I am pretty sure Brian Burt spent about 25x the amount of time I spent in the booth, but here’s my thoughts on Royal Agio. The company is breaking off distribution from Drew Estate later this year, though at the moment Drew Estate is still distributing the product, which meant that Agio had its own booth as well as product in the Drew Estate booth.
There’s no new product, though when I swung by the booth, company officials were all in meetings both times—so that’s a good sign. For those unfamiliar with Agio, it’s a Dutch company best known for its cigarillos, which are extremely popular in Europe. The company has tried to sell in the U.S. market with Cusano handling the distribution, then Davidoff of Geneva USA, then Drew Estate and now, Royal Agio itself.
I know that there’s often been a divide between what Agio thought it should be doing in the U.S. and the opinion of its U.S. distributor; so in many ways, one big problem is now solved. This also means that at some point later this year, three of the largest European machine made/little cigar companies—J. Cortès, Royal Agio and Villiger—will all have their own independent U.S. operations, something that was challenging to imagine two or so years ago.
For U.S. consumers, its best known for its Balmoral, a premium cigar offering with a similar price tag, but the company has a lot of other cigars in the works and I suspect American cigar smokers will be seeing more affordable options from the European company in the near future.