Apologies for this late edition of cigar news. Another somewhat quiet week as far as new products go. TAA went on in Cabo this past week and this week brings the Nicaraguan Cigar Fest, I don’t believe there’s anything scheduled for next week. April Fools was relatively quiet with no Candela Liga Privada attempts, although some did have their fun.

While in the Dominican Republic with a host of some of the internet’s more notable cigar personalities, Mario H. Takeyama, of CigarExplorer.com, approached Guillermo León and Jose Blanco of La Aurora about the idea of a cigar that would raise money for Japan. Fast forward two weeks and the details of the project are quickly emerging. The cigar will be known as Para Japón by La Aurora, a 5 x 50 Robusto that boasts a Nicaraguan wrapper with Brazilian, Dominican and Cameroon fillers. I’m privileged to be one of those that is closely involved with project and what I can tell you is that this project has some great minds working together for a great cause, with a lot more planned. A pic of the unbanded cigar is above thanks to José Blanco. A press release is below, more info to come this week, including the planned launch of the Para Japón website.

Update: These are going to be sold in boxes of twelve, as opposed to twenty-five, something I welcome. MSRP will be $10 for a single and $8 for the box, allowing customers the chance to get boxes at less than $100.

  • Tatuaje’s TAA Cigar — Pete Johnson offered the forty TAA retailers in Cabo this past week a chance at an exclusive cigar. Pete will “play” with the blend this week in Nicaragua, but the plans are a 5 5/8 x 54 cigar based off the popular Pork Tenderloin and Barclay Rex blends. No word on pricing or release date, but there will be 2,000 boxes of the first edition of what will be an annual Tatuaje release.
  • Brick House Jokes, Announces Extension — J.C. Newman joked that they were adding an 8 x 80 vitola and even tweeted a pic of it (above), that was part of the festivities on Friday. The reality is there will be a new Brick House size at the show, no details yet.
  • A. Turrent Triple Corojo — People have told me that CigarDave announced this cigar will launch at the show, seems it will be the case. Lots of Corojo.
  • Nicaraguan Cigar Festival Going On This Week — Expect a lot of updates from Jonathan Drew
  • Padilla’s La Terraza is shipping this week, more details here; rumors also say that Viaje’s V.O.R. and V.P.R. should leave this week, but who knows.
  • There’s an extension to Illusione’s Epernay line in the works, or at least Dion Giolito was smoking one while golfing a few days ago.
  • Smoke Inn’s SI-15 will ship on April 15th, after the Padrón event. The 6 x 60 Padróns are offered in both Natural and Maduro and exclusive to Abe Dabaneh of Smoke Inn. Around five-hundered “boxes” were made and once they’re gone, they’re gone.
  • Pete Johnson claims the above Tatuaje Monster Humidor is actually happening… We shall see, Pete claims its part of his “Area Fumado” accessory collection.
  • Adrian’s CroMagnon, the collaboration between Michael Rosales of Adrian’s Costa Rican Cigars and Skip Martin has new box designs, which were designed by Canadian humidor-maker Eddie DeJong of Vaderburgh Humidors.
  • SmokingStogie.com announced its transition to video, oh wait… that was an April Fool’s Joke, or at least that was the intent, I think.
  • It was a busy week for the IPCPR, who put out press releases regarding smoking legislation in: Nebraska, Oregon, Indiana, Illinois and Hawaii.
  • Illinois did however take a step to reduce smoking restrictions in casinos.
  • The U.K. will see a 5% increase in taxes next week.
  • Habanos S.A. lost a motion in its case against Havana Sunrise, Frank Herrera’s CigarLaw has all the details, as you would expect.

Early Saturday morning, the cigar industry lost Gary J. Arzt. The seventy year-old was a fixture amongst the Miami cigar scene, an influential critic, a voice for organizations such as CRA and Tobacconist University, a helping hand for companies like Miami Cigar & Co. and My Father Cigars, a mentor, a friend to many and more family to others. Arzt attended ProCigar shortly before learning of liver complications in late February. He was a controversial figure, but there is no denying that he made people think about what they were doing. His column, Arzt of Cigars, a mixture of recent reminiscings with the who’s who of the industry and a barrage of statements directed at who was irritating Mr. Arzt this week, was easily one of the most anticipated reads for yours truly. I had little interaction with Mr. Arzt and he surely had no clue who I was, but for those in cigar media he is without a doubt one of the most influential figures ever. Love him or hate him, a phrase often associated with Gary, there is no denying, the industry is in mourning. CigarExplorer has a great interview with Arzt, one of the last he ever gave, which you can view here. “We are all the same, we are all cigar smokers.”

Project “Para Japón” by La Aurora – Support for JAPAN!!

On March 11, 2011, an 8.9-magnitude earthquake hit the island of Japan — the biggest earthquake in Japanese official record. The tsunami that followed caused unprecedented devastation on a level unseen by the Japanese people since War World II.

The voices and images of desperation have struck deeply in the hearts and souls of the Dominican people whom, for many decades, have built a close bond with Japan. La Aurora Cigar Factory has echoed the expressions of solidarity of its employees and suppliers, and is glad to announce the creation of a special edition cigar to help the humanitarian response to this disaster. “We are very pleased to lay our helping hand to our brothers of Japan by supporting the humanitarian assistance to this great nation,” says Guillermo Leon, President of La Aurora. “When hurricanes have struck the Dominican Republic, Japan was there for us,” Leon added. Proceeds from the sales of this cigar will be donated to the Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief fund through JAPAN TOBACCO IMEX CO. LTD.

The cigar named “Para Japón” or “For Japan” is a 5” x 50, medium to full bodied vitola, made with selected premium tobacco leaves. These cigars have been aged during three years and its blend is something really unique with an exquisite Nicaraguan wrapper. Its package of 25 Sumo Robustos is decorated with special artwork by Mario Takeyama and Dan Reeve, the design team of CigarExplorer.com. Being involved in this project was important and personal to Cigar Explorer, as founder Mario is a native of Japan and still has many friends and family living there.

The “Para Japón” cigar will be available thru La Aurora distributors on April.

For US market, The “Para Japón” cigar will be distributed by Miami Cigar & Company, La Aurora US Exclusive Distributor.

The popular European Cigar Cult Journal is changing its name to Cigar Journal.

Press Release: European Cigar Cult Journal to become Cigar Journal

Beginning this summer the European Cigar Cult Journal will become the CIGAR JOURNAL. The name change is being made to better reflect its international scope and readership. The magazine will continue to be published in both German and English languages. The German-language version has been live for several weeks and the English version is coming soon.

The Cigar Journal’s motto will be: PURE. PREMIUM. WORLDWIDE.

The new online domain is: http://www.cigarjournal.co/

Fuente has announced the newest edition of the limited-edition four cigar sampler known as The Fuente Story, which benefits the Cigar Family Charitable Foundation. I recently reviewed both the Natural and Sun Grown versions of the Don Arturo Gran AniverXario, I might advice caution, more info here.

For customers residing in the U.S., state tobacco and sales taxes will be added. For customers residing outside the U.S., the import duty and local tobacco tax will be added.

The May 2011 release of The Fuente Story comes with the biography of Carlos Fuente Sr., and 4 rare vintage Fuente Aged Selection cigars:

1 Don Arturo Gran AniverXario, Natural
1 Don Arturo Gran AniverXario, Sun Grown
1 Don Carlos Edicion de Aniversario, Double Robusto
1 Fuente Fuente Opus X, Tauros The Bull

The above cigars will come in the limited edition Fuente Story travel humidor.

Release Quantity: 1,912

Expected Ship Date: May 2011

For customers residing in the U.S., state tobacco and sales taxes will be added. For customers residing outside the U.S., the import duty and local tobacco tax will be added.

While we broke the news a few months ago, Zino Platinum has officially announced its partnership with comedian Ron White

Zino Platinum and Ron White Celebrate Innovative Partnership

Famous for his love of premium cigars, comedian Ron White’s broad and successful portfolio now includes his new role as a Zino Platinum Ambassador. Zino Platinum, the premium cigar brand known for its creative approach to marketing, has joined forces with White in 2011 through an innovative relationship designed to expand both brands’ audiences by creating awareness in new markets. The extent of White’s involvement includes, but is not limited to, special appearances at Zino Platinum events and a Zino Platinum Ron White Signature cigar blended to his tastes and preferences for his use.

White’s first appearance as an Ambassador was at the March 29th nationwide launch of the new Z-Class Series in Palm Beach Gardens, Fl, where he had the honor of unveiling of the product, the first new line of Zino Platinum Cigars in 8 years. As the partnership evolves, White will be making appearances at select retail outlets and supporting various creative marketing efforts.

In 2002, Zino Platinum was developed by the Oettinger Davidoff Group in partnership with American marketing specialists, revealing an entirely new approach to design, marketing and publicity. Zino Platinum represents a fusion of time-honored cigar tradition and the hip culture of today and tomorrow. Zino Platinum Cigars’ various shapes, tastes, blends and aromas are all respectfully drawn from the best of classic cigar customs. Zino Platinum cigar smokers are youthful, ambitious, strong, proud, successful, fashionable and bold. Today Zino Platinum is still at the forefront of pop culture and the leading lifestyle brand in the cigar industry. Zino Platinum uses the best traditions of the old school and the innovations of the new school to create a dynamic market opportunity.

Ron began his career two decades ago and now is one of the most successful comedians, recording artists and entrepreneurs in the United States. Best known for his uninhibited comedy shows, White shot to fame after his appearance on the Blue Collar Comedy Tour. His career includes two Grammy-nominations, a Gold Record, numerous one-hour specials, a New York Times Best Seller and CD and DVD sales over 10 million. White will make special appearances alongside Zino Platinum at retail events across the US in support of the brand.

Punch is introducing the 10th Anniversary Rare Corojo, this time with Corojo.


Called Rare Corojo 10th Anniversary, the 5” x 50 frontmark is unique in that it will feature a proprietary Connecticut Corojo wrapper. The new cigar will begin selling in late March for a suggested retail price of $6.50 per cigar until the limited supply is depleted. The cigars will be packed in eye catching cabinet style red wooden boxes and can be easily identified by a secondary red-and-gold band that bears the Rare Corojo distinction.

Rick Chandler, director of marketing for Punch cigars commented, “For ten years, cigar enthusiasts have looked forward to the annual return of Rare Corojo, a brand that features a unique reddish-brown wrapper and epitomizes the best of what Punch cigars offer – a spicy no-nonsense blend at a reasonable price. This year, we’re pleased to have upped the ante by offering the classic Punch Rare Corojo along with the standout new taste of the 10th Anniversary frontmark.”

Punch Rare Corojo 10th Anniversary joins the seven existing Rare Corojo frontmarks, which made their annual return to tobacco retail shops across the country earlier this month.

Punch Rare Corojo® are produced by General Cigar Co. Inc., which manufactures and markets handcrafted cigars for the premium market. Committed to delivering cigars of the finest quality, General Cigar also produces Macanudo®, Cohiba®, Partagas® Hoyo de Monterrey®, Excalibur®, La Gloria Cubana® and several other leading premium brands. In addition, the company grows its own premium Connecticut Shade wrapper tobacco, as well as natural and candela wrapper in the Dominican Republic. General Cigar also operates Club Macanudo®, a cigar bar in New York City. Based in Richmond, VA, General Cigar sells through tobacconists nationwide. For more information, please visit www.cigarworld.com.

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Charlie Minato

I am an editor and co-founder of halfwheel.com/Rueda Media, LLC. I previously co-founded and published TheCigarFeed, one of the two predecessors of halfwheel. I have written about the cigar industry for more than a decade, covering everything from product launches to regulation to M&A. In addition, I handle a lot of the behind-the-scenes stuff here at halfwheel. I enjoy playing tennis, watching boxing, falling asleep to the Le Mans 24, wearing sweatshirts year-round and eating gyros. echte liebe.