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Cigar Insider

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JANUARY 25, 2011

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VoL. 16, no. 2

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From THe PubLiSHer oF CIGAR AFICIONADO maGaZine

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IN THIS ISSUE:

TASTING REPORT:

VERTICAL BRAND TASTINGS: Swag[page2] nSencillo[page3]

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FEATURED CIGAR SWAG Fierce

dom. reP.

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PRICE: $5.80

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BODY: med. To FuLL

90

PoinTS

For a full tasting, see page two.

CURRENT RELEASE:

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TrinidadRobustoT[page3]

BEST CIGARS THIS ISSUE SencilloShortChurchill Honduras Dom.Rep. Dom.Rep. Dom.Rep. Dom.Rep. Dom.Rep. Various 90 90 90 90 89 89 88

CIGAR NEWS

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SwagFierce SwagInfamous SwagQuickie SwagEgo SwagElite FourTiedAt

MovingMatasa:OldestCigarProducerin SantiagoFreeZoneMovingOut[page4] U.S.EasesTraveltoCuba:MovesBackto StatusUnderClintonAdministration[page5] NewLaAromadeCubafromAshton[page5] FuenteExpandsAñejoCigarLine[page6] Rocky'sNewSmokes[page6]

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Cuba'sNewLaGloria,ExclusivetoCasadel HabanoShops[page7] TatuajeCreatingAll-BroadleafSmoke[page7] FreemanRetiringFromSwedishMatch[page7] IndianaSmokeBanEasing[page8] TheBigSmoke[page8]

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NEW FUENTE AÑEJO SIZE

IT HAS BEEN ALMOST A DECADE sincethe Arturo Fuente Añejo line had a new size, but this past December,FuenteaddedtheAñejoReservaNo.60.It's not a 60 ring gauge cigar, as the name might suggest, but was rolled with the same parameters as a popular FuenteFuenteOpusXsize.Seepagesixforthestory.

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U.S. EASES TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS TO CUBA

NO, IT'S NOT THE END OF THE CUBAN TRADE EMBARGO, butitmight

be a step in that direction. President Obama recently announced an easing of travel restrictions for qualified U.S. citizens. While this doesn't mean that any citizen of the UnitedStatescanboardthefirstplanetoCuba,itdoesmeanthattherewillbegreater leniency for more academic, religious and other cultural activities that were previously forbidden.Furthermore,inaneffortto"expandtheeconomicindependenceoftheCuban people,"astheofficialWhiteHousepressreleasestates,anyU.S.citizencansendmoney toanonfamilymemberinsupportof"privateeconomicactivity."Toseemoreonthestory and,readexpertopinionsonthenewrelaxedrestrictions,seepagefive.

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TASTING REPORT

ELITE

89 PoinTS

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7" x 38

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$5.40

Anearthy-tastinglancerothatburnsanddrawsevenly. Leather notes develop as the cigar is smoked, as do blackteaflavorsandsomewood.

Body:MediumtoFull

SWAG vERTICAL BRAND TASTING

Country:DominicanRepublic Maker:OliverosFactory Distributor:HabanaCubaCigarCo. Filler:Dom.Rep. Binder:Dom.Rep. Wrapper:Dom.Rep. Release Date:September2010

LAVISH

88 PoinTS

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5" x 54

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$5.10

Wrapped in an attractive cover leaf, this cigar has an unevenburn,butdeliverssweetwoodflavorswithslight fruitandleathernotes.

Body:Medium BRAND SUMMARY: Released at last summer's IPCPR tradeshow, the Swag line was conceived by brand owner Raphael Nodal of Oliveros Cigars. After passing the cigars out as a test run at a Grammy awards after-party, Nodal saw that none of the hip-hop/R&B artists in attendance responded to traditional cigar packaging, so he decided to streamline the appearance of the band, giving it a more contemporary look. Nodal made the cigars in the Dominican Republic in a partnership with Jochi Blanco, a cigarmaker located in Tamboril who co-owns the La Flor de Palma farm in La Canela, Dominican Republic, with cigarmaker Litto Gomez. The Swag cigar is made entirely from Dominican tobaccos from Blanco. "We decided to work not only in a new single farm blend, but also in a modern look, attractive to a new generation of smokers that were not interested in the same old brands and create a new brand with a new style," said Nodal. The Swag line turned in an impressive performance with half of the smokes scoring 90 points. The higher-scoring cigars also exhibited concentrated amounts of spice, but were also well balanced. Fierce, Infamous and Quickie smoked the best. Average Rating: 89.3points

FIERCE

90 PoinTS

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6 1/2" x 52

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$5.80

Anoily,darktorpedowithaslightlyairydraw.Thesmoke hasaspicypeanutqualitythatintensifiestospicierred peppernotes,butmellowsoutasthecigarprogresses.

Body:MediumtoFull

INFAMOUS

90 PoinTS

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6" x 54

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$5.60

Adark,oilycigarwitharoundedheadandgoodoverall construction.Thisisanotablyspicysmokewithsome heartyleathernotesandlightfruitflavors.

Body:Full

QUICKIE

90 PoinTS

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5 1/2" x 42

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$4.70

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best buy

This solidly rolled little corona draws well for such a smallsmoke,offeringsweetandzestyflavorsoforange peelandspice.

Body:MediumtoFull

EGO

89 PoinTS

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6" x 60

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$5.92

Verythickanddifficulttosmoke.Thedrawisabitthin, though strong hickory, cedar and fruit notes come through.Cedarandspiceflavorscarryovertothefinish.

Body:MediumtoFull

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95-100:Classicn90-94:Outstandingn80-89:Verygoodtoexcellentn70-79:Averagetogoodcommercialquality Below70:Don'twasteyourmoneynN/A:NotAvailableNote: Prices are manufacturers' suggested retail, before taxes.

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January 25, 2011

Cigar Insider

SENCILLO vERTICAL BRAND TASTING

Country:Honduras Maker:TabacosRanchoJamastran Distributor:GodofFireInc. Filler:Honduras Binder:Honduras Wrapper:Honduras Release Date:April2010

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BRAND SUMMARY: Sencillo (pronounced sehn-SEE-yoh) is a Spanish word meaning simple, and the cigars come adorned with subdued gray and white bands bearing a scripted S, packed in unadorned wooden boxes. The brand is made for God of Fire in Danlí, Honduras, by Tabacos Rancho Jamastran, the maker of Camacho cigars. The cigars are puros made entirely of Honduran tobacco. Brand owner Keith Park says that he was inspired to create this line by the simple pleasures in life, hence the name.

The wrapper, binder and filler contain a type of tobacco referred to as Habano de Jamastran. There is also piloto cubano in the filler as well. When the brand was first released in April of 2010, it came in four sizes, but at this year's IPCPR tradeshow, God of Fire introduced a fifth size, the Gigante to the portfolio, though the strongest performers were the Short Churchill and the Pirámide. The Short Churchill scored 90 points and was the most impressive cigar of the line. The Pirámide scored 88 points, though none of the cigars in this range exceeded a medium body.

SHORT CHURCHILL

90 PoinTS

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6 1/4" x 48

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$8.50

Toastyandwoodyincharacterwithapencilleadnote that emerges on the palate along with a rich tobacco flavor.Nottoostrong,butbalancedandpleasant.

Body:Medium

Average Rating: 87.6points $8.95

GIGANTE

88 PoinTS

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6" x 60

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Thiscigarburnsanddrawsevenlyconsideringitsgirth. Primarily,it'sawoodytastingsmokewithahintoffruit onthepalate.

Body:Medium

PIRÁMIDE

88 PoinTS

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6 1/8" x 54

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$8.95

A large torpedo with a squarish tip and dark wrapper. Thedrawisabitloose,thoughitimpartsearthy,woody flavorswithatouchofvanilla.

Body:Medium

TRINIDAD CURRENT RELEASE

Country:Cuba Maker:N/A Distributor:HabanosS.A. Filler:Cuba Binder:Cuba Wrapper:Cuba Box Date:June2009

DOUBLE ROBUSTO

86 PoinTS

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5 3/4" x 52

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$7.95

Covered in a veiny, wrinkled wrapper, this stout cigar burns unevenly. Oaky white wine flavors and herbal notesbuildtoapaperyfinish.

Body:MildtoMedium

ROBUSTO

86 PoinTS

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ROBUSTO T

5 1/4" x 50

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$6.95

88 PoinTS

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4 7/8" x 50

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£20.00

The wrapper of this cigar has an attractive hue and it smokesevenly,startingwithcedarandblackteanotes thatthinouttowheatyflavorsandapaper-likefinish.

Body:Medium

Apigtailedrobustowithaslightlyfirmdrawandlightly coloredwrapper.Somecreamycoffeenotesinthebeginningturnwheatyandabitthin.

Body:Mild

95-100:Classicn90-94:Outstandingn80-89:Verygoodtoexcellentn70-79:Averagetogoodcommercialquality Below70:Don'twasteyourmoneynN/A:NotAvailableNote: Prices are manufacturers' suggested retail, before taxes.

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January 25, 2011

Cigar Insider

CIGAR NEWS

MOVING MATASA--QUESADAS LEAVING SANTIAGO FREE ZONE

by daVid SaVona

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he oldest cigar company in Santiago, Dominican Republic's original free trade zone is moving out of the city and into a suburb. Manufactura de Tabacos S.A., which opened in Zona Franca de Santiago in June of 1974 with a handful of cigar rollers, will close before the end of 2011 and be completely relocated to Licey (pronounced LEE-say), an agricultural town near Tamboril.

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RAISINGTHEROOFATTHENEWMATASA.

"We've been in the building that we occupy today in the free zone for 37 years," said Manuel "Manolo" Quesada. In a 2004 interview with Cigar Aficionado magazine, Quesada explained how he, his father and brother created the company with "$100, a chair and a phone." There were all of three cigarmakers. "We started teaching people with a Cuban guy that we had brought in from Miami. Espinosa was his name. And he was in charge of teaching the cigarmakers. I would case and strip and prepare the leaf and do everything for him," said Quesada. Today, the factory is a major producer of cigars, making such high-profile brands as Quesada Tributo and various versions of Fonseca. But the Quesadas have only rented the building, and do not own the property. "The free zone policy is you don't own the building, you rent," said Quesada. Moving to Licey means the Quesadas will own the building, rather than rent. "My generation paid rent, and the new generation will be home," he added. "The downside is we're putting all our eggs in one basket."

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The Quesadas have an existing business in Licey, which is the headquarters for their Tabacos de Exportación S.A., the leaf company that supplies Matasa with all of its Dominican cigar tobacco. It also does tobacco sorting, warehousing, receiving and aging. The Quesadas are expanding that building, raising the roof by nine feet to accommodate the factory within. When complete, the cigar factory will occupy the first story of the building, with tobacco operations on the second floor. Quesada said the two would be "totally separated." The operation in Licey is also a free zone, allowing tobacco to be imported duty-free so long as the finished cigars are exported out of the country. The factory will still operate under the name Matasa. The move will also allow the Quesadas to move their box factory to a separate building in Licey. Box factories contain paints and varnishes and other materials that are highly dangerous and flammable, and having them within a cigar factory (as it exists in Matasa now) can be dangerous. "Moving is going to allow us to put the box factory outside the cigar factory, which eliminates a lot of risk," said Quesada. The move out of Santiago also brings Matasa closer to the people who work there. Licey is a town of chicken and yucca farms and tobacco warehouses located around 5 miles south of Tamboril, the area where most Dominican cigar rollers live. Tamboril is around 10 miles from the city of Santiago, making for a long bus ride to work (factories typically provide buses to transport workers). Also, being outside of Santiago proper eliminates the need to deal with Santiago traffic, which can be daunting. "Our bus ride is going to be a lot shorter," explained Quesada. Quesada said he hopes to be 100 percent in the new facility by October 1. "We're moving at a very good clip," he said in January, estimating that as much as 15 percent of the work is complete. Matasa was the fourth company to open in the free zone, and the first cigar company. (The three that were open before Matasa are no longer there, said Quesada, making Matasa the oldest company in the zone.) When it began, the factory had all of 12,000 square feet, now with expansions and additions it consists of 60,000 square feet of space. It was once difficult to find space in the free zone, but when textile and other producers moved out to lower-cost countries, vacancies followed, and today there are several buildings available for rent. n

January 25, 2011

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U.S. GOVERNMENT EASES RESTRICTIONS ON TRAVEL TO CUBA

by GreGory moTToLa

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n an effort to support civil society in Cuba, President Obama has loosened some U.S. restrictions regarding travel and remittances to the Caribbean island. The changes, which are set to take place by the start of February, aim to bring U.S.-Cuba relations to their closet point in a decade. On January 14, the White House issued a press release stating an easing of regulations on "(1) purposeful travel; (2) non-family remittances; and (3) U.S. airports supporting licensed charter flights to and from Cuba." So what exactly does this mean? Under the relaxed legislation, more academic, journalistic and religious organizations will be allowed to travel to Cuba; American sponsors will be authorized to send money (up to $500 per quarter) to non-family members in Cuba; and more American airports will be offering charter flights to the island, which has been subject to a U.S. embargo since 1962. Money transfers, however, may not be sent to senior Cuban government officials or senior members of the Cuban Communist Party. The new policy is a reprise of the people-to-people program instated by the Clinton administration to improve cultural relations between the citizens of the U.S and Cuba, but was subsequently cancelled by the Bush Administration. "Bush reversed Clinton's people-to-people because of the immense abuses that took place," said John S. Kavulich II, senior policy adviser to the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council. "Too many unqualified people were going to Cuba. This recent change will result in more qualified travel, but also substantial abuse--the same abuse we saw before--and you could very well see the Obama administration cancel it again the way Bush did."

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Kavulich also points to fundamental differences in Cuba's government during the Clinton presidency and now. "Today's Cuban government has much different international and multilateral relationships than it did during Clinton's time." Julia Sweig, the director of Latin American studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, is not certain that this measure is quite as broad as Clinton's. "It might not include multiple year, multi-entry licenses for as many nongovernmental institutions as under Clinton." When asked how the new law might affect the current trade embargo, Sweig considers it a step in the right direction and that this legislation could set the tone for a gradual loosening of restrictions in the future: "It could be a step that helps strengthen some president some day and shows that public support is behind him." Kavulich is not as optimistic. "This move is immaterial to the embargo or the Cuban government. So long as China and Venezuela keep Cuba afloat, it will make no difference." According to the release, the President's goal is to ultimately increase people-to people contact, support civil society in Cuba and enhance the free flow of information to, from and among the Cuban people. n

ASHTON'S NEWEST SMOKE

by daVid SaVona

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shton Distributors Inc. of Philadelphia has added a size to its popular La Aroma de Cuba line, but if you've attended an in-store event for La Aroma de Cuba you may have heard of it before. The La Aroma de Cuba Marquis measures 5 3/4 inches long by 48 ring, and comes in a tube. It's heading to retail shops now. "We released it about a year ago, but it was only available for our in-store events," said Sathya Levin, vice president of Ashton. The size, made by My Father Cigars, proved so popular that Ashton decided to make it available as a regular part of the brand. When the Marquis was a promotional brand it was packed in crates of 50 and was handed out as a promotional tool. Now the cigar comes in gift boxes, each containing 10 cigars, and has a suggested retail price of $6. It's the only La Aroma de Cuba in the line, said Levin, with a ring gauge thinner than 50. n

January 25, 2011

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FUENTE ADDS FIRST NEW AÑEJO SIZE IN NEARLY A DECADE

by GreGory moTToLa by daVid SaVona

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NEW SMOKES FROM ROCKY PATEL

or the first time in nine years, the Fuente family has added a new size to its Arturo Fuente Añejo line: The Reserva No. 60. It measures 6 1/4 inches by 48 ring, sharing its parameters with the Fuente Fuente OpusX PerfecXion X. "Because the PerfecXion X is the most sought-after size in the Fuente Fuente OpusX line, we decided to offer it in the Añejo line," said Carlos "Carlito" Fuente Jr., who makes cigars for the family-owned company alongside his father, Carlos Sr., in Santiago, Dominican Republic. "It's the first new release in many, many years." When the Añejo line first debuted in 2000, it came in five sizes. Shortly after, a sixth size, (the unorthodox No. 77 Shark, which is pressed on the bottom two thirds, but not on the top) was released. The entire Añejo line ships to retailers twice a year on a very limited basis--usually around Father's Day and Christmas time. Retailer allotments are limited to only a few boxes of whichever sizes are available. The Añejo line was created in the wake of a natural disaster. After Hurricane Georges tore through the Dominican Republic in 1998, the storm devastated the curing barns used to house the wrapper leaves grown at Chateau de la Fuente, the wrapper farm in El Caribe where wrappers for the Fuente Fuente OpusX line are grown. No leaves were in the ground or in the barns at the time, but the devastation and the necessary rebuilding made it unlikely that the farm would be ready for the upcoming growing season. Rather than halt production, the Fuentes decided to create the Añejo brand. The new series was blended very similarly to the OpusX, but rather than using a Dominican wrapper, it used a dark, Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper aged for five years in Cognac barrels. Most of the sizes in the Añejo line are duplicates of vitolas found in the OpusX range. "Añejos are made in the OpusX room by OpusX cigar makers," said Fuente. As for the significance of the name Reserva No. 60, Fuente maintains that it is nothing more than a factory code name. He intends on releasing a Double Robusto size for the Añejo line sometime in the future. The Arturo Fuente Añejo Reserva No. 60 retails for $10 and scored 90 points in the last issue of Cigar Insider. n

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ocky Patel Premium Cigars is working on a trio of new smokes, and two are going to be named for other members of the Naples, Florida, company. The first of the trio is scheduled for release in April, and will celebrate the 50th birthday of company owner and namesake Rocky Patel. The cigar will be a limited smoke, made with dark and oily high-priming wrappers grown from Sumatra seed in Ecuador. "We've been saving the Sumatra," said Patel in an interview, "collecting the darkest, oiliest wrappers."

ROCkyPATEL,HISBROTHERNISH(CENTER)ANDCOUSINNIMISH.

Patel said the brand will come in four sizes, a robusto, toro, torpedo and a "special size" he is still working on. The final blend, pricing and exact name are still in the works. Patel is also branching out, having his brother Nish and cousin Nimish make cigars with their names on them. "They're developing their own lines," said Patel. "We are, and have been working on, a line under Nimish's name and under Nish's name," he said. The Nish cigar should be on the market in July, with the Nimish cigar following in August. All three cigars are going to be rolled in Estelí, Nicaragua, at Tabacalera Villa Cuba, a cigar factory that is partially owned by Patel. Look for more information on the cigars in an upcoming Cigar Insider. n

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January 25, 2011

Cigar Insider

THICK LA GLORIA CUBANA FROM CUBA

by GreGory moTToLa by GreGory moTToLa

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TATUAJE TO RELEASE ALL-BROADLEAF CIGAR

atuaje brand owner Pete Johnson has resurrected a vintage Cuban brand from the 1920s called La Casita Criolla and is planning on making it entirely from Connecticut Broadleaf tobacco. "The old American machine-made [cigars] were all broadleaf, they were chewy little smokes, so I wanted to do something in that style, but this isn't a machine-made cigar," said Johnson. The broadleaf comes from a single farm in Connecticut and is procured by Jaime Garcia, co-owner of the familyrun My Father Cigars factory in Nicaragua where Tatuaje and the new Casita Criolla will be made. "Jaime buys the material in a very raw state. It's a tannish, green shade when he gets it before processing it all in Nicaragua. He pretty much gets the tobacco right out of the curing barn," said Johnson. La Casita Criolla will come in three sizes: 5 1/8 inches by 42 ring, 5 5/8 inches by 46 and 6 1/2 by 48. They remain unnamed. The cigars will retail for $5.75 to $6.75 each and will be wet-packed, meaning that they will be rolled and bundled within 24 hours. Johnson intends on making around 60,000 cigars for the first production run. La Casita Criolla will be released this summer. n

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he relatively small La Gloria Cubana brand from Cuba is now available in an ultra-large Sublimes size, and has shipped to La Casa del Habano retail franchises across the world.

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Dubbed the Inmensos by global Cuban cigar distributor Habanos S.A., the hefty cigar measures 6 1/2 inches long by 54 ring--the thickest Cuban La Gloria Cubana cigar to date--and was produced exclusively for La Casa del Habano shops, the international franchise run by Habanos. Only 5,000 varnished boxes of 10 (or 50,000 cigars) were produced and each cigar sports a secondary siennacolored band with the La Casa del Habano logo in gold. Prices for the new cigar vary from market to market. In London for example, the Inmensos go for £21.00 each (about $33.45), in Canada, C$33.80 ($33.75), though one could find them for considerably less at the La Casa del Habano in Rome, Italy, where they retail for 13 Euros each ($17.50) or in Germany for about 14 Euros ($18.87). The name Inmensos is not to be confused with the Bolivar Inmensas, a slim 6 3/4 by 43 lonsdale referred to as Dalias in Cuban factories. The 6 1/2 by 54 Sublimes size debuted in 2004 as a Cohiba Edición Limitada called the Sublimes, but has gained popularity as it has made many subsequent appearances in the Habanos portfolio, such as the Montecristo Sublimes Edición Limitada 2008, and in a variety of regional edition releases, such as Bolivar, Ramon Allones and Punch. This release follows a line of cigars recently produced especially for the La Casa del Habano franchise, including the Ramon Allones Superiories, H. Upmann Noellas in a glass jar and Trinidad 40th Anniversary Humidor. For a tasting of the La Gloria Cubana Inmensos see an upcoming issue of Cigar Insider. n

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FREEMAN RETIRING FROM SWEDISH MATCH

by andrew naGy

wedish Match AB, one of the largest cigar companies in the world, recently announced that executive vice president Lennart Freeman will be retiring after more than 30 years of service. His retirement is effective March 1. Freeman joined Swedish Match in 1975, and was appointed to the company's LENNART FREEMAN group management team in 1999. In 2005 he was named executive vice president of the company and oversaw the company's global cigar business, which included General Cigar, the maker of some

January 25, 2011

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Cigar Insider

of the world's biggest premium cigar brands, including Macanudo, La Gloria Cubana, Punch, Hoyo de Monterrey and many others. Freeman helped foster Swedish Match's growth in the cigar industry, as he played a part in the deal to acquire Cigars International Inc., one of the largest Internet cigar retailers, in 2007. Freeman was also part of the team behind the merger of the company's cigar and pipe tobacco businesses with Scandinavian Tobacco Group last year. The new company sells about 2.5 billion cigars each year. In his 33 years with the company, Freeman has held such positions as president of the North America division, president of the cigarette division, managing director for Cricket lighters, as well as other marketing and development jobs. His latest position is president of the lights operating unit, which focuses on the production and sale of Cricket disposable lighters and other lighting products. "Lennart has been a valued member of the group management team, and brought leadership and determination in making change happen. On behalf of all of the employees of Swedish Match, I wish Lennart and his family the very best for the future," said president and chief executive officer Lars Dahlgren. n

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CIGAR AFICIONADO "BIG SMOKE"

For coverage of the 2010 Big Smokes, including an extensive photo gallery and coverage of our Las vegas Weekend, visit: CigarAficionado.com 2011 SCHEDULE COMING SOON

IN THE NEXT CIGAR INSIDER

Scandinavian Tobacco gets even bigger, Cain F now comes in a lancero shape, and blind tastings on new cigar. Read about it first in Cigar Insider.

INDIANA, FEARING REVENUE LOSS, TO CHANGE SMOKING BAN

by andrew naGy

Your Next CIGAR INSIDER Arrives on Tuesday, Feb. 8.

ouse members in Indiana said they would amend the recently introduced smoking ban proposal to exempt casinos and possibly cigar bars before moving the bill forward for a vote. The move comes after the House Public Health Committee met and discussed the bill. The nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency estimated the state could lose more than $180 million a year in tax revenue should the ban be approved as written. "In this budgetary environment we're talking about-- with every penny tight and any dollar taken away is a dollar taken away from K-12 education--it's our obligation to maybe minimize the impact," said Committee Chair Rep. Tim Brown, R-Crawfordsville, in an Associated Press report. The bill's sponsor, Rep. Charlie Brown, D-Gary, said he is willing to exempt casinos if it means the bill moves forward. This is his fourth attempt to instill a ban. Although Indiana does not have an official smoking ban on the books, the city of Indianapolis eliminated smoking in all places of employment, including bars and taverns that allow patrons under the age of 18 inside. n

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Editor and Publisher

Executive Editor Managing Editor Director of Research Tasting Coordinator Editorial Assistant Art Director Senior Designer

Marvin R. Shanken

GordonMott DavidSavona FrankC.Walters GregoryMottola AndrewNagy ChandraHira JackelynNavarro

© 2011 M. Shanken Communications, Inc. All rights reserved. Materials may not be reproduced without permission.

Questions about your subscription? Email:[email protected]

november 23, 2010

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