The Tobacconists’ Association of America just concluded its virtual meeting yesterday, and today A.J. Fernandez is shipping its contribution to the group’s Exclusive Series of cigars.

The company is releasing the Bellas Artes Maduro Figurado, a box-pressed 6 1/2 x 52 perfecto. Each cigar has an MSRP of $12, with 1,000 boxes of 20 cigars produced for the release.

It becomes the sixth size in the line, though two of them are limited releases. The four regular production sizes are:

  • Bellas Artes Maduro Short Churchill (6 x 48)
  • Bellas Artes Maduro Robusto (5 1/2 x 52)
  • Bellas Artes Maduro Toro (6 x 54)
  • Bellas Artes Maduro Gordo (6 1/2 x 58)

A fifth size, a 7 x 40 lancero, was added in the summer of 2019, though it was a limited edition with just 2,000 boxes of 10 cigars produced.

The original Bellas Artes line debuted in 2016, with Abdel Fernández saying that he drew his inspiration for it from his visits to Cuba’s national art museum, the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de la Habana in Habana Vieja, or old town Havana. Two years later, the company released the maduro version with a blend featuring a Brazilian mata fina maduro wrapper, Mexican San Andrés binder, and fillers grown by Fernández on his farms in Estelí, Nicaragua.

The TAA is a fairly small group of some of the country’s top tobacconists, about 80 retailers as well as 40 or so manufacturers. The association gathers annually to discuss issues facing the industry and retailers, as well as to have its annual trade show, a unique event that works on a group buying format in order to secure exclusive deals for these generally high-volume merchants.

During the convention, the organization hosts two distinct selling events. One is known as the Dream Machine, an optional event where manufacturers offer the entire group of retailers tiered specials and discounts. The more the group collectively agrees to buy, the better the discounts and deals are for every retailer involved. In addition, the week includes a more traditional trade show which oftentimes sees some of the most aggressive discounts of the year.

This year’s meeting was supposed to take place this week but was postponed due to coronavirus and then canceled. Instead, the group met virtually on Wednesday where retailers had the opportunity to place orders.

Some of that buying included at least 14 new exclusives for TAA members from the following manufacturers:

Image courtesy of A.J. Fernandez.

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Patrick Lagreid

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.