Friday, May 31, 2013


With the TAA (Tobacconist Association of America) annual meeting wrapping up several weeks ago, I wanted to give you a quick look at some of the special released cigars only made available to TAA member retailers. For those of you that don’t know about the TAA, here’s a short overview.

Established in 1968 by tobacconists, they exist to provide education, research, advocacy and support to those in the industry that are members. According to the TAA objectives they strive to meet three main goals:
1. To establish a forum where members can exchange information and share solutions to mutual problems.

2. To be represented by experienced tobacconists who promote professionalism in the industry through training and exercising fiscal responsibility. The representatives are full-line tobacco retailers who wholeheartedly comply with applicable state and local laws, are well established in the industry and the community.

3. To function as a buying group that takes advantage of industry close outs and passes huge savings to members, and exclusively provides high-quality cigars and pipes manufactured by TAA associate members and under TAA-owned trademarks.

Here are three of the special released cigars of 2013. The La Flor Dominicana Habano Double Press, ACID Big Bang and Ashton VSG Robusto Especial. All three cigars are carried by Corona Cigar, which has been a long standing member of the TAA.

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La Flor Dominicana Habano Double Press
Country: Dominican Republic
Filler: Dominican
Binder: Dominican
Wrapper: Ecuadorian
Strength: Medium Strong

When I mention the name Litto Gomez, you can't help but think of great cigars. He has been producing some of the best cigars on the market since the early 1980's. The Double Press is another cigar to add to his growing list of sought after cigars. Available only to members of the TAA, it's a medium to strong bodied cigar and made in the Dominican Republic. The dark Ecuadorian wrapper is flawless and with good reason. Each cigar is hand inspected and any cigars that don’t meet Litto's high standards are removed.

My pre-light inspection found a earth and hay aroma to the cigar. On lighting up, a full peppery backbone was front and center dominating the first half-inch of the smoke. That subsides for a time and a hay and coffee tone emerge. One third of the way in, mushroom and pepper tones start returning. The draw is nice and airy with just enough pull to it.

At the halfway point, the peppery backbone is back in full force, with a hint of spice on the palette. The burn has been consistent and the ash is still hanging on. On the back half, expect more rich peppery tones, coffee and earthy notes.

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Ashton VSG Robusto Especial
Country: Dominican Republic
Filler: Dominican
Binder: Dominican
Wrapper: Ecuadorian

Strength: Medium

For all the rich medium bodied cigars lovers out there this cigar is for you. There is plenty of complex flavors to go around for you in this 5.5”x50 cigar. A premium cigar that meets all the standards a premium cigar should meet and then some. A super premium Virgin Sungrown wrapper grown in Ecuador encases this beautiful cigar. Grown on the private estate of the Oliva's in Ecuador this wrapper is grown for the Fuente family and exclusively for the Ashton VSG.

The initial light I was immediately hit with a burnt marshmallow flavor that lasted for the first few seconds then quickly disappeared. A rich dark spice tone is heavy in the foreground with a hint of fruit. The wrapper has a nice oily sheen to it with slight veining. A full third of the way in and the draw is nice and smooth. A long white ash has form and the cigar is producing big bold clouds of smoke.

The final two thirds a range of flavors are found. Expect tones of cinnamon, almonds, spices, black pepper, earth and coffee. I smoked the cigar a full halfway through before the ash even began to give hints of breaking off. A true smoking pleasure awaits you in this cigar. Great burn, spot on draw and bursting with flavor.


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Acid Big Bang
Country: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan/Brazilian
Binder: Cubano
Wrapper: San Andreas Negro
Strength:Mild to Medium

Jonathan Drew, revolutionary cigar maker, is back at it again with his newest addition to the ACID line. The ACID Subculture Big Bang is a enticing 5.5”x54 cigar to say the least. He has given this cigar an extra year of aging and it shows. The extra year of aging brings out bold herbal flavors that are pleasant and refined. Slight peppery undertones compliment the herbal aroma and a nutty tone similar to cashews compliment both. The infused tobacco leaves a nice sweetness on the palette and the aromatic herbal aroma is pleasant. Expect a smooth draw with lots of bluish gray smoke. Hints of fruit, spices, black pepper and cinnamon all are found. A cigar that is sure to please all the ACID cigar fans. It's balance of tobaccos and herbal infused flavors are delectable and enticing.


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Leading A Legacy with Charlie Torano

If you've smoked cigars for any period of time, the name Toraño Family Cigars is sure to ring a bell. They have been making cigars and growing tobacco since 1916 when Don Santiago Toraño started growing tobacco in Cuba. After Castro’s takeover and nationalizing of all the farms in 1959, the Toraño family, led by Carlos Sr., left and went to the Dominican Republic where they started to grow and produce tobacco with Cuban seed. Today the Toraño name is one of the most highly respected in the business.

With factories and facilities in every major cigar producing nation, they have been growing and producing some of the finest tobacco on the market. Under Charlie Toraño’s leadership (a third-generation Toraño in the cigar business) the company has expanded its footprint and now, not only do they grow and produce tobacco for their extensive lines of cigars, but they also have a distribution arm. In addition they produce cigars for a number of other cigar brands on the market today.

I recently was able to catch up with Charlie to ask him a few questions.

CCC- Charlie, can you tell us what drives your passion for cigars?

CT- My passion for cigars is driven by three things:  First and foremost is the legacy of the three generations that came before me.  I feel connected to my ancestors knowing that we share the love of the leaf and the love of the culture that is growing, manufacturing, and enjoying cigars.  My grandfather died when I was too young to remember him.  It wasn’t until I started working in the cigar business that I felt connected to him.  Although I wasn’t always aware of it, the love of cigars is in my DNA.

Secondly, I truly enjoy the experience of smoking cigars.   Everything is better with a cigar: work, poker with the guys, watching the Heat on the patio, any conversation . . . .   There isn’t one morning when I’m in the office in Miami that I don’t appreciate the fact that my first task is to choose my first cigar of the day.

Finally, before I joined my father in the cigar business, I was a lawyer.  As a litigator, both my clients and my opposing counsel were never happy to see me.  Cue the cigar business, and everyone is pretty darn happy.  The cigar fraternity is filled with people who just want to relax and forget their troubles.  It’s easy to be passionate about being a member of this club.

CC- Who is the one person you most admire in the cigar industry?

Assuming I cannot include my father, I would say the person I most admire in the cigar industry is Nestor Plasencia.   Nestor is probably one of the greatest tobacco growers in the world, he is one of the best manufacturers of handmade cigars in the world, he is an incredible businessman, extremely personable, a fantastic communicator, extremely wise in all of his dealings, and I can say without reservation, he has to be among the hardest working person I’ve ever encountered in any industry.  I’ve always been grateful for his friendship and look to him as one of my mentors in the cigar industry.

CC- Do you have a defining moment when you knew you would make it in the cigar industry?

I truly believe that if I ever feel that “I’ve made it in the cigar business,” it’s the beginning of the end. I don’t think you ever “make it” in this business. You have to go out and earn it every day. Whether you’re growing, manufacturing, or distributing a cigar brand, the process is intense and requires constant vigilance. I recently saw an interview with Shannon Sharpe, the NFL Hall of Famer from the Denver Broncos. He said he missed going to the White House reception after they won their first Super Bowl because he was working out in the gym. He said he knew that some young guy was in a gym somewhere gunning for his job and he could not let that happen. I think the cigar business is the same thing. There are too many good cigar brands and good people in this industry for anyone to think that they have “arrived.”

CC- Anything new on the manufacturing side....plans for new lines?

Later in 2013 we are launching a new blend from the Vault.  This blend was created back in 2004 and we are excited to get this new Vault blend to the market.  We are also launching a limited edition cigar under our Exodus line called “Exodus Finite.”  We’ve also decided to repackage our current Reserva Selecta line.  We are moving away from the glass tubes and offering this great blend in a new presentation.

CC- Where do you see your company five years from now?

The goal is to continue on a steady growth path, offering new and exciting cigars, expanding our distribution, both domestically and abroad, and enjoying the ride.

CC-  Favorite person from history-And why?

Jesus.  He preached love and forgiveness and gave hope to the world.

CC- Stranded on a deserted island what three things would you want with you?

Cutter, lighter and cigars!