2017 has been a big year for Altadis U.S.A. The two big stories heading into this year’s trade show were the ever-strengthening partnership with AJ Fernandez and the new distribution agreement with Boutique Blends Cigars that has also added Rafael Nodal to the team. Add to the mix, the ever-expanding footprint of Casa de Montecristo lounges by Altadis U.S.A.’s parent division Tabacalera U.S.A and there is little doubt Altadis U.S.A. is making a statement. And there were plenty of other projects showcased at this year’s trade show putting Altadis U.S.A. in the spotlight.
The AJ Fernandez Releases
Tabacalera USA actually started the ball rolling releasing the Montecristo Crafted by AJ Fernandez and Romeo y Julieta Crafted by AJ Fernandez. These are two projects blended by AJ Fernandez and produced at his factory in Estelí, Nicaragua These releases went to Santa Clara Cigars, the distribution arm for JR Cigars under Tabacalera USA. Earlier this year, three additional releases were produced by Fernandez to be sold under the Altadis U.S.A. name.
First up Gispert, a somewhat dormant brand under Altadis U.S.A., received an all-new blend with the Gispert Intenso. This cigar brings what the name says – a more intense and bolder cigar experience. Intenso uses a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper, Nicaraguan binder, and a combination of Dominican and Nicaraguan fillers. It is available in three box-pressed sizes (Corona, Toro, and Belicoso) – packaged in 20-count boxes. It’s a value priced offering with MSRP between $6.00 and $6.95.
Fernandez also had a chance to put his stamp on the H. Upmann line with the H. Upmann by AJ Fernandez. The cigar features an Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper, a Nicaraguan Corojo ’99 binder, and a combination of Criollo ’98 and Piloto Cubano in the filler. It is also the first H. Upmann cigar to come out of Nicaragua. The H. Upmann by AJ Fernandez is available in three sizes: Robusto, Toro, and Churchill. The cigars are packaged in 20-count boxes priced between $7.25 and $7.75.
Finally, Fernandez would deliver a second Montecristo release with a new extension to the Monte line. The Monte by Montecristo AJ Fernandez features an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, Corojo ’98 binder, and a combination of Criollo ’98 and Piloto Cubano Dominican filler. The cigars will be in four box-pressed sizes – each packaged in 20-count boxes. The original Monte was meant to be a more affordable Montecristo, and the new AJ Fernandez version is priced is between $10.50 and $11.25 MSRP.
We highlighted Boutique Blends’ first year as a part of the Altadis U.S.A. booth with a separate “Spotlight” feature.
Other IPCPR Releases
In addition to the Monte by Montecristo AJ Fernandez, the Montecristo brand was once again the centerpiece of this year’s releases by Altadis U.S.A.
The Montecristo Artisan Series Batch 2 was launched. It’s a follow-up to the Montecristo Artisan Series Batch 1. Like Batch 1, the Montecristo Artisan Series Batch 2 uses aged tobaccos from a private batch of some of Altadis’ best tobaccos. The Batch 2 features a different blend from its predecessor as it consists of an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, a Java Indonesian binder, and fillers from the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, and Colombia. This year’s cigar is also a Toro, but it measures 6 x 50 (as opposed to Batch 1’s 6 x 54).
There was a third installment to the Montecristo Grupo de Maestros Private Batch series with the Montecristo Grupo de Maestros Private Batch III. The cigars in the Private Batch series represent blends that the Grupo de Maestros created for the members’ own private consumption. The Grupo de Maestros Private Batch III features a different blend than the previous two installments. Private Batch III incorporates Dominican, Nicaraguan, and Peruvian fillers with a Santo Domingo binder from the Dominican Republic and an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper. Like its predecessors, Grupo de Maestros Private Batch III is available in one size – this time a 6 1/8 x 52 Belicoso (the first Private Batch to not feature a Toro). Pricing is set at $16.00 SRP per cigar.
The packaging for the Montecristo Grupo de Maestros Private Batch III also features a similar collectible cedar trunk to what was used for the previous two installments.
The Montecristo Espada Estoque is back for another limited run with the Montecristo Espada Estoque Vintage 2002 . The blend consists of a Jalapa wrapper and binder over an all-Nicaraguan filler. Included in the blend are vintage 2002 tobaccos. The Estoque Vintage 2002 comes in one size – a 6 x 50 torpedo. It will be packaged in ten-count leather boxes. Pricing is set at $15.00 per cigar.
In addition to the H.Upmann AJ Fernandez, there is a new H. Upmann Banker Ingot release with the H. Upmann Banker Ingot Rosé. The new installment brings an all-new blend consisting of an aged Cameroon wrapper, Nicaraguan binder, and fillers from Nicaragua, Peru, and the Dominican Republic. The Ingot Rose is being made in one size – a 6 3/4 x 48 Churchill. It is available in 12-count boxes with a total of 5,000 boxes (60,000 cigars) produced. While the first Ingot was packaged in gold bricks with gold bands, the Ingot Rosé will feature rose-colored packaging and bands. Pricing is set at $12.00 per cigar.
This year Altadis U.S.A. introduced the VegaFina Añejado 7 Años Robusto Extra into the U.S. market. This was originally a European release. The blend features an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, Indonesian binder, and fillers from Colombia, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic. The blend contains tobaccos aged up to seven years. While it was offered in Europe in two sizes, only one size was introduced to the U.S. market – a 6 x 50 Robusto Extra with a special pig-tailed finish. It’s available in 25-count boxes and priced at $6.00 per cigar.
Saint Luis Rey
This year Altadis U.S.A. showcased the Saint Luis Rey Natural Broadleaf. While releases such as the Saint Luis Rey Serie G Maduro have utilized bold and oily Connecticut Broadleaf wrappers, the Saint Luis Rey Natural Broadleaf is going to be slightly lighter. This Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper is sun-grown and then undergoes what Altadis U.S.A. refers to a natural fermentation process.
The remainder of the blend consists of a Criollo ’98 binder and a combination of Honduran and Nicaraguan fillers. The Saint Luis Rey Natural Broadleaf is available in three sizes: Rothchilde, Churchill, and Magnum. The line is skewed toward larger ring gauges as the smallest ring gauge size is a 56. The three sizes are available in 25-count boxes. Production of the cigar comes out of Flor de Copan in Honduras. Pricing ranges from $6.50 to $6.95 per cigar.
Romeo y Julieta
This was a quieter brand at this year’s trade show, but earlier this year Altadis put the Romeo 505 Nicaragua into widespread distribution. It’s a line done in collaboration with the Plasencia family in Nicaragua. This was a line showcased at the 2016 IPCPR Trade Show and was showcased again this year.
Photo Credits: Cigar Coop, except where noted.