VegaFina could be starting a major comeback. Altadis U.S.A. Inc. vice president and general manager José Seijas is rebooting the cigar after a four-year lull in U.S. activity with a limited release. The head blender for Altadis U.S.A. is turning the medium-bodied brand into a fuller-bodied blend with a darker wrapper.
It’s been a long time in coming. Though a popular brand in Europe, the VegaFina name has undergone a series of ups and downs over the years in the United States. When VegaFina was first released in the United States in December 1998, it was made by Tabacalera S.A., the Spanish tobacco monopoly that later merged with France’s SEITA to become Altadis S.A., the parent of Altadis U.S.A. Back then it was a Honduran cigar with an Indonesian wrapper that came in four sizes. The cigar did not last long—it was discontinued shortly after the 1999 merger—and it was brought back in 2007 as a medium-bodied cigar that had a bargain price.
Today VegaFina is a popular European line, and one of the top-selling cigars in Spain, according to Altadis. The lighter- bodied smokes have traditionally included some Honduran filler in the blend, along with Connecticut-seed wrappers grown in Ecuador.
But this new cigar, called VegaFina José Seijas 2011, is different. It is rolled in La Romana, Dominican Republic, at Tabacalera de Garcia Ltd., one of the world’s largest cigar factories. The blend consists of Dominican binder and fillers and a Mexican wrapper leaf of San Andrés Criollo with a complexion quite darker than Connecticut. Altadis says the suggested retail price will be about $6.50 per cigar.
For now, this smoke is only available as a thick corona gorda measuring 6 inches long by 56 ring gauge. It’s also a limited release: This Seijas special is making a modest first push at the U.S. market with just 2,500 boxes, each containing ten cigars.
The Seijas 2011 is likely to be the first of more VegaFina editions to come, though Altadis won’t say if it has another one already in the works.
This story appeared in the November 8 Cigar Insider.
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