The Balmoral line of premium cigars will no longer be sold in the U.S.
Scandinavian Tobacco Group (STG) is selling the remaining American inventory of Balmoral and San Pedro de Macorís, the premium cigar brands of Royal Agio Cigars. Yesterday was the last day for several members of the Royal Agio Cigars USA sales staff, though limited staff will remain at the company’s Florida’s headquarters for the next two months. Now, the remaining inventory will either be sold through STG’s existing channels—Meier & Dutch and its retail operations like Cigars International—or moved to international markets where it will continue to be sold. Once that inventory is gone, it will mark the end of Balmoral in the U.S.
The move comes not long after STG finalized the acquisition of Agio in January as well as the announcement of a reorganization of the company in mid-April. Régis Broersma, STG’s senior vice-president of North American Brand and Rest of the World, confirmed plans for the Balmoral brand in the U.S. but noted that the Balmoral brand name could be used for products outside of the U.S. market, including premium cigars.
Broersma cited both sales numbers and concerns about the ability to get approval to continue to be sold under FDA guidelines as the reasons for the decision to discontinue the brand. STG believes none of the Balmoral brands would have qualified as predicate brands, because they weren’t marketed commercially prior to Feb. 15, 2007 and thus exempt from FDA regulations.
Balmoral’s portfolio largely centered around its Añejo line, which included the Añejo 18, the Añejo XO, the Añejo XO Connecticut, Añejo XO Oscuro and Añejo XO Nicaragua. In recent years, the brand launched a series called Serie Signaturas, or Signature Series, which featured collaborations between the brand’s former owner, Boris Wintermans, and other cigar makers. The series debuted in 2018 with Dueto, a collaboration with Ernesto Perez-Carrillo Jr., and then added Paso Doble in 2019, a project with Litto Gomez of La Flor Dominicana.
Additionally, Broersma said that the San Pedro de Macorís brand of cigars will completely leave the U.S. market as well, though will continue on in other parts of the world. Royal Agio debuted that brand in 2018 with the San Pedro de Macorís Brazil and San Pedro de Macorís Ecuador, then added two more lines in 2019, the San Pedro de Macorís Sun Grown and the San Pedro de Macorís Nicaragua.
While the Agio portfolio of premium cigars will be going away, the brand’s mass market, machine-made offerings, such as the Panter and Mehari’s brands, are now able to be sold by STG’s General Cigar Co., a change that goes into effect today. The sale of machine-made cigars in Europe was the centerpiece of Agio’s business and the main reason for the acquisition.
STG is planning to revamp its manufacturing operations in the Dominican Republic. The company will expand and convert the former Agio factory in San Pedro de Macorís to a factory that produces only machine-made cigars. Up until recently, the factory was producing both machine-made and premium cigars. That means General Cigar Dominicana in Santiago will move to exclusively making premium cigars, eventually including Balmoral and San Pedro de Macorís for non-U.S. markets.
The company already announced plans to shut down General Cigar Moca and two European facilities as part of the integration, one of which was owned by STG and the other by Agio.
Shortly after this article was published, it was clarified that the San Pedro de Macorís line will remain available in other parts of the world. Additionally, it was the General Cigar Moca factory that was closed, not General Cigar Mao as originally reported. The Mao factory remains open.
Charlie Minato contributed to this article.