Last week, Rocky Patel Premium Cigars, Inc. began shipping its 2021 Tobacconists’ Association of America (TAA) release.

The Rocky Patel Vintage 2006 San Andreas Bala is a unique 5 3/4 x 58/50 vitola that has a round cap like a parejo and a bulbous foot like a salomone. Rocky Patel has used the Bala vitola in other lines for other special purposes.

The blend is the same as the regular production line, meaning it uses an 11-year-old Mexican San Andrés wrapper over a Connecticut broadleaf binder and fillers from Nicaragua. The company introduced the line in 2017.

MSRP for the TAA exclusive version is $7 per cigar and is offered in 20-count boxes. Rocky Patel says it shipped just 200 of the 1,000 planned boxes last week.

The TAA is a fairly small group of some of the country’s top tobacconists, about 80 retailers, as well as 40 or so manufacturers. The association gathers annually to discuss issues facing the industry and retailers, as well as to have its annual trade show, a unique event that works on a group buying format in order to secure exclusive deals for these generally high-volume merchants.

During the event, the organization holds two selling events, one known as the Dream Machine where the retailers collectively order to secure larger discounts, while the other is a more traditional trade show. Typically, around a dozen manufacturers release new exclusive cigars for the retail members of the organization under the TAA Exclusive Series Program banner. Those manufacturers agree to give a portion of the proceeds to the organization, a minimum of 50 cents per cigar.

TAA hosted a virtual meeting in March and is planning on having an in-person meeting next month in Casa de Campo, Dominican Republic.

This year, a total of 13 different companies announced TAA ESP releases, more than half of them have shipped to stores. It would appear this leaves just two cigars—the Gurkha and La Flor Dominicana—have not begun shipping.

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Charlie Minato

I am an editor and co-founder of Media, LLC. I previously co-founded and published TheCigarFeed, one of the two predecessors of halfwheel. I handle the editing of our written content, the majority of the technical aspects of the site and work with the rest of our staff on content management, business development and more. I’ve lived in most corners of the country and now entering my second stint in Dallas, Texas. I enjoy boxing, headphones, the Le Mans 24-hour, wearing sweatshirts year-round and gyros. echte liebe.