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I always enjoy seeing the perspectives of the different new media sites and established magazines compiled into a single list; it's one of my favorite halfwheel entries of the year. It is great to see so many of the new guys receiving recognition for doing things the right way. Believe me, as fulfilling as this business is, there are much easier ways to make money if that is your primary goal.
It will be easy for the established guys to sit around their conference tables with their highly compensated Presidents, Vice Presidents, National Sales Managers and Marketing teams and discount the results. However, they would better served if instead they asked themselves what they need to do better in 2014.
If this list had existed twenty years ago, it would have been dominated by guys like Fuente, Carrillo, Gomez and Ozgener; a few years later Patel, Eiroa, Johnson, Giolito, etc. when most of these companies were small they were hyper engaged with consumers and retailers. For the most part, they did what these new companies are doing. They focused on quality, they innovated, they built relationships with customers one at a time.
As I commented not the Davidoff Company of the Year post, we need the big companies to succeed. The ecosystem does not survive without them. Likewise, whether they realize it or not, they need the smaller companies to keep them from becoming complacent and to keep the subculture engaged.
As the new media and social media dynamics continue to change the industry, you will see the bigger companies either innovate and progress or engage in more anti-competitive behaviors to stay ahead of the little guys....but one thing is certain, just like Cigar Aficionado created a sea-change in this industry in the early 90s, this site and the others reflected in this list are doing e same now, twenty years later. No amount of large media marketing buys, no amount of made-in-China slick packaging, no sales team can reverse the fact that consumers are more informed and have been exposed to consistent top quality cigars at fair prices....they know when you take short cuts in production to increase your margins. They know what a good cigar should cost. They expect engagement.
Evolve or die.
1 month, 3 weeks ago on 2013 Awards: The Consensus
Awesome. Any idea what they will look like. Function is there, if the form is there too I will definitely be buying a few
1 month, 3 weeks ago on Press Release: Next Generation Humidifiers from Cigar Oasis
Thank you for recognizing the Intemperance BA XXI A.W.S. IV as the #16 cigar on your list this year. We are very honored to have been included.
1 month, 3 weeks ago on 2013 Awards: halfwheel 25
When you said that the top cigar was the thickest, I automatically assumed it was the CroMagnon Femur. Imagine my disappointment.
Thanks guys for the recognition. Esteban is a very humble man, but his pride was obvious and well earned when I shared this with him this morning.
At the end of the day, that is what it is all about. It is what it is, a few guys' opinions. There are more than three dozen sites posting end of year lists and they are no less, no more, but all of them generate discussion and debate. They motivate people to talk about what is being done well and what can be done better. They promote and invigorate a ver important core consumer group for our industry. They provide a distributed form of recognition for people like Esteban and ourselves that let's us know that our hard work is appreciated.
Thank you for everything you guys do to promote this industry that I love. Keep up the hard work and let the haters hate.
1 month, 4 weeks ago on 2013 Awards: Factory of the Year
Thanks for the recognition guys, it means a lot to a small company like us to be recognized for the hard work and sacrifices it takes to do what we've done in a few short years.
On Davidoff, I can completely see this from your perspective. I've always had mad respect for the quality of their work and their dedication to both the art and science of making cigars. A few years ago I wondered if they hadn't lost their way along with a number of other big companies. What I mean by that I felt that they desperately needed to escape the 90s. Then they bought a few great companies and brought some new talent on board. Still, the changes weren't apparent. This year, it was obvious and refreshing. The changes go deeper than fancy packaging and slick marketing. The objective quality of their products are unparalleled, even if they aren't to your subjective tastes. There are legit game changers at work in that company and I, for one, am excited to see the momentum continue into 2014 and beyond.
I say these things as a longtime cigar consumer and cheerleader for the overall business. When a company as large and established as Davidoff innovates we all benefit. Company of the Year, well deserved recognition.
1 month, 4 weeks ago on 2013 Awards: Company of the Year
I had a chance to smoke one of these with Arsenio Ramos at the factory in Esteli. Amazing. Worth every penny.
2 months, 2 weeks ago on Illusione Ships Singularé 2013 Rose Croix
This picture doesn't make it any easier to pick him out of a lineup. =)
Do you post the other pictures somewhere else?
3 months ago on Icons of Cigars: Nestor Andrés Plasencia
This picture doesn't make it easier to pick him out of a lineup. =)
Great idea. Well executed. Keep doing what you do.
3 months, 1 week ago on HALFWHEEL X Sean “Casper” Johnson (L’Atelier Importrs)
Respect. I don't have the patience to smoke one. Thank you for taking the time to post a thorough and thoughtful review. In the end, taste is subjective. Some people find it contentious when another doesn't agree with their opinion, but I generally do not. For what it is worth, this cigar is an exact replica of the Mandible. As you mentioned, we used the same high quality tobacco and process to make it. There isn't any obvious reason why the flavors would differ. For that reason, I think this is a good case study in how the physics involved in smoking a cigar affect the flavors. David 'Doc' Diaz certainly knows the science better than I, but in general, I know that good tobacco contains low levels of sulphur. When a cigars smolders, due to insufficient oxygen, the sulphur in the ash tries to inhibit the process and it contributes a sharp metallic bitter taste, much like the the sense of sucking on a copper penny. Perhaps this is increased in an extremely large cigar where airflow, despite an open draw, is not sufficient, is too abundant or is uneven. I would also think that the constriction of relatively your small punch concentrates the negative byproducts into a small tunnel that becomes increasingly problematic over five hours. Thanks again for posting the review, Esteban enjoyed it immensely.
4 months, 3 weeks ago on CroMagnon Femur (Prerelease)
Thank you for sharing Brooks. I couldn't have explained it better myself.
Esteban and I are very excited about this new phase for Nica Sueno. With the additional capacity coming online, you can expect more news like this in the future!
6 months, 3 weeks ago on News: Nica Sueño Prepares Releases for Blue Havana Cigars
Given the amount of Jalapa, I was really surprised how much I loved this cigar. I forgot what I was smoking and had one of those, 'wow this is good' moments. Definitely worth picking the Robustos up before it is gone.
7 months, 1 week ago on Toraño Exodus 1959 Finite 2013 Robusto (Prerelease)
Thanks for taking the time to review and photograph CRAFT 2013. You guys put a great deal of effort into the content you present and a lot of attention to detail in the way you present it.
There is a reason why so many people, like myself, visit the site each day. Any time you put information about what we are doing out there a lot of people will see it. We appreciate this immensely.
As everyone knows, taste is subjective. What I can tell you is that the time, effort, skill and care that has gone into this project is extensive. We set out to make a limited edition cigar that was a) limited for a reason and b) worth the price tag.
In the end, we are very proud of what we do every day here at Nica Sueño and extremely proud of the La Campaña de Panamá Soberana. I hope everyone of our loyal customers have the opportunity to buy one and judge for themselves.
Also looking forward to the 90+ Redux Review after you get ahold of a retail version of his amazing cigar. =)
8 months, 2 weeks ago on CRAFT 2013 La Campaña de Panamá Soberana (Prerelease)
Thanks for taking the time to smoke the cigar and take notes. I always love reading the bullet points.
Charlie had a similar observation about the number of vitolas, so I wanted to say a few things about this (with a few fun facts for the data heads):
-It is important to note that 85% of the 108k cigars we have in the escaparate at Nica Sueno are the core line vitolas. So it is fair to say that the super-majority of our production is the core line.
-Historically, the distribution of production is 20.8% Intemperance BA XXI, 19.9% Intemperance EC XVIII, 25.2% for the CroMagnon and 25.1% for the CroMagnon Aquitaine. "Limited Editions' represent only 9.1% of our production, but they are produced consistently every week.
-With the exception of the Craft liga, which will be produced in 'small-batch' fashion each year in a different blend/vitolla, every cigar we make is regular production. The 'Limited Edition' vitolas referred to above are not 'batch' cigars, but are more accurately referred to as low-volume production cigars outside of the core line.
-Why do we do this? A few reasons. First, we wanted to incentivize/reward customers for attending our events, but we do not believe in discounting (eg. Buy 3, Get 1 Free) our core line. We offer our retailers the opportunity to purchase cigars outside of the core line for events. Second, this is one of the advantages of owning our own factory. We dictate daily production and are able to add new sizes that we believe are interesting. aka 'because we want to'. Third, these sizes give us a tool to use to help retailers compete. PodmanCigars.com, Riverside, Tower and R. Field have all been loyal supporters of the line and expressed an interest in acquiring the right to sell certain sizes exclusively. We believe it strengthens the bond we have with these retailers and allows them to generate sales outside of their walk-in traffic. It also makes these sizes available to consumers who can not make it to an event. Lastly, it allows us to 'market test' demand for new vitolas in the core line.
-As you know Nica Sueno SA is a different entity than RoMa Craft Tobac LLC. Esteban Disla and I have moved into a new facility. We are in the process of renovating the building and expanding our capacity from 300k cigars/year to 1.3M cigars/year. While the production of RoMa Craft Tobac cigars will increase to about 500k cigars/year, the remainder of the capacity at Nica Sueno will be utilized to make cigars for other companies. We have already begun production of private label brands for two retail stores, and are actively working on two more. We have also talked with other large brands about producing line expansions and new ligas for them here. The conversion of our old facility into a space for pre-industry (fermentation) and the process excellence we have developed in the last three years are game changers in terms of our ability to support these efforts.
In short, we are in this business for the long-term. We believe our vertical integration provides us with strategic differentiation that we try to exploit at every opportunity in order to increase value to our consumers. At the same time, we have always been and will remain focused on quality over quantity, substance over style.
I recently posted this question on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=539504729440975&set=a.296458993745551.73448.287596937965090&type=1
In our minds, it is the question every retailer should ask themselves as the walk the floor at IPCPR and every consumer should ask as they browse the humidor. It isn't about big or small, necessarily. It isn't about mega vs. boutique. In the end it is a question of value in a hyper-competitive environment. Where is it derived? Who delivers it?
One more thing, we will have bands on the CroMagnon and Aquitaine cigars at the trade show barring any extraordinary logistic issues. I have been told that the band makes the cigar taste better. =)
8 months, 3 weeks ago on CroMagnon Mode 5 (Prerelease)
He has some Atlatls too....
9 months, 3 weeks ago on News: Intemperance A.W.S. IV Lonsdales Released
Give Jimmy a call and get some! Free Shipping, (412) 834-1400 < For a good time call!
Thanks for the kind words Chas. I received them exactly as you intended.
We appreciate your support and if you need anything just let us know.
10 months, 3 weeks ago on A Visit to Fabrica de Tabacos NicaSueño S.A.
@djshalifoe Definitely brother! BTW I will trade you 4 boxes for that box. =)
10 months, 4 weeks ago on A Visit to Fabrica de Tabacos NicaSueño S.A.
Yes, you missed something:
"@SethsHumidor 3 FT now and two PT."
11 months ago on A Visit to Fabrica de Tabacos NicaSueño S.A.