Hirochi Robaina Denies Involvement With Burmese Tobacco Trading Co.

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While news of a new venture called the Burmese Tobacco Trading Co. began circulating late Thursday night, one of the key players in the story says he has nothing to do with it.

The company announced that it had successfully grown tobacco on nearly 80 acres of virgin soil in Myanmar under the supervision of members of Hirochi Robaina’s staff, and would be debuting its first cigar that uses the tobacco, the Don Alejo Robaina, at some point in 2018.

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However, Hirochi Robaina told halfwheel that “there is not any project where I am involved with these people,” and that the company’s debut cigar line was being done without his approval.

According to a press release announcing the project, the Burmese Tobacco Trading Company is the creation of the Huang family, which describes itself as a Chinese-American group of business owners. They were said to be working with engineers from the Robaina operation in the discovery of promising land in Pyin Oo Lwin, Myanmar, the country formerly known as Burma.

However, Robaina said he had only been to the area once, in 2013, where “I could see by myself that it is not a good land for growing tobacco.”

As for the cigar, the Don Alejo Robaina trademark was filed for registration on Oct. 30, 2013 by Jian Mo Huang, an individual with a Miami, Fla. address. The mark was registered on June 16, 2015.

The company claims to have nearly 80 acres of land where they are growing tobacco, calling it very similar to the tobacco farmlands of Pinar del Rio, Cuba, which is where the country’s most prized tobacco and where Robaina operates his family’s famed tobacco farm that was started by his grandfather, the late Alejandro Robaina.

BTCC said that the area has been under the supervision and management of “select members from the Robaina family’s team” for nearly four years, adding that they were looking to expand growing to more areas in the country.

A spokesman for the Burmese Tobacco Trading Co. was not able to provide a response to Robaina’s denial of involvement, though said the company was working to resolve the matter.

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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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