If you are attending the 87th annual IPCPR Trade Show in Las Vegas, NV this month, you may want to reserve a percentage of your purchasing budget for some small, yet growing, boutique cigar brands that offer quality and flavor that rivals the biggest brands in the industry.
As the one cigar media website that focuses on small and boutique brands, Stogie Press has followed, enjoyed, and reported on the craft of these growing companies over the years. I highly recommend visiting their booths and trying their craft.
MLB Cigar Ventures
From the moment I smoked the first creation from Mike Bellody and his MLB Cigar Ventures Company I was impressed with this brand. They have consistently offered cigar blends that have made the Stogie Press top 25 year over year, and rightfully so. The company’s cigars are masterfully crafted at the Quesada Cigar Factory in the Dominican Republic under the watchful eye of Mike Bellody. Their most recent PLM Series cigar was selected as the 2018 Boutique Cigar of the Year with an almost perfect, 99 rating, and is a cigar that represents the attention to quality and blending this small company has aspired to since its founding over 5 years ago.
Checkout MLB Cigar Ventures at booth #1144 at this years IPCPR.
Vintage Rock-A-Feller Cigar Group
Kevin Schweitzer, owner of Vintage Rock-A-Feller Group, took a big gamble a couple of years ago, when he bought out a brand, that was originally launched by Jeffrey Avo Uvezian, son of famed cigar maker Avo Uvezian. Kevin Schwieitzer, a long time cigar enthusiast and previous Wall Street gold trader, took the plunge, left Wall Street, bought the company, a hasn’t looked back since. Partnering with American Caribbean Cigars he has had his hands on some terrific blends, including the Stogie Press Top 25 Rock-A-Feller Gold Series and last years winner of the Stogie Press Lancero Battle with his Vintage Nicaragua Maduro Lancero.
You can check the Vintage Rock-A-Feller Cigar Group at booth #2371 at this years IPCPR.
Southern Draw Cigars
Robert and Sharon Holt, owners of Southern Draw Cigars have been producing highly rated cigars since their inception 5 years ago. In fact they are celebrating the company’s success this year with the introduction of the Kudzu LUSTRUM in a addition to other new lines and line extensions. The company has shown they have the staying power and ability to navigate the FDA regulations with interesting blends that offer the most experienced cigar enthusiasts the flavors and quality that keep them coming back for more. The company also has a a heart and soul for giving back and have specific lines that return profits to such charities as Cigars for Warriors, the Navy Seal Foundation through their IGNITE program, and with their 300 Hands project they support the cigar workers, family, and friends, in Nicaragua.
You can check out Southern Draw Cigars at booth #3061 at this years IPCPR.
Hiram & Solomon Cigars
Owners Fouad Kashouty and George Dakrat are both Freemason brothers and enjoyed cigars together. Over time, the two Brother Masons would eventually lead to the same realization: there was no accessible cigar on the market for Freemason smokers that carried the square and compass, nor any other Masonic Emblem. They decided to launch the Hiram & Solomon brand a few years back and a couple of years ago they connected with Plasencia Cigars and were able to reduce their costs and increase quality. The company also gives back a percentage of profits to various Masonic Charities. The craft of this company has made the Stogie Press top 25 list, year over year, and this year, they have introduced the Grand Architect which is already garnering attention on social media as possibly the best cigar they have produced.
You can check out Hiram & Solomon Cigars at booth #3864 at this years IPCPR.
Dominican Big Leaguer (DBL) Cigars
DBL Cigars is a vertically integrated cigar company that grows and processes their own tobacco and produces some of the highest quality cigars on the market. Imagine having worked with two of the most famous cigar makers, Mr. Carlos Fuente (A. Fuente Cigars) and Mr. Litto Gomez (La Flor Dominican Cigars). Imagine how much you can learn working with two masterminds in the cigar industry. This is what makes Dominican Big Leaguer (DBL) owner Francisco Almonte, having worked with two giants in the cigar industry for many years, a passionate cigar man able to produce some of the best boutique cigars on the market. If creating award winning blends is not enough, DBL also has some of the most beautiful cigar boxes on the market. The company also hosts a retailers event every year in the Dominican Republic where you get the opportunity to tour the company’s factory, fields and processing facilities while having some fun with your fellow retailers.
You can check out DBL Cigars at booth #3071 at this years IPCPR.
This rising boutique cigar company has proven to have staying power in this highly competitive business by offering blends that please palates of both new and experienced cigar enthusiasts. Teasing with a number of blends at last years show, Crux Cigars have made good on the promise with the introduction of new and exciting blends and line extensions for this year’s show. Crux has consistently placed in the Stogie Press top 25 lists since we first met them 5 years ago. The company has recently gone through a re-branding that changed their logo to a clean and smooth look. I suggest you experience some of their latest offerings like the Short Solomon Collection which garnered an impressive 97 rating on Stogie Press for the Epicure Short Solomon.
You can check out Crux Cigars at booth #656 at this years IPCPR Trade Show.
This a company that has roots in the NYC and Washington D.C. markets, but don’t let their small size scare you away. Co-owners Valot (Val) Atakhanian and Armen Caprielian are behind this boutique brand that has produced some amazing blends and have their sights set on bigger things as they continue to grow. With a portfolio that covers the full spectrum of the discerning palate, DAV cigars has what it takes to please the consumer. They have partnered with Fabrica Remembranza in the Dominican Republic to create their craft, a craft that has garnered respectable ratings here on Stogie Press including the 94 rated DAV Aristocratic Robusto.
You can check out DAV Cigars at booth #1865 at this years IPCPR Trade Show.
Born out of a love of cigars by way of a former IT professional turned cigar store owner with a passion for tobacco. Mel Shah, owner of MBombay has proven his company can navigate the shifting industry tides as one of the best small brands on the market, with consistency and quality that discerning consumers expect. Mel has applied attention to detail to each and every cigar, and has spent countless hours working to procure the finest tobaccos and produce a unique line of high-quality products. Always hitting the Stogie Press top 25, MBombay is a brand we highly recommend to add to your shelf and offer your consumers. Their most recent MQBA Vintage Reserve Nikka vitola garnered an impressive 97 rating with incredible flavor and burn performance.
You can check out MBombay Cigars at booth #3956 at this years IPCPR Trade Show.
Flor de Selva
Maya Selva was one of the first woman owned cigar companies, dating back to 1995. After 24 years in the business, they are still a small company that produces some amazing cigars that would please any cigar enthusiast’s palate. Maya was born in Honduras to a Honduran father and French mother. She lived in Honduras for 15 years and notes that she smoked cigars since her teen age years. After numerous factories turned her request to work with her down, Maya eventually connected with Nelson Plasencia who offered the full support of his Tabacos de Oriente factory in Danli, Honduras. The result of the partnership lives on to this day as the Flor de Selva cigar brand can be found throughout Europe and over 150 shops here in the US.
If you are not a retailer of her craft I highly suggest you visit the Maya Selva Cigars booth #1567 at this years IPCPR.
Hitting the market and hard and heavy in 2017, this small company launched a slew of new blends that pleased the many palates that experienced them. Inspired by greatness and hand rolled with scrupulous care, Jeremy Jack offers an exceptional line of boutique cigars for every occasion, adventure and satisfying moment. This is validated by the quality reviews Stogie Press has done on this brand, most recently rating the company’s JJ14 Lancero a solid 94 in our 2018 Battle of the Lanceros.
You can check out Jeremy Jack Cigars at booth #2667 at this years IPCPR Trade Show.
Cubariqueño Cigar Company
Owned by Retired Law Enforcement Officers, Bill Ives and Juan Cancel, Cubariqueño Cigar Company has been producing cigars that everyone is talking about on social media. The company’s core line, Protocol, has been growing ever since its introduction a few years back and has added blends and line extensions ever since. Their Protocol Themis Lancero chimed in at a 93 on Stogie Press and many of their blends have rated high on numerous cigar media outlets. This year they are introducing a new Protocol extension known at the Protocol Sir Robert Peel. The company has used the Espinosa La Zona factory to roll their craft since starting the company.
You can check out Cubariqueño Cigar Cigars at the Espinosa Cigars booth #1249 at this years IPCPR Trade Show.
Cattle Baron Cigars
Cattle Baron Cigars is a new player to the premium cigar market, but founder Phillip Zhangi III is a veteran of the business as the founder of the Debonaire House in Santiago, Dominican Republic and has been in the cigar business for over 25 years. He was the founder of Indian Tobacco and partners with Rocky Patel in that company. Business partner, Bryan Mussard, raises some of the world’s finest, high marbling Angus bulls on his family owned and operated Reminisce Angus Ranch. Together, Philip and Bryan have crafted some of the finest boutique cigars and once I got my palate on them I have to agree.
You can check out Cattle Baron Cigars at booth #2249 at this years IPCPR Trade Show.
Oscar Valladares Tobacco
Best known for his work on the iconic Leaf by Oscar cigar, Oscar has branched out with the support of Island Jim Robinson to open a thriving boutique cigar factory in Honduras. Over the past few years he has created enticing and enjoyable blends that represents his growing talents. His most recent portfolio addition, the Ciseron Edition, is a tribute to Honduran artist Elmer Ciseron Bautista and grabbed an impressive 94 rating on Stogie Press.
You can check out Oscar Valladares Tobacco at booth #2067 at this years IPCPR Trade Show.
I hope you find this information helpful as you navigate the show floor next week. I will certainly be at each and every one of these booths. Feel free to comment on this article and point fellow retailers to booths they may not normally visit. Enjoy the show and as always – Stay Smoky my Brothers and Sisters!! I hope to see many of you next week.