Cigar Release: Master by Carlos Toraño

Cigar Release: Master by Carlos Toraño

Update: here is our review of the Carlos Torano Master.

One of America’s most respected and venerable premium cigar manufacturers has teamed with America’s most recognized torcedor to create a special cigar, Master by Carlos Toraño. The collaboration joins Charlie Toraño, the fourth leader of the four-generation cigar company, with master roller Felipe Sosa, a true artisan who has worked with the Toraño family for over a decade. The fruit of their cooperation debuts this August, and the new cigar will be available only at brick-and-mortar tobacconists nationwide.

Toraño Cigars is known throughout the trade for hosting exciting and dynamic cigar rolling events. One reason for their success has been Sosa’s talent, skill and charm. As Toraño states, “Felipe has been a company ambassador for many years, and is certainly the most widely-recognized torcedor in America ... we also think he’s the best in America, and one of only a handful of the world’s finest rollers. He has traveled to literally hundreds of smokeshops, where he is a favorite among the guests. Felipe has become not only their personal cigar roller at these events, including those of the Roots Run Deep Tour, but also a teacher of the cigar-making craft to willing guests. His magnetic personality and signature hat, plus his command of the English language, draw crowds to his table. Over the years, countless people have asked Felipe why he has not created his own blend. Master by Carlos Toraño is the company’s response to those requests.”

When he talks about his cigars, Toraño says his family’s cigar blends have always expressed the personalities, tradition and history of the Toraño family. “I am a firm believer that each individual cigar maker brings his or her particular signature or passion to their blends,” says Toraño. “The idea for this new cigar was to take our style and personality, and combine them with Felipe’s.” The result is a unique offering by Toraño.

Master is offered in four shapes: 5 x 50, 6 1/4 x 52 Torpedo, 7 x 50, and 6 x 54. Toraño describes it as “having a bold, rich flavor ... it’s for the man with a seasoned palate, a cigar that fully satisfies after an opulent meal or an evening pairing with spirits. True aficionados will discern and appreciate the balanced flavor and body.” Details of the blend and suggested retail pricing will be announced at its release.

Toraño explains, “Master’s box art bears Felipe’s image for a reason. His initiative, talent and character have earned him this title of Master Roller. He and I will work together to personally oversee every aspect of blending and manufacturing this premier cigar. We feel confident the Toraño reputation for never compromising quality and performance is further enhanced by this new collaboration. Few people know of Felipe’s monumental courage and determination. Now 48, he had been a cigar roller in Cuba, acquiring extraordinary skills. Simply being Cuban doesn’t make a torcedor great ... Felipe’s work showed a talent and desire to excel that far surpassed those of his fellow workers. In 1994, at age 32, he left family and friends, and entrusted his life, and the lives of his wife and infant son, to a tiny raft, drifting away from Cuba for a better life in America. Now, the flawless construction, consistency and beauty of his cigars have gained admiration among smokers and retailers at Toraño events, at which he has rolled thousands of personalized cigars.”

Founded in Havana in 1916 by great-grandfather Santiago Toraño, the family likewise has triumphed over their own 1959 exile. That historic event was the namesake for their international award-winning Exodus 1959, and their top-rated Exodus Silver and Exodus 1959-50 Years lines. These and other Toraño cigars are among the industry’s most sought-after brands. Today, their achievement is exemplified by their premium cigars’ loyal following.

“Felipe has found a home with us,” continues Toraño. “His passion lies in tobacco and family, a commitment that resonates with our family, strengthening our close relationship. Over the years, Felipe has remained a bulwark at Toraño Cigars, never losing his enthusiasm for his craft and our company. He deserves to see this cigar acknowledge his Master status and immense character. Together, I think we’ve made an unbelievable cigar.”

Cigar Release: San Lotano by A.J. Fernandez

Cigar Release: San Lotano by A.J. Fernandez

Update: here is our review of the San Lotano Oval

Miami, FL, 31 July – Cigar Express is pleased to announce the exciting new cigar release San Lotano, a signature blend by A.J. Fernandez. With a rich history, San Lotano dates back to Cuba’s pre-Castro era where the brand was among the most popular with traditional Cuban cigar makers. Retired for decades, the line is being reintroduced by A.J. Fernandez whose grandfather first started the brand in San Luis, Cuba. San Lotano is made entirely by hand in the Fernandez factory in Esteli, Nicaragua, and is available in three enticing variations encompassing Habano, Connecticut and Maduro wrappers.

A.J. Fernandez is no stranger in the cigar industry. As a third generation cigar maker, born in Cuba, Fernandez is well known for being one of the only cigar makers in the industry to still employ many of the oldest traditions and secrets that have earned him an unmatched reputation among cigar aficionados. When asked about the importance of the brand, A.J. says, “San Lotano has been a project many years in the making for me, and it is made to honor the tradition of cigar making that I learned from my father and my father’s father. The blends are extremely rich, flavorful and are the culmination of my family’s knowledge which has been accumulated over the last century.”

The Fernandez factory is one of the largest in Nicaragua, producing 9 million cigars a year. While this is the first nationally distributed release coming from Fernandez himself, he has made cigars for many notable brands in the industry over the past few years including: Padilla, Rocky Patel, Graycliff, Gurkha, Man O War, Diesel and many more.

Catching up on press releases

There have been some interesting happenings in the cigar industry lately. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to cover all the events but I tried to aggregate the most important ones in this post. Enjoy.

Who owns 'Cohiba'? the US, of course. It seems like General Cigar will be able to rightfully use the brand name Cohiba in the United States, after a decade of legal action initiated by Cubatabaco.
Check out the press release here.

Changes at Toraño

Toraño will change its name to Toraño Family Cigars, take back distribution from CAO and introduce three new lines (the Master by Carlos Toraño, Single Region and a new value line known as the Brigade). You can expect reviews of the new lines on this blog as soon as they are released.
Full press-release is published here.

These were the most interesting news. Stay tuned for more!

In the blogosphere

Here are some happenings in the cigar blogosphere that you really shouldn't miss.

Contest time at Toasted Foot strikes again with an impressive contest with 4 boxes of cigars to be given away, sponsored by General Cigar. In order to enter, you must enter another contest organized by General Cigar themselves... so you get a chance to win both!
Check it out here

Coverage of Cigar Expo 2010

Mike at just published a wrap up of the Cigar Expo 2010. Sounds like a fun show!

Have a nice week-end!

La Palina cigars press-release

La Palina cigars

Update: here is our review of the La Palina Alison

You might have noticed some ads for La Palina cigars and if you clicked on one of them you probably didn't find a lot of information on their official website, still in its pre-launch stage. Well here is the press-release which will give you more insight on this brand.

In June 2010, Bill Paley will re-launch La Palina, a storied cigar brand famously linked to the early and fortuitous beginnings of CBS Broadcasting founded by Bill’s father, William S. Paley. The brand debuts with the introduction of the “1896” cigar series, fittingly dedicated to Paley’s grandfather, Sam Paley, who founded the Congress Cigar Company in 1896. It was William S. Paley’s interest in promoting La Palina through the use of radio advertising that led him into the broadcasting business.

La Palina, which literally translates to “female Paley” was named for Sam’s wife Goldie Drell Paley, and was also the company’s most fashionable brand, popularized by the image of Goldie in Spanish costume on the cigar box’s interior and exterior.

“With the revival of La Palina, a family tradition continues,” said Paley, who sought to create a superb cigar to offer his guests at Lightbourne House, the family compound on Nassau in the Bahamas.

La Palina premium handmade cigars are a marriage of the finest tobacco leaves, aged, fermented, selected and blended by master artisans. The “1896” series is a blend of Nicaraguan and Honduran tobacco with an Ecuadorian wrapper and a Costa Rican binder. The “Sam” signature cigar is 4.75 inches long with a 52 gauge.

The Family Series will be introduced later this year and will consist of four different cigar formats and include:

  • The “Pasha” is a tribute to Bill’s father, William S. Paley. Though known as “The Chairman” at work, he was jokingly known as “Pasha” at home. The cigar measures 7.25 inches with a 50 ring gauge and an unfinished foot.
  • The “Babe” dedicated to Bill Paley’s mother Babe Paley, who was known as a fashion icon and socialite. Her style was so revered that she was included in the Best Dressed Hall of Fame. The cigar measures 5.25 inches with a 50 ring gauge.
  • The “Alison” is dedicated to Bill’s wife Alison VanMetre Paley whose support and encouragement made La Palina’s revival possible. The torpedo shaped cigar measures 6.5 inches with a 52 ring gauge.
  • The “Little Bill” is named for Bill Paley as it was the name used to distinguish him from his father. The cigar measures 4.5 inches with a 52 ring gauge.

The “1896” Sam will retail for $19 per piece and $190 for a box of 10. The cigars will be available at high end tobacco retailers around the country.

Photo credit: Max Hirshfeld

Nosotros Worldwide Release Event

Nosotros Cigars

So last Friday, the folks at Empire Cigars in Raleigh, NC had a very special event. This was the worldwide release of the Nosotros cigar by Dion Giolito made in collaboration with Jonathan Drew and Drew Estate.

Dion and Jonathan were supposed to be there, but Jonathan ended up at another shop for a similar event (?). This was ok, because I was very interested in picking the brain of one of the cigar industry’s biggest up-and-comers, Dion Giolito. This guy is known for his palate and cigar flavor memory, and like me is a true cigar geek.

I walk in a little before 4 and Dion is already there chatting with Hal Rubin, the owner of Empire Cigars. I introduce myself and shake hands say a quick hello to some of my buddies before checking out the sticks. Four sizes were available that night – the Corona Larga, Robusto, Corona and Churchill. Dion told me the Toros and the 660s will be in by the end of the month.

I’m in line waiting to get a box (the Corona Largas) and Dion is standing near/above (he’s like 9 feet tall), so I start talking to him. He asks which size I picked, I show him the CLs, and he tells me that they are 60 days from the table and suggested I try one or two now and put the rest away for at least a month. You gotta love a guy that up front and open about his product.

Dion Giolito

I ask him if he is glad that the cigar is finally out and he agrees, but he was less concerned about the delay (they were initially going to be released in 2009) and more concerned about getting out a product that is ready to be smoked and it tastes like he wants it to taste.

I pay for my box and get me freebies (4 ~mk~‘s!) and sit up front with Dion. My buddy Matt joins me, and we start with the questions. I ask him about the blend and he tells me what makes this blend special is the Oliva ASP Viso tobacco in the filler. This has been a leaf he’s been trying to find for quite a while. He talks about having to use to ASP Viso leaves for the different sizes. The smaller sizes get the ASP Viso while the bigger ring gauge sizes needed a little extra punch of flavor so they get the ASP Viso Pequeno, which is actually a smaller leaf but a higher priming, so it gets more sun/time and therefore more flavor.

I light up a Corona Larga from my box and note right away, this is not like any Illusione, or Drew Estate cigar for the matter, I’ve ever had before. I’ll go in more depth in my review which will follow, so stay tuned!

I ask him about the move to Drew Estate rather than having Arsenio Ramos at the Raices Cubanas factory (Casa Fernandez) make the Nosotros. He delved into the reasons for having someone else make his product. He had always wanted to have more than one person make his cigars. He didn’t want the “same” taste in all of his cigars, and he also didn’t want to put all of his eggs in one basket. He originally was going to have the Cruzado made by Joya de Nicaragua, but when Drew Estate took over distribution of JdN, the were unable at that time to make a cigar for him. Dion understood and went back to Raices Cubanas. When the time was right, the folks at Drew Estate and Dion got together and Dion went through their inventory of tobacco and put together a blend based on the individual flavors of each leaf (pretty amazing when you think about it). More incredible, is that the first blend became the final blend used in the Nosotros!

Guys at the Nosotros event

Other regulars joined in, and Dion educated us on Nicaragua and its tobacco, how he creates his blends and also the scoop on his new project the yearly Limited Edition – the Singulare. Dion shared a lot of interesting stuff about this blend off the record, so all I can tell you is that each year will feature a different blend in one size. Based on what he shared with us, I cannot wait for this cigar to come out!

We talk about other cigars he likes. We discuss Pete Johnson and his cigars (Tatuaje), Don Pepin, the Fuentes, La Flor Dominicana, Davidoffs and even Habanos. Like me, Dion loves to smoke all different types of cigars, and not just his own!

Talk moves away from cigars and into music and movies. Matt breaks out an Illusione Culebra to share, the ~23~, and Dion notes that this is the only size made in Miami by one roller. It also features just one type of leaf from the blend. It really sets it apart from the other sizes in the line.

I ask Dion what is his dream leaf that he wanted to work with, and he says it’s the one in the Nosotros, the ASP Viso. I asked him if he planned on any new lines this year. He said no, he didn’t want to have a glut of lines and wanted to focus on making good cigars and his yearly Singulare LEs.

Through the night Dion smoked a Nosotros and a Cruzado Marios, which he said are really “on” right now. Another one of his favorites is the ~mk~. I had a Nosotros Corona Larga, an Epernay La Petite, an Illusione ~23~ and a ~mk~. Whew! One thing that’s great about Dion’s smokes is that though they pack tons of flavor, they’re not so strong to kill the palate, so I was able to enjoy multiple cigars that night (as well as a few glasses of home-brewed beer from our buddy Rich).

Nosotros event - Dion and Hal

The night goes by quickly and I can tell you I learned more about the industry in a few hours with Dion than I have through all of my research prior. He is a great guy, a gracious host and really stands behind and is very proud of his product. It was a great night, and hopefully we can get him to stop in again!

I’d also like to thank Hal and Dave at Empire Cigars for throwing an awesome party!

New Cigar Release: Berger & Argenti Clasico

New Cigar Release: Berger & Argenti Clasico

MIAMI – Berger & Argenti Premium Cigars today announced that CLASICO®, a boldly crafted new cigar blend created by the unique collaboration of Enrique Berger and Michael Argenti, is now available at fine tobacconists throughout the U.S.

CLASICO® is comprised of meticulously blended bold and deeply aged Nicaraguan filler tobaccos cultivated at Tabacalera Esteli, its rich farmland widely considered by cigar makers as among the finest in Nicaragua for filler tobaccos. The Cuban seed Nicaraguan fillers are sheathed in a sumptuous Nicaraguan Corojo binder and skillfully enveloped in a stalk-cut, molasses-colored Ecuadorian Connecticut seed ‘Desflorado’ wrapper; exhibiting a well-balanced, full-bodied character bursting with a confluence of sweet and spicy flavors. CLASICO® offers exceptional value through its impeccable craftsmanship: the new brand is hecho a mano totalmente - completely crafted by hand - without aid of any mechanical devices and fashioned with a mounted, triple cap at the head of each cigar.

CLASICO® is available in four exquisite sizes: ‘Corona Gorda’ (4 ½”x 46); ‘Rothschild’ (5” x 50); ‘Belicoso (5 ¾” x 50); and ‘Churchill’ (7” x 50). Twenty (20) CLASICO® cigars are thoughtfully presented in unpretentiously elegant Spanish cedar boxes with a suggested retail price ranging from $4.50 to $7.50 per cigar, offering exceptional value and affordability.

“For many years, Michael and I have discussed creating a fuller bodied, ‘Cubanesque’ cigar brand of the highest integrity in terms of materials and craftsmanship at a widely affordable price,” stated Enrique Berger of Berger & Argenti Premium Cigars. “I’m proud to say that CLASICO® is that brand. It is a wonderful blend of deeply aged, exceptional tobaccos that is robust, complex and flavorful. I am truly proud to associate my name with the CLASICO® brand.”

“CLASICO® is in a league of its own, it is the epitome of superior value,” stated Michael Argenti, president of Berger & Argenti Premium Cigars. “From its rich tobaccos to its exacting craftsmanship and bold, complex flavor, this brand represents our vision of delivering satisfaction and value to even the most discriminating cigar enthusiasts.”

Berger & Argenti Premium Cigars is a privately-held company headquartered in Miami, Florida with agricultural and production facilities in Esteli, Nicaragua. The company serves as the exclusive manufacturer, importer and distributor of world-class, super-premium cigar brands including ENTUBAR®, CLASICO®, EXILE®, EXILE® Wired and Rodrigo de Xerez®. For more information, please call toll-free (800) 815-1155.

Kazakhstan enters the cigar market

Kazakhstan enters the cigar market

Surprising, but true - after France, Panama and Puerto Rico, we have another addition to the cigar landscape, and one that, surely, nobody expected. According to Itar-Tass, the testing is finished and Gaziz Batoev, head of KazTabak Inc., just announced that the experimental 10 hectares of land west of Qostanay, near the Russian border, will be planted in 2010 with the specially designed Cuban seed, Corojo 2005, a hybrid that resists wind and cold characteristic of the region. "Our population becomes richer and richer thanks to oil, gaz and uranium revenue", says Batoev, chewing on a Montecristo Edmundo. "We are in need of luxury products and premium hand-made cigars will definitely be welcome in our country, especially if they are grown here". While Batoev seems confident and claims he will make Kazakhstan the 5th producing country within 10 years, I honestly doubt the success of this venture. What do you think?

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