is sold only to selected "Appointed Merchants".

These cigars are very special, made with tobaccos that are the cream of the crop. The tobaccos in these cigars are hand selected by Litto Gomez and are considered the "best of the best". Initial release of fifty boxes will be in December with future shipments expected in January, 2012. Total production will be about 250 boxes.

Technical characteristics

Name: Litto Gomez Diez Small Batch No. 4
Size: 52 X 7 inches
Packaging: Cedar cases of 105 cigars
Body: Full
Blend: 100% Dominican Puro
Wrapper: Dominican Pelo de Oro
Binder and Filler: 100% Dominican
Vintage: 2006

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