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Written by Gary J. Arzt

Friday, 05 December 2008

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There are an awful lot of new cigars I've smoked that have not gained much recognition, vis-à-vis being on shelves at the neighborhood tobacconist. Some of them have garnered good ratings and are, indeed, worth smoking. My constant suggestion when it comes to new or little known cigars is: Try them. You never know what you'll discover.

I'm thinking, off the top of my head, about smokes such as ...

El Titan de Bronze (www.eltitandebronze.com), a cigar made in Little Havana, on famed Calle Ocho. The company has been in business for many years, producing cigars that


have been treasured by a small, local audience. Willy Herrera, son-in-law of the owners, came from the banking industry – before it was decimated – to try and achieve nationwide distribution for their product.



They make several lines, to cater to all tastes. I do enjoy their Redemption line.

"The Titan of Bronze," in English refers to Antonio Maceo, a hero of the Cuban fight for independence. He played an important part in the Ten Years' War, which was fought from 1868-1878 and the subsequent war that commenced in 1895 and ended in 1898 after the entrance of the United States in the struggle.

Devil's Weed (www.molinacigar.com), contrary to the first reaction people have when they hear the name, does not have any association with the ‘weed' of my youth. Rather, it was the term applied to tobacco during the period of the Spanish Inquisition. Luis Molina, of Molina Cigar Company, the maker of the aforementioned brand, thought it was wryly appropriate.

Devil's Weed comes in six (6) vitolas. The biggest ring gauge is 50 and the smallest is 43. Filler and binder are Dominican while the wrapper is a beautiful Ecuador Connecticut.

I'm, personally, not enamoured of Connecticut wrappers - wherever they hail from; but I have enjoyed the cigars Luis gave me.

Monte Pascoal (see interview here) (www.matafinaimports.com), which translates from the Portuguese as Mount Easter is, admittedly, a cigar produced in Brazil by my friend, Lorenzo Orsi. Least you smell favouritism here; I should note that I know Lorenzo as a result of his cigars; not vice versa. My friends, Eduardo Braghin and Felipe Lemos, gave me samples of these cigars long before they were banded and boxed, much less available in the market.

A combination of Mata Fina and Mata Norte - all first class Brazilian grown tobaccos; the cigars can best be described as medium to full bodied. At the moment, they are available in a torpedo, robusto and a corona.

Beautifully constructed and packaged, they make for a very enjoyable smoke, and to my knowledge, in fifty (50) years, the best shot a Brazilian cigar has had in carving our a respectable share of the American market. There was one other that I enjoyed, back at the turn of the century; but, alas, it no longer exists.

Avalon Cigars, makers of the Juke Selection (www.avaloncigars.com) is a fairly new company. I can't recall how I came upon the brand, but Tyler Avery, of Avalon, was kind enough to send me a range of samples. Coincidentally, my 'nephew' Alejandro Alcorta, who owns Puros Fine Cigars in Miami (www.myspace.com/puros1), was familiar with them and commended the Juke selection to me.

The theme of the packaging, and, in fact, the whole line revolves around 'the Blues,' and the name Avalon comes from the town near Clarksville, Mississippi where Mississippi John Hurt was born.



Juke Red, Juke Blue, Juke Ebony, Cerberus and three (3) other lines cater to everyone's palate and preferences. They use a hell of a range of tobaccos to accomplish this. Dominican, Nicaraguan, Sumatra, Indonesian, Ecuadoran, and wrappers such as Nicaraguan Habano, Brazilian Maduro, African Cameroon Light, African Cameroon Dark, Ecuadoran Connecticut and Nicaraguan Rosado.

Honestly, I've smoked a few, and I'm eager to get into more of them. Although produced in Miami, I have not found them in any tobacconists in the area, but, for Avalon it's early days.

If you go to their myspace.com page, you'll see, or better yet, hear the music that inspired the cigar!

Giralda (Gypsy) by Forcade & Sons (www.forcadecigars.net ) is another cigar whose owners turned to the Garcias; in this case, Jaime Garcia's Tabacalera Garcia. (Article)



Originally produced in the Dominican Republic, the charming sisters who run the company (yes, sisters run Forcade & Sons), opted to have the cigars produced by Garcia in Esteli instead. They started to ship the new smokes in October, and judging from the way they are moving in tobacconists I frequent, they have been very well received. I enjoy them several times a week.

Once more, to my amazement, they are clearly Garcia made - that full bodied profile - but they taste like no other cigar I smoke that is made by Tabaclera Garcia.

Speaking of little known cigars, try a Flor de Selva (www.mayaselva-cigares.com) when you're next in Europe. These exquisitely made, think of the way a Davidoff looks, are clearly a mild smoke made in Honduras. To my knowledge, they are not sold anywhere in the United States, but have been fairly popular in Europe. They were first made in 1995.

I had the pleasure of dining with Brad Weinfeld and Paul Hernandez the other evening and aside from the great meal, it was a very interesting conversation.

I had never met Brad, who is Marketing Manager for SAG Imports (Fonseca, Casa Magna and several other marques). What proved very interesting is that Brad's grandfather, Max Rohr had started Hollco-Rohr after an extensive career in the pipe and tobacco business. He started in Vienna and fled to the International Settlement in Shanghai in the late 1930's after the Germans occupied Austria. Ultimately making his way to the United States, he founded Hollco-Rohr and was a highly respected member of the broader tobacco industry – he really focused on pipes and pipe tobaccos. Nonetheless, Max Rohr (the company) holds the rights to many major Cuban brands in the American market.

Brad has an intense love of cigars; a vast store of knowledge about cigars and is an engaging individual, who enjoys discoursing on the subject of cigars.

Needless to say, we smoked a few great cigars at a dinner that lasted from 7:00 PM until 11:00 PM. I unexpectedly saw them both again, when I had an appointment to interview Manuel Quesada.

Habanos S.A. and Cubatabaco has filed an "opposition" to Xikar's attempt to register the name "Havana Collection" for a line of accessories. The Cubans claim that the name itself will mislead people into believing the products were made in Cuba and that Cuban products are available in the United States - don't they wish! (Article)

While I haven't practiced law in decades, I am aware that the Trademark and Patent Office (of the Commerce Department) holds o the idea that the use of a geographic reference, in a brand name or trade mark, can be misleading. Based on that, I would expect the decision would come down on the side of the Cubans. We'll see. Were it not for the spice added by the Cuban involvement, the story wouldn't have legs.

Personally, I think President Obama and the very left leaning, mean spirited Nancy Pelosi, will have too much on their plate after the Inauguration, to pay any attention to the SCHIPS tax for a long, long time.

Be that as it may, now that Cigar Rights of America is revved up with an interesting and constantly updated web site, a Membership Director, Brian Berman, and Executive Director Glynn Loope, I urge everyone to spend the $30 and start to fight back! $30 - the approximate price of 3-1/2 good cigars. So, even if it means giving up 3-1/2 cigars, it behooves you to do it; or, face the possibility of having no place to smoke and cigars that will be too pricey if you had a place to smoke them.

It galls me when I hear a bunch of cigar smokers talking about how hard it is to find a place to smoke; and, when I ask if they have joined CRA, the answer, sadly, is "No," or "Not yet." We all have to join ... its self-defense!

Cigar Rights of America - Join Now!

The economy staggers; the lame duck Congress can't really do much - not much that President Bush will put his signature to; and the uncertainty of the Christmas season, commercially, at least, is remarked on every bloody morning on CNN. It must be true: Bad news sells.

Nonetheless, while some tobacconists are experiencing a little softening, the state of the cigar industry is very good.

Excellent cigars continue to be forthcoming from the manufacturers we all know; new products are making their appearance as well. I've discussed several of them here, and at the same time, I shouldn't fail to mention Casa Magna and Viso Fuerte from MATASA, a beautiful new Ligero Salamon from La Flor Dominicana, the fabulous reblended Nestor Miranda Signature Collection, or is it Selection (My eyes aren't what the used to be and the band on the lancero I am smoking is very small). Then there is the Patriarch, Perdomo2 and Perdomo Reserve (10th Anniversary) from Nick Perdomo. At least Nick's political campaign didn't deflect him from his real life's work!

I could go on and on, with little or no encouragement, but the point is we have more opportunity to enjoy great smokes today than ever before. Just as long as we fight the good fight along with CRA! If I am being redundant - or even repeating myself, it is because the issue and this cause is vital.

"Eating and sleeping are the only activities that should be allowed to interrupt man's enjoyment of his cigar." Mark Twain


 




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