Swisher International ventures into premium market
Swisher International is a cigar company better known for quantity than for quality. Swisher sells more than 1 billion cigars every year to customers in over 60 countries around the world. The company, founded in 1861 by David Swisher, is highly successful, and its Swisher Sweets cigar is the bestselling cigar in America. Nonetheless, its cigars have never approached the kind of quality you’d expect in a premium cigar. This is why premium cigar companies usually produce and sell far fewer cigars every year — it takes time and energy to produce that kind of quality consistently.
Swisher is now forming Royal Gold, a division which will be headed by cigar industry giant Alex Goldman. The cigars produced by Royal Gold will be very different from Swisher’s other fare. They will all be hand rolled, and will range widely in price, starting around $2.00 and going up to $10.00 for the high-end cigars.
“Royal Gold is a fresh start in the premium business for Swisher International,” explains Goldman in Cigar Aficionado. “Royal Gold will produce and market great handmade cigars at reasonable prices for the discriminating premium cigar connoisseur.”
Goldman comes from a family of tobacconists spanning back four generations. He is best known for running House of Oxford and Mom’s Cigars. In the interview, he describes the first cigar planned for release by Royal Gold as an inexpensive cigar called Gold Strike, which will cost about $2.00. The new cigar will be rolled in Nicaragua and will contain tobaccos grown in Tampa, Florida. Consumers can look to see it on sale as early as this April or May.
Over the summer months, we should start seeing some of the more expensive premium cigars from Royal Gold debuting at the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers show. The first three premium cigars will include tobacco from the Dominican Republic, Honduras, and Nicaragua. The least expensive will cost about $4.50 and the priciest will be around $8.50.
This is not Swisher’s first foray into premium cigars. Previously the company invested a lot of money into erecting factories in Honduras and the Dominican Republic to hand roll premium cigars. In 2002, the company shut down the premium division to focus on cheaper machine-rolled cigars. What will be different this time around? Swisher International isn’t investing money in new factories, but is instead partnering with existing factories to produce its new premium cigars.
Fans who enjoyed some of the old premium cigars made by Swisher International will be glad to know some of their old favorites are being resurrected. One familiar old cigar that will be making a comeback is the Casino Gold. How different this new cigar will be from the original hasn’t been discussed in detail.
Goldman is enthusiastic about being able to bring the associations he has cultivated over the years into play, stating that those will form the basis of the new operation. “Royal Gold cigars will be working with various factories and cigar personalities in Honduras, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic that I have had relationships with for years through my experience as a wholesaler, retailer, brand owner and distributor.”