The latest sampler from Cigar Rights of America (CRA) will ship to stores on March 1, 2023.
Like previous CRA Freedom Samplers, the CRA Spring 2023 Freedom Sampler will contain 10 cigars, one each from the 10 companies that serve as the CRA’s main benefactors. Also like previous CRA Freedom Samplers, the 10 cigars are a mixture of regular production cigars as well as limited editions that cannot be easily purchased. In the case of the upcoming sampler, only four of the cigars in each pack are cigars that can be purchased as regular production items.
Each pack retails for $150 and includes one of the following:
- Oliva Serie V Melanio Diadema
- Ashton VSG Torpedo
- Alec Bradley Double Broadleaf Limited Edition Figurado
- La Flor Dominicana Andalusian Bull
- Diamond Crown Julius Caeser Pyramid
- Sixty by Rocky Patel Toro
- My Father S Special Toro
- Fuente Fuente OpusX The Undefeated
- Padrón Black No. 52
- Tatuaje Limited Robusto Especial
The Alec Bradley Double Broadleaf Limited Edition Figurado uses the same blend as the regular production Double Broadleaf, though this shape is exclusive to the CRA packs. It measures 6 1/4 x 28/54/42.
Tatuaje’s “Limited Robusto Especial” is actually the Tatuaje Lomo de Cerdo, which the company showed off last year as a 2023 release. It’s a 5 1/8 x 52 robusto extra that is based on the Pork Tenderloin, one of the most sought-after cigars in Tatuaje’s extensive library of limited editions. The Lomo de Cerdo uses a Nicaraguan binder and filler, but the wrapper is Mexican San Andrés as opposed to the Pork Tenderloin’s Connecticut broadleaf wrapper.
Lomo de Cerdo is a limited edition offering that will be sold in bundles of 25 cigars at a later date. Tatuaje is using the CRA Freedom Sampler to soft launch the cigar, similar to what it did last year with the Avion ’13 Tuxtla.
The Oliva Serie V Melanio Diadema is a 6 3/4 x 48 diadema version of the Serie V Melanio blend. It’s been included in previous CRA packs and, in 2019, was offered to non-U.S. retailers as a limited edition. Notably, the cigar is round instead of box-pressed like most Serie V Melanios.
The Padrón Black No. 52 appears to be the same 5 1/2 x 50 robusto extra that was included in the Spring 2022 Freedom Sampler. Padrón did not reply to an email seeking clarification about the cigar and historically has not commented about the Padrón Black blend, which has been included in four previous CRA Freedom Samplers but is not available for normal purchasing.
There is also the My Father S Special Toro, which wears the same band as the My Father S Special robusto that the company has used as a gift with purchase promotion during events. That blend uses an Ecuadorian habano rosado wrapper over a Nicaraguan binder and Nicaraguan fillers. My Father did not reply to an email seeking clarification about the size and blend.
Finally, there is the Fuente Fuente OpusX The Undefeated, which appears to be a new release—or at the very least, a new name—for Arturo Fuente’s OpusX brand. Arturo Fuente did not provide further details about this cigar.
Ashton (VSG Torpedo), J.C. Newman (Diamond Crown Julius Caeser Pyramid), La Flor Dominicana (Andalusian Bull) and Rocky Patel (Sixty by Rocky Patel Toro) all included regular production cigars.
There are a total of 4,000 CRA Spring 2023 Freedom Samplers, which are expected to begin shipping on March 1. Rocky Patel Premium Cigars, Inc. is handling the fulfillment of these packs.
Each sampler comes in a custom Boveda bag that includes a Boveda humidification pack as well as the cigars. The Spring 2023 Freedom Sampler does not include a CRA membership, something that has been included in some previous packs.
CRA member companies donate the cigars to the organization, which then sells the packs. The proceeds from the sales are used to fund the CRA, one of the three main cigar trade groups.
While the CRA spent years trying to brand itself as a consumer organization akin to the NRA, its most tangible impact has been a six-and-a-half-year-old lawsuit, which it has helped fund. Last year, a joint lawsuit filed by CRA and the other two cigar trade groups scored a major victory against FDA’s regulations of premium cigars. For that particular part of the lawsuit, the CRA paid the legal bill for Michael Edney, the lead attorney in the case.
Patrick Lagreid contributed to this story.