In 2008, Cigar Aficionado awarded the Cas Magna Colorado Robusto as the #1 Cigar of the Year. This is a cigar with two primary and distinguishing characteristics: 1) the cigar happened to be the brain-child of two legends in the industry – Manuel Quesada and Nestor Plascencia; and 2) the cigar retailed for only $5 – proving once and for all you could get a top quality cigar without spending and arm and a leg.
2008 also marked the beginning of a serious downturn in the American Economy: a subprime mortgage fiasco; a financial crisis requiring government bailout of U.S. banks; and downturns in stock markets around the world. By the end of 2009, the term “Great Recession” became a commonly-used term, meant to signify the worst financial crisis of our time since the Great Depresson of the 1930s. Also impacting the industry was the emergence of a new federal tax known as the SCHIP, which was signed in to existence by President Obama.
Over the years, we have noticed something very compelling about the cigar industry as a whole. No matter what the situation or circumstance, this industry always seems to focus on the end consumer and what they want. This fact came to the forefront at IPCPR 2010 as the U.S. economy continued to decline.
2010 saw many cigar manufacturers counter the economic decline by coming out with what we like to call value-priced cigars. Value-priced cigars are those premium long-filler cigars in the $5-$7 price range. (we exclude discount bundles as we label them as a separate category altogether) As we walked the New Orleans showroom floor, we saw a number of value-priced cigars – something that took us by surprise, until we stopped and really thought about it. The following companies are just a few that captured our attention at IPCPR 2010. These companies stood out as being focused on bringing true value and savings to the end consumer:
- Brickhouse, by J.C. Newman
- CAO La Traviata Maduro
- Camacho Legendario Connecticut
- Esteban Carreras 5150 and Esteban Carreras 187
- Gurkha Ninja and Gurkha Viper
- Joya de Nicaragua Cabinetta
- La Reloba Mexico, by Don Pepin Garcia
- Macanudo Cru Royale
- Mooch, by Berger & Argenti
- Nestor Miranda 1989
- PDR 1878 Cubano Especial Capa Madura
- Swag, by Oliveros
There obviously are a number of other value-priced cigars that made their debut well before 2010. This article is not meant to shun or ignore them in any way, its just that given the circumstances and the timing – everything seemed to come together as a major theme of “The Economy” for 2010. (for the sake of being complete, here are other major players in the value-priced cigar market)
- El Baton, by J.C. Newman
- Fuente 8-5-8 (Natural, Maduro, Sungrown, Candela)
- Hoyo de Tradicion, by Hoyo de Monterrey
- Oliva Serie G Cameroon
- Punch Rothschilds
So, if you haven’t tried any these cigars before, my question to you is “what are you waiting for?” Not only are these cigars easy on the pocket book, they also offer a wide range of flavor packed in to an excellent quality cigar. To see an industry virtually come together and focus on a single common theme like the economy seemed to be a source of inspiration to many. And for that reason, we give the 2010 Game Changer award to Value-Priced Premium Cigars.