It’s been a busy week to say the least, and not just in cigar news. Tons of new news, including a few that came out from the middle of nowhere. Wednesday was a hectic day with one of the most confusing days in regard to cigar news. After the jump, other news about Pete Johnson, La Aurora, Viaje, La Sirena, Paul Garmirian, Studio Tobac, AVO, E.P. Carrillo, Casa Fernandez, Oliva, C.Gars Ltd, Frank Herrera, Padilla, Michael Herklots and more.

As some of you know, I spent the past few days in the Dominican Republic as a guest of Miami Cigar & Co. and La Aurora. I have yet to really put into words what exactly what happened, and my only thought as of now is “surreal.” Once again, much thanks to Guillermo León, José Blanco, Jason Wood, José Manuel, Amaury Abreu and all the others who were in Santiago. News-wise, like the other bloggers who were there, I got to light up the Guillermo León Robusto, which should be released in the next few months. As for the long-awaited La Aurora 107 Maduro, it’s in the works, but it’s not ready, as of now. I’m sure some of the other details will be available on some of the other blogs over the next few days. The La Aurora Gran 107 is in a few stores, should be more widely available at the end of the month. (I also may have gotten ahold of some Guillermo León Lanceros… maybe.)

Wednesday saw the announcement of the Tatuaje Tattoo. By now this post has all of the correct details, I think? They should be popping up in the other eighteen accounts soon, but anyone that followed the saga last week knows that the truth seems far from this release.

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  • Viaje Skull & Bones WMD & MOABI’ve heard some thoughts that the new Skull & Bones would have two sizes, but confirmation came early this morning. The WMD is a 3 3/4 x 54 NUb-esk vitola that is offered in 25ct boxes and the MOAB 4 1/4 x 54 shall be offered in 100ct varieties. WMD is $8.96 and features a round head; $9.36 is the price of the MOAB, which is a Torpedo. Both ship this week from Tropical, should be in stores around the middle of the week.
  • Tatuaje Noella Reserva & Regios ReservaEver since the initial batch of what many consider to be the best Tatuaje ever was released, rumors have flown about when Pete Johnson would put these into full production. The answer? 2012, according to what Pete said at the Federal Cigars dinner. Series P ships next month.
  • La Sirena Series A — Brand manager Arielle Ditkowich has a birthday on May 24th and her line La Sirena will get a new size, the classic A. This will be offered in boxes of ten and I’m told the band isn’t getting any longer.
  • New Tatuaje Butcher Cut — The next size in the Butcher Cut series, the limited production runs Pete Johnson does for Gloucester St. Cigars, will be the Pork Belly. No word on size or pricing; but it sounds like June is a real possibility for this cigar.
  • Tatuaje La Vérité Updates — Pete Johnson showed off the new La Vérité band (above) and futures went on sale this week, at a 40% discount versus the June 2011 MSRP. La Vérité (Churchill) is 50% Habano Criollo, 35% Criollo 98 & 15% Pelo de Oro with 30,000 cigars released. Twenty-thousand (20,000) of the L’Esprit de Vérité (Robusto) will be made, blend is 55% Habano Criollo, 35% Criollo 98 & 10% Pelo de Oro.
  • PG Symphony 20 Gets Two New Sizes — Paul Garmirian added two new sizes to the PG Symphony 20 Connoisseur line: a 6 7/8 x 57 Salomones and a 4 1/2 x 52 Short Robusto.
  • E.P. Carrillo NWC ships this Week — Ernesto’s take on the Connecticut is apparently really good.
  • AVO 85th (LE2011) Ships Today — After last week’s correction, the Dominican (not Dominican Puro) Diadema leaves Tampa today.
  • Casa Fernandez Aganorsa Leaf Box Press is now available in 15 ct boxes, this is shipping. Picture via Paul Palmer.
  • E.P. Carrillo had a special humidor designed for an event by Alberto Dange Gil Abreu. Picture below.
  • A little more info on the new Oliva Petit Coronas. The Oliva Serie V No. 4 is the same size that has been out in Europe, 5 x 43. At the TAA show/meeting, U.S. retailers will have the opportunity to purchase some, after that they will remain only available in Europe. The Oliva Connecticut Reserve Petit Corona is 4 x 38 and as of now should be out before the IPCPR show in July. I’d imagine we’ll see the Serie V No. 4 in the U.S. sometime before the show.
  • Frank Herrera of CigarLaw has reported that Habanos S.A. has conceded to Altadis USA in regard to the Conde 109 trademark. Herrera notes this is the first time for Habanos and questioned just how independence the companies are, as Altadis S.A., parent of Altadis USA, owns half of Habanos S.A.
  • A proposed tobacco tax in Illinois has exposed one of the least discussed issues in the cigar rights debate; the difference between big tobacco corporations and the majority of cigar makers.
  • Alabama now has a proposed smoking ban, remember folks, smoking legislation is bipartisan, always bipartisan.
  • Washington’s cigar lounge bill is moving forward, despite the ridiculous fees, this would allow for smoking in cigar lounges, something currently banned. This comes in the fact of one store owner owing a million dollars in back taxes for shipping cigars from out of state.
  • Mitchell Orchant of C.Gars Ltd wrote a blog post indicating that he expects an increase in tobacco taxes in the UK.
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Heather Haddad, owner of fumee and media coordinator for the TXCMA, posted the following about the current legislation:

The State Wide Smoking Ban has left committee, but it is unlikely to pass. However, if it should pass, it does contain full exemptions for cigar shops and bars with no grandfather clauses. There is also a bill to increase the tax on small cigars with an non-natural filter or equivalent (i.e. Djarum clove “cigars”). This will not effect any cigars in our humidor. This bill is likely going to pass. For now, the Texas Cigar Merchants Association is in “monitoring” mode, and they are reviewing the self-funding bills that are originating in the House right now. Those bills may contain additional tobacco taxes, much like the OTP (Other Tobacco Products) tax that passed last session that effect pipe tobacco prices.

Last week we told you about the upcoming Padilla/Studio Tobac announcement, this week we got a press release:



MIAMI, FL – March 18, 2010 – Today Studio Tobac’s José Oliva announced that The Studio will make a cigar for The Padilla Cigars Company. The cigar will be a full bodied, Nicaraguan puro. It will be a figurado shape grown from Habano seed. Production will be strictly limited to 1000 boxes of 10 cigars each.

“I’ve closely watched Studio Tobac’s work for the last few years; going all the way back to the launch of Nub in 2008” said Ernesto Padilla. “I’ve been very impressed with Nub, Cain, and Studio Tobac’s general ability to bring real, lasting innovation to the premium cigar industry.”

Studio Tobac’s José Oliva commented: “Ernie Padilla approaced the Studio Tobac Executive Board to collaborate on a limited release Nicaraguan Habano. After much deliberation, The Board approved the release of a figurado limited to 10,000 cigars.”

Oliva continued “I’m excited to work with Padilla. I consider him to be one of the pioneers of the full-bodied, Cuban style cigar. Padilla has shown the same type of innovation that is prevalent at Studio Tobac.”

Studio Tobac’s John Gazerro states “Even though we’ve existed for the last few years, Studio Tobac just became know to the public; so we’re very protective of the brand. This type of joint venture isn’t something we take lightly, and we’re not getting in the business of making private label cigars for anyone. Working with Ernie (Padilla) makes sense because he has been a friend of Studio Tobac for years. Ernie assured us that he will treat this project with integrity and respect.” Gazerro added: “We’ve got some interesting ideas for the blend. I’m sure Padilla does, too. I’m excited to smoke the cigars. They should be pretty damn good.”

Prototypes of the Studio Tobac/Padilla cigars will be presented to the Studio Tobac Executive Board as soon as April. Once a final blend is chosen, the goal is to have the cigars released by August of 2011. Expect pricing to be about $14 per stick. As with all Studio Tobac brands, the cigars will be maufactured by The Oliva Family Of Cigars. For this project only, distribution will be handled by The Padilla Cigars Company.

Michael Herklots, the General Manger of Davidoff of Geneva, New York, is hosting his annual birthday, information about the event and the Learning for Life fund:

Michael Herklots’ Annual Birthday Fundraiser: May 2nd & 3rd in New York City.

New York, NY, March 21, 2011– The Sixth Annual Michael Herklots Birthday Fundraiser for Killingly High School’s Learning for Life Fund will be held in New York City on May 2nd and 3rd, 2011.

Monday, May 2, 2011, will be a party at The Carnegie Club (156 W. 56th St.) from 6:00pm until 10:00pm featuring incredible raffles, auctions and premium cigars. Over the years this event has welcomed Chefs Emeril Lagasse and Wayne Nish, Actors Tony Darrow, Arthur Nascarella and Frank Vincent, and friends from around the world. The event is open to anyone who’d like to attend and make a donation.

On Tuesday, May 3, a private dinner will be hosted at the exclusive Grand Havana Room, a private cigar club in the former “Top of the Sixes” space on the 39th Floor of 666 Fifth Avenue. This intimate affair will offer an open cocktail hour followed by dinner paired with fine wines and cigars as well as a silent and live auction.

Since 2005, Michael Herklots’ annual birthday event has raised over $100,000 for his high school alma mater’s Learning for Life Fund to help supplement the costs of Killingly High School’s acclaimed “School to Career” Program.

“I can’t put into words how much it means to me to have such incredible support from so many people”, said Herklots. “It speaks not only to the profound kindness and generosity of folks, but also to the recognition of the responsibility adults have to young people. The global recession has forced all of us to tighten our belts, particularly in public schools across America. However, we need to do everything we can to ensure that the educational experience our young people are having today is strong enough to make them the leaders of tomorrow. The most important investment we can make, is investing in our youth.”

Donors to the Learning for Life fund receive regular newsletters providing updates on the amazing achievements of the School-to-Career program as well as a financial breakdown on how their money is being used.

Bob Brennan, School-to-Career Coordinator at Killingly High School said, “Michael Herklots and his constituents’ benevolence to the School to Career Program over the past five years have, without a doubt, sustained our exemplary career pathways and we are truly grateful!”

Dr. Bill Silver, Superintendent of Killingly Public Schools said, “The Learning for Life fund has made a huge difference in the ability of Mr. Brennan and other teachers to fund activities and purchase needed items in the Career Pathway Program.”

“Economically we’re not out of the woods yet, but I’m confident we’ll have another successful event this year,” Herklots said regarding the upcoming fundraiser. “While it’s always nice to raise more money each year, it’s not a competition. Every dollar is needed, used and appreciated.”

For more information or to make a donation please email michaelherklotsgmailcom.

About Michael Herklots: Michael Herklots is General Manager of Davidoff of Geneva’s flagship stores in New York City. Herklots regularly hosts events and seminars around the country on premium cigars and travels frequently to the Dominican Republic, Honduras and Nicaragua. Herklots is a Certified Master Tobacconist by Tobacconist University, a teacher for the American Sommelier Association, and a contributing author for several national publications.

About Killingly High School’s Learning for Life Fund: The “Learning for Life Fund” was created in 2005 in order to raise additional revenue to help supplement the costs of Killingly High School’s award winning “Career Pathways Program”. The monies are used to assist in financing specific projects that cannot be covered by the limited education budget.

General Cigar is hosting La Gloria Series N Day on March 25th, this sounds interesting to say the least:

On March 25, 2011, Team La Gloria members Michael Giannini (director of marketing), Rick Rodriguez (cigar master in training), Yuri Guillen (director of manufacturing) and Leo Peraza (master cigar maker) will host a virtual tastingbroadcast from the El Credito Cigar Factory in Miami’s Little Havana district. Live streaming video of the tasting will beavailable beginning at 6:00 PM (EDT) on the Team La Gloria website and will continue throughout the evening, withadditional interactive broadcasts featuring Serie N Day retail events at 6:00 PM Central and 6:00 PM Pacific.

Select Serie N retailers across the U.S. will participate in a live, open forum chat on Skype which will be part of thevirtual broadcast. Participants watching live on the website will be able to communicate directly with Team La Gloriamembers and with fellow Serie N enthusiasts through tweets and Facebook updates which will be addressed by TeamLa Gloria members during the broadcasts.

Director of Marketing Michael Giannini commented, “Serie N is a very unique cigar, both in taste and appearance, sowe created an innovative event to capitalize on the buzz that’s been generated for the product within the digital mediaspace. By including the retail community and in welcoming questions and comments from our existing consumersand those who may be enjoying the product for the first time, we will be able to ride the groundswell by capturingincreased interest in the product.”

To get in on the excitement surrounding Serie N cigars, consumers of legal smoking age are invited to pick up theMarch issue of Cigar Aficionado which contains a coupon for a free Serie N cigar, redeemable by accessing the list ofparticipating cigar retail shops across the U.S. available on the Team La Gloria website.

Leading up to Serie N day, Serie N social media promotions will take place on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and the Team La Gloria site. Detailed informationabout these promotions can be found on the “promotions” section of the Team La Gloria website.

Do you smoke cigars? Because you should.

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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.