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Shortly after the start of 2015, Arby Sosa of Antillian Cigar Corp. announced that he had been a part of the revitalization of the Headlines cigar brand, a line owned by Dee Aguasvivas and Ulises Delgado of Fusion Cigars.

Fusion Cigar and Antillian Cigar Corp. had signed a distribution agreement in August 2014, part of a significant announcement made by Antillian as they also acquired the distribution rights to Arandoza Cigars, Doña Nieves and The Cigar Cork line of accessories. Sosa said he found that each line offered something different and interesting, and he thought that the collaboration would allow all of the companies involved to remain competitive in the cigar business. 2014 also happened to be the 50th anniversary of Antillian Cigar Corp., and Sosa said the family looked at the cigar landscape and realized that “strength in numbers is the future.”

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Headlines was originally created by Aguasvivas along with blenders Don Amadiz and Radhames Perez of Tabacalera Real with the goal of making a Dominican puro with great character geared for the season cigar smoker.

The Headlines brand consists of two blends, known as the Headlines 1st Edition and Headlines 2nd Edition. Both are Dominican puros and billed as medium to full strength blends, and both are available in three identical sizes: the 5 1/2 x 60 Page 1, the 6 x 54 torpedo known as Page 2 and a 6 x 50 called Page 3.

If you search for Fusion Cigars online, you’ll also find Fusion Cigar Lounge in the Tampa/Clearwater Beach area of Florida. The shop and lounge is the home base of the cigar brand, and there is a Fusion Lounge cigar made by Blue Mountain Cigars that is also in the company’s portfolio.

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  • Cigar Reviewed: Headlines 1st Edition Page 3
  • Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Factory: Tabacalera Real S.A.
  • Wrapper: Dominican Republic Pennsylvania Seed
  • Binder: Dominican Republic (Olor)
  • Filler: Dominican Republic Criollo ’98 Ligero, Dominican Republic Piloto Cubano Ligero, Dominican Republic Criollo ’98 Seco, Dominican Repiblic Olor Seco
  • Size: 6 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 50
  • Vitola: Toro
  • MSRP: $8 (Boxes of 20, $160)
  • Release Date: Jan. 8, 2015
  • Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
  • Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 2

The Headlines 1st Edition likely won’t be competing in any cigar beauty pageants thanks to some sizable veins and mottled colors, The cap of the cigar drapes a bit past its rounded shoulders, though the net result is still fairly clean looking as is the roll quality. It is definitely on the firm side when squeezed, showing no soft spots. The band is a bit bigger than most you’ll see and tells the story of the Headlines cigar—a bit more on that in the notes below. I can’t quite place the pre-light aroma, but it is surprisingly complex with a sweet and floral note up front, followed by a bit of dough and then a slightly heavier bread crust finish that lingers in the nose. The cold draw on the first cigar is definitely on the loose side while the second sample is slightly firm, with both offering a dry, unsalted pretzel note to start with an earthy finish.

An earthy aroma jumps off the foot of the Headline 1st Edition as soon as it is lit, and the first puffs of the cigar have a good bit of soil in them with a faint touch of pepper in the background. While the draw is loose, it’s not as bad as I had feared and there is a bit of resistance, with smoke production more than sufficient. While it’s not the most prominent part of the cigar, there is just the slightest bit of floral sweetness that I found in the aroma while the cigar was at rest, an interesting counter balance to the otherwise medium-bodied start. There’s a bit of a retreat in terms of the intensity of the flavor, though it’s not a complete surrender, as a bit of chalk comes out and the cigar takes on a lighter profile. The first clump of bright white ash falls off at about an inch long, leaving behind a fairly even burn line. Once the cigar gets a bit more ash on it, the pepper comes back strong, particularly in retrohales, hitting with a sharp and pointed attach in the nostrils.

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The Headlines 1st Edition has settled into a solid medium body smoke with a bit of kick to it, which seems to be increasing through the early goings of the second third. The changes aren’t very pronounced, though every so often a new profile comes along, with wood and nuts replacing the earth that dominated the first half of the cigar, and pepper still playing a visible role in the cast. The draw has firmed up a bit in advance of the halfway point and is nowhere near as loose as what I had feared it would be, and any thoughts of a loose, quick burning cigar are a thing of the past. On the other side of the center line is more chalk that leaves a lingering mouthfeel and the overall profile is well balanced with the nose getting most of the brighter notes while the palate deals with the heavier base flavors. Another chunk of ash says goodbye in a tidy, inch-long clump as the burn line approaches the final third, and the technical performance continues to be solid.

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There’s another slight backing off of the intensity at the start of the final third, with chalk once again leading the way before the heartier earth notes come along and give the Headlines 1st Edition the kick it had been showing for most of the first two thirds. The wood and nut flavors seem to function as a bridge between the two, a very palate-friendly transitional note that could certainly stand on their own but in this cigar lend a helping hand in the transitions between both flavor and strength. For my palate, the cigar stops short of becoming overpowering, but certainly earns the term commanding at its strongest points. The cigar finishes with a marked uptick in the pepper component, lending both strength and a bit more of a reaction on the palate and in the nose for the cigar’s finale.

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Final Notes

  • The band on the Headlines cigars reminds me of the foot coverings used by Berger & Argenti on the Mooch, given they both have newspaper themes.
  • While the cigar is listed as a 50 ring gauge, my measurements on the first one had it closer to 46, while the second was closer to 50. When I put it through a ring gauge chart, it didn’t even touch the sides of the 50 ring gauge hole. Sosa told me that he had been seeing some variance in the ring gauge of the produced cigars and had a feeling they might be a bit undersized.
  • The text on the band tells the story of how Headlines Cigars came to be, and there’s a bit more that gets revealed when the band is undone, though the glue took a bit of the ink with it.
  • If you are thinking about picking these up, I would highly suggest you make sure you know what blend you are getting. A quick search online indicates that there are some of the original blend floating around, and while I can’t speak to it, my initial recommendation is to verify that you are getting the reblended version.
  • Final smoking time was a little over two hours on average.
  • The cigars for this review were provided by Antillian Cigar Corp., who distributes the Headlines brand for Fusion Cigars.
86 Overall Score

The idea of creating a Dominican puro that doesn't taste like a Dominican puro isn't a new one, and the execution of this goal by various cigar makers ranges pretty widely. For my money, the Headlines 1st Edition is one of the better attempts, offering good amounts of earth and pepper that had me thinking more of Nicaragua than the D.R. The cigar shines equally bright in the core flavors and the transitions, with balance and a lingering finish added bonuses. A solid reblend on a cigar that hopefully gets the chance to make some news of its own as more people try it.

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Patrick Lagreid
About the author

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 MLB.com, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.

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