Weekly News (January 31, 2011)

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Can he do it? Will he do it…? Yepp, another week, another Viaje LE announcement. Nope, I’m not kidding. It marks the seventh sixth (I really thought there were seven) announcement of a new Viaje product this month joining the: Exclusivo Chiquito, Exclusivo Shorts, WLP, Late Harvest and Trifecta. The stick? You’re going to have to click “more” to find out… In addition, info on a new cigar from AVO, Padilla, Habanos, a bunch of boutiques, Oliva, tons of legislation updates from Cigar Rights and some great events.

Viaje. In the past week, I cleaned up the info regarding the White Label Project, NHC got some and is sold out, meaning I think all that will be sold in this batch have been accounted for. I would expect that we will see this cigar rereleased sometime before July, but that’s just what the birdies are saying. Trifecta is the Oro blend in the Lancero format. Andre has said that it will be out “later this year”, my understanding is that really is more like “late this year.” Props to ToastedFoot for getting the exclusive on the Late Harvest, which is a process that the wine industry uses and Andre Farkas, brand owner of Viaje, hopes to bring to the cigar world. A call to a wine buddy who explained the process of late harvest, leaving the grapes on the vine longer to create sweeter wines, leads me to wonder given the amount of fermentation that already goes into cigars, if this will honestly prove to be that different. The Exclusivo Shorts were announced eleven days ago and I just seemed not wanting to mention them, supposed to be a January release in cabinets of fifty with a $7 MSRP per stick. I have yet to hear of them being out or any guesses on production numbers. Oh yeah… the new stick. The cigar is being made for Tower Cigars’ 45th Anniversary. It’s based off the original Exclusivo blend in a different size, although I’ve yet to be able to get an exact confirmation. Now, fans of the California retailer might wonder is it really Tower’s 45th year? The answer is no. The cigar could come out in the spring of 2011 or anytime thereafter. It doesn’t sound like they have a whole lot of control over the matter, so we’ll all just have to wait and see.

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On Thursday, el niño diablo broke a host of stories regarding Padilla in the latest version of State of the Brand. This included the discontinuation of the Padilla 1948, Padilla Habano and Padilla Series ’68. Ernesto also gave more details regarding the Artemis, Legacies and La Terraza projects, as well info regarding a Cazadores Maduro. State of the Brand has gotten great reception and we have a few more planned in the coming weeks.

The quietest news of the week goes to Ian Hummel of Oliva, who quietly announced that the Serie V would be getting a Petite Corona size. I’d like to point out for completely irrelevant purposes that outside of the yearly Serie V Maduro Limited release, the last new Oliva (proper) line was the Connecticut Reserve. Contrast that to what’s written above… Trevor has updated the new reading for the Habanos Packaging Codes. Ernesto Perez-Carrillo tweeted a picture of his duties over the weekend, testing out new blends…

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The partnership between Skip Martin and Michael Rosales of Adrian’s Cigars, CroMagnon, ships tomorrow. There are still samplers left to my knowledge, but not a whole lot, best way to get in touch is via the CroMagnon Twitter account. EloGio, a company that includes Armando Robaina (nephew) and Carlos Robaina (grandson) of the late Cuban legend, Alejandro Robaina, is releasing their five-thousand cigar limited release… I have no clue other than that they are Nicaraguan. Dignity Cigars showed off their newest line… FatBoy, made in Costa Rica.

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In case you haven’t had enough Limited Editions in today’s edition of the news, Edward Simon graced the world with pictures (below) of the new AVO LE 2011, honoring Avo Uvezian’s 85th birthday. The cigar is a 6 3/4 x 50 Dominican Puro in the Diadema vitola. As always, the cigar will be released March 22nd, Avo’s birthday, at a launch party in New York. It’s a smaller release than normal, with only 8,000 boxes of 10 being made. Two shops have announced pricing and one has started taking pre-orders, both selling boxes at $157.50 and singles at $17.75, which I believe is MSRP. There are a reported ten total stops that Avo will make on his annual tour, including Tinderbox Charlotte on April 5th. My understanding is the blend is a bit of a departure from the more recent Avo LE’s, which have been characterized as stronger than most would assume. Pictures via Edward’s Twitter account.

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In legislation news, a Nebraska judge ruled that the statewide smoking ban did cover cigar shops, as apparently they weren’t different enough from regular workplaces. Washington state has a proposed bill that would allow cigar smoking in public places, but not cigarette smoking… given the state’s current laws, this is a step in the right direction. Minnesota has a similar bill, that is far less complicated and more expansive – also a step in the right direction. Glynn Loope finally posted a message in wake of the CRA’s seemingly month long public vacation that includes updates on Connecticut, Kentucky, Maine and Oklahoma. In addition, the CRA has petitions for bills in Florida, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York and North Carolina. Given the links are all on that page – it’s really easy to get the message out there. In addition, Loope notes that there are some forms of anti-smoking legislation the CRA is fighting in Mississippi, Indiana, South Carolina, Texas, Florida, Iowa, New Jersey, New York, Delaware, North Carolina, Illinois, Minnesota, Virginia, California, New Mexico, New Hampshire, and Oregon.

My favorite story of the week? The Ritz-Carlton of St. Louis was fined for violating a smoking ban, despite having an exemption for some of the hotel… Pat Lindsey, the executive director of Tobacco-Free St. Louis decided to call the police, because in a city that was recently given the award for highest crime rate in the nation, we really need to crack down on people in tuxedos and gowns, accidentally in the club room instead of the ballroom at the Ritz-Carlton.

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Above: Marvin Samel of Drew Estate (L) & Israel Markevitz of Uptown Cigar Co. (R) at the 2010 Stoli & Stogie’s Dinner.

Davidoff Columbus Circle is hosting a Super Bowl party, five cigars for $100 actually doesn’t sound too bad given New York prices… how sad that is. Despite moving to Florida due to those very same taxes, site sponsor Uptown Cigar Co. will return to New York for one night (April 7th) to host their popular Stoli and Stogie’s Dinner at Wiltwyk Golf Club in Kingston, NY. I spoked with Israel about the event the other day and it sounds phenomenal. Claimed to be the first “cigar dinner”, Stoli and Stogies is still only $75 for all you-can-eat buffet, all you can drink Stoli Martinis and three cigars from Drew Estate. Last year, one of those cigars was the Dirty Rat, which wasn’t out at the time… so a JD4 or LP40 Lancero (pure speculation on my part) might be in the works. In addition, Drew Estate co-founder Marvin Samel will be returning to the event that he traditionally headlines along with David Lafferty, East Coast manager of Sales for Drew Estate, Israel and Michelle. Info can be found here, but you need to call Israel to make your reservation. You can reach him at (877) 238-1172.

Three more news stories… Miami Cigar & Co. has created an event to raise money for family of fallen police officers in the Miami area. Take advantage of the special deals and support a good cause.

 

“MIAMI CIGAR & COMPANY CREATING $5,000 DONATION TO THE LOVE FUND”

Miami, FL, 26 January…Miami Cigar & Company’s principals, Marianna & Nestor Miranda are supplying 1000 cigars from the Nestor Miranda Collection to five shops in Miami. These cigars will be sold to benefit The Love Fund, which benefits the families of fallen officers. Each shop will have 10 boxes with an actual retail value of $136 each. The cigars will be sold for $5/each ; $100/box.

 

“The Mirandas were very moved by the funeral service for the two slain Police Officers Roger Castillo and Amanda Haworth who were killed while serving an arrest warrant in Liberty City last week” according to Jason Wood, Miami Cigar & Company Marketing Manager. “They are very aware of the recent increase in violence against Police Officers.” The Mirandas learned about The Love Fund yesterday, and asked Wood and MC&C Vice President Rene J. Cataneda to organize this event immediately.

The event will take place on Friday, February 4th at the following Miami stores: Cuban Crafters (3604 NW 7th Street); Puros Fine Cigars (10792 SW 24 Street); Havana Cuba Cigar Lounge (15348 NW 79 Court); Vilar Cigars (13989 South Dixie Highway); Cigar 1 Lounge, formerly Stogies of London Square (12305 SW 137 ave, ste 306). The cigars will be available until the supply runs out.

Miami Cigar & Company will donate the total proceeds of the 1,000 cigar sale to The Love Fund with a corporate check that will list the 5 participating shops as contributors.

A few months ago I uncovered a trademark from General Cigar Co., the Bolivar D’Oro name. On Thursday at Nat Sherman in New York, that cigar will launch with famed blender Benji Menendez present to oversee the festivities at “The Original House of Bolivar.” Tickets are $95 and limited to one-hundred guests. In addition to the launch of this new cigar, which I have info about, Pre-Embargo Cuban Nat Sherman Bolivar sampler packs from 1958 will be auctioned off to raise money for the Grand Central Neighborhood Social Services Corporation.

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Finally, a few hours ago General Cigar Co. sent out a press release announcing Gary Hyams is leaving CAO International. It uses the phrase “step down” as chairman of CAO, which is more along the lines of, his job is done. Another interesting phrase used was “completion of the integration of CAO® international and General Cigar Company,” which inevitably makes some CAO fans cringe. For those that don’t know, Hyam served as chairman of CAO for the past four years, all of it until recently with CAO being owned by Scandinavian Tobacco. In 2007, CAO was sold by the Ozgener family to STG, who later merged with Swedish Match, parent of General Cigar Co. Despite, STG having the control in the partnership, because of the size of General Cigar Co., CAO was placed under the former Swedish Match group, unifying all of the premium cigar brands under one house. The press release is below:

 

GARY HYAMS LEAVES CAO INTERNATIONAL

Richmond, VA—General Cigar announced today that with completion of the integration of CAO® International and General Cigar Company, Gary Hyams will step down from his role as chairman of CAO International, effective today.

Along with Dan Carr, president of General Cigar, Mr. Hyams led the integration of the two companies as part of the recent joint venture with Scandinavian Tobacco Group, which was announced in October.

Gary Hyams commented, “Being at the helm of CAO for the past four years has meant a lot to me and I am proud of what my colleagues and I have accomplished. I have great faith in Dan Carr and his team, and I leave CAO fully confident that they will continue to enhance and grow the brand.”

Dan Carr, president of General Cigar said, “Gary is a strong leader who is responsible for bringing international prominence to CAO. I am grateful to him for his dedication to the company and to all that he contributed toward the integration of General Cigar and CAO into the new Scandinavian Tobacco Group. Gary has done an exceptional job of preparing my staff and me for the future and we remain committed to continuing the momentum that he and his colleagues have built with CAO.”

In 2007, Hyams was highly instrumental in the acquisition of CAO International and was appointed Chairman. Under his leadership, CAO has grown to become a highly successful company in the competitive premium cigar category. He retained the culture of the company and implemented many successful new brand launches including America®, Lx2® and La Traviata®, which has received the highest acclaim of all CAO brands to date. Mr. Hyams was also heavily involved in the 2009 acquisition of the Toraño and Olivas cigar factories in Nicaragua and Honduras.

Mr. Hyams has been an advocate for the cigar industry, having been appointed to the Board of Directors of the Cigar Association of America (CAA) and having served as Chairman of the Imported Tobacco Products Advisory Council (ITPAC) in the U.K.

His distinguished career in the industry began in the U.K. at “Loretta Cigars London LTD,” which Mr. Hyams later came to co-own. Loretta Cigars was noted for building the Henri Wintermans, King Edward and Ritmeester brands, and was also an agent for Macanudo®, Don Tomas®, CAO and the cigarette brand “Natural American Spirit.”

Upon the sale of Loretta Cigars to Henri Wintermans, Mr. Hyams became managing director in the new company, Henri Wintermans U.K. Upon the Acquisition of CAO, Mr. Hyams held the distinction of being the only general manager/managing director in Scandinavian Tobacco Group to hold that position in two different countries.

About General Cigar

General Cigar Co. Inc., a division of Scandinavian Tobacco Group, manufactures and markets handcrafted cigars for the premium market. Committed to delivering cigars of the finest quality, General Cigar’s skilled artisans produce Macanudo, Cohiba®, La Gloria Cubana®, Punch®, CAO®, Partagas®, Hoyo de Monterrey®, Excalibur® and several other leading premium brands in the company’s Dominican, Honduran and Nicaraguan factories. In addition, the company cultivates proprietary tobacco which is used exclusively in its blends. General Cigar also operates Club Macanudo®, a cigar bar in New York City. Based in Richmond, VA, General Cigar sells through tobacconists nationwide and also exports select products to 62 countries. For more information, please visit www.cigarworld.com.

® CAO, America, LX2, La Traviata, Macanudo, Don Tomas, Cohiba, La Gloria Cubana, Punch, Partagas, Hoyo de Monterrey, Excalibur and Club Macanudo are registered trademarks of General Cigar Co. Inc.

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Charlie Minato
About the author

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 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.

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