C.L.E. To Distribute Reyes Family Cigars

Sep 1, 2016 | By Gregory Mottola
C.L.E. To Distribute Reyes Family Cigars

A young cigar company and old cigar company have formed a partnership. Starting September 12, C.L.E. Cigar Co. will be distributing the brands produced by Reyes Family Cigars, makers of Puros Indios and Cuba Aliados, which are rolled in Honduras.

"Having to run the day-to-day business of a fully operational cigar factory takes 100 percent of our time," said Carlos Diez, president of Reyes Family Cigars told Cigar Aficionado. "This partnership allows us to continue our efforts in the factory and on the quality of our products without letting our distribution suffer."

Christian Eiroa, owner and operator of the relatively new C.L.E. Cigar Co., has had a long-standing friendship with the Reyes family ever since he moved to Honduras in 1995 to join his father for the production of Camacho cigars (then owned by the Eiroa family but now part of Davidoff).

"Every Wednesday, I'd visit [company founder] Rolando Reyes Sr. when we moved to Honduras," said Eiroa in a phone interview. "He taught me so many things. I think he started the big ring gauge trend when he created The Chief. That was the future of the industry."

Reyes Sr., who started his own cigar company in the 1970s (then called Cuba Aliados Cigars Inc.), found his biggest success when he moved his operation from New Jersey (and the Dominican Republic) to Honduras. His Cuba Aliados and Puros Indios brands were made primarily with Nicaraguan tobaccos cloaked in Ecuadoran Sumatra wrappers and saw great critical and commercial acclaim, earning many scores in the 90s with this publication. Reyes Sr. passed away in 2012. The company is now in the hands of Carlos Diez, the late patriarch's grandson.

"When Camacho started to take off for us, I'd talk to Reyes about doing something together, but it never happened," Eiroa said. "Carlos Diez and I starting talking about four months ago. I've always admired Rolando Reyes Sr., so this is very important to me."

Since the 90s, the Cuba Aliados and Puros Indios brands have since become somewhat obscure. A lawsuit with Santa Clara distributors and waning retail presence across the U.S. weakened the market share for Reyes Family Cigars—not to mention the company's spotty attendance at the IPCPR trade show over the last few years. Eiroa and Diez hope to change that.

"Christian and I have been close friends for a very long time now," Diez said. "During most of that time, this has been something we had always wanted to do"

Eiroa formed C.L.E. Cigar Co. in 2012 after he and his father, Julio, sold the Camacho brand to Davidoff in 2008.

"We will be distributing the Reyes brands," Eiroa said. "We'll share the marketing and sales responsibilities in Miami."

As for the new Food and Drug Administration's recent regulatory restrictions, Eiroa is not concerned.

"These are all predicate brands," he said. "The Reyes catalog of ligas [blends] is protected. There are dozens of brands and blends that we can work with, and that retailers will be comfortable with."