The 2015 IPCPR Trade Show brought a more streamlined look for General Cigar Company than in the past. This was reflected in a new booth design at IPCPR – which was still large in comparison to most booths, but smaller than in previous years. It was also reflected in the amount of products announced by General. While there was a somewhat a decrease in the amount of new products, General was right at the top in terms of the number of new releases when compared to others.
While we’ve moved away from “booth coverage” at IPCPR, General Cigar’s booth concept is worth mentioning. General made some design changes to the booth and perhaps the most interesting is the inclusion of a retail shop tobacco humidor right in the booth – completely stocked with General Cigar product. It actually made for a very clean way to see all of the products.
The theme of General in 2015 seemed to be to bridge the past with the present, and this was seen across many of the brands. Overall, 2015 release highlights include: plans for the 170th anniversary of Partagas, preparing for Macanudo’s 50th anniversary, continued attention to CAO and Cohiba, a quiet year for La Gloria Cubana, a re-imaging of Foundry, the emergence the Leccia Tobacco brand, and more questions on the future of Toraño. In addition, while it’s a brand distributed by General, it is clear Dunhill is also continuing its aggressive expansion plans that started last year.
The Partagas brand traces its origins to Cuba in 1845. General Cigar owns the U.S. trademark for this brand. Much like they have released the Partagas 150 and Partagas 160 for the brand’s 150th anniversary (1995) and 160th anniversary (2005) respectively, they have decided to release a special limited edition for 2015 called the Partagas 170 Aniversario.
The Partagas 170 Aniversario was actually announced prior to the IPCPR Trade Show, but still showcased prominently. Like the Partagas 150 and the Partagas 160, the Partagas 170 Aniversario utilizes a Cameroon wrapper (although not the same varietal as the other two). It will be released in three sizes with a production of 1500 ten count boxes per size. These cigars are expected to hit shops in September.
We found that the Portages team was extremely proud of this cigar. In fact, we were told this was Vice President of Operations Jhonys Diaz’s favorite cigar as of late.
In 2018, Macanudo will celebrate its 50th anniversary. As the brand prepares for this, Macanudo will undergo a redesign in terms of its packaging design with a new logo. The idea was to respect the first 45+ years of the line, but also look ahead to the next 45 years. The new logo was done as a result of extensive consumer resource. Many elements under old design were incorporated into the new design. The boxes have also been changed to have a consistent shape and design. Wrap set boxes will now be used across the whole portfolio. The Macanudo tins will also change to incorporate the new design. In addition, the bands have now been enhanced in design – including the use of foil. The new design will be rolled out in the first quarter of 2016. This will be also accompanied by comprehensive communication plan to the consumers and retailers.
Meanwhile, the Macanudo Estate Reserve series is returning for a third consecutive year with the Macanudo Estate Reserve Jamaica 2015. Last year, Macuando released the Macanudo Estate Reserve Jamaica incorporating Jamaican tobacco. This year’s version will also have Jamaican tobacco, but feature an all-new blend. This year’s version uses a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper and incorporates the an exclusive proprietary tobacco grown from a seed called Silver Tongue – native to Jamaica. The cigars will once again be housed in individual coffins. There will be three sizes – 1800 ten count boxes produced per size. Each box will be signed, dated, and numbered. Macanudo Estate Reserve Jamaica 2015 will ship in October.
While there wasn’t a new regular production release this year, General has decided to bring back the Cohiba Luxury Selection. This time in a new size – a 6 x 52 Toro called LS No. 2. The blend is the same and it also features each cigar packaged in a clear acrylic coffin. The LS No. 2 is expected to hit stores in October.
This was the busiest year for CAO since the General acquired the brand when Scandinavian Tobacco and Swedish Match merged. Two releases were expected, but there was one surprise.
First up, the CAO Flathead line saw an expansion with the CAO Flathead Steel Horse. This was announced prior to the 2015 IPCPR Trade Show. While CAO Flathead was geared more toward auto enthusiasts, the CAO Flathead Steel Horse. caters the motorcycle enthusiasts. Steel Horse is a new blend in two sizes that has the signature ultra-flat cap. The difference is that as opposed to being a box-press like the original Flathead line, this is a rounded parejo. The cigars are also packaged in spark-plug like boxes introduced with the CAO Flathead Sparkplug. Flathead Steel Horse is expected to ship in August.
CAO Pilon was also announced prior to the show. The CAO Pilon incorporates fermenting tobacco using a technique of round shaped pilons. This is a technique that is traced back to the 19th century. Rick Rodriguez and Agustin Garcia experimented with this method to create an all-new blend that showcases bringing together past and present. This cigar is expected to ship in August.
Margaritaville by CAO is is a new brand that was announced at the Trade Show. This is a brand that connects cigars to the Jimmy Buffet lifestyle brand. There are two releases. CAO Margaritaville – a piña colada flavored cigar in two sizes; and Havana Daydreamin,- a traditional cigar. Both cigars are scheduled to arrive at retailers in October.
La Gloria Cubana
Prior to the show it was announced three lines of La Gloria Cubana were being discontinued. This year, it was announced that the limited edition La Gloria Cubana Trunk Show series was returning for 2015 with the La Gloria Cubana Trunk Show 2015. This year’s edition is a retrospective edition – incorporating the previous three years into two packages – one for brick and mortar and one for internet catalog. The cigars all feature the signature smokeable bands. However, it was also announced that this series was being retired after this year’s release.
The humidor for each series contains 36 cigars. The brick and mortar release is a yellow and red humidor “trunk” containing the blends in the past years from Michael Giannini and Yuri Guillen. The internet catalog blend contains the blends from Jhonys Diaz in a dark humidor released in 2013 and 2014. These are scheduled for shipment in October.
Foundry Tobacco Company
This is the fourth year for Michael Giannini’s brand in the General portfolio. The last two years have seen a large number of releases with many small batch limited releases. In fact 2014 saw 16 new facings introduced. This year there much less facings and there is also a shifting of the gears for the brand itself.
Many releases in the Foundry brand have paid homage to history – whether its the Steampunk movement, the battle between Edison and Tesla, or even future history such as growing tobacco on Mars. This year, a decision was made to once again pay homage to history, but bring two classic brands with Cuban origins into the lineup. The Bolivar and Ramon Allones brands are now coming into the Foundry brand and are now being known as the Foundry Heritage brands. Giannini’s vision was to re-imagine these classic Cuban brands to create a classic for today and a classic for the future. Giannini told us the exiting Bolivar line will be retired.
Giannini has said that the Worm Hole Series, War of Currents, and Foundry Steampunk lines are coming close to the end because of the availability of the tobaccos. He said the brand’s regular production lines Chillin Moose, Uranium, Carbon, Dublium, and Cobalt (the latter four under Compounds, Elements, and Musings) will continue.
Leccia Tobacco was acquired by General Cigar shortly after General acquired the brands from Toraño Family Cigars. At the trade show, Leccia was positioned as its own brand and the brand’s fourth blend, the Luchador El Gringo was unveiled.
El Gringo is a different blend, highlighted by Nicaraguan Oscuro wrapper with a mostly Nicaraguan blend. A decision was made to put this under the Luchador line, which pays homage to wrestling. The packaging of El Gringo is similar to the original Luchador, but the color scheme uses red, white and blue instead of red, white and green. One of the sizes is a unique 70 ring gauge box-press called “Frog Splash”
It is ten months since the acquisition of the Toraño Family Cigar brands. Things have been very quiet, and remained low key at the IPCPR Trade Show. Earlier this year, the long awaited Charlie Toraño Captiva (a pre-acqusition project) had a low key release. At the show, the only activity was around The Brick line – which was revamped both blend-wise and packaging-wise for last year’s trade show. This year, The Brick will now receive two additional vitolas (a Robusto and a Toro). There will also be 20 count box offerings for the vitolas for all four vitolas. The new frontmarks are expecting to arrive in stores this October.
One was wondering if the 2015 IPCPR Trade Show would be the big push for the Toraño brand. However, 2016 is the planned 100 year anniversary of Toraño and while nothing has officially been said, it makes sense that next year will be a bigger year for Toraño.
Dunhill is a brand for which General Cigar Company handles distribution. For the second year in a row, this was quite an active brand under the General portfolio.
The big news is a new regular production line called Heritage by Dunhill, which was actually announced prior to the IPCPR Trade Show. Heritage is a line being made in Honduras.
The other big news is a cigar to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Don Candido line called the Dunhill Signed Range Selección Suprema Don Candido is significant in the history of Dunhill as it was the first line made exclusively for Dunhill. It is being released in one size – a 6 x 50 Toro. This cigar is expected to hit shops in October.
Stay tuned for more in-depth coverage of the General Cigar releases over the next couple of weeks.