The United States unit of one of the major players in the world of European-style, machine-made cigars is expanding its presence on the premium side of the cigar business.
Villiger Cigars North America, the U.S. arm of Villiger Söhne AG of Pfeffikon, Switzerland, has expanded its small but growing stable of handmade cigar brands.
Villiger Colorado has a pair of new sizes, a 6-inch-long, 60 ring gauge Gordo (suggested retail price $10.50) and a corona measuring 5 1/2 inches by 44 ring ($6.99), pushing the brand to six sizes. Villiger Talanga has been expanded by one size, adding a corona (5 1/2 by 44, $6.99), giving the line five sizes in all.
Both cigar brands are made in Nicaragua by the Plasencia family for Villiger Cigars North America, a Charlotte, North Carolina, company that is headed by president Roy MacLaren.
MacLaren wanted to add a Gordo to Villiger Talanga, too, but found the blend wasn't as appealing in that size.
Villiger is a company that turns 125 this year, and while it's a force in small machine-made cigars, particularly in Europe, the company has a very small presence in the premium business in the United States. MacLaren aims to change that.
"We have a long, rich history that has not been identified in the U.S. market," he says.
Villiger Colorado is primarily Nicaraguan, made with leaves from Jalapa, Estelí and Ometepe, along with some filler from the Jamastran Valley in Honduras. The Villiger Colorado Churchill did well in its only Cigar Aficionado tasting, scoring 89 points in the February issue. Tasters found it to be woody, with a dried cherry flavor.
Villiger Talanga, made with a wrapper grown in the Talanga Valley of Honduras, has tobaccos from the three major growing regions of Nicaragua: Jalapa, Estelí and Condega, as well as the volcanic island of Ometepe. The Villiger Talanga Churchill scored 88 points in the April Cigar Aficionado.
Each brand was launched last year at the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers trade show in Orlando, Florida. The cigars come in elegant and sparsely adorned wooden boxes of 20. Prices for the Talanga version range from $8.00 to $9.50 per cigar. The Colorado variety is a bit more pricey, from $8.50 to $10.50.
Note: The original version of this story had the incorrect age of Villiger. The company is turning 125 this year.