100% Cuban Tobacco Cigars That Are 100% Legal
Who can doubt that fact is stranger than fiction?
A tale that would be rejected as too fanciful in Hollywood actually took place, beginning in East Brunswick, New Jersey and Tampa, Florida in 1999.
Paul Magier, for just three years the owner of a tiny cigar company called Puros de Armando Ramos, closed a deal to buy 46,000 pounds of tobacco for $2.5 million, an incredible $54.35 per pound. But this tobacco was special.
It was Cuban.
The purchase was made from the estate of Murray Grossman, a Tampa-based cigar maker who died in the early 1960s and had the leaf in his warehouse. As a probate fight lingered on for two decades, the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba was installed but the leaf sat in the Grossman family’s Tampa warehouse.
According to a great story in the New Jersey Business Journal, Magier went through a considerable exercise with U.S. Customs Officials before he could actually complete the transaction.
“I had three questions,” he told Journal staff writer Scott Goldstein, “‘Is it in fact Cuban? Is it in fact pre-embargo tobacco? And would I go to jail for selling it?’ Everybody gave me the green light.”
Magier had already caused a small sensation in the cigar trade with his 75,000-cigar series “Pinar 1958,” introduced in 1998, using 4,200 pounds of pre-embargo Cuban tobacco Magier located in a Trenton, New Jersey warehouse. Those cigars were rolled in the Puros de Armando Ramos factory he had purchased for $150,000 (from Ramos himself) in 1996, after selling his successful, New York-based advertising agency.
“He had no names, boxes or brands,” Magier told the Journal. “He just had cigars. But limos would stop in front of his shop all day long. Anyone who was anyone seemed to know him”
With the Grossman tobacco in hand, Magier opened a factory in Guayaquil, Ecuador and has made about 600,000 Pinars in New York and Ecuador, in three styles:
• Pinar 2000, with Cuban wrapper and some filler, blended with Ecuadorian binders and some Nicaraguan filler leaf, in five shapes;
• Pinar 3000, with all Cuban leaf, in eight shapes, and
• Pinar Habanitos, a medium-fill line, also using all Cuban tobacco, in eight sizes.
Puros de Armando Ramos now does about $2 million in sales annually, featuring the Pinar series, but also inventive blends from Ecuador such as Beethoven, Magus and the newest line, Pinar Suprema.
The new Pinar Suprema is Magier’s hope for the future. Introduced in 2004, it offers a full-bodied taste with an Ecuadorian wrapper, Costa Rican binder and a filler blend of Honduran, Nicaraguan and Panamanian tobaccos, in seven sizes. Blended to taste like the Pinar series, it’s now making its way into stores where Pinar has been sold previously, as the Cuban tobacco Pinars will run out sometime in late 2006 or early 2007.
Magier noted, “We have suggested that our retailers begin introducing it to their customers, so when the day comes that there are no Pinars left, we will sell those.”
There is one other brand which promotes its use of Cuban tobacco, called Havana Blend. It’s a machine-made, all-tobacco cigar manufactured by the Finck Cigar Company of San Antonio, Texas, that incorporates some bits of pre-embargo Havana tobacco in the filler. As a machine-made, it’s less costly than the Pinars, of course, but then it has a lot less Cuban tobacco in it.
Source: Cigar Envy