Cigar Release: Miraculous Templar Cigars

Cigar Release: Miraculous Templar Cigars

Los Angeles based diamond broker David Rafaeli takes a few trips a year to the brokerage centers of Antwerp and Tel Aviv. During one of his trips to Tel Aviv he set eyes on an unusual diamond. The green-yellow stone contained a perfectly formed equilateral cross, a replica of the symbol of the Templar Knights. The symbols corners represent eight points; the eight virtues of the Templar Knights: Brotherhood, Piety, Loyalty, Honesty, Honor, Charity, Spirituality and Devotion.
Cigar Release: Miraculous Templar Cigars
This discovery inspired David Rafaeli to launch a new cigar line. Miraculous Templar cigars are handmade with prime Dominican Cuban-Seed long-filler tobacco. The cigars come in boxes of 50 with the option of 3 different sizes; a 5x50 robusto, a 6x50 toro and a 6.75x50 Churchill (a 50-ring churchill? Hm...). All of these cigars are also available with a maduro wrapper. They are priced between $95 and $115 per box.

Currently the only place that one may purchase these cigars are The Las Vegas Palms Casino or The Four Seasons Hotel. For those of you that do not live in the vicinity of these places, the company is looking forward to branching out and possibly bringing these cigars to a local store near you.

Outdoor smoking banned in New York City

Smoking banned in New York City

In a pretty darn fascist move, and despite the petition I posted about a few months ago, the New York City council has approved a city-wide ban of smoking in outdoor public spaces, eight years after the ban on smoking in bars and restaurants went into effect. We’re not just talking about doorways here—this ban will apply to wide open spaces too, like beaches, public squares, and the city’s 1700 parks.

The vote is scheduled to become law in about 90 days, right as the weather starts warming up. Robert Jackson, a non-smoking Manhattan Democrat, criticized the measure, calling it “totalitarian.”

… And it is. Central Park, one of the areas you won’t be able to smoke in anymore, is 843 acres. 843 acres, and not exactly crowded acres either. The exposure to second-hand smoke in public squares and street corners is already so fleeting that its effects are probably negligible, and the city council is telling us that 843 acres isn’t enough space to have a smoke without endangering someone’s health? Even in a city as crowded as NYC, that’s a lot of space. The massive pollution already present in the city does not seem to worry anyone though. The hypocrisy here is blatant and astounding.

The motion passed in the city council with fairly overwhelming support in a vote of 36 to 12. The new law will make New York City one of the least smoker-friendly parts of the U.S. Considering the largely liberal population of the city, this is a disturbingly conservative move. Nor will it necessarily stop here. Smokers are advised to keep an eye on NYC for further developments.

One more step in the right direction


Since 1962, the US embargo on Cuba has been detrimental – to say the very least. Wayne Smith, current director of the Center for International Policy’s Cuba Program quite possibly sums it up the best with his remarks on the embargo, stating that “really hasn’t done the slightest bit of good.” Fortunately enough, the Obama Administration is taking positive strides in hopes to remove the embargo altogether. While no one can explicitly state that there will be a removal any time soon, there has been definite progress in the matter. Now, it is possible for Americans to send $500 every three months to non-family members in the country.

This is an addendum to legislation that allowed for US residents to send funds to family members in the country, a policy that assuredly wasn’t necessarily in the best interests of the Cuban residents. With the sanctions in place, it gave unhappy Cubans someone to blame for their economic state, causing even more divide between the two countries. The most telling thing about removing the embargo is that it will allow for Cubans to understand that the sanctions against them is not the sole detrimental aspect of their country – allowing for them to see the weak points in their government.

But, what makes this especially great is what it means for cigar aficionados, as we’re just that closer to being able to enjoy fine Cuban cigars. While this may not mean that we should be priming ourselves for these fine goods, these moves are assuredly a step in the right direction. Since 2009, we’ve already seen much progress in lifting nearly all restrictions and remittances as far as the island nation is concerned. With growing pressure by the U.N. and other entities with economic interest, we may see an end to the blockade sooner than previously anticipated.

Cigar Aficionado releases their Top 25 cigars of 2010

Cigar Aficionado releases their Top 25 cigars of 2010

Every year, a lot of cigar smokers wait for Cigar Aficionado's Top 25 cigars of the year. Some of them swear by this list and make their purchasing decisions solely based on the ranking. At the same time, many aficionados I know and the majority (am I right?) of cigar bloggers are rather sceptical about it, thinking that it might be based on advertising revenue more than on anything else. I stand somewhere in the middle. I simply think that one shouldn't give any extra weight to the CA's list over any other list out there.

As for the list itself, I thought it was very likely for Cohiba Behike to become #1; I must admit that this cigar was rather well-marketed and the quality is there, although the reviews were somewhat mixed. However, I do not really approve crowning an incredibly expensive and hyped cigar for the second time in a row. This being said, there are some quality sticks in the list, it definitely deserves a look. But not a 25-boxes buying spree.

Smoking ban in Spain

Smoking ban in Spain

What a difference a day can make. On January 31st, 2010, you could be sitting in a Spanish tapas bar enjoying a nice stogie with some friends. But, do the same thing a few days later, and you will be slapped with a big fine. That’s right – one of the countries with the highest Cuban tobacco consumption per capita in the world has banned smoking.

If you are in Spain, you are no longer allowed to enjoy your fine cigar in any restaurant, bar, or enclosed space that is open to the public. Plan on ignoring the law and lighting up anyways? Expect to pay around $40 for a first offence, all the way up to $100,000 for repeat offences. The owners of the establishment you light up in will also be on the hook for big monetary fines.

While the Spanish government reports that smoking kills over 50,000 people per year, they seem to have acted in a rash manner. Have they really thought about the consequences to the rich Spanish social life and the tradition of having a drink and a cigar with friends? The venues that now prohibit smoking are a very large part of the Spanish economy, and if people are not allowed to enjoy a smoke there, they might no longer show up. How can that be good for a country that is struggling financially?

What repercussions will the smoking ban in Spain have on their hospitality industry, their entertainment industry and the overall state of tobacco consumption countrywide? Only time will tell, but one thing is for sure – a lot of cigar smokers are unhappy about it.

Cigar Release: La Aurora Broadway for NY

La Aurora Broadway for NY

Another blend to be released only for New York tobacconists. I like the initiative of crafting a cigar keeping the outrageous tax in mind.

MIAMI FL – Miami Cigar & Company, the exclusive US distributor for La Aurora, announces help is on the way for New York. Tobacconists are suffering under harsh tobacco tax of 75% of wholesale cost which prices many cigars out of the average smoker’s reach. La Aurora vice president Guillermo León says it is time for action to help smokers. As a result, León and Miami Cigar and Company President Nestor Miranda are releasing a special Broadway Series by La Aurora with a suggested retail price of $12.25 including the onerous NY state tobacco tax.

León says, “New York has always been special to me and my family. What has happened with the cigar taxes in New York is tragic. Since we cannot lower the taxes, we worked hard to lower the cost of this cigar without compromising quality.” Adds Miranda, “we are beginning to try to help tobacconists with the Broadway series by La Aurora just in time for Christmas.”

On Monday, December 20th, Cigar Inn on Second Avenue in New York City will host Guillermo León, Nestor Miranda and Miami Cigar VP Rene Castaneda with a private dinner to launch the Broadway series. The initial cigar is a Sumo Toro, measuring 5 ¾ X 54. Its blend uses a double wrapper of Ecuadorian Sumatran and Nicaraguan over Dominican Corojo binder and fillers from the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Peru. The Broadway Series will only be available at tobacconists in New York state.

Cigar Release: Alec Bradley New York

Cigar Release: Alec Bradley New York

Update: here is our review of the Alec Bradley New York.

DANIA, FL – November 23, 2010: You could say that the entire staff at Alec Bradley Cigars is in a New York state of mind as they prepare for the New York State pre-release of the new Alec Bradley New York cigar. Friday, December 10, 2010. Handcrafted in five shapes, the cigars are rolled in an exquisite Honduran Habana seed wrapper grown in Trojes, Honduras. Alec Bradley New York will be available only for New York state tobacconists: All sales outside the state will have to be placed through a New York tobacconist listed on the Alec Bradley website. Production is underway for the general release in the first quarter of 2011.

"Both of my parents are from New York. They had a wholesale candy and tobacco business there for years," said Rubin. "They worked hard, as my grandparents did before them. I felt that kind of history deserved making a line honoring the state that gave my family and millions of others a chance to make it in the US."

The Alec Bradley New York is presented in boxes of 20 cigars in the following shapes:
Six Two (Robusto) 52 x 5 ¼
Empire (Toro) 54 x 6
Liberty (Churchill) 50 x 7
Gotham (Torpedo) 54 x 6 1/8
Declaration (Gran Toro) 58 x 6

"We're really excited to see the reaction from the media and the bloggers," added Mr. Rubin.

He should be. The company just earned its second 94 "outstanding" score for the Alec Bradley Family Blend T11. All things being equal, the Alec Bradley New York cigar will fetch high expectations, but with a grin, Mr. Rubin offers a more practical and much more familiar observation: "If these cigars can make it here, they can make it anywhere."

Tim Ozgener leaves CAO

Tim Ozgener leaves CAO

It is a common fact in the cigar world that behind every successful cigar brand is a devoted, passionate and enthusiastic person, committed to obtaining only the finest tobacco blends. As such, one might wonder what will happen with the CAO line of cigars, now that Tim Ozgener, who worked with CAO for 16 years, has left the company. A very important man in the company, Ozgener has been the president of CAO since 2006, and the person usually associated with CAO cigars throughout the years. With Tim Ozgener now gone, no other members of the Ozgener family, who founded CAO International, remain onboard.

The reason for such decision comes as a side effect of the merger between two tobacco companies, Swedish Match and Scandinavian Tobacco. Seeing as how CAO belongs to the Scandinavian Tobacco Group, the merger resulted in CAO’s headquarters to be relocated to Richmond, Virginia. The move did not appeal to Ozgener, who decided to remain in Nashville, Tennessee. His words about this were "I'm pretty well established in Nashville. My family is here, my wife's family—I'm not willing to uproot my family. Nashville has been a great city for karma, for me and my family." Prior to the merger, CAO has been located in Nashville since 1968, when it has been founded.

Tim Ozgener’s decision stirred reactions from high-profile persons in the cigar industry. The chairman of CAO International, Gary Hyams, commends Ozgener for his dedication to the company, while the president of General Cigar, Dan Carr, acknowledges Ozgener’s innovative approach to cigar packaging and flavors, and his contributions to the CAO brand and to cigar making in general.

Ozgener considers CAO Brazilia as one of his greatest accomplishments, which was unique and innovative at the time of its release, having a Brazilian wrapper and coming in a green box packaging.

As for what the future has in store for him, Ozgener said re-entering the cigar industry is not out of the question, but for the time being, he considers focusing his attention on a Nashville bar he co-owns, The Patterson House.

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