A big company such as Altadis U.S.A. is bound to have a big booth and a fair number of new products, both of which are true again this year. The new releases seemed to be a mix of line and series extensions along with collaborations with A.J. Fernandez. Montecristo received the most new additions, while a pair of smaller brands get bold additions.

Also of note, this was the first year that Boutique Blends was in the booth after Altadis U.S.A. took over sales and distribution earlier this year.

Gispert Intenso

Depending how you read this article, you may have seen the name A.J. Fernandez a few times already. The Nicaraguan cigar maker and factory owner and the Spanish company have found a good bit of favor lately, so much so that there one of the few rumors of the past months has been Imperial/Tabacalera USA/Altadis U.S.A. purchasing Fernandez’s operations. That has yet to happen, assuming that chatter has any merit.

The Gispert brand may not be the most well-known, but it does sell decently. However, to expand the brand to the next generation, Altadis U.S.A. recruited Fernandez to create a stronger version of the generally mild brand. Fernández and Altadis U.S.A.’s Grupo de Maestros worked together to select a blend of American, Nicaraguan and Dominican tobaccos.

  • Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
  • Binder: Nicaraguan Criollo 98
  • Filler: Dominican Republic (Piloto Cubano) & Nicaragua (Criollo 98)
  • Gispert Intenso Corona (5 x 44) — $6 (Boxes of 20, $120)
  • Gispert Intenso Toro (6 x 50) — $6.50 (Boxes of 20, $130)
  • Gispert Intenso Belicoso (6 1/8 x 52) — $6.95 (Boxes of 20, $139)

Launch Date: March 2017

H. Upmann by AJ Fernandez

Another A.J. Fernandez creation, this H. Upmann has been making appearances on retail shelves since May, bearing a new cream and light blue color scheme.

  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra
  • Binder: Nicaraguan Corojo 99
  • Filler: Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic
  • H. Upmann by AJ Fernandez Churchill (7 x 54)
  • H. Upmann by AJ Fernandez Robusto (5 x 52)
  • H. Upmann by AJ Fernandez Toro (6 x 54)

Launch Date: May 2017

H. Upmann The Banker Ingot Rosé

An extension to last year’s H. Upmann Ingot The Banker Private Holding, this new cigar is about as pink as can be, from the rose gold box to the bands and foil wrap.

  • Wrapper: Cameroon
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Dominican Republic, Nicaragua & Peru
  • H. Upmann The Banker Ingot Rosé (6 3/4 x 48) — $12 (Box of eight, $96)

Launch Date: September 2017

Production: 5,000 Boxes of 8 Cigars (40,000 Cigars)

Montecristo Artisan Series Batch 2

The second installment of this series is here; the cigars are blended by three of the company’s Grupo de Maestros and then all 40,000 cigars are rolled by a single pair from Tabacalera de García.

  • Wrapper: n/a
  • Binder: n/a
  • Filler: n/a
  • Montecristo Artisan Series Batch 2 (6 x 50) — $18 (Box of 15, $270)

Launch Date: July 2017

Production: 40,000 Total Cigars

Montecristo Estoque Vintage 2002

When the Montecristo Estoque was being rolled for release in 2015, a number of cigars were held back in the Plasencia’s factory. Now it’s time to release them. The year 2002 refers to year the Nicaraguan criollo seco binder was harvested. Additionally, the wrapper comes from 2013, while the filler comes from crops harvested in 2009 and 2013.

  • Wrapper: Nicaragua (Jalapa viso, 2013)
  • Binder: Nicaragua (Jalapa criollo seco, 2002)
  • Filler: Nicaragua (Estelí corojo, 2009, Ometepe criollo viso, 2013 & Condega criollo viso, 2013)
  • Montecristo Estoque Vintage 2002 (6 x 50 torpedo) — $15 (Box of 10, $150)

Launch Date: September 2017

Production: 2,500 Boxes of 10 Cigars (25,000 Total Cigars)

Montecristo Grupo de Maestros Private Batch III

This series grows again, as the third release will soon be arriving at retailers in its 100-count boxes that are made in part from the shelving of the Tabacalera de García aging room. By the end of the show, all 100 boxes had been sold.

  • Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano
  • Binder: Dominican Republic
  • Filler: Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Peru
  • Montecristo Grupo de Maestros Private Batch III (6 1/8 x 52) — $16 (Box of 100, $1600)

Launch Date: July 2017

Production: 300 Boxes of 100 Cigars (30,000 Total Cigars)

Monte by Montecristo AJ Fernandez

The Montecristo brand is the one A.J. Fernandez brand wanted to work with first, and the resulting cigar was the headliner of a full booth of products. The Monte by Montecristo was originally launched in 2013, and this version amps up the flavor and strength. It’s produced at Tabacalera AJ Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua S.A. and distributed by Altadis U.S.A.

  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
  • Binder: Nicaraguan Corojo 98
  • Filler: Nicaraguan Criollo 98, Dominican Republic Piloto Cubano
  • Monte by Montecristo AJ Fernandez Corona (5 x 44) — $10.50 (Boxes of 20, $210)
  • Monte by Montecristo AJ Fernandez Belicoso (6 1/8 x 54) — $11.25 (Boxes of 20, $225)
  • Monte by Montecristo AJ Fernandez Robusto (4 1/4 x 54) — $10.80 (Boxes of 20, $216)
  • Monte by Montecristo AJ Fernandez Toro (6 x 55) — $11 (Boxes of 20, $220)

Launch Date: July 2017

Saint Luis Rey Natural Broadleaf

Altadis U.S.A. is showing off a new fermentation for Connecticut broadleaf for this somewhat lesser-known brand. It comes in three beefy vitolas, is produced in Honduras and will be on shelves next month..

  • Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Honduras
  • Saint Luis Rey Natural Broadleaf Churchill (7 x 58) — $6.75 (Box of 25, $168.75)
  • Saint Luis Rey Natural Broadleaf Magnum (6 x 60) — $6.95 (Box of 25, $173.75)
  • Saint Luis Rey Natural Broadleaf Rothschild (5 x 56) — $6.50 (Box of 25, $162.50)

Launch Date: August 2017

VegaFina Robusto Extra Vieja PigTail Añejado 7 Años

This VegaFina was originally destined to be an international release; it debuted in Spain in May, then other European markets in the coming months. But there was one thing that was certain: it wasn’t headed for the U.S.

Then it got a 92.

Along with some other developments, of course. Either way, the cigar is coming to the United States, with 60,000 sticks produced.

  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
  • Binder: Indonesia
  • Filler: Dominican Republic & Nicaragua
  • VegaFina Robusto Extra PigTail Añejado 7 Años (6 x 50) — $6 (Box of 25, $150)

Launch Date: July 2017

Production: 2,400 Boxes of 25 Cigars (60,000 Total Cigars)[ref]For the U.S. market.[/ref]

Altadis Connect

Finally, Altadis U.S.A. showed off a new web-based shopping portal for retailers called Altadis Connect.

Davidoff is the official sponsor of halfwheel's coverage of the 2017 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show.
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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 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.