24 April 2018
Zev Kaminetsky Joins Royal Agio Cigars USA As National Sales Director
Royal Agio Cigars USA is pleased to announce that Zev Kaminetsky has joined the company as the new National Sales Director. Zev brings with him over a decade of cigar sales management experience, having represented leading premium cigar brands such as Camacho (Davidoff of Geneva), and most recently the portfolio of Drew Estate brands as Director of Specialty Retail. During his time at both companies, Zev also represented the Royal Agio portfolio of brands since they each, at that point in time, were the U.S. distributors of record for Royal Agio. In his new role, Zev will primarily be accountable for expanding distribution, in-store presence and sales for premium brands like Balmoral Anejo XO within the premium cigar brick & mortar channel.
“As we continue to build the appropriate infrastructure that best positions the company to grow in a mutually beneficial way with our trade partners for the long-term, Zev will play a leading role in developing our go-to-market sales strategies, trade programs and retail promotion initiatives for the premium cigar channel”, commented George Margioukla, President of Royal Agio Cigars USA. “Zev brings with him a wealth of industry knowledge, leadership experience and accomplishments that will help accelerate momentum for Royal Agio in the U.S. market. We’re excited to have Zev formally join the Royal Agio family after helping support our brands for so many years, and we look forward to continuing to strengthen our relationships with our highly valued customers.”
20 March 2018
Villiger Cigars reaches distribution agreements in Canada, Mexico
Villiger Cigars continues its growth, as agreements have been reached with both Casa Turrent and Brigham Enterprises Inc. to distribute their award-winning cigars in Mexico and Canada. Consumers in Mexico and Canada will have access to the 2017 Cigar Aficionado‘s top 10 rated Villiger La Flor De Ynclan andthe newlyreleased Villiger La Vencedora.
Casa Turrent, owned by Alejandro Turrent is a respected grower, manufacturer, and the premier distributor of cigars in Mexico. With over a century of tobacco expertise, it was felt that the Turrent family and Villiger share similar view points on tradition, and passion for tobacco. Casa Turrent will begin to distribute the Villiger La Flor De Ynclan and Villiger La Vencedora in April 2018, with plans to distribute Villiger Premium Machine made cigars in late 2018.
Brigham Enterprises Inc., established in 1906, also shares a century’s worth of tobacco history, first as pipe makers and later to become a leader in the distribution of cigars in Canada. Brigham Enterprises currently distributes Villiger machine made product, but will commence distribution of Villiger handmade premium brands, starting with the Villiger La Flor De Yncan, Villiger La Vencedora, and the newly repackaged Villiger La Libertad.
Villiger Chairman of the Board Heinrich Villiger said: ” As with the Villiger family, the Turrent family and Brigham Enterprises, each possess very strong historical ties in their respective countries of origin, and we look forward to working alongside them to spread the Villiger brand, to a broader consumer base.”
Rene Castañeda President of Villiger Cigars North America stated: “The demand for Villiger handmade premium cigars has increased significantly. We at Villiger Cigars are working hard to secure other distribution channels, in other parts of the America’s, which will be announced in the near future.”
20 March 2018
Royal Agio Cigars USA To Distribute Avanti Cigar Company Brands
Royal Agio Cigars USA and Avanti Cigar Company are pleased to announce an exclusive distribution agreement effective April 1st, 2018. Royal Agio Cigars USA will market, sell, and distribute the following cigar brands in the United States – Parodi, Avanti, Denobili, Petri, Ramrod and Kentucky Cheroots. This agreement expands Royal Agio Cigars’ portfolio of machine-made cigar offerings beyond the well-known Panter and Mehari’s premium cigarillo brands, and it expands Avanti Cigar Company’s reach across broad channels of tobacco distribution.
George Margioukla, President of Royal Agio Cigars USA explains, “We have a tremendous amount of respect for the Avanti team and their stable of brands, and we couldn’t be more excited to partner with another cigar company that also has over a century of cigar making heritage and long-standing tradition. The Avanti product-line up will complement our existing portfolio, and it helps further round out our premium blend cigar portfolio that includes both premium cigarillos and handmade premium cigars. The addition of these uniquely positioned cigar brands, based on premium Kentucky fire-cured tobacco blends, will help us more effectively meet the growing consumer and retailer demand for high-quality, differentiated cigar products and experiences.”
“Although our brands have been available in the U.S. for up to over a century now, we feel strongly that there is continued opportunity to introduce and broaden the appeal of our brands to cigar smokers. Partnering with Royal Agio Cigars USA will help provide our portfolio of brands with the additional resources necessary to broaden distribution and strengthen our overall presence in the marketplace,” commented Luciano Simeone, Chief Operating Officer for Avanti Cigar Company.
Beginning April 1st, all trade and consumer inquiries for Avanti Cigar Company brands should be directed to the following:
Royal Agio Cigars U.S.A.
1812 44th Avenue East
Bradenton, FL 34203
Office Phone: (941) 896-6969
Customer Orders: Orders@agiocigarsusa.com or (941) 896-6969
Any trade or consumer inquiries related to this press release can be made to Jaime Florez-Estrada, VP of Marketing, at email@example.com.
20 February 2018
Royal Agio joins ProCigar
Today Royal Agio Cigars (Agio) proudly announced it has become a member of ProCigar, the Association of Dominican Cigar Manufacturers. Becoming an official member of ProCigar marks an important milestone for the cigar maker on its quest to more significantly contribute to helping further advance key global cigar industry efforts by working more closely with local manufacturers in the Dominican Republic. As a new member, Agio will participate as a Gold Sponsor in the annual ProCigar festival being held this February in Santiago.
Established in 1904, Agio has a long and successful history of crafting and manufacturing premium blend cigars and continues to be a family owned and operated cigar company, with global headquarters located in Duizel, Holland. Agio made the important decision in 1990 to invest directly in the Dominican Republic by building a factory dedicated to the production of boutique premium handmade cigars. It is at this factory situated in San Pedro de Macoris where Agio produces some of the highest-quality, handcrafted premium cigars available anywhere, including Balmoral Anejo XO, Balmoral Royal Selection, and San Pedro de Macoris.
“We work with a very small, dedicated team to create our unique premium cigars. The carefully-selected pairs working for us in San Pedro de Macoris take great pride in handcrafting our cigars and are true artisans in the craft ”, says Francisco Batista, ‘Master Blender’ & General Manager of Agio Caribbean Tobacco Company. “With Agio becoming an official member of ProCigar, I feel an even deeper connection to the local cigar community and I look forward to sharing knowledge and working more closely together with other manufacturers to help elevate what is already world-leading cigar quality.’’
12 February 2018
Macanudo celebrates Golden Anniversary
The year is 1968 and General Cigar Company has just purchased the Temple Hall Cigar Factory in Kingston, Jamaica. With Temple Hall, the company acquired Macanudo, a small handmade cigar brand made just for the British market. If the then-owners of General Cigar had a crystal ball, would they have predicted that in 50 years, this small brand would have evolved to become a global icon? The answer is, without question, yes.
2018 marks a major milestone for Macanudo, as the brand commemorates its 50th anniversary. Throughout the year, the brand will unleash a flurry of activity to usher in its next 50 years. Exciting and unexpected new product launches, special events and retail promotions are set to kick off this month, under the banner of The 50 Days of Macanudo.
Jose de Castro, vice president of marketing said, “In the 50 years since its launch, Macanudo remains one of the world’s most respected and best-selling handmade cigar brands. This is because Macanudo has always focused on delivering the best and most consistent experience to the cigar smoker. More recently, we took a bold step to evolve the brand by introducing the Inspirado line in the U.S., amped up our retail and consumer promotions and contemporized our logo and packaging. The result has been nothing less than a renaissance for the brand. And for cigar lovers who have been wowed by the exciting changes we’ve made to Macanudo, I’m here to tell them that they haven’t seen anything yet.”
The 50 Days of Macanudo kicks off on March 12 and runs through May 21. During this 50-day window, Macanudo fans can join the celebration by uploading photos of their most memorable Macanudo moments to the brand’s website (www.macanudo.com/50 ) and automatically be entered into win Macanudo branded merchandise, ranging from coolers to lighters, ashtrays, hats, wall signs and other limited-edition items.
Also in March-May, brick and mortar retailers who purchase any of the Macanudo promotions available at that time are automatically entered to win a $500 credit to be used toward future purchases of Macanudo cigars.
In addition to the 50 Days of Macanudo promotions, all boxes of Macanudo cigars made in 2018 will be affixed with commemorative gold guarantee seals. Special wooden signs and shelf talkers also will be appearing at fine cigar shops nationwide starting in early 2018.
The evolution of Macanudo will continue with an exciting new three-cigar collection from the brand’s top-rated Inspirado line, launching in late March. A very limited number of cigars will be seeded to cigar media and bloggers in attendance at the ProCigar show taking place in Santiago, DR on Feb. 20-24.
05 February 2018
Davidoff names Young Chief Commercial Officer
Basel, Switzerland, 5 February 2018 – Oettinger Davidoff AG establishes a new executive position, Chief Commercial Officer, to help drive sales excellence and share best practices across all markets.
Jim Young, President – Davidoff North America, will take on the additional responsibilities of the newly created CCO role, reporting to Beat Hauenstein, CEO.
“As CCO, Jim Young will have global responsibility for the commercial development and sales excellence across all markets. He will work closely with our market teams and regional business unit leaders to ensure the consistent execution of best practice commercial tools and approaches to support and advance our Indispensable Business Partner strategy and drive sales performance,” comments Beat Hauenstein, CEO Oettinger Davidoff AG.
The Business Units Europe & Global Travel Retail as well as Asia and North America will closely work together and report to Jim Young, who will, in his new capacity as CCO of Oettinger Davidoff AG, also retain his current responsibilities as President – Davidoff North America. Jim Young will relocate to Basel within the coming weeks.
01 February 2018
Scandinavian acquires online retailer Thompson & Company
Scandinavian Tobacco Group today signed an agreement to acquire the business of Thompson and Co. of Tampa, Inc. (“Thompson”). The purchase price amounts to USD 62 million and the acquisition will be financed by existing cash at hand. The closing of the deal is expected to take place by the end of March 2018.
Thompson is a leading online retail cigar business in the US, a market where approx-imately two thirds of all handmade cigars are sold online. A family-owned business, Thompson was founded in 1915 and is based in Tampa, Florida. It has annual net sales of c. USD 100 million and 185 employees. Thompson provides Scandinavian To-bacco Group access to a substantial and attractive customer base, auction and retail websites as well as a retail store and a call centre facility in Tampa.
CEO of Scandinavian Tobacco Group, Niels Frederiksen says: “I am pleased to an-nounce this acquisition which strengthens our position in the online retail channel in the US. Our existing US online retailer Cigars International will in combination with Thompson be able to deliver an unmatched range of premium cigars at the highest level of service to the US consumers. At the same time we foresee significant cost synergies to the benefit of our customers and shareholders.”
Bob Franzblau, CEO of Thompson, said: “Having spent 58 years making Thompson Ci-gar one of the most respected mail order cigar businesses in the country, it is now time to hand over the reins to a new owner that can continue to serve the long-term in-terest of the company. Becoming part of Scandinavian Tobacco Group will ensure an exciting future of opportunity for our employees, our customers and our suppliers.”
The acquisition of Thompson is expected to deliver material synergies and scale ben-efits with the margins of the combined businesses over time being lifted towards Ci-gars International’s existing level. Thompson is currently operating with low single digit EBITDA margins.
31 January 2018
Quality Importers acquires Xikar
Quality Importers Trading Company (“QI”) has announced another major acquisition. With the involvement of Svoboda Capital Partners LLC, QI has acquired XIKAR Inc., creating the largest accessory supplier to the premium cigar trade. Kurt Van Keppel and Scott Almsberger will continue to run XIKAR’s operations as minority partners in the new enterprise, and will assume Executive Vice President roles respectively. Both will report to Michael Cellucci who will continue as President and Chief Operating Officer. Mike Giordano will remain as Chief Executive Officer.
Mike Giordano commented “On behalf of the QI family of businesses, we are excited to announce the acquisition of XIKAR, Inc., which marks our largest and most impactful transaction since our inception 18 years ago. This is a transformational event in the cigar accessory category, creating an industry-leading partnership with enormous growth potential in existing and new markets. Unlike all of our previous acquisitions, XIKAR contributes a coordinated and experienced team of professionals, as well as a set of high quality, branded products and services, altogether enhancing the value proposition for our retail partners. The pure enthusiasm we have witnessed from Kurt and Scott to join the QI team has been inspiring for all of us. As with all transitions of this kind, there is much work to be done, and we will keep our focus on executing in the most effective manner for our customers and employees. Along the way, together, we will continue making strategic acquisitions to fulfill our mission to be the most comprehensive supplier of smoking accessories in the industry worldwide.”
Kurt Van Keppel agreed, “We at XIKAR are extremely pleased to partner with Mike Giordano and Michael Cellucci at QI, to expand the global reach of both companies’ products and services. Through this process, my respect and admiration for Mike Giordano and the company he has built grew exponentially. Michael Cellucci was a great hire by Mike. His experience, strategic vision and natural leadership skills have really helped us bring the vision of combining these two great companies into focus.”
“I have a lot of respect for the company Kurt and Scott have built. They have established a strong portfolio of market-leading products,” stated Cellucci from the TPE tradeshow in Las Vegas. “We are excited for the combination of these two companies. This is a perfect marriage, leveraging the strong brand positioning of XIKAR, and full services of QI. Our goal is to deliver a single all-encompassing solution to our retail partners focused on aggressive sales planning, innovative product development, and outstanding customer service.” Cellucci continued, “This group has shown an unwavering commitment to succeed, a group that is filled with fight and drive – and I am proud to be a part of it.”
25 January 2018
Davidoff continues to streamline management structure
Basel, Switzerland, 25 January 2018 – Oettinger Davidoff AG tightens its leadership structure and aligns its processes at the headquarters in Basel with the latest market conditions.
Edward Simon, Head of the Swiss Wholesales Business until now, will be the new leader of Global Marketing & Innovation. Edward Simon takes over the role from Charles Awad, who will be leaving the company. Gerhard Anderlohr, current Sales Manager, will succeed Edward Simon and assume responsibility for the entire Swiss Wholesale Business.
The Omni-Channel Retail department, under the leadership of Carlo Motti, will be integrated into Global Marketing & Innovation in order to simplify processes and responsibilities. As part of this organisational refinement, Carlo Motti will also be leaving the company.
The Executive Board and the Management Team would like to thank Charles Awad and Carlo Motti for their important contribution to the progress of the Davidoff brand and wish them all the very best for the future.
Tobias Gysin, in charge of Global Logistics & Warehousing until now, will be appointed Head of Global Operations, and will be responsible for the Supply Chain as well as Production.
Chief Financial Officer Stefan Bloechinger will take on the additional management responsibility for the areas of ICT & Business Technology.
The Head of Legal & Compliance and Secretary to the Board, Dr. Patrick Schädler, will take over the departments of Human Resources and Corporate Communications in addition to his current areas of responsibility. These will be merged into the new corporate division, Corporate Services.
Furthermore, the company management has decided to review all business processes at the headquarters in Basel and align them more strongly with the changing market conditions. A corresponding transformation programme known as „Way Forward“ was initiated at the beginning of this year under the leadership of CEO Beat Hauenstein.
05 January 2018
Davidoff names new VP of Marketing & Retail for U.S.
Davidoff of Geneva announces that Richard Krutick will become the company’s new Vice President of Marketing & Retail in the USA. He currently serves and will continue to serve as Vice President of Marketing for several brands in the portfolio including Davidoff, the company’s flagship brand, and S.T. Dupont, the world’s leading luxury brand for cigar accessories, while taking on the additional responsibility of overseeing and growing the companies Davidoff of Geneva – since 1911 retail stores, e-commerce site, licensed boutiques, and strategic partnerships. Mr. Krutick has been with Davidoff of Geneva USA since 2006 and will continue to report directly to Jim Young, President of Davidoff of Geneva USA.
“We have seen how winning with consumers in our business requires an omni-channel approach and this requires our marketing efforts to be extremely well coordinated across all channels—company-owned stores, licensed boutiques, e-commerce and Appointed Merchants. We are firmly committed to fulfilling the omni-channel experience our consumers demand of us. Additionally, we have a great team of retail professionals and, increasingly, the growth they seek to deliver in profitable sales requires us to develop and execute game-changing marketing initiatives in the store, on-line, and in the market with our customers. This needs to be led by a seasoned marketing professional who knows all aspects of our business, and can work with both our retail team as well as our wholesale team to orchestrate a comprehensive and seamless approach. Mr. Krutick’s track record of success in developing the Davidoff business in the US, his responsibility for leading the marketing and development of S.T. Dupont, and his existing responsibility as head of marketing for Davidoff of Geneva – since 1911, make him uniquely qualified to take on this expanded leadership role,” says Jim Young.
15 December 2017
Davidoff names new VP of Sales & Marketing
Davidoff of Geneva USA, the US based subsidiary of Oettinger Davidoff AG, today announced that Dylan Austin, 36, has been named Vice President of Sales and Marketing – USA, effective January 1, 2018. Dylan Austin steps into this dual role from his current position as Vice President of Marketing, and will lead strategic and day-to-day oversight of the company’s sales organization and key account team.
Mr. Austin, who joined the industry in 2005, became part of the Davidoff USA family after the acquisition of Camacho Cigars in 2008. Since then, he has made a deep impact and helped shape the success of Davidoff of Geneva USA brands in the US, as well as of the company overall. In addition to his new role, Mr. Austin will retain marketing responsibility for his current portfolio of brands, including AVO, CAMACHO, BACCARAT ‘THE GAME’, CUSANO, THE GRIFFIN’S AND ZINO PLATINUM. He replaces Jeffrey Lee, current Vice President of Sales. Mr. Lee, who has held this position with Davidoff of Geneva USA for over 22 years, is retiring from the company. Davidoff of Geneva USA thanks Mr. Lee for his leadership and enormous contribution to the success of the US business, and wishes him well in his retirement.
This significant development will properly position the company for the new realities of the US premium cigar business, where deeper insights, demand creation, and an impactful marketing / commercial mix have become increasingly important.
“As competition continues to become more aggressive in our newly-regulated industry, the lines between sales and marketing continue to blur. The time has come for our company to align marketing and commercial efforts into one single approach. Dylan Austin is a performance-driven professional with deep industry knowledge and relationships – he has orchestrated some of our most impactful sales and marketing initiatives over the past half-decade. Through his appointment as Vice President of Sales and Marketing – USA, we will confidently strengthen the position of our brands and our company within the marketplace, enhance our relationships with retail stakeholders, and further drive our critical Indispensable Business Partner platform forward,” said Jim Young, President of Davidoff North America.
“It is with great pride and energy that I accept my appointment as the new Vice President of Sales and Marketing. Our company has not only great brands, but also one of the best commercial teams in the business. It is my honor to lead them into the future, forging deeper relationships with our network of retail / channel partners, and further drive the success of our great cigar portfolio,” said Dylan Austin, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Davidoff of Geneva USA.
Dylan Austin will remain in Davidoff’s Pinellas Park office, reporting to Jim Young, president of Davidoff North America.
Richard Krutick, VP Marketing – Davidoff of Geneva USA, will continue to lead the marketing for Davidoff, S.T. Dupont, and Davidoff of Geneva since 1911 for the USA – reporting to Jim Young, president of Davidoff North America.
4 December 2017
Royal Agio Cigars USA Corporate Headquarters Opens
- Royal Agio Cigars U.S.A.
- Address: 1812 44th Avenue East, Bradenton, FL 34210
- Office Phone: (941) 896-6969
- Customer Orders: Orders@agiocigarsusa.com or (941) 896-6969
Any trade or consumer inquiries related to this press release can be made to Jaime Florez-Estrada, VP of Marketing, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
George Margioukla, President of Royal Agio U.S.A., commented, “Since the official commencement of the U.S. distribution partnership between Royal Agio Cigars and Drew Estate on April 1, 2014, we have been honored to be part of the Drew Estate family. We are grateful for the enthusiastic support and significant contributions made on behalf of the Drew Estate organization that have helped improve distribution and awareness for our premium cigar brands over the past three and a half years. Thanks in large part to these efforts, Royal Agio Cigars is now in a position to strengthen our U.S. presence and enhance direct support for our highly-valued trade partners and consumers.”
“On behalf of the entire Drew Estate team, we congratulate Royal Agio and the Wintermans Family on this historic milestone in the company’s history. We are thankful to be a part of it and excited to continue to work together in The Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, France, Luxemburg, Austria, Italy and Lithuania. Our partnership has been crucial in many strategic focus areas in our company histories and it stands the test of time and change. Congratulations!” noted Glenn C. Wolfson, CEO of Drew Estate.
23 October 2017
Manuel Garcia joins Villiger Cigars
Villiger Cigars proudly announces that Manuel Garcia will join the Villiger International Handmade Cigar Division. This announcement comes as the company continues to bolster its rapidly growing premium handmade cigar presence in the market place,
Manuel Garcia gained global recognition as the Commercial Vice President of Habanos S.A. As the head of sales and marketing for 15 years at Habanos S.A., Morejon visited over 100 countries, creating invaluable relationships. Morejon has gained critical acclaim for helping shape the image of Cuban cigars worldwide. Manuel a longtime friend and colleague of Heinrich Villiger is expected to make an immediate impact at Villiger Cigars.
Heinrich Villiger stated: “I feel this to be an overdue reunion, as Manuel worked alongside me from 1991-1995 as the General Manager of 5th Avenue Products Trading (Exclusive Habanos- Distributor for Germany). We look forward to Manuel contributing immediately, as we continue to forge ahead with delivering the best possible products to our consumers.”
Manuel Garcia said:” For me personally, it is incredible to join such a prestigious company as Villiger. It is also a pleasure to return to work actively in the fascinating world of the handmade cigars. Mr. Heinrich Villiger and I have known each other since 1990, when I started working with him at the 5th Avenue Products Trading. We worked there for 5 years together and after that, I was appointed as Commercial Vice President of Habanos. We continued to maintain very close relationship, and because of that, I had the great opportunity to learn a lot about cigars and the business in general. Mr. Villiger is an exceptional man, very experienced, and extremely humane. I have great admiration for him.”
12 October 2017
Swisher announces leadership changes for 2018
Swisher International, Inc. announced today that its President and Chief Executive Officer, Peter Ghiloni, plans to retire at the end of 2018 after 34 years with the Company and more than 45 years in the tobacco industry. John Miller has been appointed President of Swisher, effective January 1, 2018, as part of the Company’s succession planning process. Also, effective January 1, 2018, Lou Caldropoli will be promoted to the newly-created position of Chief Operations Officer and John Haley will become Swisher’s Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing.
Under Ghiloni’s leadership as the CEO, the Company dramatically increased sales and market share while expanding its global presence with the establishment of Swisher Dominicana, Inc., the acquisition of Drew Estate and the formation of alliances in new industries. “I have thoroughly enjoyed working for Swisher and leading its incredible team of employees. Our relationships with customers and industry colleagues also helped me forge friendships that will last a lifetime. I am excited about the prospects for Swisher under John’s leadership which will ensure management continuity and will drive our continued growth. I know that John will take the Company to new heights through expansion of our core business, creative innovation and exploration of new markets. John has a great team and will enjoy the support of Lou Caldropoli as the Company’s new Chief Operations Officer and the other members of the executive team: Joe Augustus, Chris Casey, Lee Creasman, Glenn Goodroe and John Haley,” Ghiloni said enthusiastically.
John Miller joined Swisher in 2012 as its Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing after working within the Tobacco and CPG industries for more than 25 years. Miller worked for the U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company where he rose to the position of Regional Vice President, was interim President of Goldwater’s Foods of Scottsdale and a principal in two consulting firms. During his tenure with Swisher, John positioned the sales and marketing teams for record growth by expanding the National Accounts team, developing the Trade Marketing, Business Analytics and Consumer Engagement functions and overseeing more than 150 promotions in the field sales force. “I am honored and thrilled in being named Swisher’s next President. I look forward to expanding Peter’s legacy and maintaining the Company as the industry’s leader. Our team looks forward to continuing to develop the distributor and retailer programs that have connected our brands with our adult customers. We also anticipate some exciting forays into opportunities outside our core businesses,” Miller commented. Miller received his Bachelor of Science degree from UNLV and his Master of Business Administration degree from Pepperdine University in Malibu, CA.
Lou Caldropoli, currently the Senior Vice President of Finance, will assume the newly created position of Chief Operations Officer and report directly to John Miller. In this new role, Caldropoli will utilize his 21 years of experience with Swisher to lead the Company’s global finance, information technology and operations groups. Caldropoli joined Swisher after working with Coopers & Lybrand LLP. He is a CPA and received a Bachelor of Science degree from Iona College.
Swisher also announced that John Haley is being elevated from Vice President of Corporate Marketing to Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing to take over for Miller. Haley joined Swisher in 2013 as the Vice President of Trade Marketing and was promoted to his current role in 2015. Prior to working for Swisher, Haley spent 20 years with U.S. Smokeless Tobacco and more than two years with Lindt Chocolate. Haley received his Bachelor of Science degree from Millersville University and his Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Delaware.
10 October 2017
Jose Oliva named Florida Republican’s speaker designee
Florida’s Republicans named Miami Lakes state Rep. Jose Oliva as the next House speaker if Republicans hold the majority in the 2018 elections. Oliva is the son of tobacco grower Gilberto Oliva Sr., and founder of Oliva Cigar Company. Oliva became a Florida state representative during a special election in 2011.
31 August 2017
Drew Estate to host Louisiana Barn Smoker
Drew Estate has announced that it will host a Barn Smoker event at the L.A. Poche Perique tobacco farm and processing facility in Convent, Louisiana, on Nov. 4. The event will take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The ticket price includes access to the event, a tour of the farm and food and drinks. Included is a coupon to redeem for cigars for an additional $10, which will be available at the event to each attendee. In order to redeem the coupon, attendees must meet the minimum age requirement to purchase tobacco in the state of Louisiana and present a valid identificatin. The voucher will be for the following 10 cigars: Larutan NDB, Larutan Dirt Torpedo, Florida Sun Grown Toro, Pappy Van Winkle Barrel Fermented Toro, Pappy Van Winkle Barrel Fermented Edition Limitada, Pappy Van Winkle Tradition Toro, Pappy Van Winkle Tradition Lonsdale, Kentucky Fire Cured Flying Pig, Liga Privada Unico Serie Velvet Rat and Liga Privada Unico Serie A.
Drew Estate promises that the event will include other surprises. Water and soft drinks will be provided. Food will be Cajun-style catering. Raffle tickets will be available via donations to Cigars for Warriors. To purchase tickets, visit barnsmoker.com.
31 August 2017
Black Label Trading Company moves to larger factory in Nicaragua
Fabrica Oveja Negra is moving to a larger freestanding facility in Esteli, Nicaragua. The new building is located on Esteli’s south side on the Panamerican Highway. Construction will be completed by Oct. 1, and will include a larger production area, tobacco storage facility, state-of-the-art aging room, retail store, cigar lounge and exhibition space. Factory visits can be arranged by appointment.
“The little factory that could, is the little factory that did. We are very excited about the expansion to a larger location. Our brands, Black Label Trading Company and Black Works Studio, have seen tremendous growth since we opened Oveja Negra in 2015 and its time to grow the factory. The new location will allow us to maintain and slowly increase our production to better serve our expanding customer base. We have always grown organically and kept true to our small batch philosophy, that will not change. The new location will allow us to increase our capacity with enough room to have creative spaces and continue to focus on incorporating our artistic abilities into our products,” stated James Brown, partner at Oveja Negra and Black Label Trading Co.
The Oveja Negra factory completely focuses on small batch premium cigars with attention to details. Oveja Negra offers its clients a factory where small batch production is the norm, and quality is the priority with the aim to serve smaller brands and retailers who want their own private label.
“This is a tough industry for small companies. It’s hard to get the attention you need to create a premium product. Our goal is to help support other boutique brands and grow the premium-cigar market,” stated Brown.
30 August 2017
General Cigar honors Benji Menendez, announces plans for a tour featuring the legendary cigar maker
General Cigar held a private reception at the IPCPR show to honor cigar industry legend Benji Menendez for his many contributions to the company and to thank him for his ongoing support.
General Cigar President Régis Broersma said, “Our relationship with Benji Menendez has continued long after his retirement from the company. To this day, he is a trusted advisor, mentor and friend to all of us in the General Cigar family. It was truly an honor to have Benji and his lovely wife Margarita with us at [the] IPCPR [show] this year and we look forward to continuing to work with him, to soak up the wisdom he so freely shares.”
“General Cigar is my extended family and I am grateful that they have never forgotten me. I am looking forward to doing more things with the company. I hope I can help in some small way to spread the word about the fantastic cigars they make,” said Menendez.
In Spring 2018, Menendez will appear in a very special event series for Partagas. Additional details including event dates will be announced in early 2018.
Menendez retired from his position as General Cigar’s vice president of premium cigars in 2014. His career spans more than 60 years in the handmade cigar business.
28 August 2017
Schmid, Hoejsgaard step down at Davidoff
After ten years on the Board of Directors of Oettinger Davidoff AG, Andreas Schmid (60), company Chairman and shareholder, will leave the company in order to concentrate on his other roles at various globally active firms and on his own business activities. The Board of Directors of Oettinger Davidoff AG has nominated Domenico Scala (52) as the new Chairman.
Domenico Scala was responsible as CFO of Syngenta and CEO of Nobel Biocare. Until May 2016, he chaired the independent Audit & Compliance Committee of FIFA. Currently, he is the Chairman of Basilea Pharmaceutica, BAK Basel Economics as well as the President of BaselArea, a Member of the Board of Overseers of Tufts University in Boston and a member of the Bank Council of Basler Kantonalbank.
As part of the ongoing rejuvenation of the operational management, the Board of Directors has also appointed Beat Hauenstein (50), former COO of the Group, as the new CEO. Hauenstein succeeds Hans-Kristian Hoejsgaard (59), who has decided to leave the company he has led for seven years in order to concentrate on his board and consultancy mandates outside the company. The Board of Directors would like to thank Andreas Schmid and Hans-Kristian Hoejsgaard for their many years of successful work for the company, and wishes both of them all the best for their personal and professional future.
14 August 2017
Drew Estate Partners with STG Canada for Exclusive Canada Distribution
Drew Estate announces today that it has appointed STG Canada as its exclusive distribution partner for both domestic and Duty-Free premium cigar markets in Canada. The partnership will be effective August 28, 2017.
Vice President of International Business Development at Drew Estate Alex Goldman noted, “We are excited about our partnership with STG Canada, and plan to build on the success that we have enjoyed in this tough market over the past few years. I want to thank the House of Horvath team, and especially Colm and Cathy O’Shea for their passion and professionalism in building up the Drew Estate brand in Canada over the past 3 years.”
10 August 2017
Smoker Friendly to host eighth annual Rocky Mountain Cigar Festival
Boulder, Colorado-based tobacco retailer Smoker Friendly will host the eighth annual Rocky Mountain Cigar Festival at the Omni Interlocken Resort in Broomfield, Colorado, on Saturday, Aug. 26th, 2017.
Created to showcase the premium cigar industry, the Rocky Mountain Cigar Festival attracts more than 2,000 consumers, collaborating with more than 100 vendors within the cigar, craft beer, distillery and lifestyle categories. The Rocky Mountain Cigar Festival gives cigar smokers a unique opportunity to engage with representatives from their favorite brands and try the latest products.
Premium cigar vendors for the festival will include celebrity personalities and brand ambassadors such as Jonathan Drew, Willy Herrera, Nish Patel, “Cigar Vixen” Delicia Silva, Tony Gomez, Marcos Padron, Jack Toraño, Berta Bravo “the Guayabera Lady,” Rick Rodriguez, Bobby Newman and Jose Ortega. Special guests include NFL great Ray Lewis with his signature Rocky Patel cigar and Pro Football Hall of Fame Super Bowl MVP Randy White attending to represent Smokey Mountain Snuff.
Cigar smokers are often craft beer enthusiasts, and breweries of all sizes make a strong showing at the Rocky Mountain Cigar Festival. Beer vendors will include Oskar Blues, Elevation Beer Co., Crabtree Brewing, Grossen Bart Brewery, Odyssey Beer Werks, Small Town Brewing, Upslope Brewing and Vindication Brewing.
For smokers in search of something stronger to accompany their cigars, a wide range of spirit vendors, wineries, and even Redstone Meadery will also be serving drinks. Breckenridge Distillery, Patrón Tequila, Black Canyon Distillery, 808 Distillery, Woody Creek Cellars, Cockpit Craft Distillery, Copper Muse Distillery and Black Canyon Distillery are only a few of the beverage providers eager to reach out to cigar aficionados at the Rocky Mountain Cigar Festival.
The cigar industry has expanded beyond only cigars to encompass fine living through luxury brands and lifestyle advocates. Lifestyle vendors at the Rocky Mountain Cigar Festival will include Colibri, Tommy Bahama, Pepsi, Xikar, Lotus/Vertigo Lighters, Boveda, Cigar Press magazine, General Snus, Laudisi Pipes, Smokey Joe’s Clothing, Cigar Rights of America, Landmine Design, Front Range Anglers and many more.
The festival runs from noon to 6 p.m. Following the festival will be an after party hosted by La Flor Dominicana on the pool patio at the Omni Interlocken Resort starting at 6 p.m. Tickets are still available at rmcigarfestival.com, and more information may be obtained by contacting Dan Szarmach at 303-442-2520 x260 or email@example.com.
2 August 2017
Global Premium Cigars Lawsuit Against FDA Stayed
The law firm H New Media announced this week that after more than a year of pursuing litigation in federal court against the FDA a major step forward has taken place in the case. H New Media, on behalf of Plaintiff Global Premium Cigars, LLC., and the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a joint motion to stay the case due to the FDA’s recent announcement regarding the nearly three-year extension to the deadline for Substantial Equivalence.
H New Media attorney Frank Herrera said they agreed to this joint motion due in large part to the FDA’s announcement on July 28 extending the deadline for Substantial Equivalence by nearly three years.
“H New Media feels that this extension provides relief for issues that were raised in their June 1, 2016 filing challenging the FDA’s May 10, 2016 Deeming Regulation,” wrote Herrara. “While the parties have currently agreed to stay the case, either party may reopen this case for further litigation if necessary.”
5 July 2017
Ezra Zion Cigar Company acquires Cigar Federation Tobaccos, store and community
Ezra Zion Cigar Company has acquired Cigar Federation Tobacos, the Cigar Federation store and re-acquired the Cigar Federation community.
“This is a major step for us as a company, one that brings us full circle back to our CigFed roots. As the original founders of Cigar Federation, it’s a really cool homecoming,” states Ezra Zion co-owner Kyle Hoover.
This acquisition will compliment Ezra Zion Cigar Company’s other recent addition, a regional North Texas distribution company, TX Distribution.
“Our vision is to build upon the great work done in the Cigar Federation store and Cigar Federation Tobacos. These outlets fit perfectly with the core competencies of our company,” notes Ezra Zion co-owner Chris Kelly. “TX Distribution and our multiple warehousing capability will allow us to give the customer an even better experience when they purchase their cigars from a Cigar Federation website.”
During the integration phase of the two companies, Logan Lawler will remain as CEO. Moderators for the Cigar Federation community will continue to have complete and absolute autonomy to post any cigar rating or review as they see fit.
“Cigar Federation is a unique community. It’s paramount to us to safeguard the freedom of expression that exists on the site,” says Hoover. “We want to do our part and help build the cigar industry as a whole. With the FDA situation the way that it is, we need to band together now more than ever. We will be announcing the final piece of this puzzle in a few weeks; that is the opening of an Ezra Zion brick-and-mortar retail location in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. We will be providing a formal press release with all of the details at that time. Suffice it to say, it will be a cigar destination location like no other that we know about in our industry.”
30 June 2017
Tobacconist University scheduling final exams during IPCPR show, designs new curriculum
Tobacconist University is scheduling final exam times during the IPCPR show between Tuesday, July 11 and Thursday, July 13 at its booth. Students ready to take the final exam are encouraged to email Tobacconist University at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also at the show, Tobacconist University will announce plans for its new Certified Cigar Sommelier Tobacconist (CCST) curriculum. Designed for employees in the hospitality industry, bars, restaurants, golf stores and liquor stores, the CCST degree is focused on upselling, product fundamentals and service processes. The course program is also available for retailers who specialize in offering premium cigars and great service. More information will be available at the show.
12 June 2017
Quesada Cigars to distribute MLB Cigar Ventures
Quesada Cigars has reached an agreement with Mike Bellody, owner of MLB Cigar Ventures, to become the sole U.S distributor of MLB brands as of July 1. The arrangement covers the entire MLB Cigar Ventures portfolio, including the Imperia, Islero and Aventador brands rolled at the Quesada Factory, as well as the David P Ehrlich, crafted by Ernesto Perez-Carrillo at Tabacalera La Alianza.
“Mike has been both a dear friend and partner of our family for several years now,” says Quesada Cigars’ Terence Reilly. “As we’ve watched his orders at our factory increase in size and frequency, despite the challenges of the current market for new companies, we felt a distribution partnership was a great opportunity for both of us. Between Mike’s business and sales acumen acquired from years in the Investment Management industry and our incredible relationships with our retail partners across the country, we expect massive growth from this partnership.”
“I am incredibly honored that Quesada Cigars and I have been able to reach this distribution agreement,” Bellody adds. “The obvious business synergies between our two companies create a perfect environment for this to be a hugely successful partnership. This agreement will allow MLB brands to immediately gain distribution throughout the U.S., accelerating our already substantial rate of market penetration and growth. Over the past four years, I have come to think of the Quesada’s as family, making this day even more special for me and my company.”
06 June 2017
Casa de Montecristo celebrates opening of new premium cigar lounge in Austin
Special launch events are planned for the opening of a new Casa de Montecristo premium cigar lounge in Austin, Texas. While the lounge is now open, special grand opening events will take place on June 16-17, including music by a local DJ, product tasting, raffles and premium goodie bags. Special VIP celebrities also will be on hand.
Austin is the sixth Casa de Montecristo in Texas. The 3,800-square-foot store features a large walk-in humidor, stunning décor, various seating areas for more than 40 people, six televisions and a communal working table for adult premium cigar smokers to sit back, relax and enjoy their Montecristo cigars. The lounge will house more than 200 brands of premium cigars, including exclusive and hard to find selections.
“The Montecristo lounge is a perfect fit for Austin and its vibrant, cutting edge reputation for nightlife, music, business and more,” says Steve Lochan, chief executive officer. Casa de Montecristo also has four cigar lounges in Houston (Casa de Montecristo by Serious Cigar) and one in Dallas.
A decade in the making, the Casa de Montecristo program opened its first Casa de Montecristo location in 2008. The program includes company-owned stores and licensed-based partnerships with some of the top established premium cigar retailers in the country.
The rare Casa de Montecristo moniker is awarded only to premium cigar stores and lounges that exemplify the luxury, quality and lifestyle that have been associated with the Montecristo brand.
A full listing of the 16 Casa de Montecristo stores is available at casademontecristo.com.
05 June 2017
Tickets for Drew Estate’s Cigar Safari go on sale
Drew Estate has announced the dates of its 2017-2018 Cigar Safari schedule. Cigar Safari is a four-day all-inclusive Nicaraguan tobacco experience based out of Drew Estate’s factory, La Gran Fabrica. Guests will learn every facet of the tobacco process from seed to cigar. Visitors will have the chance to blend their own cigars and have custom swag customized by our Drew Estate’s Subculture Studios. Participants will also receive exclusive Drew Estate cigars not found anywhere else in the world.
For more information and to book your Cigar Safari adventure, visit cigarsafari.com.
16 May 2017
La Flor Dominicana to offer exclusive retailer and consumer tour
La Flor Dominicana has announced that it will be offering exclusive retailer and consumer tours of its farm and factory in the Dominican Republic in a program entitled “The La Flor Dominican Experience.” The trips will offer guests an opportunity to view the entire process of tobacco growing and cigar making and will be hosted by Litto Gomez, president of La Flor Dominicana. The trips will be scheduled during the tobacco growing season, beginning in late Fall 2017 and extending into the Spring of 2018.
The itinerary includes five days in the Dominican Republic kicking off with a welcome dinner in Santiago on the first night before checking in to Camp David, a luxurious hotel that offers scenic views of Santiago. The second day includes a tour of La Flor Dominicana’s Tamboril factory where guests will learn about the company’s history and cigar making methods and have an opportunity to blend their own cigars. A box of cigars made using each blend will be presented to each guest later in the tour. The third day includes a visit to the company’s La Flor de Palma tobacco farm in La Canela and an outdoor traditional Dominican pig roast. The fourth day will include a trip to Puerto Plata where guests will close out their La Flor Dominican Experience with a day at the beach and staying at the prestigious Blue Jack Tar resort.
Cigars will be available to all guests who participate in the La Flor Dominican Experience. Itineraries are subject to change and prices may vary. To learn more about the La Flor Dominican Experience, email La Flor Dominicana at email@example.com.
15 May 2017
Gurkha Cigar Group to acquire its first cigar factory
Gurkha Cigars will acquire American Caribbean Cigars in Esteli, Nicaragua. American Caribbean Cigars has been making cigars for Gurkha Cigar Group for more than five years and produces more than 5 million cigars annually.
“Our company has seen rapid growth despite its boutique approach,” said Kaizad Hansotia, CEO of Gurkha Cigars, in a press release announcing Gurkha Cigar Group’s impending acquisition of American Caribbean Cigars. “Owning our own factory is a natural transition and the next strategic step in being able to continue to satisfy the needs of Gurkha fans worldwide.”
American Caribbean Cigars began producing Gurkha products more than five years ago and produced about 150,000 cigars in the first year. The partnership grew strong and demand increased and just this year the factory produced more than 5 million cigars. The factory will be the location where all of Gurkha’s small batch boutique blends are created.
“I have always supported Gurkha owning our own factory,” said Juan Lopez, National Sales Director, Gurkha Cigars. “Owning our own factory allows us to have better control our quality and [the] consistency of our product. I have no doubt that the future is bright for Gurkha.”
With the purchase of American Caribbean Cigars, the company can provide more access to Gurkha and its process of producing some of the world’s finest cigars.
“We have a strong and loyal following with our Gurkha Nation,” said Eddy Guerra, Director of Marketing, Gurkha Cigars. “This purchase allows us to lift the veil and give a peek to our fans so they can know more of what exactly makes Gurkha so great. We are very proud of the quality produced out of American Caribbean Cigars and they have been outstanding partners for Gurkha.”
06 May 2017
Father the Flame debuts at Chicago pipe show
After nearly five years of production, Mirror Darkly, GRLA and Beardcore Media are pleased to announce the first private screening of Father the Flame, a feature-length documentary about pipe culture, pipemakers, and the legacy we all leave behind.
The first screening took place during the Chicago Pipe Show in the New Orleans Ballroom at the Pheasant Run Resort on May 5. The screening was followed by a Question & Answer session with the filmmakers.
Father the Flame is the historical journey of the tobacco pipe: from harvesting briar in Italy to a finished pipe in remote upper Michigan. Through interviews, narration, and cinematic imagery, this film shares the timeless, spiritual, and transcendent nature of pipes.
“Ever since we embarked on this project as a short film in 2012, the whole pipe community has been overwhelmingly generous and welcoming of our efforts.,” said director and Mirror Darkly principal, Chad Terpstra. “Being pipe-lovers and noticing a lack of quality films devoted to the subject spurred us on to make this a standout and memorable cinematic experience for the both the pipe world and beyond. As we explored the spirit of the pipe, we discovered themes that spoke to the universal truths of family, friendship, and legacy. I’m very proud of the work our team has put in, and very excited to share the experience for the first time with our Chicago Pipe Show family. Join us in the New Orleans ballroom after the welcome dinner. It’s going to be a good time!”
To help support the film, Cornell and Diehl has released a Father the Flame tobacco blend which was available for purchase at the show.
25 April 2017
Mombacho Cigars names Maali as National Sales Manager
Mombacho Cigars S.A. announced today that Mo Maali has been named the company’s National Sales Manager. “I’m thrilled to have Mo on board. His experience in the cigar industry will bring strength to the Mombacho Cigars organization and his extreme passion for our brands is endless. Mo has the knowledge and personality to guide our sales team and I wish him all the best,” said Mombacho President and Master Blender Claudio Sgroi.
Maali broke into the cigar industry in 2014 with the Sultans of Smoke website and podcast. He then moved to the retail side of the industry as the manager of Casa de Puros in Forest Park, IL. In his role as National Sales Manager, Mo will oversee the growth of Mombacho Cigars in the American market.
“I am looking forward to representing Mombacho on a national level,” Maali said. “Mombacho is a brand on the rise and I am excited to help take the brand to the next level. People need to know Mombacho and people need to know Claudio. The bottom line is, we have great people making great cigars and we want to share them with cigar smokers everywhere.” Maali is also the owner of Patina Cigars, which are made at Mombacho’s factory, Casa Favilli. Patina are the first cigars to be made at Casa Favilli that feature tobaccos from outside of Nicaragua. Patina will hit the market in May of 2017.
08 April 2017
Drew Estate announces dates for Barn Smoker tours
Drew Estate has announced the schedule for its 2017 Barn Smoker program, which includes the new Florida Barn Smoker, as well as the annual Connecticut and Kentucky Barn Smoker events. At the Barn Smokers guests visit the farms where tobaccos for some of their favorite Drew Estate cigars are grown and they enjoy sampling cigars, libations and BBQ.
The Florida Barn Smoker will be held on May 20 at Clermont, Florida, where Corona Cigar Company’s Jeff Borysiewicz grows Florida Sun Grown tobacco. Tickets for the event are now on sale.
The Connecticut Barn Smoker will be held on Aug. 12 in South Windsor, Connecticut. Drew Estate will be joined by their agricultural partners in Connecticut, the farmers who are responsible for growing some of the most sought after tobaccos in the world. Drew Estate utilizes these tobaccos in brands such as Liga Privada, Undercrown, Acid and Nica Rustica.
The Kentucky Barn Smoker will be held Sept. 30 in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, the heart of the American Dark Fire-Cured tobacco production. Drew Estate will demonstrate fire-curing Kentucky seed tobaccos at the event.
05 April 2017
Tabacalera U.S.A. appoints CEO for JR Cigar
Tabacalera U.S.A., the U.S.-based premium cigar operations of Imperial Brands, has appointed Rob Maneson chief executive officer of its JR Cigar unit, effective immediately.
Maneson, who was general manager of Tabacalera’s Casa de Montecristo division that features company-owned and licensed cigar stores, will head JR Cigar from the company’s base in Whippany, New Jersey. He will continue to report to the head of Tabacalera U.S.A., Javier Estades, who said a new general manager for Casa de Montecristo will be appointed soon.
JR Cigar is one of the largest internet and retail cigar companies in the United States. “Rob’s elevation to head JR Cigar reflects his leadership and an experience gained in the organization over a number of years—including prior management experience with both JR Cigar and Altadis U.S.A., and most recently with Casa de Montecristo,” Estades said in announcing Maneson’s appointment.
03 April 2017
Swisher International appoints new VP
Swisher International Inc. today announced the appointment of Bill Dunn to Vice President, Industry Relations. Formerly Vice President of Field Sales, Bill has held more than 10 different positions of increasing responsibility within the organization spanning a 35-year career.
“It goes without saying that Bill is a well-respected legend in the tobacco industry. This new role was Bill’s idea as a way to transition from the head of sales, to an engagement role with our customers – something he is very passionate about,” said John Miller, Senior Vice President of Sales & Marketing.
In this newly created position, Bill will continue his outstanding work representing Swisher on several industry Boards and his work with Swisher’s key accounts and customers. “Bill’s knowledge of our industry and brand has always been a valued asset, and in his new position he will be an important voice for us as he interacts with customers at Swisher-sponsored events, trade conferences, roundtables, and importantly, industry trade shows,” said Peter Ghiloni, President and CEO of Swisher International.”
“I am excited to take on this new role and spend time with our customers, supporting industry issues and continuing to find ways to better serve our loyal customers,” said Dunn. Uniquely qualified, Bill’s experience and industry knowledge will be integral to future customer engagement and Swisher International’s continued growth and success.
24 March 2017
Cigar Industry lawsuit delayed; hearing now Aug. 30
The lawsuit filed against the FDA by the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailer Association (IPCPR), Cigar Rights of America (CRA) and Cigar Association of America (CAA) is delayed from July 28 to August 30. The FDA filed a motion for a 60-day delay, mostly due to accommodating the transition from the Obama to Trump Administrations. According to IPCPR, the three trade associations agreed to the 30-day extension, while making it clear to the federal government that any further delays would require extensions of pending compliance deadlines under the deeming rule.
21 March 2017
Qarimi joins Drew Estate’s International Team
Drew Estate announced today the expansion of their international sales team to include Stephan Qarimi as International Market Manager and Director of Travel Retail. Drew Estate products are currently distributed in over 50 countries as part of the company’s global vision.
14 March 2017
TMA names new President and CEO
Christopher B. Greer has been named President and Chief Executive Officer of Tobacco Merchants Association (TMA). Greer comes to TMA from Japan Tobacco International’s U.S. market where he served first as Regulatory Affairs Manager and then as Director and Department Head of Corporate Affairs & Communications. His work at JTI focused on FDA, government relations, corporate communications, corporate and regulatory compliance, MSA management and anti-illicit trade. In addition, he served as the JTI representative to the TMA Board of Directors.
Greer brings a fresh perspective to the organization as both an end-user of TMA products and services and as an executive whose experience lies at the heart of many issues facing the industry. He is taking over at a time highlighted by industry changes and opportunities driven by regulation, sustainability and new product innovations.
As a member-driven organization, the TMA Board of Directors has charged Greer and the TMA staff with embracing industry change and ensuring TMA is responsive to the needs of a rapidly evolving industry. TMA is committed to providing its membership and the tobacco industry and investor community with value-added data and information services and open forums with stakeholders spanning the spectrum of thought on key issues.
22 February 2017
States file brief in support of lawsuit against FDA regulations
Arizona, Michigan, Texas and Louisiana filed a brief yesterday in opposition to the FDA’s regulation of premium cigars. The brief is in support of the lawsuit filed by the IPCPR, CAA and CRA.
The brief was filed due to the states’ interest in the outcome of the lawsuit, which has a scheduled hearing for July 28.
The brief, in part, reads, “Amici States are concerned with the proper regulation of tobacco products and especially the prevention of illegal youth smoking. To these ends, Amici States, together with every other state, have established policies and reached settlement agreements with cigarette manufacturers that both discourage youth smoking and fund education efforts on the dangers of smoking. Accordingly, Amici States welcomed the passage of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009 (“Family Smoking Prevention Act”), Tobacco Regulation, Federal Retirement Reform, Pub. L. 111-31, 123 Stat. 1776 (2009) et seq., as an additional step in that same direction. However, on May 10, 2016, the Food and Drug Administration issued a rule contrary to the purpose and structure of the Family Smoking Prevention Act. See Final Rule Deeming Tobacco Products to Be Subject to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, as Amended by the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act; Restrictions on the Sale and Distribution of Tobacco Products and Required Warning Statements for Tobacco Products, 81 Fed. Reg. 28,973 (to be codified at 21 C.F.R. Parts. 1100, 1140, and 1143) (May 10, 2016) (“Final Rule” or “Rule”). This action, brought by the Cigar Association of America, the International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers Association, and the Cigar Rights of America (together, the “Plaintiff Associations”) challenges the Final Rule and seeks to enjoin its implementation. Amici States agree that the Rule requires substantial modification and that this Court should set it aside as unlawful.”
To view the brief, click here.
22 February 2017
Smoker Friendly adds cigar store to growing list of acquisitions
Smoker Friendly, the largest retail tobacco store operator in the country, has completed the acquisition of Cigars on 6th, a premium tobacconist and cigar store in Denver, Colorado. Smoker Friendly will continue to operate the store under the Cigars on 6th name but will introduce the Smoker Friendly brand family of cigars in the store.
“The acquisition of this store is a great opportunity to continue to expand our footprint in the Denver market and more specifically continue to grow our market share in the handrolled cigar retail sector. We are very excited about bringing the great premium cigar business that is established in this store and the unique neighborhood personality that Dan Dunne created at Cigars on 6th into our portfolio. Dan and his team did a great job of creating and building this iconic Denver cigar store. We are proud Dan looked to Smoker Friendly as an acquirer when he was ready to exit the business”, commented Terry Gallagher Jr., President of Smoker Friendly.
16 February 2017
Ventura Cigar Company adds pipe tobacco brands
Renowned pipe and pipe tobacco brands, 4th Generation and Comoy’s of London are now available through Ventura Cigar Company (VCC). Introducing new efficiencies for sales and distribution, the partnership aims to organically expand the reach of each respective category to new audiences.
“Ventura Cigar Company, 4th Generation, and Comoy’s of London are all brands known for their quality and overall excellence,” says Barry Bennett, National Sales Manager for VCC. “My sales team is excited to be the ambassadors of the new arrangement, offering our retailers a wider range of products for their customers- especially ones steeped in the tradition of multiple generations.”
4th Generation and Comoy’s of London have grown and flourished under the leadership of Erik Stokkebye, who lends a covetable authenticity to the brands with his family heritage in the pipe tobacco business. Over the years, he, too, has built a strong reputation for high quality pipe tobacco blends and classic pipes that speak both to connoisseurs and those new to the time-honored tradition. The partnership between 4th Generation, Comoy’s of London, and VCC will lend Stokkebye’s expertise to both industries, and offer a full range of tobacco products easily available to all customers.
“My family heritage has taught me to strive for excellence, and always produce the best products on the market,” says Stokkebye. “Officially teaming up with the Ventura Cigar Company is a natural fit for both our industries. We share the same values of producing high-quality products, and now can enjoy a well-rounded distribution channel that will really benefit all of our customers- from the retailers to the end-user.”
Visit www.venturacigar.com to find out more about each brand and their product offerings. Retailers should contact their VCC sales representative to stock the products.
07 February 2017
Casa de Montecristo expansion continues across the U.S.
Casa de Montecristo Inc. is adding three new “ground-up” retail stores as part of its Casa de Montecristo premium cigar store program. Casa de Montecristo program opened its first Casa de Montecristo location in 2008. The program includes company-owned stores and licensed-based partnerships with some of the top established premium cigar retailers in the country.
Casa de Montecristo by Tampa Humidor will open its doors to the public in June 2017. The new store is located on South Howard Street in South Tampa and will feature a full liquor bar, lounge space and a well-stocked premium cigar humidor. Owner Mike Howe is proud to bring to the Tampa cigar market a new concept and brand that incorporates the name of their first store –Tampa Humidor – and the world class cigar brand Montecristo.
Nashville, Tennessee will be the site of the newest Casa de Montecristo. This 3,200 sq. ft. store will also feature a walk-in humidor, private patio space for 20 people and a full-liquor bar and is scheduled to open in April 2017.
Casa de Montecristo will also open a second store in Texas in May 2017. This store will be located in Austin. Eleven stores across the U.S. will feature the Casa de Montecristo name:
- Casa de Montecristo Chicago
- Casa de Montecristo by Smoke Inn (Boynton Beach, Fla.)
- Casa de Montecristo by Prime Cigar & Whiskey Bar (Miami)
- Casa de Montecristo by Cigar Inn at 2nd Avenue (New York City)
- Casa de Montecristo by Cigar Inn at 73rd Street (New York City)
- Casa de Montecristo Dallas
- Casa de Montecristo Austin
- Casa de Montecristo Nashville
- Casa de Montecristo by Tampa Humidor
- Casa de Montecristo Washington, D.C.
- Casa de Montecristo by JR Cigar (Mooresville, N.C.)
05 February 2017
Senate follows House lead, introduces bill to exempt premium cigars
Following the House of Representative’s lead from last month, Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) re-introduced the Traditional Cigar Manufacturing and Small Business Jobs Preservation Act of 2017 (S. 294).
Mirroring H.R. 564, S. 294 defines and exempts premium cigars from the regulatory burdens of the FDA’s deeming rule. To qualify as a premium cigar:
- It must be wrapped in 100 percent leaf tobacco and bunched in 100 percent tobacco filler;
- Cannot contain a filter, tip or non-tobacco mouthpiece;
- Must weigh at-least 6 pounds per 1,000 count;
- Has 100 percent tobacco binder and is hand rolled or is made with human hands to lay the wrapper or binder onto one machine that bunches, wraps and caps the individual cigars or has a homogenized tobacco leaf binder and is made in the United States using human hands to lay a 100 percent leaf tobacco wrapper onto one machine that bunches, wraps, and caps each individual cigar.
“The re-introduction of S. 294 by Senators Nelson and Rubio demonstrates the ongoing commitment by Congress to bring relief and certainty to thousands of small businesses affected by the FDA’s recent regulation,” says Daniel Trope, IPCPR director of Federal Government Affairs.
31 January 2017
Drew Estate names David Lazarus Senior VP of Sales
Drew Estate announced David Lazarus as (SVP) Senior Vice President of Sales at their Annual Sales Meeting effective immediately. In this role, Lazarus will have overall accountability for field sales, inside sales, key national accounts, in-store events, and wholesale. Lazarus will report directly to the CEO, Glenn Wolfson.
“We are thrilled to welcome Dave to our team and family at Drew” explained Drew Estate CEO Glenn Wolfson. “As we embark on the Rebirth of Drew, we are fully vested in David’s ability to enhance and build upon the organization’s strengths and equally vested in his ability to provide guidance and a steady hand in overseeing our human assets and territory management. David is going to be a fantastic fit with us at Drew Estate both culturally and organizationally. He brings to us an ideal mixture of sales experience from having worked in boutique and mainstream, large and small, private and public, as well as wines and spirits.”
“I am excited to embark on a new journey with Drew Estate’s world class sales force, our partner retailers, and our loyal consumers to deliver an unparalleled experience in this industry,” explained David Lazarus.
David “Laz” Lazarus graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from SUNY at Fredonia. He is a veteran in craft consumables, in particular, beverage alcohol, with over twenty-five years experience at Constellation Brands, Diageo PLC, and Gallo Wine Company. In 2017, David will be relocating to the Miami Corporate Headquarters from Dallas, Texas.
“Things are going to get absolutely coconuts in 2017. I’m excited for Drew Estate to add a consumate sales and marketing professional to the executive team,” said Jonthan Drew, President and Founder of Drew Estate.
31 January 2017
Vintage RockeFeller Cigar Group purchased
Kevin Schweitzer, President of Sea Crest Holding Group and a Wall Street trader, is now the president and sole owner of the newly revamped Vintage Rockefeller Cigar Group.
A cigar enthusiast for more than 25 years, Schweitzer has been president of Sea Crest Holding Group since 2009. Schweitzer is an international broker of gold, silver and other precious metals and minerals and he has traveled to several countries that are listed as “dangerous” and “high-risk” by the United States Department of State, so jumping into the cigar industry is just another daring episode in Schweitzer’s adventurous life.
“I am extremely excited taking over Vintage Rockefeller Cigar Group and I look forward to guiding a company with a solid history to a new era of success,” Schweitzer says. “Right now, my vision is to grow the brand throughout the U.S. and eventually move into shepherding the company internationally. We really want to make a cigar that not only everyone can trust, but one that can be enjoyed across all walks of life. Everyone should feel like a Rockefeller!”
Originally inspired by the era known as the age of American Enterprise, the creation of each Rock-A-Feller cigar captures the entrepreneurial spirit that made the United States the foremost economy of the 20th century. Rock-A-Feller cigars are meant to not only be smoked by baby boomers, but also to the massive and discerning group of millennial demographics who are primed to discover the joy of smoking a great cigar and the natural camaraderie that cigar smokers receive worldwide.
Schweitzer expects to take both the Classic blend and the Nicaraguan blend to targeted global markets in the next 18 months.
“In my first few weeks with the company, I met with our master blenders in both Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic,” Schweitzer explains. “In Nicaragua, I rediscovered my love of boutique cigars when I first lit up a blend that had been shelved years ago and laid down to age. This was a blend that had been made years ago in the early days of the company, a ‘private blend’ released to a select few. At that moment I knew that it needed to be shared with the rest of the world.
“I have travelled across America introducing myself as the new President of Vintage Rockefeller Cigars, and the feedback has been extremely positive,” Shweitzer goes on to say. “We have introduced our private blend of Nicaraguan tobaccos to a handful of cigar lovers who have all commented on the quality and exceptional flavor. It really is an exciting time to be involved in the cigar industry.”
30 January 2017
Jonathan Drew returns to Drew Estate as president
Drew Estate announces that Company Founder, Jonathan Drew will return to an executive operating role, following a two-year period since the sale of the company. In a multi-year agreement, Drew Estate has named the entrepreneur, market disrupter, and art curator as “President and Founder” with oversight for the entire portfolio of brands.
The deal is important for the boutique cigar company, as it looks to return to its iconic roots and core values. The objective is to unleash the entire team’s creative power under the leadership of JD who will also continue with his new venture into the spirits industry as CEO of John Drew Brands, a start up initially focused on bourbon, rye, and rum.
“Jonathan Drew is a dynamic entrepreneur, respected tobacco man, and a tenacious brand evangelist. He is the original Disruptor, and I am excited to help build a team around JD that is raw, provocative, and unafraid to challenge the mainstream and take risks,” explained Drew Estate’s CEO Glenn Wolfson. “Jonathan Drew will reduce his travel and event schedule, instead focusing on the Rebirth of Drew Estate with a conceptual lens toward brand building and team building.”
“I’m a student of graffiti … and philosophically I look at tobacco the same way. There is an evolution to the painted walls in the streets, just like there was on the subways back in the day. Change is natural and accepted. You just have to bomb harder and stay true to your technique and style – and always keep loyal to your crew. There’s a lot to learn from areas outside of our main canvas at DE. We will return to high-level curation, mixed media platforms, and true collaboration. We have lost our way a bit, but DE will bubble back 1,000 times stronger. Believe me,” stated Jonathan Drew.
Jonathan Drew, and his business partner Marvin Samel founded Drew Estate in 1996 first as a small shop in the World Trade Center, and later in 1998 JD moved to Estelí, Nicaragua with the vision to blend the urban walls of New York City with the art of premium hand-made cigars. In 1999, JD released the ACID Infused Cigar Brand, and built a small production facility where he could manage the company’s cigar manufacturing, which later turned into many small factories scattered across the city. In 2006, JD broke ground on La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate overlooking a majestic valley. At over 174,000 square feet it is one of the largest hand made cigar factories on the planet. In 2014 Jonathan Drew, and Co-Founder Marvin Samel sold Drew Estate for an undisclosed sum to Swisher International.
18 January 2017
Altria Group acquires Nat Sherman
Altria Group Inc., one of the world’s largest cigarettes company’s, announced the acquisition of Sherman Group Holdings LLC, the company that distributes Nat Sherman cigars.
“Nat Sherman has a terrific brand portfolio which complements Altria’s existing smokeable product segment,” said Altria’s Chairman, CEO and President Marty Barrington in a press release. “Nat Sherman will benefit from the retail distribution, brand management, and adult tobacco consumer engagement expertise of Altria’s companies.”
Nat Sherman was founded in 1930 as a family-owned and -operated business, with a flagship store in New York City. Atria plans to keep both Nat Sherman’s corporate offices in New Jersey and it plant in Greensboro, North Carolina. Altria’s parent company is Philip Morris USA.
17 January 2017
FDA issues guidance on the “Prohibition of Distributing Free Samples of Tobacco Products”
This guidance is intended to help tobacco product manufacturers, distributors, and retailers understand the prohibition of distributing free samples of tobacco products set forth in Title 21, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Part 1140 and to explain what you should do in order to comply with the regulations. The document explains, among other things, what activities and which persons are subject to the regulations, as well as how the prohibition of distributing free samples applies to the distribution of tobacco products through:
- non-monetary exchanges;
- membership and rewards programs;
- contests and games of chance; and business-to-business exchanges.FDA is requesting public comments regarding its interpretation of the free sample ban set forth in this guidance. All comments should be identified with the docket number listed in the notice of availability that publishes in the Federal Register.
For the full report, click here.
09 January 2017
Owner of Room101 Cigars leaving industry
Matt Booth, owner of Room101 Cigars, has severed ties with Davidoff, the distributor of his cigar line for nearly a decade. “I decided not to renew,” Booth said in an interview with Cigar Aficionado. “The contract ended, and I think that it’s time for a new beginning for Room101. I am grateful for the years of partnership and support from Davidoff.”
Booth said he wants to concentrate on his jewelry business but has not ruled out a return to the industry at some point in the future.
29 December 2016
FDA announces 6-month extension on ingredient listing
The FDA announced a six-month extension of the ingredient listing requirement for manufacturers and importers of newly “deemed” tobacco products (including cigars) that are on the market as of August 8, 2016. This extension pushes the submission deadline from Feb. 8 to Aug. 8, 2017. It also provides a six month extension for small-scale manufacturers. The delay follows the FDA’s similar decision earlier this month to push back the manufacturer registration and product listing deadlines by six months to June 30, 2017.
Find the revised rules here.
16 December 2016
AJ Fernandez announces new head of U.S. distribution
AJ Fernandez has promoted Bernie Rodriguez to head the U.S. distribution of his cigar brands. Rodriguez previously held positions within the U.S. government and recently retired with 32 years of service.
In addition, industry veteran Frank Santos has been appointed as the Marketing Director. Santos offers 20 years of cigar industry experience, including as marketing director for Carlos Toraño Cigars.
13 December 2016
FDA Issues Third Edition of Substantial Equivalence FAQ Guidance
Today, the FDA is issuing the third edition of the guidance for industry titled Demonstrating the Substantial Equivalence of a New Tobacco Product: Responses to Frequently Asked Questions (Edition 3). This new edition has been revised to reflect the decision by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia that a modification to an existing product’s label does not result in a “new tobacco product.”
Based on the court’s ruling, modifications to an existing product’s label alone—such as a product with a new name that is otherwise identical to its predicate product—would not require the manufacturer to submit a Substantial Equivalence (SE) application. However, any changes to an existing product’s quantity—such as changing the number of cigarettes in a package from 20 to 24—does result in a “new tobacco product” and would require a submission for premarket authorization. FDA’s interpretation regarding product quantity changes was upheld in the court’s final decision.
In scenarios when a product quantity is the only change to a tobacco product eligible for the SE pathway, a manufacturer may submit a streamlined SE application referred to as a “Product Quantity Change SE Application.” These applications require less information from manufacturers than full SE applications and will better enable the agency to quickly review them. This edition of the guidance answers many questions on these types of streamlined applications, in addition to questions about changes to additives and the SE application process in general.
12 December 2016
IPCPR adds Western Regional Rep to staff
The International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers Association (IPCPR) announced today that Tyler Henson has joined the government affairs team as Western Regional Representative to expand IPCPR’s influence in the western region of the United States.
Tyler brings a wealth of experience within the government affairs industry, having spent the last two years as President of the Colorado Cannabis Chamber of Commerce where he was instrumental in advocating for a positive regulatory and legislative environment for the industry. Prior to working at the Colorado Cannabis Chamber of Commerce, Henson served as Legislative Director for the Wine & Spirit Wholesalers of Colorado and as a lobbyist for one of Colorado’s premier political consulting firms.
Greg Zimmerman, IPCPR’s Chair of State Government Affairs noted, “With Rachel Hyde in place to represent industry interests in the southeast, the addition of Tyler in the west sets our regional lobbying strategy into motion. Our goal is to have the entire country represented as soon as possible.”
Tyler joins IPCPR as Western Regional Representative in advance of 2017 legislative sessions to continue his success on behalf of IPCPR members. Mark Pursell, Chief Executive Officer said, “Tyler’s wealth of government affairs experience makes him a key addition to the IPCPR team. We view his appointment as a sign of our commitment to protecting IPCPR members from government overreach. I am confident that Tyler will be instrumental in advancing the interests of the premium tobacco industry.”
08 December 2016
Language Seeking FDA Exemption Stripped from Appropriations Bill
The premium cigar industry’s hopes for an FDA exemption by the 114th Congress look dashed following the release of the latest appropriations bill that will fund the government through the early part of 2017. The bill proposal released yesterday did not include previous language exempting premium cigars from FDA’s purview. Considering that current funding runs out tomorrow, the budget is expected to pass easily.
06 December 2016
IPCPR Announces New Staff Additions
The International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers (IPCPR) has named Daniel Trope Director, Federal Government Affairs effective December 12, 2016. Also, joining the IPCPR team is Christine Morgan, Associate Member & Operations Manager who started on December 1, 2016. Daniel Trope will lead IPCPR’s Federal advocacy efforts on Capitol Hill and with the Executive Branch. IPCPR’s CEO, Mark Pursell, stated that, “We are thrilled to have a professional of Daniel’s caliber spearheading our industry’s government affairs work in DC. He brings 10 years of Federal experience both on Capitol Hill as a Senate staffer and in the private sector representing clients across several industries including a multi-national materials manufacturer.”
IPCPR’s Chair of Federal Government Affairs, John Anderson, added that, “After a thorough and rigorous candidate search process, we determined that Daniel’s energy, knowledge of the DC landscape and ability to communicate make him an ideal representative of our issues. I look forward to working with him at this critical time for our industry.”
Christine Morgan officially joins the staff after serving in a temporary capacity at the last two IPCPR trade shows. She will assume the day to day responsibility of serving Associate Members, managing the trade show floor and working with IPCPR sponsors. “Christine comes to us with significant knowledge of our manufacturer partners and experience in a retail shop. She has been my right hand for two years so the learning curve is very short.”, notes Dawn Conger, Senior Director of Trade Show & Meetings. Scott Regina, IPCPR’s Chair of Membership & Trade Show added, “We have seen Christine’s commitment to
customer service first hand and know she is great fit with the staff team.”
These hires return the organization to full staffing as directed by the IPCPR Board of Directors. Pursell commented that, “Providing services to retailers and manufacturers is job one. Both Daniel and Christine will help us fulfill that promise.”
28 November 2016
VP Willner leaves General Cigar
General Cigar announced that effective today, Vice President of Marketing Alan Willner is leaving the company to pursue other interests.
Régis Broersma, president, said, “Since joining the company in 2011, Alan has contributed to the success of our portfolio of brands and we wish him the very best in his future endeavors.”
Régis continued, “I will provide day-to-day leadership of the marketing team. Change is always uncomfortable, but with this change I have great confidence in the team to drive the business forward. Our strategy and brands are strong, and we are well positioned to take General Cigar to the next level. It’s time to release the company’s full potential.”
26 November 2016
Scientists modify tobacco plant gene to boost productivity
By adjusting the genes of tobacco plants, scientists at the University of Illinois have devised a process that boosts crop yield of the plant by 20 percent.
The study, published in the journal Science, says that crop yield can increase by boosting the levels of three proteins that are connected to photosynthesis. Tobacco plants were used in the research due to their inherent genetic malleability. The study yielded a 14 to 20 percent boost in crop productivity.
23 November 2016
Famous Smoke Shop debuts cigar & beer pairing site
Famous Smoke Shop, one of the industry’s major online distributors, has debuted an interactive cigar and beer pairing guide, offering picks on 54 cigar and beer combinations. The guide also includes cigar ratings and an “easy-to-use interface for cigar smokers who want to make their cigar and beer experience more enjoyable.”
To view the site, click here.
04 November 2016
Mombacho Cigars names new Brand Manager
Granada based Mombacho Cigars S.A. (Mombacho) announced today that Robert Rasmussen has joined the company as Brand Manager, effective November 1.
“We are extremely excited to have Rob on board. His enthusiasm and deep knowledge of the cigar industry will add a new pace to the Mombacho vision and strategy. He embraces the same Mombacho values of family and quality to create the most memorable cigar experience,” said Mombacho President and Master Blender Claudio Sgroi.
Rasmussen has been a leading member of the cigar media since 2009. After co-founding CigarChat in 2010 he was recruited to help revive CigarFederation.com in 2013. CigarChat is now one of the largest cigar shows in the world and CigarFederation has a thriving community of members.
“I am thrilled to join a company like Mombacho,” said Rasmussen. “Being able to use my experience in the cigar industry to help this brand get to the next level is very exciting.”
Rasmussen will be in charge of all marketing, design and media communications. He will also act as a brand ambassador at events and trade shows.
03 November 2016
ITG Brands, LCC names new President
Dan Carr, a veteran consumer packaged goods and tobacco industry leader, is joining ITG Brands, LLC as President, effective November 7.
ITG Brands, based in Greensboro, N.C., was formed in 2015 and is the third-largest tobacco manufacturer and marketer of tobacco products in the United States, with such well known cigarette brands as Winston, Kool, USA Gold and Maverick, and cigar brands Dutch Masters, Backwoods and Phillies. It also sells blu e-Cigarettes.
In announcing the appointment, David Taylor, ITG Brand’s Chief Executive Officer said Carr, 53, will assume oversight of the Company’s sales, marketing and operations functions. He will report to Taylor, who continues to serve as Chief Executive Officer.
“Dan comes to ITG Brands with a powerful combination of fast-moving consumer packaged goods experience and extensive tobacco qualifications in both smokeless and cigars,” Taylor said.
Carr began his career in the consumer packaged goods industry with Scott Paper, which later merged with Kimberly-Clark Corporation. He joined General Cigar in 1996 and became vice president of sales in 1998. He went on to accept positions of increasing responsibility and leadership that broadened his scope to marketing, operations and supply chain, ultimately serving as President of General Cigar, which was fully acquired by Swedish Match in 2005 and now owned by Scandinavian Tobacco Group.
“Dan has aligned teams of varying sizes and has done so multiple times in the tobacco industry,” Taylor said. “He understands distribution channels, regulatory challenges and the different levers that can be pulled to drive growth. He recognizes what it takes to drive a U.S. business in collaboration with a global strategy.”
In addition to his B.S. in Business Administration, which he earned at Ramapo College in N.J., Dan’s education and accreditation background includes the Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Program. He serves on various boards including more than 15 years for the Cigar Association of America and is a two-term chairman. He also serves the University of Richmond’s Robins School of Business Executive Advisory Council, and more than 10 years as a board member for the Tobacco Merchants Association.
02 November 2016
Tabacalera USA creates new business unit; Acquires Houston-based Serious Cigars LLC
Tabacalera USA, the U.S.-based premium cigar operations of Imperial Brands plc, is creating a new business unit to support company-owned and licensed-based retail partnerships using the Casa de Montecristo retail brand name – and it is acquiring well-known Texas cigar retailer Serious Cigars.
According to Javier Estades, the head of Tabacalera USA, “the new business unit will be known as Casa de Montecristo Inc. I am also proud to announce that Rob Maneson has been appointed General Manager of the new division.” Maneson, a veteran tobacco industry manager, was previously VP Retail Operations for MC Management in Whippany, N.J., an affiliated Tabacalera USA company.
“The Casa de Montecristo program has been nearly a decade in the making,” Maneson said, noting that the first Casa de Montecristo location opened in 2008.
“Casa de Montecristo includes company-owned stores and licensed-based partnerships and includes such top established premium cigar retailers in the country as Casa de Montecristo Chicago; Casa de Montecristo by Smoke Inn, based in Boynton Beach, Fla; and Prime Cigar by Casa de Montecristo, based in Miami,” Maneson said. “The creation of this new business unit under the Tabacalera USA umbrella will help coordinate and enhance the adult premium cigar smoker experience in all Casa de Montecristo stores.”
Houston-Based Serious Cigars Acquired
The addition of premium cigar retailer Serious Cigars, LLC, adds to the luster of the Montecristo name. Serious Cigars has four locations in the Houston metro area, and an online e-Commerce retail website, www.seriouscigars.com.
“Owners Ron and JeanneMarie Lesseraux have built one of the finest retail premium cigar businesses in the country and we are thrilled to have them as part of our business,” Maneson said. “Serious Cigars has a strong reputation in the industry, which we will continue to grow.”
Serious Cigars LLC began as a small online retail business in 1996. In 2003, the Lesserauxs recognized the need for a better cigar experience in the Houston area and opened its first of four locations in the Champions area of the city.
“Since then we have enjoyed working very hard in our industry and building what we feel is a great business for our customers, employees and suppliers,” Ron Lesseraux said. Fortunately for Casa de Montecristo, Ron and JeanneMarie will be staying on with the business to help ensure a smooth transition.
“No substantial changes are planned for the retail stores or website,” Maneson said, “and both will continue to deliver the excellent customer experience that adult premium cigar smokers in Houston are accustomed to.”
01 November 2016
Dominican cigar industry feted at NYC event
On Wednesday, Oct. 19, the Association of Dominican Cigar Manufacturers, Procigar, participated in Dominican Night in New York City at the Gansevoort Park Avenue Hotel. The event showcased the Dominican Republic’s best products, including cigars from Procigar members, Brugal rum and a menu featuring exquisite dishes prepared by Chef Tita, a Dominican chef dedicated to rescuing native Dominican cuisine and heralding its influence throughout the rest of the world.
Held on the rooftop of the Gansevoort Park Avenue Hotel, the event was co-hosted by the Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism and Gansevoort Hotels & Resorts. Attendees enjoyed Dominican products, were introduced to Dominican cultural elements and received a presentation on what the island nation has to offer tourists.
The president of Procigar, Hendrik Kelner, introduced fellow members of the association to the audience. Some of the brands made by Procigar members include: Aging Room, Avo, Davidoff, EPC, Fonseca, Griffin’s, Hemingway, Juan Clemente, La Aurora, La Flor Dominicana, La Galera, Leon Jimenes, Macanudo, Montecristo, OpusX, PDR, Quesada, Romeo y Julieta, Saga and Zino. The Dominican Republic is the world’s largest exporter of premium handmade cigars. The industry employes more than 120,000 people and contributes more than $600 million annually to the Dominican economy.
Ian Schembri Sant, president and CEO of Gansevoort Dominican Republic, introduced the new Gansevoort Dmonican Republic property, Playa Imbert, located in Puerto Plata on the country’s north coast. Lucienne Echevarria, director for the Dominican Republic’s tourism board in New York, spoke of the new international luxury brands that are being developed in the Dominican Republic.
31 October 2016
FDA posts draft guidance on listing ingredients in tobacco products
On Friday, the FDA published its draft guidance on listing ingredients. Intended for manufacturers and importers, the document offers guidance on:
- The statutory requirement to submit a list of all ingredients in tobacco products;
- Who submits ingredient information;
- What information is included in the submissions;
- How to submit the information;
- When to submit the information; and
- FDA’s compliance policies.
For the complete guidance document, click here.
27 October 2016
FDA responds to IPCPR/CRA/CAA lawsuit
Responding to the joint lawsuit filed by IPCPR, the Cigar Rights of America and the Cigar Association of America, the FDA defended its position and ruling on premium cigars.
Almost all the responses are lacking in specifics, either flatly denying the claim mentioned in the lawsuit or dismissing the claim with “This paragraph contains argument and conclusions of law, not allegations of fact, and thus no response is required.”
A date has yet to be set for a ruling by District Judge Amit P. Mehta.
For the full response, click here.
21 September 2016
FDA releases 2017 user fee formulation for tobacco products. Click here
01 September 2016
FDA Issues Warning Plan for Cigars
FDA publishes its draft guidance outlining warning statements for cigars that will be required starting May 10, 2018.
The complete draft guidance can be found here.
06 August 2016
Carlos Fuente Sr. passes away at 81
Carlos Fuente Sr., patriarch to the Fuente family and long-time leader of one of the premium cigar industry’s best-loved and most famous cigar companies, succumbed to stomach cancer on Friday, Aug. 5, after a long battle with the illness.
Fuente Sr. was a fighter. When he was just 11 years old he contracted polio and was told that he would never walk again. It took some time and countless hours of painful rehabilitation but he regained the ability to walk. While still growing up, he and his brother Oscar hand-rolled cigars after school in the kitchen of their family home in the Ybor City neighborhood of Tampa, Florida.
Fuente Sr. would use those lessons of determination, perseverance and humility he gained from his fight against polio and helping the family business to steer Arturo Fuente Cigar Company – when he bought the company for just $1 from his father Arturo in 1958 – into a household name in the cigar industry, known worldwide for producing much-loved brands, such as Fuente Fuente Opus X, Hemingway and Don Carlos, as well as making cigars for Ashton and Diamond Crown cigars for J.C. Newman. Annually, the company makes approximately 30 million cigars in Santiago, Dominican Republic. At the time of Fuente Sr.’s passing, Arturo Fuente Cigar Company is the world’s largest family-owned premium cigar company.
In March, Tampa honored Fuente Sr. by naming part of 2nd Avenue in Ybor City Carlos Fuente’s Way. At the time of his passing, Fuente Sr. was surrounded by family. He is survived by his sons Carlos Fuente Jr. and Richard Fuente; daughter Cynthia Fuente-Suarez; brother Arturo Fuente Jr.; grandchildren Liana Fuente, Rosana Fuente, Christina Suarez, Lidiana Fuente, Bianca Suarez, Sofia Fuente and Carlos Fuente III; and three great-grandchildren. His wife of 62 years, Anna Louisa Lopez Fuente, passed away in December.
In a statement regarding the passing of his father, Carlos Fuente Jr., president of Arturo Fuente Cigar Company., wrote:
“On behalf of my sister Cynthia, my brother Ricky and the entire Fuente family, as well as the Arturo Fuente Cigar Company, I would like to extend our sincerest gratitude for the outpouring of love we have received regarding the passing of our patriarch, Carlos A. Fuente, Sr.
“My father was not only a pioneer in the cigar industry, but he was also an amazing family man who will be sorely missed by so many. His legacy, however, will remain with us forever as we continue his tradition of hard work, perseverance and dedication.
“My father always said, “I never cared about being the largest cigar manufacturer, I only cared about being the best.”
“Well Dad, you were. We will miss you dearly and will remember and continue to honor you each day.”
30 July 2016
Boveda Adds 330 Gram Unit to its Product Line
Ready to ship in September, Boveda’s new 330 gram unit is the largest Boveda in the company’s lineup to date. The largest and most popular size (60 grams) has been Boveda’s “bread and butter” for wood humidor maintenance, where typically 3-4 packs are used to properly regulate a desktop humidor. The new 330 gram pouch is designed to condense the process into a larger single unit that will last six times longer than any previous Boveda pack.
“We feel the addition of the 330 gram unit will round out the already formidable Boveda product offering, giving cigar smokers another option for less maintenance and peace of mind knowing their humidor is being properly controlled,” said Sean Knutsen, Boveda’s CEO.
5 July 2016
IPCPR creates show app
The IPCPR has created an official mobile event app for the 84th Annual Convention & International Trade Show to access search and planning features to maximize retailers’ trade show experiences. The app allows retailers to browse the complete sessions schedule and bookmark their favorites. It also allows retailers to search for exhibitors, tag their favorites and request meetings. It also includes an interactive map of the trade show floor plan.
The app may be downloaded from Google Play or the ITunes store.
4 July 2016
Drew Estate to increase prices beginning at end of July
Due to increased manufacturing costs, Drew Estate has announced that it will be increasing wholesale and MSRP prices on some of its products beginning on July 25. Retailers can expect to receive mail notification and new price sheets soon.
The brands that will be affected include: Acid, Ambrosia, Isla Del Sol, La Vieja Habana, Undercrown, Undercrown Shade, Natural, Tabak Especial, Balmoral, Panter and Mehari’s.
Retailers who have questions regarding this price increases are encouraged to contact the company at 888-224-6376.
3 July 2016
Oettinger Davidoff appoints new director of global training and development
Oettinger Davidoff has appointed Isabella Keusch to take over the new role of Global Director Training & Development beginning on Sept. 1, 2016. In her new position, Keusch will develop Oettinger Davidoff’s global training program, which will include the launch of the Davidoff Academy.
Keusch joined the company in January 2005 as a freelance Davidoff Representative for Austria, and became General Manager of Davidoff of Geneva Austria in 2012. She has built the Austrian organization from scratch and developed into a strong and very successful business unit.
6 June 2016
Drew Estate launches New Drew Diplomat App
Drew Estate’s Drew Diplomat app is now available in the App Store for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch and on Google Play for Android.
Drew Estate has worked diligently to develop an industry-leading app that allows users to easily keep up with daily breaking news from Drew Estate, earn points for chances to win one-of-a-kind pieces of art from Subculture Studios, and invite friends to experience the “Rebirth of Cigars”. The app has been in development for approximately two years and is completely custom-built with every functionality considered as part of the design process to ensure the best user experience possible.
The Drew Diplomat app replaces the current Drew Estate app. The previous app will no longer be updated and users are encouraged to delete it and start using the Drew Diplomat app. While the old Drew Estate app was innovative in its day, the new Drew Diplomat app expands on the functionality to include the ability to check-in and post photos of cigars users have smoked and RSVP for Drew Estate Events, all while earning points within the app. These points can be used to enter promotions for a chance to win weekly one-of-a-kind pieces of art from Subculture Studios, Drew Estate’s graffiti art studio attached to La Gran Fabrica in Estelí, Nicaragua.
To learn more about the Drew Diplomat app, visit www.drewdiplomat.com.
28 April 2016
Phillips & King to host pre-IPCPR show Tobacco tour
Phillips & King’s Fathers, Friends & Fire Pre-IPCPR Tobacco Tour will take place at tobacconists around the United States from June 1-19. The tour features tasting events with products from Ventura Cigar Company, 4th Generation and Comoy’s pipe tobaccos.
Each Fathers, Friends and Fire gathering will feature promotional giveaways, special pricing on products so that attendees can stock up for the summer months, and will spotlight either cigars or pipes. For the cigar-themed events, Ventura Cigar Company will feature the highly-rated cigar brands, PsyKo Seven and Project 805, and its team of brand ambassadors will be on-hand to conduct tastings and share their product knowledge.
The pipe-themed events will highlight the specialty pipe tobaccos and exotic pipes from 4th Generation and Comoy’s. Brand manager Erik Stokkebye will be at select events on the tour, educating new and experienced pipe smokers alike on choosing the best blends and accessories to fit their taste.
Due to the wide availability of locations for the Fathers, Friends and Fire stops, the events are anticipated to draw groups of pipe and cigar fans for meetups in each region. For more information, locations, and dates of these events, click here.
Gurkha Cigars appoints Eddy Guerra as Director of Marketing
Gurkha Cigars has hired Eddy Guerra as new Director of Marketing. A Miami native, Guerra has an impressive resume. He was Marketing Director for Nikki Beach in Miami and Thailand and was partner in the Thailand-based ChindAsia Capital Partners, which grew to become the largest distributor of non-Cuban cigars, in Southeast Asia. Under the ChindAsia Capital Partners umbrella, Guerra helped created the Whisgars Cigar/Whiskey lounge concept, which catered to the high-end market. Under Guerra’s watch, Whisgars was an immediate success. Its growth was rapid, with the brand establishing six locations, throughout Southeast Asia.
Kaizad Hansaotia, President of Gurkha Cigars stated in a press release announcing the hiring, “I met Eddy Guerra in Thailand, and we quickly became friends. His knowledge about cigars and marketing acumen, make him a tremendous asset to the Gurkha team. I look forward to a long and prosperous working relationship with Guerra.”
Cigar Smoking World Championship rounds to take place in Nashville and Chicago
On Wednesday, May 13 and Thursday, May 19, official qualifying rounds of the Cigar Smoking World Championship (CSWC) will take place at The 1850 Venue at Lookaway Farms in Franklin, Tennessee, and in Chicago at Biggs Tobacconist.
The CSWC is comprised of a series of qualifying tournaments held around the world. The first U.S. event occurred in May 2015 when Darren Cioffi, owner of Principle Cigars and current cigar smoking world-record holder, brought an event to Nashville, Tennessee.
The entry fee for the Nashville CSWC qualifying tournament is $125 and includes participation in the qualifying tournament, official time certificate, a special gift from Principle Cigars, attendance at a cocktail party and special prizes for the top three competitors and for the best female competitor.
Spectator tickets may be purchased for $25. For more information, click here.
Participation in the Chicago event costs $200. Attendees will enjoy a four-piece live band, hors d’oeurves by Blue Door Kitchen & Garden, a bar and special cigars from Principle Cigars. Contestants will also receive a sample of Louis XIII cognac, a certificate stating their time in the CSWC qualifying round and a gift bag filled with goodies from the event sponsors. The grand prize includes an exclusive Ronde Solo de Cartier timepiece from Marshall Pierce & Co.
Spectator tickets may be purchased for $100. For more information, click here.
Winners of the Nashville and Chicago qualifying rounds will be invited to participate at the 2016 Cigar Smoking World Championship taking place September 2-4, 2016, in Split, Croatia.
Tabacalera A. Fuente GM dead at 44
Tabacalera USA expands Casa de Montecristo store program
Montecristo is a name synonymous with premium cigars and the ultimate in quality. Now a number of top cigar lounges in the United States will carry the name as part of Tabacalera USA’s Casa de Montecristo program.
The rare Casa de Montecristo moniker is awarded only to premium cigar stores and lounges that exemplify the luxury, quality and lifestyle that have been associated with the Montecristo brand.
The first Casa de Montecristo location opened in the Chicago area in 2008. Today, the program includes company-owned stores and licensed-based partnerships with some of the top established premium cigar retailers in the country.
Currently, two cities hold prestigious Casa de Montecristo sites: one in the Chicago area and one in Boynton Beach, Fla. with three new locations opening soon.
The newest locations to carry the prestigious Casa de Montecristo name includes Prime Cigar and Whiskey Bar, which will open in April in the Brickell area of Miami. Also earning the Casa de Montecristo designation are Cigar Inn Stores located in Midtown East and the Upper East Side of Manhattan in New York City. Each will now be known as Casa de Montecristo by Cigar Inn.
Tabacalera USA will continue its expansion of the Casa de Montecristo program with the opening of its first Dallas location early this summer. The 4,300 square foot state-of-the-art premium cigar store will feature a large walk-in humidor, a rare and vintage room, and plenty of public and private space for customers to relax and enjoy a cigar.
The new store will open in the Turtle Creek area of Dallas.
Oettinger Davidoff AG has appointed Olaf Ruf as general manager of the subsidiary itplans to create for Germany, Davidoff of Geneva Germany. The 43-year-old German has extensive experience and a close-knit network in the German and international tobacco business that he will use in the development of the German sales company to be established. In the period leading up to the company’s foundation, Ruf will initially act as an external consultant and head the planning and preparation for taking over the operative business at the end of the year.
Oettinger Davidoff AG has terminated the existing collaboration with its German sales partner in order to establish its own Hamburg-based subsidiary and exploit the important German market beginning on Jan. 1, 2017.
Ruf worked in various internationally active companies in the industry and was a member of the management of Imperial Tobacco and Reemtsma, among others. Most recently, the sales and marketing expert was CEO of Snoke. Ruf is married, the father of two children, and enjoys playing tennis and piano in his spare time.
Jonathan Drew establishes news company with release of three spirits
Jonathan Drew has established a new company, “John Drew Brands,” which will focus on spirits, craft beverages, and food.
Drew pioneered new market segments in the premium cigar industry with brands such as Acid Cigars and Kentucky Fire Cured Cigars. In the past 19 years, he created one of the world’s largest premium cigar companies, Drew Estate. In November 2014, Drew Estate was sold to Swisher International for an undisclosed amount.
President of Drew Estate, Michael Cellucci, commented from Estelí, Nicaragua about the new company, “JD might just be the Bo Jackson of the cigar and spirits industries. His passion and commitment for Drew Estate Cigar Company remains 100 percent intact with no plan to disengage. I have full confidence in his team’s ability to develop a legacy in the spirits world as well. JD is a visionary with an attitude to match, but he doesn’t forget his roots or his people. This is going to be a lot of fun and Jonathan is amped up, so expect a wild ride.”
To continue to follow the developing story of John Drew Brands, visit the new websites for the brands at http://mashdestroyer.com, http://dovetalerum.com, and http://johndrewrye.com. Also, follow John Drew Brands on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook at @johndrewbrands.
Founded in 2015, John Drew Brands is initially focusing on developing rums and whiskey brands, as well as “Second Birth Craft Spirits.” The brand portfolio’s first release includes Brixton Mash Destroyer, Dove Tale Rum, and John Drew Rye.
Villiger Names New CEO; Heinrich Villiger Steps Down After 65 Years at the Helm
Heinrich Villiger, Chairman of the Board of the Villiger Soehne AG hands over his function as CEO of the Villiger Group after 65 years in charge. The new CEO of the Villiger Group is Robert Suter (M.sc. Swiss Instiute of Technology) who has extensive experiences in international Swiss industries. In his last position he successfully acted as Group CEO of Conzzeta AG a Swiss holding company.
“We are very pleased that we were able to hire with Robert Suter a renowned and experiences Swiss manager as CEO for the Villiger Group. Robert Suter has a long and exceptional career as top executive in industrial groups. Among other positions he acted successfully as Group CEO and Chairmen of the Executive Committee at Conzzeta Ltd.” Heinrich Villiger said who will remain Chairman of Villiger Soehne AG and the Villiger Holding.
“It is the right time” emphasizes Heinrich Villiger. For 65 years tobacco was his life as being in charge as entrepreneur of the tobacco group. Heinrich Villiger hands over his responsibility with immediate effect. Starting from March 2016 Robert Suter will take over his new role as CEO. The board of Villiger Soehne Holding AG and Villiger Soehne AG remains unchanged.
This news comes on the heels of Rene Castaneda being named President of Villiger Cigars North America. Robert Suter will work together in tandem with Castaneda as Villiger Cigars North America continues to make big strides in 2016.
AVO Introduces Classic Covers, Volume 3
7 March 2016
Colibri Group Rebuilds U.S. Sales Team
Colibri Group, world-renowned maker of cigar accessories, has appointed David Lampert to Vice President of Sales in the United States. David Lampert will oversee the Company’s day-to-day sales operations and will lead a newly-formed national sales team to service the Company’s wide network of cigar and tobacco retailers and wholesale distributors.
David Lampert joins Colibri Group with 22 years of experience in the tobacco, cigar and cigar accessory industries. He first entered the business in the early 1990s, just before the cigar boom, when he created Premium Cigar Company, a wholesale and private label firm. Over the years, David has successfully represented some of the world’s most popular cigar brands including Rocky Patel and Alec Bradley Cigars. He also serviced tobacco retailers across the mid-western U.S. while representing distributor Arango and Co.
In addition, Colibri Group has named Marty Faust as Distributor and Chain Account Manager. Marty is an industry veteran and had a long successful tenure at Altadis, where he served as Vice President of Premium Cigars, and Regional Sales Manager of Mass Market Cigars. Marty’s many years of experience and deep-rooted relationships within the industry are a great complement to David and the new team.
4 March 2016
Nat Sherman Releases Three New Vitolas
Nat Sherman is adding three new vitolas to the Nat Sherman Panamericana line of cigars bringing the total number of facings of the Panamericana blend to seven. The three new sizes, the Robustico (4” x 54), Belicoso Fino (5.5” x 52), and Gordo (6” x 60), will be packed in the same 10-count boxes as their predecessors and priced in the $10-$12 range, in keeping with the rest of the line. This announcement comes in anticipation of the 48th Annual Tobacconists Association of America (TAA) Convention & Tradeshow in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico on March 6. There will be a limited number of samples available to member retailers during the tradeshow. Initially launched in 2014 as an exclusive product available only at the Nat Sherman Townhouse, the company’s flagship store in New York City, the Nat Sherman Panamericana became exclusively available at TAA member retailers throughout the United States as of last year.
“The Panamericana is a very exciting blend that we felt strongly about debuting in very traditional sizes,” said Michael Herklots, Vice President of Retail and Brand Development at Nat Sherman. “However, after working closely with our retail partners over the past year, and listening to their feedback, it was clear we needed to offer these more current and popular formats as well.”
The Nat Sherman Panamericana is a full-bodied blend of aged tobaccos from Costa Rica and Nicaragua, with a Nicaraguan binder and an Ecuador Sumatra wrapper. The cigar line, a TAA Exclusive Series Product (ESP), is manufactured in Esteli, Nicaragua, by the Plasencia Family.
17 February 2016
Arango Cigar Co. Now Distributing Miramar Cigarillos by J. Cortès Cigars
Arango Cigar Co., a national distributor of tobacco products, is now the exclusive U.S. importer/distributor for Miramar Cigarillos. They are classified as “little cigars,” and are made by J. Cortès Cigars of Belgium. Miramar Cigarillos were formerly distributed by Swisher International, Inc., but are now available only from Arango.
Arango President Michael Gold states, “Miramar Cigarillos are presented in Vanilla, Chocolate and Espresso flavors, as well as Natural. The blend features select tobaccos from Honduras, Sumatra, Java, Brazil, the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. The smoking experience is a mild, creamy complexity seldom found in cigarillos. Their 3-1/4″ x 20 size makes Miramar Cigarillos a perfect short, but satisfying smoke, for both long-time and new smokers.”
Miramar Cigarillos come packed ten to a metal tin, and can be found in a counter-top display at tobacco retailers.
17 February 2016
General Cigar Returns Punch Rare Corojo
General Cigar announces that Punch Rare Corojo has begun making its annual return to retail. The seasonal collection welcomes a new, limited edition frontmark, while one of its original sizes will be retired this year.
The 2016 release of Punch Rare Corojo marks the addition of Regalias Perfecto, a 7.25” x 54 perfecto, available exclusively as part of a trade offer. Regalias Perfecto will be packaged in a sleek wooden box containing 10 cigars and will sell for an SRP of $7.99 per cigar.
The Double Corona size (6.75” x 48) will retire this year, once the limited allotment of this vitola has been depleted.
Punch Rare Corojo is handcrafted in Honduras and features a lustrous Sumatra wrapper cultivated in the mountains of Ecuador. Grown only in limited quantity, these rare, reddish leaves give Punch Rare Corojo its uniquely smooth taste. Bound with hearty Connecticut Broadleaf, the blend features a spicy blend of Nicaraguan, Honduran and Dominican tobacco for a uniquely-flavored, complex smoking experience.
Ed McKenna, senior brand manager for General Cigar’s Punch brand said, “The trend of seasonal cigars started with Punch Rare Corojo, and each year, cigar lovers eagerly anticipate the return of this exceptional blend. Given the range of frontmarks and the addition of Regalias Perfecto to this year’s lineup, we are confident that the limited supply of Punch Rare Corojo will be depleted quickly.”
Reintroduced in 2001 after a shortage of wrapper leaves caused the product to disappear at retail for several years, Punch Rare Corojo sold out as quickly as it returned that year. Since then, General Cigar has been able to secure a sufficient amount of the rare Ecuadoran Sumatra wrapper for a limited annual release of Punch Rare Corojo. This year’s allotment is available in nine sizes, ranging in SRP from $4.19 to $8.29 per cigar.
3 February 2016
Villiger Cigars North America appoints Rene Castaneda as new president
Rene Castaneda has been hired as the new president for Villiger Cigars North America. He will oversee all aspects of operations in the United States, including sales and marketing. Castaneda will work with Villiger Cigars North America’s managing director, Michael Blumendeller, in implementing the company’s plans for restructuring.
Castaneda has had an impressive career in the premium cigar industry where he was previously the vice president of sales & marketing for Miami Cigar & Company. Most recently, he held the same position for the Orleans Group International and spearheaded the Dram Cigars for Whiskey campaign. Castaneda is an Industrial Engineer with extensive knowledge in operations, distribution, logistics and inventory management.
The hiring of Castaneda is one of the many changes occurring at Villiger Cigars North America, which includes moving the company’s headquarters to Miami. One of many announcements in the near future will include changes in the Villiger Cigars North America portfolio which will encompass new premium cigar brands.
1 February 2016
Drew Estate becomes exclusive U.S. distributor for Debonaire House and Indian Motorcycle Cigars
Drew Estate plans to become the Exclusive U.S. Distributor for Debonaire House and Indian Motorcycle Cigars. Both brands are produced in the Dominican Republic under the leadership of Philip S. Zanghi III, a long-time tobacco industry veteran.
Drew Estate adds Debonaire and Indian Motorcycle cigars to their already impressive list of partner brands, which includes Joya de Nicaragua, Royal Agio, and Tsuge Pipe Co. Debonaire Ultra Premium Cigars will now be available to a limited number of retail tobacconist accounts, including Drew Diplomat Retailer Program accounts, while Indian Motorcycle cigars will be available to all Drew Estate accounts. Availability will begin in early Q2 of 2016.
When asked about the strategic partnership, Jonathan Drew, Drew Estate Founder, stated that, “Phil Zanghi has been a dear personal friend of mine for two decades. When I permanently moved to Nicaragua in 1998, I wasn’t speaking no fancy languages like Spanish, so Phil helped keep me sane, as we scuttled back and forth between Nica & Honduras. He’s been a psychological & spiritual Drew Estate booster from our beginnings. Phil is old school and has been a presence in the Central American & Caribbean tobacco worlds forever. I love the guy like a brother and feel blessed to finally be working together. We gonna keep it real, indeed. #LetsDoitTogetherJD”
Philip Zanghi, founder of Debonaire House, said that, “Our cigars are the culmination of 20 years of personal research, and the final products are what I consider to be some of the finest premium cigars on the market today. This includes the ultra premium Debonaire brand, where I spared no expense to deliver a one-of-a-kind experience. We incorporate the finest, darkest, air cured tobacco from the most superior tobacco crops of Central America and the Dominican Republic. I’m flattered and honored to be considered by such a top rate outfit as Drew Estate. I want to tell everyone that, with Drew Estate and Debonaire together, we’ll be bringing exceptional new products into the market as one team.”
Michael Cellucci, President of Drew Estate, commented from Miami: “Drew Estate is globally known for its extremely diverse product mix and manufacturing reputation, but it’s the incredible cast of characters that truly distinguishes us and adds so much texture to our robust, mosaic culture. The strategic partnership with Debonaire reinforces this spirit, as Phil Zanghi is a real deal industry vet with sincere passion for tobacco and life. He’s a great fit. This collaboration is truly exciting for me personally, and will add to the complete Drew Estate experience. Just walk up to him at an event and introduce yourself. You will definitely understand why we love him.”
The Debonaire Ultra Premium Cigars line includes five regular production sizes including the First Degree (4 x 44), Sagita Petite Lancero (5.5 x 38), Robusto (5.25 x 50), Toro (6 x 54), and Belicosos (6 x 54). All sizes are available in two wrapper configurations, Nicaraguan Habano or Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro. The Indian Motorcycle Cigars line includes four sizes, which includes a Robusto (5 x 50), Toro (6 x 52), Gordo (6 x 58), and Churchill (7 1/2 x 50). All sizes are available in a Habano or Maduro wrapper.
1 February 2016
Somoza promoted to U.S. Director of Operations for A.J. Fernandez Cigars
A.J. Fernandez Cigars has announced that Enrique “Ricky” Somoza will now oversee operations in the U.S. Somoza has relocated to Miami from Estelí, Nicaragua, where he was production manager at the Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua Factory , since 2013.
Born and raised in Miami, Somoza attended Florida International University with a focus in Political Science, and eventually turned his sights on his family’s passion, tobacco. After meeting A.J. Fernandez on a trip to Nicaragua, they became fast friends, and Somoza soon became the factory’s production manager.
26 January 2016
Legendary retailer Diana Silvius Gits passes away
Diana Silvius Gits, former owner of Chicago’s Up Down Cigar and the Retail Tobacco Dealers of America’s first female president, passed away peacefully in her Old Town, Chicago, home on Jan. 22. She was 81 years old.
Born in Detroit, Michigan, on July 28, 1934, Silvius Gits attended Cass Technical High School and Michigan State University and pursued graduate degrees at Mexico City College, Wayne State University, Michigan State University and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. A talented artist, Silvius Gits was an art instructor at University Liggett School and received many awards for her art, including a Ford Foundation grant.
She married Gerald B. Gits in 1958. The couple were married for 36 years and had four children—Linda, Jeanine, Matilda and Diana Johanna. In 1963, the couple opened the Gerald Bernard Art Gallery, which displayed and sold artwork, as well as a small selection of cigars and accessories. The gallery eventually became Up Down Cigar, which remains in business in Chicago’s Old Town neighborhood.
An active member of the premium cigar industry, Silvius Gits was a fixture at trade association meetings, where she was easily identified, always wearing a smile and her trademark dark, oversized glasses, and almost always enjoying a cigar. An industry innovator, Silvius Gits championed all aspects of the premium tobacco industry, including pipes and pipe tobacco, as well as cigars and accessories. In 1990, she commissioned the Fuente family to make her own cigar, Diana Silvius. The Diana Silvius Maduro Robusto is still available at Up Down Cigar. In 1991, Silvius Gits was elected president of the Retail Tobacco Dealers of America, predecessor to the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association. In more than 50 years in the premium tobacco industry, Silvius Gits and Up Down Cigar received numerous industry awards.
Silvius Gits is predeceased by Gerald, Jeanine and Diana Johanna. She is survived by daughters Linda Cecile Gits and Matilda Josephine Gits, three grandchildren—James David Dattalo, Michael Patrick Gilding and Stephen James Gilding—and 30 nieces and nephews.
A funeral will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 27, in Chicago.
Memorial contributions may be made to:
Iowa State University Foundation for the Silvius-Wolansky Graduate Fellowship Fund
2505 University Blvd.
Ames, IA 50010
College of Education
P.O. Box 210069
Tucson, AZ 85721
Attn: Development office
26 January 2016
Room101 to Launch Extension of Payback Series
Room101, the Los Angeles based luxury lifestyle brand owned by Matt Booth, has announced a new extension to its best-selling franchise, the new Room101 Big Payback Connecticut. The Big Payback first launched as a Nicaraguan Puro in May 2014.
The new Room101 Big Payback Connecticut will begin shipping nationwide on February 22. In line with the original launch of Room101 Big Payback, the new series will be available in three formats: Chavala (50 x 5), Hueso (60 x 6) and a 70 x 7.
The mild-to-medium blend is comprised of tobaccos from three different countries; a Connecticut wrapper from Ecuador, binder from Mexico and filler tobacco from three growing regions in the Dominican Republic.
The new Room101 Big Payback Connecticut will be adorned in white and gold branding with packaging similar to the original Big Payback line. In addition of 30 and 50 count boxes, Room101 will also make available limited quantities of 10 count boxes.
25 January 2016
PIO Releases 20th Anniversary Vitola
As part of their ongoing 20th Anniversary celebration, PIO Cigar Company launches the Diadema vitola.
“This classic, elegant shape embodies the knowledge, passion, and dedication of PIO cigars to provide the ultimate enjoyment to our patrons,” writes Alberto Medina, owner of PIO Cigar Company. “This unique 7 x 54 jewel will satisfy the most demanding palates with a combination of excellent draw, combustion, and enhancement of flavors. Thanks for being part of this exclusive birthday celebration.”
PIO Cigar Company
18 January 2016
Michael Rubish Joins Daughters & Ryan, Inc. as National Sales Director
Michael Rubish is the new National Sales Director for Daughters & Ryan, Inc., joining the corporate office located in Kenly, North Carolina. Mike brings many years of sales experience in the pipe, cigar, and tobacco industry. Mike comes to D&R from Savinelli USA where he pioneered the start of their cigar brands, and made Savinelli one of the top selling pipe brands in America.
“Mike universally positioned Savinelli in brick and mortar stores all across the United States” says Mark Ryan, President of D&R Tobacco. “We believe Mike will fit in perfectly with D&R and be a vital asset as we continue to grow and expand our customer base.”
Prior to Savinelli, Mike was an account executive at Speccomm International, publisher of Pipes & Tobacco and Tobacconist magazines. He joined Speccomm just as Pipes & Tobacco was starting and was key in developing the advertiser base that helped to anchor P&T and Tobacconist.
“This is an exciting time for us at Daughters & Ryan with the introduction of our 1881 Perique premium cigars,” says Mike. “I look forward to a great 2016 selling season.”
8 January 2016
Davidoff Introduces Limited Edition ‘The Raconteur’
Davidoff is proud to announce ‘The Raconteur’, a new limited edition of Gran Toro cigars. Inspired by the world’s most iconic cigar aficionado, Sir Winston Churchill, and named after an aspect of his personality as a master wordsmith. The cigars will celebrate some of his most renowned and memorable sayings.
“When talking to his great-grandson, Randolph Churchill, I discovered that Sir Winston had written as much as Shakespeare and Dickens put together,” says Charles Awad, Senior Vice President of Global Marketing & Innovation at Oettinger Davidoff AG. “This limited edition honours one of the most dazzling raconteurs and prolific writers the world has ever known. As you unwrap these exceptionally complex cigars and discover the ‘bon mots’, we know you will savor them and that Sir Winston himself would appreciate the undoubted contribution his words will make towards the ensuing conversation.”
On their second ring, each cigar will carry one of Sir Winston’s quotes. Sir Winston’s quotes were born out of his laser sharp powers of observation and his matchless ability to craft memorable, inspirational and witty sentences.
The Raconteur is an extraordinarily complex Gran Toro cigar that harmonises the tobaccos of Nicaragua, Mexico, Ecuador and the Dominican Republic. It has a lovely shiny and oily Habano Ecuador wrapper. Nutty flavors give way to an instant creaminess that imbues the cigar until the very end. The intense, complex aroma, the roasted notes and hints of pepper, oakwood and leather echo the other Winston Churchill cigars, but this cigar has more intensity of flavour. The delicious concentration of flavor and aroma lasts the whole way through thanks to the 56 ring gauge and the Piloto Visus. An exceptional cigar with a complex character driven by the unique 15-year-old San Vicente Ligero tobacco blended with spicy Nicaraguan Esteli and sweet/aromatic Nicaraguan Condega tobaccos.
Only 6,000 wooden boxes, each containing ten cigars with a different quote, have been crafted in an elegant white design, carefully chosen to showcase the iconic silhouette of Sir Winston Churchill. After its launch in the U.S. in January, Davidoff’s new Raconteur range will also be available to cigar aficionados at Davidoff Depositaires and Davidoff Flagship Stores worldwide from February/March 2016.
14 December 2015
Nat Sherman releases Heritage humidor collection
Nat Sherman’s Heritage humidors are handcrafted, made in collaboration with world-class humidor maker Daniel Marshall. They are available in three classic exterior finishes including Macassar, Burl and Rosewood The limited production collection of humidors are available exclusively at the Nat Sherman Townhouse in New York and at select retailers nationwide.
The Nat Sherman Heritage Humidors embrace some of the most traditional humidor manufacturing styles of the early 20th century, while incorporating a more innovative humidification system. The humidors are handmade in Santa Ana, California, under the careful watch of humidor master Daniel Marshall. Each humidor is lined in milk-glass, a popular humidor lining material from the Prohibition Era.
Offering a non-porous, non-aromatic environment with an impenetrable seal, the Nat Sherman humidors provide ideal conditions for cigars, while preventing any foreign odors or flavors from being absorbed by the tobacco during the aging process. Each humidor features two movable dividers. Humidity is created and maintained using three Boveda-60 gram two-way humidity control packs that are included with the humidor.
Nat Sherman Heritage humidors are made in extremely limited quantities and are 14-inches by 10-inches by 5 ½-inches. All humidors have a matte finish, with no visible exterior hardware. They retail at $2,300.
18 November 2015
General Cigar Names New President
There’s new leadership at General Cigar Company. Parent company Scandinavian Tobacco Group (STG) has appointed Regis Broersma as president of General Cigar. Broersma succeeds Dan Carr, who is leaving the company after serving five years as General Cigar’s president.
Broersma is 38 years old. The Dutch national has a comprehensive international background in sales, marketing and general management, with stints in the Netherlands, Czech Republic, Denmark, United Kingdom and the United States. Before accepting the role of president of General Cigar, Broersma served as Managing Director of STG Germany. He has worked in the cigar industry since 2002.
STG has also appointed Craig Reynolds as executive vice president of its entire global handmade cigar business. Reynolds will oversee General Cigar and Cigars International, while remaining president of Cigars International.
Niels Frederiksen, CEO of Scandinavian Tobacco Group, comments on the appointments: “I am happy to announce Regis Broersma [as] new President of General Cigar. Regis has the experience and the innovative approach needed to continue the impressive development of General Cigar together with its management team. Our handmade cigar business accounts for 25 [percent] of our net sales and is a growth engine of our business. We want to reinforce this development by adding executive management capacity for the entire handmade business globally.”
General Cigar holds a leading market position and has a strong offering in the US market for handmade premium cigars, with brands like Macanudo, La Gloria Cubana, Cohiba, C.A.O. and Punch. Cigars International is a leading online retailer and a direct marketer in the premium cigars and pipe tobacco segment. General Cigar and Cigars International will continue to be run as two separate, stand-alone businesses.
17 November 2015
CAA Names Estades Chairman
Javier Estades, head of premium cigar manufacturer and marketer Tabacalera USA, has been elected chairman of the Cigar Association of America, Inc. CAA is a national trade organization of cigar manufacturers, importers and distributors as well as major suppliers to the industry.
Estades was elected chairman at the organization’s recent annual conference in Palm Beach, Fla. Originally established in New York City in 1937 as Cigar Manufacturers of America, CAA’s roots date to predecessor organizations prior to 1900.
As the head of Tabacalera USA, which is part of Imperial Tobacco Group, Estades oversees the Fort Lauderdale-based premium cigar division of Altadis U.S.A., the manufacturer and marketer of such classic hand-made cigars as Montecristo, Romeo y Julieta and VegaFina. He also is responsible for the North Carolina-based 800-JR Cigar and its affiliates. JR Cigar is one of the nation’s largest premium cigar wholesale and retail businesses, featuring retail stores, upscale cigar lounges and a major online business.
Estades joined Imperial’s premium cigar operations in the U.S. in 2011. In addition to his work at Imperial, Estades has worked with such fast-moving consumer goods companies as HJ Heinz and Bristol Myers-Squibb.
13 November 2015
Seminar lineup set for 2016 NATO Show
The National Association of Tobacco Outlets (NATO) has finalized its educational program for the 2016 NATO Show, which will occur April 20–21 at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. Sessions will be held in a town hall format to give all attendees the opportunity to hear the important topics and benefit from the lineup of top industry speakers. A complete list of the sessions and speakers is available at natoshow.com.
NATO’s executive director, Thomas Briant, described the educational program as a reflection of the entire industry. “This year’s educational programs cover all aspects of the industry. In response to the comments from previous years, we have created a town hall session, so that in most cases, everyone can hear the important information. No one will have to make a choice of which sessions to attend. Because we recognize the importance of this, the entire program is free to registered attendees and exhibitors.”
The 2016 program focuses heavily on trends for the cigarette, cigar, OTP and vapor categories. “With the addition of our Premium Cigar Pavilion, NATO will highlight two sessions dedicated to cigars—one to premium cigars and a second on domestic cigars,” Briant explained. “The cigar market is growing, and we want to be sure all our buyers are prepared, from tobacconists and traditional smoke shops to convenience stores.”
The final town hall session will feature Mitch Zeller, the Food & Drug Administration’s (FDA) director of the Center for Tobacco Products, joining industry leaders in a candid dialogue on FDA tobacco regulations.
26 October 2015
S.T. Dupont releases limited edition James Bond lighter, pen
S.T. Dupont is celebrating the return to the big screen of the world’s most famous spy, James Bond, with a new limited edition collection. The Spectre Limited Edition, which draws its inspiration from Bond’s famous gun barrel, one of the most iconic images from the 007 films.
The Spectre lighter is covered with a delicate guilloché surface and a finish wavering between matte and polished. The lighter is available in two finishes: black with a satin guilloché and palladium.
The Spectre Premium writing instrument, with its design based on the Ligne D model, rolls perfectly between the fingers. Its infinitely precise guilloché metal body and cap gives it an almost velvety feel. The writing instruments are available in two finishes, black and palladium in three versions: fountain, roller ball or ballpoint.
Both the Spectre Premium lighters and writing instruments have a compartment that provides a place to insert personal messages. In reference to the year that Spectre first appeared in a Bond movie, From Russia with Love, the collection is limited to 1963 per item.
The Spectre gift box Collector’s set is finished in polished black lacquered and features a combination lock. It holds the fountain and ballpoint pens, along with a small adaptable roller nib, as well as the guilloché lighter with its bullet holed cored. Limited to an exclusive run of 150 gift boxes in both palladium and black. The inside of the gift box features a numbered plate embossed with 007 and Spectre logos.
The Spectre Limited Edition collection is available at select retailers.
13 October 2015
CAO sponsors Operation Surf Program for wounded soldiers
CAO cigars will donate a portion of the proceeds from its small batch cigar called CAO Honor to the Amazing Surf Adventures (ASA) Operation Surf program benefiting wounded soldiers.
CAO’s donation will support ASA’s 13th Operation Surf event which will be held starting today through October 19, 2015. Twenty four wounded active-duty and veteran heroes from various branches of the U.S. military and the United Kingdom will take part in the program led by Van Curaza and a team of world class surfers and instructors.
Ed McKenna, senior brand manager for CAO Cigars said, “Over the past several years, we’ve been involved with Operation Surf in small ways, and we wanted to make a push to help out in a much bigger way via CAO Honor. The work that the folks at Operation Surf do in helping wounded heroes cope with physical injuries and PTSD through surfing is incredibly impactful, and we are proud to contribute.”
“We are grateful to CAO for their support,” said ASA President and Founder Van Curaza. “This donation will provide the funding needed to hold more surf clinics for our active duty military and veteran heroes, thereby allowing us to continue providing a life-changing experience for them, one wave at a time.”
CAO Honor is a limited edition cigar handcrafted in Nicaragua. A bold smoke with pronounced notes of leather and spice, CAO Honor is available in the U.S. The limited edition release comes packaged in a 14-count box and sells for $8.50 apiece at retail, or $119 for a box.
Working with the Brooke Army Medical Center, Help for Heroes and the EOD Warrior Foundation, ASA provides brave men and women the opportunity to experience adaptive rehabilitative and recreational recovery through surfing, camaraderie and an unforgettable experience. The seven-day event includes five days of surf instruction.
10 October 2015
La Aurora and Padilla Cigars agree to settlement concerning logo
La Aurora and Padilla Cigars have reached an amicable agreement concerning an issue regarding the use of a lion logo. La Aurora will allow Padilla Cigars to use an alternate version of its current lion logo, and Padilla Cigars has agreed to abandon an existing United States trademark registration with La Aurora’s consent.
La Aurora, owned by the Leon (“lion” in Spanish) family since 1903, has used the iconic lion for its La Aurora, Leon Jimenes, Family Reserve and Untamed products since 1926, and American consumers relate the symbol of the lion with La Aurora. Thus, La Aurora claims ownership of the lion as a symbol of its brands.
Padilla Cigars may now use an abstract lion to prevent consumer confusion. Padilla Cigars may sell its remaining inventory of nontobacco materials using its old logo with the commitment that it will not revert to its old design.
6 October 2015
Montecristo Social Club hits the road
In September, Altadis U.S.A. took its Montecristo Social Club to Atlanta, Georgia, for an event at Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse.
Sixty cigar enthusiasts attended the Montecristo Social Club and Cocktail Hour hosted by Altadis U.S.A.’s Larry Palombo, the company’s Vice President of Tobacco who has more than 40 years in the tobacco business. Attendees witnessed a cigar rolling demonstration and they got the chance to smoke the Montecristo White Vintage Connecticut cigar.
Palombo presented a lecture about crafting premium cigars, from harvesting the first seeds to packaging the hand-rolled cigars. Afterward, Palombo visited with guests and participated in a question-and-answer session about tobacco and premium cigars.
There will be more Montecristo Social Club events in the future.
Montecristo Social Club
23 September 2015
Cigar Family Celebration registration now open
Registration for the 2016 Cigar Family Celebration opened on Sept. 1. The event, which will occur on Feb. 16-19, allows attendees to spend three days in the Dominican Republic and enjoy a tour of the Tabacalera A. Fuente factory and Chateau de la Fuente tobacco fields as well as a visit with the students attending the Cigar Family School.
Registration costs $395 and includes all activities and transportation, some meals and cocktails and a wide assortment of Arturo Fuente and J.C. Newman cigars. Registration does not include airfare or hotel and guests are responsible for booking these separately. A hotel block has been reserved at Blue Jack Tar Resort in Puerto Plata.
Cigar Family Celebration
17 September 2015
Scandinavian Tobacco Launches Limited Edition Pipe Tobacco
Scandinavian Tobacco Group introduced their limited edition W.Ø. Larsen Hand Pressed to the industry today. W.Ø. Larsen Hand Pressed is one of the most expensive pipe tobacco products on the market, and the first tobacco of its kind to be produced using traditional techniques. By recreating the hand press, Master Blender Lasse Berg fused 21 unique, high quality tobaccos with the wild aromas of sweetgale leaves, handpicked from the moors of Denmark. This exclusive pipe tobacco will be sold in hand-crafted humidors, only 200 of which are available to the public at a retail price of roughly €900 per kg ($1,018).
“W.Ø. Larsen is well known among pipe tobacco aficionados as a unique brand with a long history,” says Group Executive Vice President Christian Hother Sørensen. “Every year, W.Ø. Larsen creates a new and exciting premium quality blend for pipe tobacco lovers around the world. Given that W.Ø. Larsen Hand Pressed is one of the most expensive pipe tobaccos on the market, it is setting a new standard with a luxury product that sophisticated pipe connoisseurs can appreciate.”
Scandinavian Tobacco Group
14 September 2015
Drew Estate Announces Six New Exclusive Sizes For The Drew Estate Lounge at Corona Cigar
Drew Estate has announced plans to release six new exclusive sizes for the Drew Estate Lounge at Corona Cigar Company’s Sand Lake, Florida, beginning this month. The new sizes include vitolas in the Herrera Estelí, Liga Privada No. 9, Undercrown, Natural, and Tabak Especial brand families.
The new sizes are all presented in a 6 X 50 vitola, with three of the sizes featuring a soft press and the three remaining sizes featuring a square box press. The details pertaining to each blend are below:
- Tabak Especial Negra (Soft Press) Exclusively for Drew Estate Lounge at Corona Cigar
- Tabak Especial Dulce (Soft Press) Exclusively for Drew Estate Lounge at Corona Cigar
- Natural (Soft Press) Exclusively for Drew Estate Lounge at Corona Cigar
- Herrera Esteli (Box Press) Exclusively for Drew Estate Lounge at Corona Cigar
- Liga Privada No. 9 (Box Press) Exclusively for Drew Estate Lounge at Corona Cigar
- Undercrown (Box Press) Exclusively for Drew Estate Lounge at Corona Cigar
When asked about the new vitolas, Jeff Borysiewicz, owner of Corona Cigar Company, stated: “The introduction of the world’s first Drew Estate Lounge has been a rousing success at Corona Cigar. We have a large contingent of diehard Drew Estate fans among our customer base and the addition of the new Drew Estate Lounge has caused quite a bit of excitement around the shop. These exciting new offerings from Drew Estate will add another dimension to the cigar smoking experience in Corona’s Drew Estate Lounge and guaranteed to excite our customers. We can’t wait to receive the first shipment this week!”
Drew Estate President Michael Cellucci commented, “Jeff and Corona Cigar Company have been a long-time ally and business partner with Drew Estate. We’re proud to call Corona Cigar home to the first ever Drew Estate Lounge, and we’re looking forward to Corona Cigar’s consumers trying these exclusive new sizes.”
08 September 2015
IPCPR announces hiring of new Exhibit/Sponsorship Manager
The International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers (IPCPR) announce that Mark Mann will joining the staff as Exhibit and Sponsorship Account Manager. He will assume the responsibility for the sales and servicing of exhibitors and sponsors participating in IPCPR’s annual trade show and convention.
“We are thrilled to have a professional of Mark’s caliber joining the staff team that serves the premium cigar and pipe industry,” says Mark Pursell, IPCPR’s CEO. “He brings a wealth of experience managing the trade show floor and providing exhibitors with world class service. For the past 15 years, Mark has worked to produce trade shows and events all over the United States. More importantly, he comes to IPCPR with a customer-centric approach and a desire to be part of a team dedicated to a great industry.”
Jeff Moran, IPCPR Member Services Manager/Booth Sales Coordinator, will be retiring at the end of October. “Jeff has served IPCPR and the industry with integrity and diligence for nearly ten years”, notes IPCPR Membership & Trade Show Committee Chairman, Scott Regina of Emerson’s Cigars, Virginia Beach, Virginia. “It’s great that Mark Mann will have the benefit of Jeff’s institutional knowledge and advice over the next two months.”
Mark Mann resides in the Washington, DC area and will soon be joining the IPCPR staff as they await the completion of the new headquarters building located on Capitol Hill. Mark will report to Dawn Conger, Senior Director of Associate Member Relations.
02 September 2015
Drew Estate to release new Kentucky Fire Cured Fightn’ 69th cigar
Drew Estate announced the release of their new Kentucky Fire Cured Fightn’ 69th today. The new cigar is being produced exclusively for Alliance Cigar in Hauppauge, NY.
The new Fightn’ 69th is based upon the popular Kentucky Fire Cured blend, featuring Kentucky seed tobacco, grown and fire cured in Kentucky. The new size is a 5 ½ x 52 parejo that will be presented in the typical Soft Pack 10 packaging the Kentucky Fire Cured line is known for.
When asked about the new cigar, Alliance Cigar CEO and Founder Tom Sullivan stated that, “We are honored to have been given this opportunity by our friends at Drew Estate. I’ve worked with Kentucky Fired Cured tobaccos for many years but never in conjunction with a premium cigar. Jonathan and his team have shown once again that their creativity and ability to create new and innovative products is second to none.”
Jonathan Drew, Drew Estate Founder, added, “Everyone knows that DE is a pioneer and brand champion for the FIRE CURED segment of cigars. What people may not know is just how special the new Fighting’ 69th is to DE as a company. The Fightn’ 69th KFCC size was created for one of the company’s closest friends and mentors, Tommy Sullivan, so we had to make sure that it blows people’s minds when they smoke it. The Fightn’ 69th is like a fire cured explosion of taste and aroma. It’s Fire Cured beyond the acceptable limits!”
The Fightn’ 69th will begin shipping in October 2015 and will have an MSRP of $74.95 per Soft Pack 10. The cigar will be available to retail accounts exclusively via Alliance Cigar’s distribution network.
27 August 2015
Davidoff Golden Band Awards
[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”5″ gal_title=”Davidoff Gold Band”]
26 August 2015
S.T. Dupont Celebrates 20 Years of Opus X with Art of Fire Collection
Carlito Fuente had a vision of what he wanted for the celebration of 20 years of Opus X. Fuente worked with Manny Iriate to create artwork depicting the history of the family. The result of a year’s collaboration paid off as the collection of James Michael and S.T.Dupont cigar accessories were debuted at IPCPR.
The S.T. Dupont Line 2 lighter with a cigar burner is adorned with design and engraving on all sides of the lighter. The S.T. Dupont black lacquer or red lacquer and gold plated piece is a limited edition of only four hundred pieces per color. Each piece is individually numbered along with a gold plated plaque presented in a custom designed high gloss wooden lacquer box. There is also a custom roller ball of red lacquer and gold plate as well as a leather belt with custom buckle to complete the selection.
For the true Opus X aficionado Michael Reynolds, President of James Michael/Lotus International, had Dupont work with II Saints to sculpt a bronze Line 2 lighter that shows the Old Havana balcony from the family’s Cuba days through today in Tampa, Florida. This piece is limited to ten pieces.
There are also 3 Maxi Jets and 1 Cutter set being offered with Manny Iriate’s amazing artwork on the front and back of the lighter and cutter. Each set is packed with a Fuente embossed genuine black leather pouch in a unique presentation box. All accessories compliment the James Michael collection.
13 August 2015
New Montecristo pays homage to Connecticut
For generations, Connecticut shade wrapper has been highly sought-after by the world’s finest cigar makers. The leaves are grown in the sandy loam, unique to the Connecticut River Valley, under special tenting that filters the sun and elevates humidity to ideal levels. These conditions culminate in leaves that are prized for their silky texture, golden appearance, delicate flavor and flawless burn. The very finest of these leaves are carefully nurtured on Montecristo’s company farms and are reserved for Montecristo cigars.
Montecristo White Vintage Connecticut cigars marries the subtle nuances of a vintage 2008 Connecticut shade wrapper with a Nicaraguan binder and Dominican, Nicaraguan and Peruvian filler tobaccos to create a rich, flavorful and complex smoke.
Montecristo White Vintage Connecticut cigars are available in three sizes: No. 2 Belicoso (5 1/2 x 44), No. 3 (6 x 50) and Double Corona (6 1/4 x 50).
07 August 2015
NATO Show Releases New Website
The National Association of Tobacco Outlets (NATO) has launched its 2016 NATO Show website, NATOShow.com. “The NATO Show website has been updated with new navigation and backgrounds, making it easier for our members, exhibitors, and attendees to find information about the 2016 NATO Show, which will be held [at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas] on April 19-21, 2016,” says Thomas Briant, NATO Executive Director.
The site will be updated with information as it becomes available and it includes presentations from the 2015 show. Manufacturers and suppliers can use the site to apply for 2016 exhibit space. Registration for the 2016 NATO Show and the networking events will be available on the site as well.
31 July 2015
Gurkha Creates First Lancero-sized Cigar
Gurkha Cigars has created their first Lancero-sized cigar in The Classic Cigar: Havana Blend. “Gurkha Cigars has a reputation for out-of-the-box thinking,” said National Sales Manager Juan Lopez. “We follow the market closely and listen to what consumers and our clientele are asking for. The Classic Cigar: Havana Blend Lancero fulfills that demand.”
The Classic Cigar: Havana Blend, created by Lopez and CEO Kaizad Hansotia, is part of the company’s East India Trading Company line. “After a few years of searching for the right wrapper and combination of tobaccos, we created this beautiful Nicaraguan masterpiece,” said Hansotia. It has a Mexican San Andres wrapper over Nicaraguan binder and fillers. It’s medium bodied and full flavored with earthy, nutty undertones. It retails for $8.
“You can really taste the San Andres wrapper,” said Lopez. “The Classic Cigar: Havana Blend is a cigar worthy of its name. And it has already received a rating of 93! We are very proud at how well this cigar has been received and also at how well our entire East India Trading Company line has grown.”
In creating the East India line Hansotia added, “The goal at Gurkha is to always to make a cigar for every palate without sacrificing quality. We want every consumer satisfied with what he or she finds when smoking a Gurkha cigar.”
22 July 2015
Daniel Marshall Reveals ‘Terminator Genisys’ Humidor at IPCPR Show
A Special Edition Terminator Genisys Humidor was unveiled at the Daniel Marshall Booth #11907 during the International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers Convention (IPCPR), July 17-20 in New Orleans.
The humidor was designed in collaboration with Arnold Schwarzenegger to celebrate the release of his latest movie, Terminator Genisys, released in theaters July 1. Schwarzenegger came up with the idea to use the Endoskeleton Skull made by Legacy Studios on the humidor during Marshall’s visit to the set last year. Legacy Studios is the famous special effects house that created the first Terminator in 1983.
A total of 10 humidors will be available for sale to the public. Proceeds from the sale of this special edition humidor will benefit After-School All-Stars (ASAS) Charity, founded by Schwarzenegger to provide comprehensive after-school programs that keep children safe and help them succeed in school and life.
13 July 2015
Drew Estate Unveils ‘Undercrown Shade’
Drew Estate announced today that they are launching a new line extension to their Undercrown line – “Undercrown Shade”, a Connecticut Shade-wrapped cigar brand that will join the original San Andres-wrapped line. The new “Undercrown Shade” brand will be displayed in Drew Estate’s booth (Booth #15407) at the 2015 IPCPR Tradeshow in New Orleans, Louisiana.
“Undercrown Shade” marks the first release blended by Drew Estate Master Blender Willy Herrera not to fall under the Herrera Estelí brand family. Herrera’s continued involvement in blending and brand development within Drew Estate is evident with this new blend, as Herrera worked extensively with the Undercrown roller team who blended the original Undercrown line to develop this new Connecticut blend.
When asked about the new cigar, Willy Herrera stated that, “since day one, Drew Estate has demonstrated that no premium cigar company better understands its team, and that the heart of the company is the production floor and factory. This is why I chose to work closely with the rollers responsible for the original Undercrown blend, and challenged them to create a Connecticut blend that would satisfy my palate. It was a long road, taking more than a year to develop. In the end, it was a very rewarding process, as finding a Connecticut blend to fit my palate wasn’t easy. We finally found a marriage of Drew Estate’s unique tobaccos that we believe is really special, and we’re excited to share the new blend with everyone at the IPCPR show.”
Featuring an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper, Sumatran binder, as well as Dominican Criollo 98 and Nicaraguan Criollo & Corojo fillers, the new “Undercrown Shade” line will be presented in six vitolas, mirroring the San Andres-wrapped Undercrown core line that you’ve come to love. These sizes include a Belicoso (6 x 52, MSRP$9.00), Corona Doble (7 x 54, MSRP$9.50), Corona (5 5/8 x 46, MSRP$7.50), Gordito (6 x 60, MSRP$9.95), Gran Toro (6 x 52, MSRP $8.25), and Robusto (5 x 54, MSRP $7.75). The new Undercrown Shade will be available in 25-count boxes and most sizes will begin shipping to stores in Fall 2015.The final blend is medium-bodied, lush & ultra-smooth, flavors that only a shade grown wrapper can deliver. And so it is with great bravado that we share “Undercrown Shade”, and the continuing story from our factory floor.
10 July 2015
Colibri to make limited-edition FFOX lighter
Colibri and Arturo Fuente Cigar Company have teamed up to create a limited-edition Fuente Fuente OpusX series of the Colibri Astoria triple-flame cigar lighter. Sales of the lighter will benefit the Cigar Family Charitable Foundation (cf-cf.org).
The limited-edition Colibri Astoria for OpusX is produced in five finishes: black and red; black and gunmetal; black and rose; red and black; and red and gold. The OpusX medallion on the front is fabricated separately, flash-plated in gold and formed to fit into the body of the lighter. On the back, the OpusX logo is laser engraved onto the cutter blade, with the quote “Only Fuente is Fuente” laser engraved onto the blade handle. Each lighter is numbered and ships in a custom luxury gift box. Colibri will produce 250 of each finish for the United States market. They will ship this fall.
9 July 2015
Nat Sherman to release new cigars and accessories at the IPCPR show
Nat Sherman will unveil three new sizes of its Sterling cigars and a collection of new ashtrays and humidors at the IPCPR Annual Convention & International Trade Show, July 17–21 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The company will also display the limited-edition Nat Sherman 85th Anniversary cigar.
Nat Sherman will add the Short Robusto (4 x 52), Robusto (4 3/4 x 50) and Churchill (7 x 48) sizes to its Sterling line. The cigars are made with an Ecuadorean Connecticut wrapper and Dominican binder and filler tobaccos, and are offered in 10-count boxes.
In addition to the new Sterling cigars, Nat Sherman will also display and provide samples of the limited-edition Nat Sherman 85th Anniversary cigar. At 6 1/2 x 54, the 85th Anniversary blends a Dominican wrapper with Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos. The cigars, which became available in June, are limited to 2,500 10-count boxes.
Nat Sherman will also debut a new line of ashtrays and humidors. The Nat Sherman Executive ashtrays are made of okoume and will be available in six finishes, featuring the signature Nat Sherman grid design. With exterior dimensions of 8 1/2 x 8 1/2, the ashtray allows for multiple cigars and features a removable grid for effortless cleaning.
The Nat Sherman Executive humidor offers an elegant, highly functional, low-maintenance humidor perfect for both short- and long-term aging of premium cigars. Available in six finishes: natural mahogany, Macassar ebony, maple, burl, red matte and white matte. The humidors are made of okoume and are lined with Lucite. The oversized desktop humidors have interior measurements of 8 1/2 in x 13 1/2 in x 4 in and exterior dimensions 10 in x 15 in x 6 in.
9 July 2015
Cigar Oasis to launch Smart Humidor brand
In 2014 Cigar Oasis released the Next Generation line of humidifiers along with the Wi-Fi attachment for remote monitoring, control and alerts. This year, the company will launch the Smart Humidor brand at the IPCPR show.
The existing Wi-Fi attachment, Web login and smartphone apps will all be rebranded under the Smart Humidor label. Any humidor equipped with a Cigar Oasis humidifier and Wi-Fi attachment may be labeled Smart Humidor and can be marketed as such by retailers who wish to sell it as a full package. All future Cigar Oasis products in the remote monitoring/control category will be released under the Smart Humidor brand.
In addition to the Smart Humidor brand launch, Cigar Oasis will also be introducing its updated iOS/Android apps and Web login (due to be released Sept. 1). In addition to a complete face-lift, swifter response and more user-friendly functionality, the apps will now share all the features of the Web login, including low-water alert settings and access to the full 18 months of humidity and temperature history.
9 July 2015
Black Label Trading Company Announces Deliverance Nocturne
Black Label Trading Company is pleased to announce the upcoming release of Deliverance Nocturne, handcrafted at Fabrica Oveja Negra in Esteli, Nicaragua. Deliverance Nocturne features a Pennsylvania Broadleaf wrapper and is available in two custom Salomon vitolas (6 ¼ x 36 x 56 and 4 ¾ x 40 x 56). The new cigar will be an addition to the Deliverance line and will be made throughout the year in small batches with additional vitolas being added.
Deliverance Nocturne will debut at the IPCPR show in New Orleans with an estimated ship date of Sept. 19, 2015.
Black Label Trading Company
9 July 2015
IPCPR Legislative Update – U.S. House Appropriations Committee Passes Predicate Date Language
On Wednesday, the U.S. House Appropriations Committee considered the FY 2016 Agriculture Appropriations Bill which passed 29-21. The legislation will now be schedule for consideration on the House Floor. Included in this bill was a provision to make a technical change to the Tobacco Control Act, affecting the regulation of premium cigars, pipe tobacco, and other tobacco products.
When the Tobacco Control Act was passed into law, an arbitrary date of February 15, 2007 was implemented to determine what is considered a new tobacco product. Anything introduced after that date would be subject to a costly pre-market review which could cost manufacturers over $400,000 per cigar blend, size, or shape. For an industry like ours, which heavily relies on seasonal releases and limited editions, the 2007 date would devastate our humidors, with an estimated 85% of products being affected and possibly removed from market.
Language has been included in the Appropriations bill to fix this problem. If signed into law, the “predicate date” would change to date of enactment for any new regulation on a tobacco product. As FDA continues to consider regulation of premium cigars and pipe tobacco, the date of implementation remains critically important. With the clarified language, any product released after this date is subject to pre-market review, but any product on the market prior, would be grandfathered in as a “substantially equivalent” product. Though a misguided amendment was offered to strip this language from the bill, it was defeated by a vote of 23-26.
IPCPR continues to urge FDA and the White House to exempt premium cigars from regulation by adopting “Option 2” in the proposed regulation. We support the Appropriations Committee effort and hope the U.S. House will pass this legislation. If you have any questions, please contact our Senior Director of Federal Legislative Affairs, Kip Talley, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
7 July 2015
Acme Cigar – Old Brand, New Style
Acme Cigar Company announces the launch of the company and its three new lines: Acme Premier Ecuador, Acme Premier San Andres and Acme Route 66. The company and its new lines will be at the IPCPR Annual Convention & International Trade Show in New Orleans July 17–21 (Booths 12225 and 12226).
The name Acme Cigar Company comes from an old U.S. brand that was established in the late 19th century. The idea was to reinvent an old tradition for modern tastes.
The cigars are being made at Nicaragua’s second-oldest factory and one of the nation’s largest operations, Nicaraguan American Cigars SA (NACSA), which was founded by legendary cigar maker Frank Llaneza. The tobaccos come from Oliva Tobacco Company, which has been in tobacco since 1934 and growing its own tobacco for cigars since 1959. The company owns one farm in Nicaragua and four farms in Ecuador and contracts many other growers who work exclusively for Oliva.
Acme Cigar Company partner Romereo Hartfield says, “We are pleased to be working with NACSA, which has a great tradition of making excellent cigars, and with Oliva, which is known throughout the industry as having the finest tobaccos. It gives us the ability to make great-tasting premium cigars at affordable prices.”
Acme Cigar Company
7 July 2015
Gurkha releases two sampler packs
Gurkha’s Godzilla gift pack contains eight of the company’s very rare and specially blended cigars, all in the XO (6 x 60) size.
Gurkha’s Private Select five-pack contains five Private Select Churchill (7 1/4 x 52) cigars. Made in Nicaragua, Private Select is a medium-bodied cigar with a maduro wrapper that’s treated with 7-year-old Abuelo rum, and Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos. The cigar offers hints of cocoa, nuts, toffee and leather with earthy undertones.
Gurkha Cigar Group
6 July 2015
Miami Cigar & Company sponsors Dwyane Wade Fantasy Camp kickoff
Miami Cigar & Company served as the official cigar partner of the Dwyane Wade Fantasy Camp Draft Party at the Westin Diplomat Resort and Spa in Hollywood, Florida.
Dwyane Wade, who has played on three NBA championship teams, began the Fifth Annual Dwyane Wade Fantasy Camp with an exclusive NBA draft party for 100 lucky guests. Attendees enjoyed music, food, cocktails and Nestor Miranda Collection cigars.
Jason Wood, vice president of Miami Cigar & Company, presented Wade with an exclusive Hfbarcelona Miami Heat-themed humidor filled with Nestor Miranda Collection and La Aurora Preferido cigars.
“We are truly honored to have had the opportunity to take part in Dwyane Wade’s fantasy camp,” says Wood. “We are always excited to give back to the community and spread that ‘OneLife’ mentality whenever possible.”
Miami Cigar & Company
1 July 2015
IPCPR Smoking Guide for New Orleans Trade Show
A handy guide to find smoke-friendly environments around New Orleans.
1 July 2015
Roberto Duran Premium Cigars to introduce Big Jack Neya F8 at IPCPR show
Roberto Duran Premium Cigars is unveiling a line extension for the Neya F8 Ligero Typhoon at this year’s IPCPR show. The new size is the 7 x 70 Big Jack, named after Jack Torano, who works for the company.
Neya cigars were introduced during the 2014 IPCPR show, and they come in cedar 20-count cabinet boxes. The cigars are made from an Ecuadorean Habano wrapper and Nicaraguan filler and binder tobaccos. The Neya F8 Ligero Typhoon, which is a full bodied version of the Neya Classic, is available in six sizes. The Big Jack carries the same blend as the Typhoon but packs an extra punch for those looking for that bigger size and strength.
Roberto Duran Premium Cigars
30 June 2015
Texas-based Ezra Zion Releases All My EX’s
Ezra Zion Cigar Company’s newest cigar, All My EX’s, is made in Nicaragua at the Tabacalera Aromas de Jalapa factory owned by Noel Rojas. The medium-strength, full-bodied cigar is made from an Ecuadorean Habano wrapper and Nicaraguan filler tobaccos, creating a blend that includes creamed coffee, earth, leather, baking spice, cashew and bittersweet chocolate notes.
The cigars are packaged in 25-count raw wood, cabinet-style boxes, and Ezra Zion’s new “Republic of Texas” logo is featured on both the box and the band. Only 800 boxes have been produced, and the cigars are available in three sizes: Robusto (5 x 50), Toro (6 x 52) and Lancero (7 x 42).
All My EX’s cigars are distributed by House of Emilio.
Ezra Zion Cigar Company
22 June 2015
Joya de Nicaragua releases Cuatro Cinco Reserva Especial
In 2013, Joya de Nicaragua released the Cuatro Cinco Edicion Limitada to commemorate the company’s 45 years in the cigar industry. This year, Joya de Nicaragua is reviving the celebration with the introduction of the Cuatro Cinco Reserva Especial.
Unlike the original Cuatro Cinco, the Reserva Especial will be regularly produced in small quantities. The box-pressed cigars are medium- to full-bodied and offer subtle woody and sweet flavors and a velvety finish. They are available in 10-count boxes in four sizes: Torpedo (6 x 52), Toro (6 1/4 x 50), Doble Robusto (5 x 56) and Petit Corona (4 1/2 by 46).
The cigars feature a primary band with silver details and a light silver secondary band, instead of the gold secondary band that was used on the Edicion Limitada.
In a press release announcing the cigars’ release, Dr. Alejandro Martinez Cuenca, chairman of Joya de Nicaragua, says: “This blend is a superb milestone for our factory. It’s a cigar worthy of lighting to celebrate your own extraordinary achievements and special moments.”
The initial batch started shipping in the last week of June 2015 to selected members of the Drew Diplomat Retailers program. It will be available to all Drew Diplomat Retailers after the IPCPR show.