IPCPR 2016: Altadis U.S.A.

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As one of the cigar industry’s biggest companies, it’s interesting to see what Altadis U.S.A. will have in store both in terms of products and presentation. In previous years the company has undertaken reboots of brands, limited editions, partnerships with  established names in the business, lounge reboots and several other approaches when it came to its new releases. This year, the company went with five new products concentrated between its two biggest brands: Montecristo and Romeo y Julieta.

In the five or so years that I’ve been covering the IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, I can’t recall Altadis U.S.A. ever having a truly over-the-top booth, bringing a clean and polished presentation that always works yet feels just a bit constrained from really cutting loose. This year felt even more like that; the booth felt a touch smaller and some of the flourishes that have been seen in years past weren’t in Las Vegas this year. What was even more intriguing was how the booth emptied of most Altadis U.S.A. staff after day three, with the tear down starting well before the final bell sounded.

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Montecristo Artisan Batch 1

For the past two years, the Montecristo brand has added a cigar created by the Grupo de Maestros, the eight member group of senior leadership who come from extensive backgrounds in agriculture and factory operations. This year, the company kicks off a new series that will feature not only a different combination of tobaccos but a different combination of the Maestros working together.

This inaugural edition brings together Pedro Ventura, product development manager at Tabacalera de Garcia; Nestor Rodriguez, tobacco operations manager at Tabacalera de Garcia; and Joel Alvarenga, operations manager at Flor de Copán Premium Cigar Factory. Together, the trio has more than 74 years of experience in the premium cigar industry. Additionally, the trio selected one buncher and one roller to create each of the 40,000 cigars produced for this release.

The blend creates a refined, medium to full-bodied profile that is highlighted by notes of coffee, cream and earth, according to a company statement. Inside the filler is both Honduran Yargüera and Dominican Pilotico tobacco, two varietals that the company has developed and been promoting in recent years.

  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
  • Binder: Dominican Republic
  • Filler: Dominican Republic, Honduras
  • Montecristo Artisan Batch 1 (6 x 54) — $18 (Box of 15, $270)

Launch Date: Immediately after the trade show

Production: 40,000 Total Cigars

BI4T0690

Montecristo Classic Series Special No. 2 Jars

Jars have had a long history in the cigar world, and Altadis U.S.A. is going one of the most recognizable brands in the cigar world a new treatment with a ceramic jar. Each jar functions as a humidor and comes with a Boveda pack and a fitted lid that locks in humidity. Inside each jar are 25 of the brand’s Classic Series in a No. 2 toro shape.

  • Wrapper: Connecticut Shade Grown
  • Binder: Dominican Republic
  • Filler: Dominican Republic
  • Montecristo Classic Series Special No. 2 Jars (6 x 50) — $16 (Jar of 25, $400)

Launch Date: Full launch in November 2016

Production: 1,500 Jars of 25 Cigars

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Montecristo Pilotico Pepe Mendez

One of the two headliners in the Altadis U.S.A. booth, the Montecristo Pilotico Pepe Mendez honors tobacco grower Pepe Mendez, who left Cuba in the 1960s for a two-year journey to find the perfect place to grow tobacco and eventually brought him to the Dominican Republic. He established more than 20 different grades of tobacco, extended the fermentation process to bring out the best of Dominican tobaccos and enhanced the curing and aging processes by introducing strict controls over environmental factors.

His company, Jose Mendez & Co., has had a long history of supplying tobacco to Altadis U.S.A., and it was the latter’s Grupo de Maestros that oversaw the growing of the Pilotico seeds in the Cibao Valley of the Dominican Republic. Pilotico is mentioned not just in the name of the cigar but included in the filler of the cigar, which is said to offer notes of nuts, leader and sweetness with a robust aroma and slow burning characteristics.

Additionally, the boxes are designed in the style of a suitcase as a nod to Mendez’s journey, while the 60 in the price of each cigar is yet another nod to Mendez’s travels in the early 1960s.

  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra
  • Binder: Dominican Republic
  • Filler: Nicaragua, Dominican Republic Pilotico
  • Montecristo Pilotico Pepe Mendez No. 2 (6 x 50) — $17.60 (Box of 20, $352)
  • Montecristo Pilotico Pepe Mendez Robusto (5 x 50) — $15.60 (Box of 20, $312)
  • Montecristo Pilotico Pepe Mendez Toro (6 1/4 x 52) — $16.60 (Box of 20, $332)

Launch Date: Limited availability currently, full availability by September

Production: Regular production

BI4T0697

Romeo 505 Nicaragua

Nicaraguan tobacco and the Romeo y Julieta brand aren’t complete strangers, but this year the two come together completely for Romeo 505, a Nicaraguan puro that is also made in the country. Its name comes from the 505 prefix used to reach the country by phone.

For this release, Altadis U.S.A. worked with Plasencia Cigars S.A. once again to produce the horizontally pressed cigars, with tobacco coming from three of the country’s growing regions. The flavor profile is desired as being medium to full bodied, with earthy, toasty notes of dried fruit, wood and leather being its calling cards. It is also billed as the boldest, most powerful experience in the Romeo y Julieta line.

  • Wrapper: Nicaragua Habano (Jalapa)
  • Binder: Nicaragua Habano (Jalapa)
  • Filler: Nicaragua (Estelí, Condega, Jalapa)
  • Romeo 505 Nicaragua Churchill (7 x 50) — $10.50 (Box of 20, $210)
  • Romeo 505 Nicaragua Piramides (6 1/2 x 54) — $10.75 (Box of 20, $215)
  • Romeo 505 Nicaragua Robusto (5 1/2 x 50) — $10 (Box of 20, $200)
  • Romeo 505 Nicaragua Toro (6 x 52) — $10.25 (Box of 20, $205)

Launch Date: Limited availability currently, full availability by September

Production: Regular production

BI4T0699

Romeo y Julieta Reserve Rare 11 Years Old

The Romeo y Julieta is also getting a limited edition this year, one that is said to come from inside the company’s aging room after 11 years of rest, a number you’ll see repeated a few times.

Created by the Grupo de Maestros, the cigars were “placed out of sight in our cedar room to age for 11 long years” according to a company spokesperson. The cigar is said to offer a long finish highlighted by hints of dried fruit as well as smooth earth and woody notes. The limited edition line sold out just three hours after the show floor opened, according to a company spokesperson.

  • Wrapper: Honduran Habana 2000
  • Binder: Honduran Criollo 99
  • Filler: Nicaragua, Honduras
  • Romeo y Julieta Reserve Rare 11 Years Old (5 3/4 x 48) — $11 (Box of 11, $121)

Launch Date: Limited availability currently, full availability to be announced

Production: 1,000 Boxes of 11 Cigars

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NullDavidoff is the official sponsor of halfwheel's coverage of the 2016 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show.

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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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