Written by Gary J. Arzt

Monday, 07 July 2008

User Rating: / 1

industry updates

It will be fifty years this August that I smoked my first cigar, and I still remember it clearly. I immediately became a devotee of Havanas, and in December of that same year, 1958, I spent three weeks in Cuba visiting tobacco fields and factories and talking to everyone that would talk to me. Back then, my Spanish was excellent.

In 1995, I smoked my first non-Cuban cigar, a La Flor Dominicana, and I have been enamored of Dominican cigars ever since. More recently, I have added Nicaraguan cigars to my repertoire and am totally enjoying them all.

We are living in the best of times for cigar aficionados: there are more well made, full bodied cigars (my preference since I was 17) available than ever before.

Two years ago, I started to put my knowledge and expertise to use by writing about cigars. Not a vocation, mind you, rather, an avocation. A labour of love!

These columns will be about cigars, cigar smoking, the cigars I smoke, where I smoke, who I smoke with. It is a column, and as such it will be skewed to my tastes and preferences. My experiences. Nonetheless, it is here to inform and entertain you, the visitors, regular or occasional, to

I am not going to rate cigars, nor am I going to tell you what to smoke.

I'll tell you what I've been smoking that you might enjoy. And I'll tell you about people in the industry, tobacconists all over the world that are worth visiting. Most of all, there will always be descriptions of people I have met and engaged in conversation at these tobacconists. Conversations that began with the simple question, "What are you smoking?" To me, one of the most wonderful things about being a cigar smoker is the people I have met in tobacconists and cigar lounges. Intelligent, sophisticated, cosmopolitan people who are a pleasure to talk with.

While we live in an era where great cigars are readily available, in spite of the embargo; we are beset by the anti-smoking forces.

Well, not really anti-smoking forces, rather, anti-pleasure forces. People who don't want to see other people enjoying themselves.

Cigar Rights of AmericaAt last, however, we may have a champion in Cigar Rights of America ( They just got started; and they need our support and they need those of us that really care to join. Yes, you'll pay dues, and hopefully they will use these funds effectively. But, organizations aside, you can do something for yourself when set upon by any of these zealots.

One of the things I'll be writing about is how I respond to "Put that out, " or some such intrusive, rude comment when I am enjoying a cigar where I can enjoy it. I don't necessarily recommend you react as I do; my comments are usually ironic, acerbic and sometimes, damned right obnoxious. But, not as obnoxious as their belief that they can tell me what to do!

Some of you very 'contemporary' individuals might see what I've just said as a "Mission Statement." It's not. I don't really believe in them. It is just an explanation of what I am going to be writing about each month ... as best as I can explain it now, because I can't be sure. My writing is pretty much a 'stream of consciousness' thing.

Those of you who have read my column in Florida Cigar Snob will understand. Those of you who follow my columns here will come to understand. And, I hope, enjoy what I write. If you do, or if you don't, I look forward to hearing from you at my personal e-mail, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

The column will post once a month and will be written during the thirty days preceding the posting. I write whenever something strikes me as being pertinent, some experience being worth conveying to you, some cigar I've smoked that I want to tell you about. Again, I hope it will prove of interest to you.

Speaking of cigars ...

... in spite of the fact that Brazilian Mata Fina tobacco is world renowned, there has never been a Brazilian puro that has achieved real success in the U. S. market. Not Caravelas, a superb cigar imported here in early 2000s; nor Dona Flor, a more recent arrival.

Cubao Cigar by Ortega y EspinozaNow, however, a young man named Lorenzo Orsi, founder and CEO or Tabacos Mata Fina, in Bahia, Brazil, is producing a remarkable stick, with real flavour, called Monte Pascoal. Named for the mountain, albeit a small mountain, that was the first land Portuguese explorer, Pedro Alvares Cabral and his men saw when they discovered Brazil. It being Easter, they called the mountain Monte Pascoal (Easter in Portuguese). The cigar is being introduced in three (3) sizes (Robusto, Corona and Belicoso). They are being introduced in Las Vegas at the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers show (14-17 July) and will start to ship in mid-August.
Look for them at your favourite tobacconist, and give 'em a shot. I'm sure you'll enjoy a good, solid, full flavored smoke.

While I'm on the subject of new cigars, another introduction at the IPCPR will be Espinoza y Ortega's (EO Brands – distributors of 601) Cubao. Made in Esteli, Nicaragua by Tabacalera Garcia - that's Pepin Garcia - the line has the same full bodied profile of their highly regarded 601; while offering a distinctive smoking experience. (More Info on the New "Cubao" Cigar Here)

Another truly artistic experience awaits fans of Espinoza y Ortega. Their "Mi Barrio" line, again by the Maestro, Don Pepin Garcia, is a Limited Edition, to be presented four (4) times a year - seasonally, you might say. While the blend will be consistent, each release will be a different vitola. All of their cigars are 'art,' but in this case, the boxes contain real art! Each of the four releases will have a painting by Cuban artist, Edin Gutierrez on the lid. The first release, a Churchill, has a painting of Jose 'Pepin' Garcia and his very good friend, Orestes Espinoza ... father of Erik Espinoza, of Espinoza y Ortega.

I've smoked a couple of these already and enjoyed them thoroughly. I'm looking to buy at least one (1) box.

My friend Juan A. del Cerro was at Puros the other day and gave me a Casa Magna Belicoso ... a Nicaraguan Puro being introduced at IPCPR by SAG, the distribution company owned by Manolo Quesada of MATASA in the Dominican Republic.

SAG was the distributor of Joya de Nicaragua, for reasons of their own, chose to terminate a long term relationship. Manolo was not to be without a Nicaraguan cigar in the portfolio. With the help of Nestor Plasencia, Jr. - who is making the Casa Magna at the 'Segovia' factory in Esteli, Manolo created this terrific cigar. I am sure the other sizes in the line will offer the same full bodied smoke that the Belicoso does.

As I have said and written so often, this is the best of times for cigar lovers ... the choices before us are superb!

"What this country needs is a really good five-cent cigar."
 - Thomas Riley Marshal, Vice President of the U.S.

Add comment

Security code


Sign Up to our


Member Cigar Reviews | Staff Cigar Reviews | Cigar Videos | One on One Interviews | Cigar News | Puffcast | Cigar Forums | Lifestyle | Partners | Contact
© 2015 by Caputo Media, LLC. All rights reserved.
Terms of Service - Privacy Policy - Ad Blockers Suck! Why? Daily Digest

Thank you for your interest in the Daily Digest. Get notified of all new content on in our free Daily Digest. To subscribe, enter your email address below and click the subscribe button.

Email Address:

Email will come from "". Please whitelist this email address.

Cancel and Return to page