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?

Utah’s oldest smoke shop will close due to tax

Utah's oldest smoke shop closes due to tax

Increasing from 35 to 86 %, Utah's cigar tax is becoming the highest in the United States. Existing cigar shops have to come up with considerable investments to cover the tax on their existing inventory - and some of them can't afford it. According to The Salt Lake Tribune, Jeanie's Smoke Shop, the oldest cigar shop in Salt Lake City, will not be able to stay in business.

Owner Gary Klc says he will have to close the business in June -- just before a new tobacco tax takes effect July 1. That's the date by which Klc must come up with $125,000 to cover the higher tax on his existing inventory. Klc says it's too big an investment for products that will be taxed at some of the highest rates in the nation.

"When I think of my customers and suppliers, I feel like I'm losing my best friends. It's like I'm going to a funeral," said Klc, 50. "It's been a hard decision. I grew up in this store so I get pretty emotional."

Sen. Allen Christensen, R-North Ogden, who fought for years to raise Utah's tobacco tax, said he understood that distributors would have to pay the bill, not retailers. But Charlie Roberts, Utah Tax Commission spokesman, said retailers indeed must pay the higher tax and yes, it will come due when the law takes effect this summer.

"If that's the way it is, then so be it," Christensen said. "I'm sorry for some of the businessmen the law will impact, but they're selling a deadly product."

I received an e-mail from John a few days ago regarding this; if you want to help Gary reduce his inventory you can give him a call at (801) 322-2817.

New Cigar Release: La Aurora 107

New Cigar Release: La Aurora 107

Update: here is our review of the La Aurora 107.

Santiago, DR 12 March 2010 As with their very successful Preferidos, Cien Años and 1495, La Aurora has taken their time in the next step in their 107 year history as Dominican’s oldest cigar maker.

“We had defined our goal early on,” said Guillermo Leon, La Aurora VP, “and that was to bring the smokers a medium bodied, richly flavoured smoke with a fair amount of spice – at a very attractive price.”

Using Dominican, Nicaraguan and Ecuadorian tobaccos, the blending process went through dozens of iterations before achieving a cigar that brings a balanced flavour that is peppery, sweet and provides toasty notes.

According to Vice President, José Blanco, the cigars are being packed in boxes of twenty-one (21) and will come in three (3) sizes priced from $6 to $8:

  • Robusto (4.5 x 50)
  • Toro (5.5 x 54)
  • Belicoso (6.25 x 52)

“I firmly believe we have a smoke, providing excellent flavour, strength and balance,” José Blanco told a gathering of cigar aficionados at a dinner in New York, “that matches the standards we have adhered to in creating the other great cigars that have brought us high regard and high ratings.”

The cigar, named La Aurora 107 in honour of the company’s 107 years in business, will be released in a series of steps, commencing 1 April. “In conjunction with Guillermo and Jose we have planned an exciting series of events to introduce tobacconists and their customers to this cigar,” Nestor Miranda said at the same gathering in New York City.

“As for the name, La Aurora 107, following on the heels of Cien Años, which marked the company’s 100th anniversary,” Leon told the group, “it was decided to keep it simple and meaningful… and easy to remember, hence, La Aurora 107 – La Aurora’s 107th year!”

La Aurora’s distributor, Miami Cigar & Company, has announced that the new cigar will only be available in brick and mortar tobacconists.

Seattle’s parks now smoke-free… and tobacco-free

Seattle's parks now smoke-free... and tobacco-free

Okay, this one is so ridiculous that I just couldn't miss it. According to a article, Seattle Parks superintendent T. Gallagher imposed a complete tobacco ban on all city's parks. Yes, this even includes smokeless tobacco...

In other words, Gallagher is intent on using his power as parks superintendent not only to protect park patrons from the occasional whiff of someone else's cigarette smoke but to protect them from the ill effects of their own unhealthy habits. Hence the inclusion of smokeless tobacco, which poses no conceivable threat to passers-by (and also is much less hazardous to consumers than cigarettes). For those worried about getting hit by tobacco juice spray: Consumption of oral snuff such as Skoal Bandits or Camel Snus does not require any spitting. Such discreet, smokeless consumption of tobacco does not even trigger the "concerns that smokers set a poor example for children" mentioned by the Seattle Times. Yet under Gallagher's new policy, any park visitor caught with such contraband will be summarily ejected, the better to serve his department's "fundamental mission to support the health and well-being of Seattle residents."

Joya de Nicaragua Cabinetta Serie Release

Joya de Nicaragua Cabinetta Serie Release

Update: here is our review of the Joya de Nicaragua Cabinetta.

I just received a press-release from Drew Estate about their new line of cigars, Cabinetta. I was quite surprised when I read it as Joya de Nicaragua is well known for their rather powerful cigars, such as the Antano line. Cabinetta, on the other hand, will be mild to medium in body. It's already available at 75 B&Ms across the country and Drew Estate will slowly expand its availability during 2010. As Michael Cellucci, Vice President of Drew Estate said:

We believe it is important to not only explain this cigar and its blend to each retailer, but to share this smoke directly with cigar consumers. It is an exceptional smoke, but the customer who is expecting Antaño may not be satisfied, while connoisseurs who might not typically select a Joya de Nicaragua given their notoriety for strength may avoid even trying it out. This would be a terrible shame as it is an exceptional cigar of mild-medium body.

Another interesting thing about Cabinetta is that it features two wrappers. Not like a barber pole (not something I am fond of to be honest), but rather one leaf covering the entire length of the cigar (it's an Ecuadorian shade) and another one, Nicaraguan Criollo, covering the head. It would offer a completely different and unique flavor and aroma.

Dr. Alejandro Martinez Cuenca, JdN’s owner and master blender comments:

We at Joya de Nicaragua have always been known for creating full flavored, full bodied cigars in our Antaño line. I found that there was a demand for a cigar that the consumer could smoke at any time of day. Because of that, we’ve created the Cabinetta Serie; this cigar was exactly what we were looking for, something that’s not too strong, but still has that distinct Nicaraguan flavor profile. This cigar is almost always my first of every day. As for Drew Estate’s decision to continue introducing it slowly into the marketplace, I am confident that it is the right decision for this particularly unique cigar and will afford it the
opportunity to be sampled and enjoyed by all.

The Cabinetta Serie is cello-sleeved and is available in 24-ct, sliding lid boxes in four sizes:

  • Cabinetta Serie No. 2 - Belicoso - 6 x 54 - $6.55 p/cigar
  • Cabinetta Serie No. 4 - Robusto - 5 x 52 - $5.55 p/cigar
  • Cabinetta Serie No. 7 - Toro - 6 x 50 - $6.05 p/cigar
  • Cabinetta Serie No. 11 - Corona Gorda - 5 ¼ x 46 - $5.05 p/cigar
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