Boutique cigars are one of the hottest trends going in the world of cigars today. If you need more proof, check the 2013 Top 25 Cigars of the Year List – if you eliminate cigars you can’t score legally in the USA, you’ll find the Aging Room Quattro at the top of the list. What company makes the Aging Room you ask? Rafael Nodal’s cigar company, the aptly named Boutique Blends. But what makes a boutique cigar a boutique cigar? Simple. It’s…um, yeah.
Well, if you consult a dictionary, you’ll get this: “…of, designating, or characteristic of a small, exclusive producer or business: one of California’s best boutique wineries.”
Obviously, for our purposes, we’re replacing the word “wineries” with “cigars” (or should it be manufacturers? More on that in a minute) – but when we define “boutique” – should we be doing it in terms of numbers, such as output of bottles (or cigars)? Or is it in availability of supplies, as in “small batch?” Is it the size of the manufacturer that matters?
Yes. And no. Continue reading
There’s been a lingering question out there when it comes to smoking, and it’s in making the distinction between premium cigars and cigarettes. The question has bubbled to the surface again in the face of pending FDA cigar regulations, many of which are modeled after regulations already in place for cigarettes. The folks pushing for these regulations frequently take the viewpoint that tobacco is the same in any form, therefore, they feel regulations should be uniform as well. This thought-process leads us back to our original question – what are the differences of cigars vs. cigarettes? The answers, unsurprisingly, run as wide a range as the number of people who you might ask for guidance. But today, we’re going to draw some major differences between premium cigars and cigarettes – and I got nominated, since I’ve had my fair share of both. I’m not afraid to admit it – I was a cigarette smoker for many moons, and many Marlboros; today, I smoke cigars exclusively. But let’s be clear – smoking, isn’t just smoking. Continue reading
Why are Cuban cigars illegal? If I had a dollar for every time I’ve fielded this question, I’d quit my day job and spend the rest of my years smoking Padron and drinking Louis XIII. Unfortunately for me, no one is passing out singles for answers to the question “Why are Cuban cigars illegal?”, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth answering.
The short answer is the United States’ embargo against Cuba forbids the import of any Cuban-made products into the United States. Furthermore, U.S. law forbids American citizens from buying, selling, trading, or otherwise engaging in transactions involving illegally-imported Cuban cigars. These prohibitions apply to all goods of Cuban origin, and scofflaws face fines of up to $55,000 per violation not to mention criminal prosecution, which can result in higher fines and even imprisonment. Continue reading
When we think of boutique cigars, a ton of thoughts race through our minds fumbling for an answer as to what “boutique” actually means. This made my job of pointing out the top 10 boutique cigar brands a royal pain in the butt. However, in the great office debate of 2014, we came to agree that boutique is more about the high quality of the tobaccos used, unequivocal flavors presented via an artfully executed blending and rolling process, and size of the company in comparison to the rest of the industry. Continue reading
There were a lot of changes in the cigar industry in 2013 which makes us curious about the cigar trends for 2014. All of these changes are to appeal to mass consumerism to give the people what they want. Fortunately for the good ol’ U.S. of A., we’re the largest purveyor of cigars which means they change dramatically to appeal specifically to the U.S. cigar market, and the rest of the world can just deal with it. In any case, there are a few interesting trends that stood out in 2013 that I believe will only be even more obvious in 2014. Continue reading
The Famous Cigar Blog… We’re Baaaaack!
So the Famous Cigar Blog is back here at Famous Smoke Shop and it’s truly better than ever. Why do I say that? Because this is Famous – we do everything bigger and better than anyone else out there, and we say that with a proud confidence. We love cigars, we live the lifestyle and immerse ourselves in the culture.
For some reason, the powers that be picked yours truly to write this Welcome Back Blog, hopefully because of my witty and whimsical Polish / Italian north Jersey persona… or it could be that the other writers are stuck in traffic this morning. But hey, whatever the reason, if you know me at all, you know that I am one passionate son of a bitch when it comes to talking about the world of the hand rolled tobacco goodness. Continue reading
Have you seen any of the news this past week? The calendar is kind of weird right now – since 4th of July fell on a Wednesday I’m sure that many people made it a 5-day weekend (and more power to you). In case you missed it, there was another jobs report, and much yelling and screaming ensued; everyone yelled at each other about whether “the Mandate” was a tax or a penalty. Gov. Romney was riding a jet ski, and the President was riding a bus. It’s been a little (too) quiet, though, about where the effort stands to exempt premium, hand-rolled cigars from FDA regulation. So as we wrap up another week full of political news/noise, I thought it was a good time to drop in a few recent updates on the standing of the legislation pending in Congress, HR1639/S1461 – The Traditional Cigar Manufacturing and Small Business Jobs Preservation Act. Continue reading
Anti-smoking legislature is fraught with problems, not the least of which is the erosion of personal liberty. I can understand anti-smoking laws in schools and hospitals, and even government buildings. But if you thought that banning smoking in privately-owned restaurants and clubs was an overstep of authority, wait until you get a load of this.
The “City that Never Sleeps” is currently considering legislation that would expand anti-smoking laws to include to the city’s parks, beaches, and other public outdoor locations, including Times Square. The International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association (IPCPR) and New York Tobacconist Association have formed a partnership to oppose the measure. Continue reading
A 14-year legal odyssey has seen Cubatabaco, the Cuban state tobacco monopoly, desperately trying to protect its Cohiba brand in the coveted U.S. marketplace. A recent ruling, however, found in favor of General Cigar, now a subsidiary of Swedish Match.
For decades (and even longer, in some cases),
Cuban cigars were created under well-known names such as Montecristo, Cohiba, Romeo y Julieta, and others. However, Cubatabaco failed to trademark its brand names in the Unites States, where sales of its product were effectively illegalized by the Embargo of 1962.
General Cigar began marketing cigars under the “Cohiba” name in 1978. Its Cameroon-wrapped “red dot” Cohiba cigars bowed in 1997, earning serious praise and a cult-like following.
But that’s just one brand. Nearly every Cuban brand name has a Dominican-, Honduran-, or Nicaraguan-made counterpart marketed to American cigar smokers, for whom Cuban cigars remain illegal (even abroad).
To further complicate matters, one of General Cigar’s biggest competitors, Altadis, acquired in 2000 a 50% stake in Habanos S.A., the promotion, distribution, and export arm of Cubatabaco. Altadis currently manufacturers the non-Cuban Montecristo and Romeo y Julieta, meaning the deal granted Cubatabaco some modicum of control over these Cubancigar brands stateside.
All that raises a two-part question:
- Will we see an end to the Embargo any time soon?
- Judging by Cubatabaco’s actions, it would seem THEY hope so.
- If/When the Embargo DOES end, what does that mean for all these so-called “Cuban Exile” brands?
- Give That Firm a Cigar! DLA Wins Second Circuit Over Sale of “Cohibas”
- Altadis on Wikipedia
- Habanos SA on Wikipedia
Cigar retailers and smokers across Pennsylvania breathed a collective sigh of relief today as Governor Rendell signed into law a budget containing no new taxes on cigars. Call me a pessimist, but I’m still worried about future budgets.
“I can’t believe they left this money on the table and they’d rather see people laid off from their jobs than to tax these products,” opined Deborah P. Brown of the American Lung Association.
They (legislators) didn’t leave money on the table, Deborah, because it was never there to begin with. What they did was refuse to cower in the face the populist opinion your organization has worked so hard to cultivate. Continue reading