Hello everyone, I hope you are having a great week-end. As for me, I am about to go out and get myself a couple of new Trinidad Limited Editions 2010; hopefully I'll put a review together this week. Not much info for today, just wanted to show you (in case you haven't seen it yet) an ad that Litto Gomez of La Flor Dominicana ran in Cigar Aficionado. I think that his personal opinion (click on the pic to open a full-sized version) is similar to yours. I know that it sure is to mine. Enjoy your week-end!
According to the press-release posted on their website, Scandinavian Tobacco Group just became the second largest cigar company in the world, after merging with Swedish Match. The new company keeps the name Scandinavian Tobacco Group and will be producing over 2.5 billion cigars every year. CAO is the most well-known brand among the ones in the company's portfolio.
“After months of preparations we are very pleased now to be able to start the integration of the two businesses. The new Scandinavian Tobacco Group is a truly global company and we have an excellent basis in the combined brand portfolio to grow even further and increase profitability,” says Anders Colding Friis, CEO of the former STG and CEO of the new Scandinavian Tobacco Group which is headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark.
The following post comes courtesy of Arthur a.k.a. Robustojoe, a cigar aficionado from LA who runs a personal cigar-related blog at Robustojoe.com.
This past September, Nicaragua has been drenched by rain. In fact it’s been the wettest season in fifteen years. After two straight weeks of nonstop precipitation, the clouds have finally relented and the cigar industry can now get back into gear. But the recent rain is only part of the problem. This year, the rainy season started early, with many farmers still having had crops in the field. Farmers were either forced to pick early, which hurt the yield of ligero, or they rolled the dice and lost the crop all together. (The trademark flavor of Nicaraguan cigars is largely based on the inclusion of this ligero leaf.)
But the rain is also affecting next years crop. Planting for the next season usually starts in seedbeds between November and January. With the effect the rain has had on the soil, people are talking about not starting to plant until February. If the rain comes early again next year, it could have a serious impact on Nicaraguan tobacco and the factories that depend on it. Either way, it looks like Nicaraguan tobacco will be in shorter supply next year.
As far as quality, it is too early to tell what effect the rain will have. But farmers are less concerned about the quality as much as the quantity. This has many nervous and all are watching the weather closely, especially the brokers. If there are signs of shortages, prices will increase for filler, binder, and wrapper. The neighboring country of Honduras, also with a large tobacco industry, has not been affected by the high precipitation.
Along with the rain has come extremely high humidity. This too has created problems for the Nicaraguan cigar industry. Factories have not been able to roll cigars at full capacity, and some have been forced to stop production for consecutive days.
If the signs are clearly pointing to a shortage next year, tobacco and cigar prices could start changing now. The larger, well-financed factories should safely weather the storm. They routinely keep three years of inventory on hand as a buffer against this type of contingency. However, the small factories that buy tobacco “as needed”, may not have enough inventory available for cigar production. They will acutely feel the brunt of the price increase. This could, in turn, lead to cost-cutting to remain profitable, resulting in a compromised product.
The bottom line is that these are challenging times for the Nicaraguan cigar business. But time and time again, tobacco farmers have been tested by the elements and have successfully met the challenge. Hopefully Mother Nature will lend a helping hand in seeing this challenge to a successful conclusion.
Update: here is our review of the Room 101 Conjura Edition Petit Corona.
The Conjura Edition, meaning Conspiracy in Spanish, is the first installment in the new Room101 Limitado series. This cigar is more full bodied than the previous Room101 released at last year’s trade show in New Orleans. A beautiful ‘Rosado’ wrapper adorns the outside of this new box-pressed masterpiece by Los Angeles based jewelry designer, Matt Booth. The cedary, yet savory flavors of Dominican and Nicaraguan fillers are complemented by the underlying spice of a Honduran binder.
Available in (4) formats:
LTDC – 48 x 4 (MSRP – $6.95)
LTDC – 50 x 4 3/4 (MSRP – $7.95)
LTDC – 60 x 5 (MSRP – $8.95)
LTDC – 54 x 6 1/2 (MSRP – $9.95)
Update: here is our review of the Velvet Bowery.
Velvet Cigars, located in the East Village of Manhattan, is proud to announce the release of its newest line of cigars: The Bowery, a medium to full-bodied box-pressed cigar, featuring four year-aged Nicaraguan and Honduran filler, with a Habano Ecuadorian wrapper.
“The Bowery offers box-pressed perfection, with a rich and unique flavor augmented by the flawless Habano wrapper,” says Dan Bsharat, managing partner of Velvet Cigars. “For our newest release, we wanted to offer something very different and spent 10 months on the development of the blend and manufacturing of the cigar.”
Housed in a sleek, black box with velvet red accents, The Bowery adds a new, unique option to Velvetʼs diverse offering of prized hand-rolled cigars: The Cooper, The Astor and The Tompkins. “The new line is a perfect complement to our existing offering of freshly hand-rolled Dominican cigars. Our portfolio now consists of 16 distinctive cigars, so we can truly say we have a stick for everyone.”
Each Velvet Cigar line is named for locations in NYCʼs East Village, a diverse neighborhood with a vibrant nightlife and creative sensibility. The Bowery is named after the NYC thoroughfare of the same name, just a few short blocks from Velvet Cigar Lounge. Once considered NYCʼs Skid Row, The Bowery has gone through an incredible transformation, becoming a center for culture and nightlife.
The Bowery is available for purchase beginning September 2010 at the Velvet Cigar Lounge in the East Village and at velvetcigars.com. A box of 20 cigars retails for $195-$230, depending on the size: Robusto (5” x 50), Toro (6.5” x 52), Torpedo (6” x 52) and Churchill (7” x 52).
The latest product to fill national distributor Arango Cigar Co.’s portfolio of tobacco products are their new “Partido” all-tobacco cigarillos. The name means “party” or “game” in Spanish, a theme that is reflected in the box art ... an illustration of a martini, ashtray and balloons. It is also the name of a Cuban tobacco-farming province, whose wrapper tobaccos are favored by European cigar makers.
Michael Gold, Arango’s president, states “These new cigarillos are made exclusively for us by Ireland’s leading cigar maker, Exclusive Cigar Manufacturing Ireland, Ltd. (ECMI). The company was formerly part of the 122-year-old Swiss-German firm of Villiger Sohne, one of the ten largest cigar producers, known for superb quality and packaging. ECMI bought the factory from Villiger in 2006, where it produces cigars today. We are pleased to have our name on these fine cigarillos, which offer big-cigar flavor and aroma in a short smoke.”
Partidos come in Natural and Maduro wrappers, from the Dominican Republic and Brazil, respectively. At 3" x 26 ring-gauge, they provide a smooth and flavorful fifteen-minute smoke. Their open foot and head make for smoker friendly convenience. They come 40 to the cedar box, which retails for just $24. Partido cigarillos are currently appearing on retailers’ shelves nationwide.
This August saw the introduction of the first value-priced premium cigar in the popular Nat Cicco line from Zander-Greg, Inc. Nat Cicco Cuban Legends are all-tobacco, all handmade cigars, in four large ring-gauge shapes.
“We’re excited about the initial response to Cuban Legends, by retailers and smokers, at this Summer’s annual tobacco trade show” states Zander-Greg’s president. “The Nat Cicco name first appeared in 1965, with the Churchill and Robusto Rejects value-priced medium-filler cigars. They were the industry’s original cigars on the ‘rejects’ or ‘factory seconds’ theme, often copied by other cigar manufacturers. Over the years, Rejects have proven popular, even more so in today’s difficult economy. We see Cuban Legends proving themselves to be a lot of cigar for the money, as well as a smooth, refined smoking experience.”
Nat Cicco Cuban Legends are made in Nicaragua, exclusively for Zander-Greg. The filler blend is Nicaraguan tobacco, and the cigars are available in natural and maduro wrappers. The available shapes are Churchill (7.5" x 52), Torpedo (6" x 54), Toro (6" x 56), and Robusto (5" x 54). Presented 40 cigars to a box, their suggested retail pricing ranges from $2.15 to $2.60 each. The cigars will begin appearing on retailers’ shelves nationwide, in mid-September.
Update: here is our review of the Liga Privada "Dirty Rat"
Miami, FL – Drew Estate officially announced its intent to release into the market the much-heralded “Dirty Rat” during the IPCPR 2010 tradeshow as the first cigar within its new Liga Privada Ünico Serie. Ünico, which translates to “unique”, will be a new line of special cigars that fit in neither the existing No. 9 nor T52 lines.
According to Steve Saka, Drew Estate’s President, “At this point, we have made 200 or more Liga Privada blends. There are probably 9 or 10 of them so far that are exceptional, however their blends differ from both the No. 9 and the T52 branded cigars. They’re cigars that work as a particular size, such as a lancero or corona, with the blend being unique to that particular vitola. The ‘Dirty Rat’ is a great example of this, so we have decided to introduce this as the first cigar in the Ünico line.”
The “Dirty Rat” is a stout 5 inch by 44 ring gauge corona with a fan-twist finished head utilizing their Stalk Cut and Cured, Connecticut Sungrown Habana capa, which is the same wrapper featured on the Liga Privada T52.
That is where the similarity ends, as this is a spicier, even more peppery blend of primarily Nicaraguan tobaccos from almost exclusively the Esteli Valley. Packed in a 12-ct presentation box with a suggested retail price of $12 per cigar. “We realize this is expensive for a small format cigar, however due to the difficult nature and time consuming task of proportioning five different filler tobaccos and hand bunching such a complex recipe into a corona size the cigar’s price is a direct reflection of what they actually cost to handcraft,” adds Saka. “I personally love this cigar, to me it is a direct reflection, taste and body wise, of the greatest Cuban-made coronas I have ever enjoyed, however it is likely too strong for most consumers and it is definitely not for those who are concerned with stretching their buying dollar. This ‘Dirty Rat’ is intended for the connoisseur smoker whose first and foremost concern is enjoying an unparalleled smoking experience.”
The “Dirty Rat” will not be a limited release, as some have speculated. Drew Estate intends to produce them in small batches as long as there is a demand for them in the market. The first boxes are currently being packed and shipped from their Nicaraguan factory.