Written by Kevin Godbee

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

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Gary J. Arzt writes a monthly column for as well as many articles and interviews with manufacturers. Last week we had a conversation about a particular cigar. I thought I would share part of it with you.

Kevin: You had told me long ago about a cigar you made called Arzt de los Reyes. You also indicated you would never do it again.

Gary: You're referring to the $600,000 mistake! Well, actually, two mistakes.

Augusto Reyes and I collaborated on a 100% Dominican cigar in 1996. It was, after Opus X, the second Dominican Puro. It had Dominican filler and binder and a sun grown Dominican wrapper.

We introduced the cigar in 1997 - mistake number one; the bloom was off the rose and the market was collapsing.

Mistake number two: We blended the cigar to my taste - full bodied, since I was a dedicated smoker of Cuban cigars. The market was not ready for a full bodied cigar!

Gary J. Arzt and Kevin Godbee discuss the new "Espinoza y Ortega GA Select" cigar over cigars and espresso at Macabi Cigar in Plantation, FL

Kevin: In spite of that experience, you're planning to introduce a new cigar in 2009. What's changed?

Gary: If Arzt de los Reyes was the mistake; the new cigar might well be the 'accidental' cigar, Kevin.

A while back, I asked my friends at Espinoza y Ortega (601, Cubao) to make me several hundred cigars for my personal consumption. I even banded them with a band that had a somewhat famous caricature of me on the band.

Kevin: And this the cigar we're talking about?

Gary: Yes. The "Espinoza y Ortega GA Select". I gave many of them to friends of mine, tobacconists and others to smoke. The reaction was very positive.

Inasmuch as I have time on my hands, I decided to produce the cigar in commercial quantities and market it.

Kevin: That's the name of the new cigar? Will EO distribute it?

Gary: Yes, that is the name. But, no, Espinoza y Ortega will not distribute it. They have a full plate with the tremendous success of 601 and Cubao.

The cigar will be distributed by Gary J. Arzt LLC and we will concentrate initially on Florida.

Kevin: Can you tell us the blend?

Gary: The cigar is blended with Nicaraguan fillers and binders and an Ecuadoran Sumatra wrapper. It will be medium to full bodied depending on the smoker. It’s being made by EO in Esteli. They will come in five sizes and be boxed in boxes of twenty.

Kevin: Will this have any effect on your writing? Your commentary about cigars in general?

Gary: Certainly not in any journalistic endeavor. As for my column, Kevin, I have always been scrupulous about being fair and unbiased. My column is about what I smoke; where I smoke; who I smoke with, as well as industry news. It will remain so.

The fact of the matter is, I probably won’t be able to do as much for the Espinoza y Ortega GA Select, as I have done for many other brands. You, as publisher at , will be the final arbiter of my fairness.

Kevin: I certainly wish you luck with this. And, maybe we’ll get some advertising out of you on the web site. (Both laugh)

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