Date: April 2020
Author: Inspector Z

8 more boutique brands that didn’t make it. A few weeks ago, we published an article on seven boutique brands that in the end didn’t make it. With all the feedback we received, we compiled another eight companies that were considered boutique and didn’t succeed.

Their failure shows that it’s not easy to create a brand and survive. It takes a lot of hard work. And even working hard and having quality cigars aren’t a guarantee that your brand will survive. The next eight names are proof of that.

La Palina

When Bill Paley sold CBS for a 9 numbered figure, he found himself with a lot of time and money on his hands. So he went out to purchase the brand that his grandfather Sam Paley started. That brand was La Palina. Over the years, the brand had changed ownership a few times and was discontinued. Paley hired an experienced team, including Courtney Smith who later worked for Cornelius & Anthony. Both companies went on the decline after Smith left. For a while, La Palina was a highly sought after cigar, especially the La Palina Goldie. That cigar was made at El Titan de Bronze in Miami by a single roller, Maria Sierra. Sierra had a great reputation from her work for Habanos. Nowadays La Palina is still being made, but the brand is a far cry from the heyday when they were hot as hell.

Ministry of Cigars - 8 more boutique brands that didn’t make it

Foundry

When Michael Gianinni was working for General Cigars, he had the opportunity to create a new line in a boutique way. That brand was Foundry and combined rare tobaccos with steampunk boxes. The most recognizable about the cigars were the steal, steampunk rings around the cigars. But when Giannini left, the brand didn’t get any attention as General Cigars is always focussing on their big brands. The brand slowly faded into obscurity. Last year, Ventura Cigars, the new employer of Giannini, bought the brand from General Cigars. But no new cigars have emerged yet, so, for now, we call the brand failed.

Arganese

 Businessman and cigar aficionado Gene Arganese decided he wanted a personal blend. But his friends and acquaintances loved his cigars so much that it turned into a business. And for a while, Arganese cigars were quite popular. Made on the Dominican Republic with care for detail. But then suddenly the brand was out of the public’s grace. The brand can still be found on the websites of some large catalog retailers, but it is dead and buried brand.

Ministry of Cigars - 8 more boutique brands that didn’t make it

Ortega

Eddie Ortega was quite successful with his business partner Erik Espinosa. Their EO Brands did great with infamous lines as 601, Cubao and Murcielago. They were so successful that Rocky Patel took a stake in the company. But then their partnership fell apart, Ortega and Espinosa bought Patel out and split the company. Espinosa started Espinosa Cigars and Tabacalera La Zona. Espinosa kept Murcielago and 601. Ortega kept Cubao, REO, and Vibe. Ortega then launched a few new cigars under the Ortega name, including the hyped Wild Bunch. But then Eddie disappeared from the cigar scene and the Ortega Cigars became a thing of the past.

Ministry of Cigars - 8 more boutique brands that didn’t make it

Esteban Carreras 

Another brand that is still around, but far from its glory days is Esteban Carreras. There was a time when this brand was very popular on social media. But nowadays you’ll have to look hard to find any of the Esteban Carreras cigars. Another boutique brand that didn’t succeed in taking the brand to the next level. Instead, Esteban Carreras lost the interest of the public.

Prendelo

In 2015, professional firefighter Reggie ‘the chief’ Freeman founded Prendelo Cigars. As a serious cigar aficionado for over 15 years, he took a shot at starting a boutique brand. He worked with Noel Rojas, from Guayacan, to create a blend. And for a while, the future looked bright with a lot of exposure on social media. But the brand never took off well enough to stand on itself. And now Prendelo is a dormant brand.

Ministry of Cigars - 8 more boutique brands that didn’t make it

Leccia Tobacco

Sam Leccia burst into the cigar scene as the face of Cain and Nub. And depending on who you ask, Leccia was the blender and inventor of the Nub and Cain. But his partnership with Oliva came to a screeching stop. Oliva even tried to stop Leccia from launching cigars under his own name due to a non-competition agreement. Eventually, Leccia released new cigars in collaboration with Carlos Toraño. But then Toraño was acquired by General Cigars, and after a short time, Leccia and General Cigars came to the conclusion that their partnership didn’t work out. Since then Leccia Tobacco has been quiet although Sam Leccia founded a cigar subscription service called Stogiebird that seems to do pretty well.

Berger & Argenti

Cooperation between Don Kiki Berger and the Argenti brother Albert and Michael. Especially the Berger & Argenti Entubar caught the attention of the cigar community. Partly because of the story, but mostly because of the look with a bit of the ligero sticking out of the foot of the cigar. The Quad Maduro was an amazing cigar. But unfortunately, the business ethics of the Argenti brothers left lots to desire. They ripped off an international distributor and didn’t deliver on their promises. So even though the cigars were great, we are happy that this brand failed.

5 thoughts on “8 more boutique brands that didn’t make it

  1. After reading a lot of hoopla about La Palina , I went ahead and bought 10 of the LP 02’s on a sure bet low bid to CI. I have to say that, FOR ME, they’re not what they’re cracked up to be. Flavor is ok, but the tightness of the cigar makes it tough to draw. Construction looks ok with a few veins running through it. All in all, disappointed and I won’t be buying them again – even at $2 a stick.

  2. Are you insane? La Palina is one of my favorite brands. I buy it all the time from my local shop and the online store Cigars International. I also smoke Esteban Carrera’s from time to time and met brand owner Craig at an event years back “nice guy” Another Source of “fake news” site trying to tear down good brands. You should be ashamed of yourself

    1. Good for you that they are your favorite brand. But another source of egocentric, small mind comments. Just because they are your favorite brand, any criticism can’t be true. You should be ashamed of yourself.

      Fact is that La Palina had a lot of momentum, both in the USA and international.They were on the way to become a big powerhouse brand but then imploded. You don’t see them outside the USA anymore, and within the USA they aren’t as big as they were. Therefore they didn’t make it. They were on track to become the next Alec Bradley or Oliva, and now they are amongst the many small brands struggling for sales.

      Esteban Carrera is also a brand you saw everywhere on social media. Now I can’t recall the last time I saw someone post an Esteban Carrera photo in any of the many Facebook groups I follow, nor on Instagram.

  3. Interesting take on brands that failed. I do disagree with your take on La Palina. As you know , La Palina now distributes Room 101 Cigars. La Palina seems to have quite a number of cigars they are producing. You may not like the taste of the cigars but they are an active player in the business

    1. I actually like La Palina, so it’s not about the taste.

      A few years ago, La Palina was everywhere. Now the brand hardly has an impact, online and offline. They are not dead, but they disappeared from the public eye.

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