In what is being called a merger between the two entities, Black Label Trading Co. will be taking over the marketing and branding for the Emilio Cigars portfolio, as well as producing the brand’s cigars at its Fabrica Oveja Negra factory in Estelí, Nicaragua.

The two companies have had an established relationship centered around product distribution for several years. L.J. Zucca, the parent company of Emilio Cigars, also owns an entity called Boutiques Unified, which has handled distribution for Black Label Trading Co. since 2015. Boutiques Unified has also distributed other brands in recent years, though that number has dwindled in recent years due to brands being sold, switching distributors or going to self-distribution.

Emilio had already moved production of several of its lines to Fabrica Oveja Negra, namely the Cavatina, LJZ, Papa Joe and Grimalkin lines. Now the AF1, AF2 and Suave lines will join them, with plans for new releases in the spring.

“I’m very excited to take the Emilio brand to the next level,” said James Brown, owner of Black Label Trading Co. and Fabrica Oveja Negra said via a press release. “I believe this merger is the natural progression of things as we have been working closely with Scott Zucca over the past few years to expand the Emilio portfolio. We have big plans for the brand and I think it will fit well with our customer base.”

Despite already having a growing portfolio of his own between the Black Label Trading Co. and Black Works Studio (BLK WKS) brands, Brown added that having the Emilio portfolio gives him a lot of new blends to work with, which in turn keeps him inspired as a cigar maker.

As part of the arrangement, Scott Zucca, owner of Emilio Cigars, will remain involved and continue distribution for both BLTC and Emilio Cigars, according to a press release issued by Black Label Trading Co. Zucca has not yet returned an email seeking comment about the matter.

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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.