Thursday, October 20, 2011

Save The Cigar Industry Now!

We must stop the FDA from decimating the premium cigar industry!  They want to ban all cigar advertising, deface cigar box art with warnings and graphic imagery, and eliminate self-service humidors (ie walk-in humidors).  After years of excessive taxation and legislation, we must draw the line here!  And thanks to Cigar Rights of America and the IPCPR, we have the opportunity to do just that.  Sign this petition and share it with your customers and friends!  And DO IT NOW!!!!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Tobacco Flavor Chart

Do you ever struggle for descriptors to identify the flavors (taste + aroma) that you are sensing in your tobaccos?  Or, do you wish there was a tool to help you distinguish and organize all of those flavors so you can document the taste of your favorite cigar or pipe tobaccos?   Well, now there is – thanks to Certified Master Tobacconist David “Doc” Diaz!  After years in development, Doc has produced the Tobacco Flavor Chart to help all luxury tobacco lovers describe and analyze their favorite tobaccos.  This Tobacco Flavor Chart can be used to help you describe the cigars or pipe tobaccos you smoke as well as save that information for reference at a later date.  This is a handy tool for retailers to give to their customers and for consumers to use and save so they can remember what they smoked.  This Tobacco Flavor Chart was created as an educational tool for anyone to use and please feel free to email Doc or TU suggestions, additions, or corrections if you think they are needed.  Enjoy!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A True Vintage Cigar

The Tatuaje La Vérité is a special and revolutionary collaboration between Pete Johnson (Tatuaje Cigars) and Jose “Pepin” Garcia (Don Pepin & My Father Cigars). The cigars are composed exclusively of tobaccos grown at Don Pepin’s La Estrella Farm (vega) in Esteli Nicaragua.

The La Vérité cigar is a true vintage cigar because all of the tobaccos in it are part of the same crop - grown during the same year. Furthermore, it is an Estate (or Farm) Vintage cigar because all of the tobaccos in it come from one farm. To our knowledge, this is the first time a premium or super-premium cigar has been produced in this manner; similar to Vintage and Estate wines. As a Farm Vintage, the La Vérité cigars provide a snapshot of taste and aroma that captures a specific time and place.


Friday, October 22, 2010

Humidor Setup Video

After purchasing a new humidor, you will need to "season" it and make sure your hygrometer functions properly. This video will walk you through all of the necessary steps to keep your cigars in perfect condition. If you have any further questions, please visit the Tobacconist University FAQ & How To.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Fighting The NYC Ban

On May 4, 2010 the New York Tobacconists Association (NYTA) appeared before the NYC Board of Health to make their case for not banning flavored tobaccos: including cigar and pipe tobaccos, but not menthol, wintergreen, and mint flavorings - typical hypocritical exclusion of 'big tobacco' products, just like the FDA law. This ridiculous law was written, probably with great assistance from the heart, lung, and cancer societies, in order to 'protect children': even though it is already illegal to sell tobacco products to children. While the Board of Health has already written the law, and it has been passed by the city council, there is still a chance to protect tobacconists from this devastating and draconian law. Impassioned and articulate speeches were delivered by Ron Melendi, CMT, Michael Herklots, CMT, Jorge Armenteros, CMT (me), representatives of Gotham Government Relations (who represent the NYTA), and others. While it is too early to tell if we are making significant progress, there is a chance we can keep the Board from enforcing this ridiculous law inside of retail tobacconists. If this law passes and is enforced in NYC it will spread throughout the nation, so it is a critical fight for all tobacconists. This is the fight of our lives because the 'Empire State' is ground zero for the Nanny State in America, and whatever passes in NY will surely follow everywhere else.

FYI: View the article about the meeting by Greg Mottola of Cigar Aficionado, and the text of my speech is below...

NYC Health Committee: 5.4.2010
3rd Floor, Rm 330
125 Worth St. (b/w Lafayette & Centre)
New York, NY 10013

Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today. My name is Jorge Armenteros and I am the president of Tobacconist University. We are the organization that educates and certifies consumers and professional tobacconists – just like a sommelier organization does for wine. We have over 350 Certified Tobacconists and apprentices around the world with the highest concentration of Certified Master Tobacconists right here in NYC. People come here from all over the world to visit these luxury goods specialists in the same way they come to visit great chefs and sommeliers…. The products we sell are rare and special.

As a retail tobacconist and one who represents hundreds of similarly honorable professionals, the most important thing I can tell you is that there is nothing more reprehensible to us than the thought or act of selling tobacco to children. The first line of our code of ethics & standards states that we will “obey and enforce all local, state and federal laws regarding tobacco age/use restrictions.”

Retail tobacconists, by and large, are small family run businesses, many with generations of traditions and important cultural history. We pay our mortgages, and raise and educate our children just like you. And the thought of selling tobacco products to children is despicable to us.


The next point I want to make is that there is a world of difference between mass produced, homogenized, and chemically enhanced cigarettes and the world of luxury, premium, and natural cigars and pipe tobaccos.

While it may take a few months to grow, dry, and manufacture a cigarette, it takes years to cultivate premium cigars and pipe tobaccos. We estimate that every one of the 6 to 8 leaves in a premium cigar is touched at least 300 times by human hands, and it can take up to ten years to make a premium cigar. Those 6 to 8 leaves are picked at different times, from different plants in different farms and countries. It is an extraordinary process that requires dozens, if not hundreds, of highly skilled and trained artisans to turn a rustic leaf into an organoleptic delicacy – a sensory pleasure. Premium cigars, pipes, and pipe tobaccos represent generations of knowledge, culture, and skill; much of which was already invented before Europeans discovered the new world.

Premium cigars and pipe tobaccos are curated like rare horticultural specimens. They are cultivated from seed varietals that have taken generations to breed and these varietals have very little in common with the plants that are used for cigarettes. It’s like the difference between a bicycle and a Rolls Royce…

From a chemical standpoint, cigarettes are acidic and they are meant to be inhaled into the lungs, whereas cigars are alkaline, which is not conducive to inhalation. By and large, cigar and pipe smokers do not inhale and this dramatically affects their relationship with the nicotine in the plant. (BTW nicotine is also found in tomatoes, green peppers, potatoes, and eggplant) The lung specific delivery method and concentration of nicotine, coupled with the instantaneous effects of inhalation, are what make cigarette smoking a potentially compulsive and/or addictive behavior. This is profoundly different than the effects of premium cigars and pipe tobaccos which are not inhaled. The average premium cigar smoker enjoys less than two cigars per week.

Premium cigars and pipe tobaccos are savored for their taste and aroma. Cigar and pipe smokers do not smoke when they have a stuffed up nose cold because that prohibits them from tasting the product – which is the purpose of the product. Taste and aroma, relaxation, camaraderie, celebration, and savoring your time: that is why people smoke cigars and pipes.

I can tell you that most days non-smokers come into our shops just to enjoy the aroma. They tell us about their fond memories of a father or relative who smoked, and sometimes buy an aromatic (i.e. flavored) pipe tobacco just to enjoy the smell in their home or car.

Smell is the human sense most closely linked to memory and emotion. Positive smells anchor fond memories and experiences; they relax us and help us decompress; they enhance the quality of our lives. People who like the smell of cigars and pipe tobaccos do so passionately – it is a quality of life issue. Conversely, those who dislike the smell of “tobacco” usually have a very strong and negative emotional response to it.

It is estimated that less than 5% of the population occasionally smokes pipes and cigars. We are a tiny minority, with unique tastes. But taste is by nature a personal preference. And as Thomas Jefferson said “taste cannot be controlled by law”. Taste is also something that cannot be measured or judged. Taste is subjective. People will like what they like. While you may enjoy clove or anise in your food, I do not. But I respect your taste, and I humbly ask that you respect and protect ours.

Thank you very much.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Procigar 2010 Festival Wrap-Up


Santiago, Dominican Republic - Beginning on Sunday, February 14, 2010, leading cigar manufacturers and sponsors came together to kick off the third annual Procigar Festival to celebrate the Dominican Republic's role as one of the world's foremost tobacco producing countries.

Sponsored by world-renowned Dominican cigar producing companies, General Cigar, Matasa, Tabacalera de Garcia, La Aurora, Tabadom, and Tabaquisa, the 2010 Procigar Festival welcomed more than 200 guests representing more than 20 countries.

During the Festival, participants enjoyed guided tours of each sponsor company's tobacco plantations and cigar making operations. In addition, the Festival also celebrated the rich culture of the island nation by treating guests to authentic Dominican cuisine, merengue music and visits to local cultural centers.

The festival began on February 14th in La Romana, Casa de Campo, where Jose Seijas from Tabacalera de Garcia welcomed the cigar lovers to the Dominican Republic. While in La Romana, guests participated in the third annual Procigar Golf Tournament at the legendary Teeth of the Dog golf course, one of two golf tournaments that took place during this year's festival.

On Tuesday February 16th, Festival registration began in Santiago and on Wednesday February 17th the official activities of the festival started in the host city of Santiago de Los Caballeros. During the three-day itinerary, guests were treated to guided tours of Matasa, La Aurora, General Cigar and Davidoff factories, where attendees saw firsthand how their favorite cigars are produced. As a bonus, guests had the opportunity to enjoy lunch with executives and cigar makers from each sponsor company and participated of tastings, seminars, tobacco rolling experience and the launching of new cigars.

New for this year, each guest had the opportunity to select from one of five daily activities online to customize their itinerary before arriving. In addition to cigar factory and plantation tours, Procigar festival participants had the option to partake in activities including Presidente Beer, Brugal Rum, Karoma Coffee plantation, the Dominican Craftsmanship and City Tour or the Path of Chocolate tour. For the adventuresome, the Damajagua River Adventure featured a guided tour of Dominican waterfalls. In addition it was held a second golf tournament, which took place at Santiago's Las Aromas golf course.

Also new for 2010, the Festival's first-ever press conference was held at the Hodelpa Gran Almirante in Santiago with the participation of Hendrik Kelner, Manuel Quesada, Dan Carr, Guillermo Leon and Juan Clemente, followed by the seminar "Why Dominican Republic is Cigar Country". A cigar blind tasting contest was made during this seminar ending with 7 lucky winners that received discounts and full paid trip for the 2011 Festival.

The welcome dinner was filled with Dominican culture featuring carnaval, Dominican cuisine and perico-ripiao music performed by "El Prodigio". A dancing contest was made up again of festival participants, the finalist were again Arthur Zarestky, Michael Herklots and new on stage Thaddeus Bug, the latter took the crown earning the prize of selecting 100 cigars from any of the Procigar members cigar factories.

A gorgeous white dinner was offered at the Monumento a los Heroes de La Restauracion, which is the main symbolic building of Santiago, here the participants enjoyed a beautiful view of the city and a taste of a unique cigar, never to be repeated again, made with special tobaccos from all factories of Procigar. A silent auction was also held to benefit the sister country of Haiti. A fun after party continued after this dinner for those that did not want to end the night early.

The closing ceremony was held at a private club in Santiago called Centro Espanol. This year's theme embraced the history of Santiago and celebrated the sights and sounds of Santiago in the early 1900's. The evening culminated in a live auction of limited edition cigars and related items to benefit the Voluntariado de Jesus con los ninos (Non-Profit organization for ill children) and the Hospicio San Vicente de Paul de Santiago (retirement home for low income elders).

Gold Sponsors:
Hodelpa Gran Almirante, Presidente, American Airlines, Ferquido, Cigar Rings, Banco Popular, Intabaco, Fersan, Casa de Campo, Consejo Nacional de Zonas Francas de Exportacion, Vriijdag premium printing, Corporacion Zona Franca Industrial, Ayuntamiento Municipal de Santiago, Karoma.

Silver Sponsors:
Manne Tobacco Flavour, Editoria Premium, Brugal

Bronze Sponsors:
El Catador, Coca-Cola y Dasani, Golf Destinaire (Callaway), El Sendero del Cacao, CEI-RD, International Packaging, UPS, Direccion General de Aduanas, BME, Seguros BanReservas

Sunday, January 10, 2010

NYC Says Heroin-Yes, Tobacco-No

Last year the New York City (NYC) health commissioner and mayor stated their intent to ban outdoor smoking because 'children should not have to see smokers'. NYC also banned the sale of all flavored tobacco (specifically by professional tobacconists), and mandated that retail tobacconists must place graphic and disgusting images of disease next to our products. Clearly, NYC hates tobacco in a way that transcends science, facts, tolerance, taste, or the value of self-determination and freedom. The bigotry of NYC's legislators and leaders could not be more obvious in a society that ignores the value of protecting smoker and business owner rights. And we know all of this because NYC continues to tax, ban, prohibit, and over-legislate our industry into near extinction.

What we did not know, is that while they are pursuing the prohibition of tobacco, NYC is simultaneously promoting the 'safe' use of heroin - you can't make this stuff up! While NYC forces tobacconists to display images of disease, they provide heroin users with step-by-step guides, colorfully illustrated for their heroin using pleasure! Click on this CRA News Alert to get the full story.

Don't be surprised if NYC [and all of the other towns and cities that mimic these legislators] force bars, liquor and wine stores to post grotesque pictures of drunk driving accident victims; while publishing 'How To Cook Methamphetamine" brochures - Coming to an America in 2010? PROBABLY.

Please read and share this news alert from the CRA; you have to see it to believe it. Channel your anger into pro-activity, make sure you are participating with the CRA, and show your friends the destructive path we are being led down.