2012 is well into swing now that January has already past us. The Super Bowl has been played and baseball is about to start. I already would have broken my resolutions, so it is probably good I didn’t make any. Why bother with the disappointment right? But looking back over 2011 and all of the changes that occurred in my life, I know 2012 is shaping up to be a great year. Hopefully that is also the case with the cigar industry as well. 2010 and 2011 saw many new faces join the ranks of the old guard and some old guard return in a new form. We saw new and innovative blends, partnerships, shapes, and sizes all jump into the market. We’ve seen the big ring gauge craze hit in full force but even small ring gauge product is making its own splash. So how does 2012 live up what I consider to be 2 good years in the cigar business and more so, how does it set its self apart and maybe even above the previous years?
This is obviously not an easy question to answer and it is HIGHLY subjective. To some, a better year would be simply a continuation of the good things we have been seeing. The “If it ain’t broke, then don’t fix it” mentality. To others it is seeing the newest and hottest item to hit the market. I will say I sit somewhere in between. Shiny and new is fun but often times wears thin quick. There is a reason that brands like Macanudo and Romeo y Julieta are the best-selling brands in the world. The old guard knows what they are doing and they do it exceptionally well. The opposite of that is how much attention the new guys like Dion of Illusione and Pete of Tatuaje are getting, amongst others. The folks who smoke milder cigars probably sit on the “don’t fix it” side of the fence while others will say that the bold, striking new blends hitting the market are the wave of the future. Both sides are probably right and as much so wrong. That is the beauty of what we do in that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of options out there for anyone and everyone to enjoy this hobby.
Looking into 2012 shows us a picture that looks similar to 2010 and 2011: many new line extensions happening with a litany of limited edition products lining store shelves for short times. The newest addition is that Eddie Ortega just announced last week he had left EO Brands, the company he started with partner Eric Espinosa, to start his own brand called Ortega cigars. Previously responsible for lines such as 601 and Cubao, his first line will be called Ortega Serie D, produced at the My Father factory by famed cigar roller/blender Don Pepin Garcia and family, and looks to be as dark and oily as anything I’ve seen on the market. I would expect quite a bit of buzz around this cigar as we get closer to its slated release in late February/early March. Eddie has stated he wants to keep this cigar in a small number of shops and isn’t looking to become the next cigar mogul. He wants to keep his relationships small and fruitful around the country but don’t worry, Cigar King has already made our order!
Another big hit every year has been the limited release Halloween cigars from Tatuaje. Produced each Halloween to represent some of Pete Johnson’s favorite movie monsters of yesteryear, this year’s release is the Mummy! Wrapped in tissue paper and boxed in coffins of 13 you can bet there will be a frenzy to collect these. But the big announcement for the Halloween series was that Tatuaje will be releasing smaller vitolas of each blend in 10 count boxes (2 of each Monster cigar). The exact size hasn’t been announced as of yet but there was already a buzz across the cigar world for this release. We will also be seeing an addition to his Cojonu line with the 2012 release featuring 3 different wrappers to choose from: a Sumatra, a Habano, and a Connecticut broadleaf. The new Cojonu is expected to be released around the time of the IPCPR trade show in August.
2012 currently has around 150 new releases slated for arrival so it should be a BUSY year for us all. Some of those I announced above while others I will save for you to find, I mean that is half the fun of this hobby right? I know we will be carrying some of the new stuff while others won’t make it into the store. Unfortunately there is only so much room to be had. It is good to see new product still being developed and I can’t wait to try as much of it as I can. You can be sure more will be added to the list as we get through the 2012 and this year’s IPCPR in Orlando should be a great showcase of what we can expect from manufactures going forward.
We’ve seen the changes this business has endured since the Cigar Boom of the late 90′s/early 2000′s. With new anti-smoking laws popping up seemingly daily, new taxes being passed at every turn and what seems to be a vehement group of people trying to tell us we cannot enjoy our perfectly legal hobby, it has been tough on the cigar business. However we have persevered and in some cases even thrived despite the mountain of things going against us. Manufactures continue to bring new and exciting blends to the market and we as retailers and consumers continue to be impressed yet still wanting more. I see 2012 shaping up to be a great year for cigar smokers everywhere and hopefully continuing the trend of good years we have seen recently.