For its golden anniversary, the Tobacconists’ Association of America is holding a conference and trade show in La Romana, Dominican Republic, featuring 21 cigars made solely for the retail members of the organization—the most in TAA history. Special Tatuaje, Padrón, La Flor Dominicana and many other cigars are on hand for ordering, and—for the first time—a TAA exclusive Fuente Fuente OpusX.
The TAA consists of 77 retailers (69 in attendance), which accounts for nearly 240 stores. Cigar companies at the show are Alec Bradley, Altadis, Arango, Arturo Fuente, Ashton, CLE, Crowned Heads, Davidoff, Drew Estate, EPC Cigar Co., General Cigar, Gurkha, J.C. Newman, Joya de Nicaragua, Kristoff, La Flor Dominicana, La Palina, Miami Cigar, My Father Cigars, Nat Sherman, Oliva Cigar, Padrón Cigars, Philips and King, Quesada, Rocky Patel, Tabacalera Perdomo, Tatuaje and Villiger.
Cigar Aficionado is attending the 50th anniversary conference, which will conclude on Thursday morning.
“This is a great experience,” said retailer Gary Pesh of Old Virginia Tobacco Co., sitting at the opening morning meeting today at the Casa de Campo resort in La Romana. Pesh has been a TAA member since 1999. “Everybody gets to exchange ideas, and it brings the industry together in a much more relaxed way than any other format.”
The show has long been known for its social aspect, but in recent years it has grown into a powerful sales opportunity for the manufacturers who support the organization. “I buy more here than I do at the IPCPR,” said Arizona retailer Vartan Seferian of Ambassador Fine Cigars, who has been part of the TAA since 2015. He was on his way to the trade show, which is taking place today.
Much of what is bought at the show are TAA-exclusive cigars, special smokes made specifically for TAA retailers. Most will ship this summer. The lineup consists of:
- An exclusive Fuente Fuente OpusX, with six sizes in one box. Details are still to be determined.
- Flor de Las Antillas Lancero, a 7 1/2 inch by 38 ring gauge cigar from My Father Cigars shipping in July.
- CLE Diadema, a massive, tissue-wrapped cigar with a 68 ring gauge at its fattest point. Limited to 1,327 boxes.
- CAO Estelí, wrapped in Nicaraguan leaf, made with a Honduran binder and a filler blend of Honduran and Dominican tobaccos. It’s limited to 1,500 boxes.
- Padrón Black No. 89, a one-size cigar (6 by 46) offered in either natural wrapper or maduro. It will retail for $16.50, and come in boxes of 10.
- La Flor Dominicana Golden Oro Anniversary, a 6 1/2 by 54 box-pressed torpedo. The cigar is made with Criollo ’99 filler tobacco grown on the La Flor Dominicana farm in La Canela, Dominican Republic, a first for the company.
- The Tatuaje Exclusive Series TAA 50th, measuring 5 by 52. Shipping this month.
- Montecristo Artisan Series Toro (6 by 54) will ship in June.
- The E.P. Carrillo TAA Exclusive measuring 6 by 52. The cigar band is the TAA logo, and the smoke is rolled with a Connecticut-seed Habano wrapper around an all-Nicaraguan blend.
- A Joya de Nicaragua Antaño Gran Reserva cigar measuring 6 3/4 by 50. The box-pressed smoke is called a Presidente.
- La Palina Blue Label Toro, at 6 1/2 by 52. The cigar is made with Honduran and Nicaraguan tobaccos, and retails for $9.99. It’s the third TAA exclusive for La Palina.
- The Angel’s Anvil 2018 from Crowned Heads (5 1/2 by 52).
- Gurkha Heritage Rosado Toro, a box-pressed smoke that measures 6 by 52. It ships this month.
The 2018 list includes several cigars that were TAA exclusives in 2017 (and in some cases, earlier): the Alec Bradley Black Market Illicit, Ashton VSG Robusto Especial, Drew Estate Acid Big Bang, Herrera Esteli Maduro, Kristoff TAA 49 Salomon, Nat Sherman Panamericana (seven sizes), Padrón 1964 Anniversary Series Toro and the Rocky Patel Martinique.
TAA retailers were also able to buy a very special Cigar Rights of America sample pack of 10 cigars that contains four former Cigar Aficionado Cigars of the Year (the La Flor Dominicana Andalusian Bull, Oliva Serie V Melanio Figurado, My Father Le Bijou 1922 Torpedo Box Press and Alec Bradley Prensado Churchill) and three cigars that placed No. 2 on the list. It retails for $120. All proceeds from those sales benefit the CRA legal fund.
This article first appeared in the May 1, 2018 issue of Cigar Insider.