Amidst a steadily building wave of buzz about his debut line of cigars, Hendrik Kelner, Jr. recently discussed his new Smoking Jacket line that will debut at the IPCPR Convention and Trade Show in mid-July.
Reports of the cigars being available at a shop in the Dominican Republic are true, though the blends that have been released are test blends, and not what Kelner says will debut at IPCPR. There were a handful Smoking Jackets floating around the ProCigar Festival in February as well, and Kelner has posted several photos of the Smoking Jacket on both his Facebook page and a page dedicated to the Smoking Jacket. Kelner confirmed that what will debut at IPCPR is a quartet of vitolas:
Favoritos – 6 x 46
Short Robusto – 4 1/2 x 56
Robusto Imperial – 5 x 52
Toro Magno – 7 x 50
However, there will be two different wrappers used on the project. The Favoritos and Short Robusto will use a Dominican Cotuí wrapper, a leaf Kelner describes as a “family reserve tobacco” that is being grown by his sister, Monika Kelner, at her family land and for use exclusively at Kelner’s factory.
The Toro Magno and Robusto Imperial will be wrapped in a Brazilian Cubra leaf, which Kelner describes as “beautiful, with great taste.” Kelner hasn’t disclosed the binder and filler at this point.
A previous report in a cigar magazine described the Smoking Jacket’s wrapper as being from Ecuador, though Kelner says he doesn’t know where that piece of misinformation came from.
Hendrik Kelner, Jr.’s Smoking Jacket, via Facebook.
In addition to the wrapper differences, Kelner says each vitola will produce a completely unique smoking experience.
“The Favoritos is my favorite size and is more like an every day smoke but with a very unique taste and nice, balanced strength,” he says. The Short Robusto is “the wild one of the line – indescribable,” Kelner notes, adding that “some experimental blending that took long to develop.” While he heaps praise on the vitola, he is quick to say it may not be for everyone.
While the Favoritos is Kelner’s favorite, the Toro Magno may end up being the flagship of the line, as he says it is the best so far, a “great tasting, elegant cigar.” Its size has appeal to a number of cigar smokers, something Kelner feels will make it that much more appealing.
The Robusto Imperial is the dark horse in this race, a size that is currently being made and one on which Kelner offered little comment. He noted that the first batch was very good but there was a desire to make it even better, leading him and his team to develop what he calls “the one blend” that they all liked. “It will be very good,” he said.
Kelner was hoping to have somewhere in the neighborhood of 100,000 cigars made in 2013, but because of the time it took to develop the blend and getting “all the details” ready, he figures to release just about half of that number before year’s end. Specific pricing has not been set at this point, but he expects it to be between $8 – $12 per cigar.
As for the name, Kelner says he always sympathized with smoking jackets, “a long lost tradition of elegance and good taste,” he says. “I wanted to create a cigar brand that everyone can relate to , not using a strong last name or imposing a name, but like the iconic cigar garment it self, create a brand that everyone can relate to and feels like their own.” The logo for the project is a smoking jacket lapel.
Kelner’s IPCPR debut will be in the Davidoff booth at the 2013 IPCPR trade show, something for which he is appreciative. “Davidoff is like my family — I worked there for 20 years, so although I am independent and doing my own blends, we still have very good relations and this shows by them asking to distribute my brand. For this I am very grateful.”