Do you guys have or can you get what I want?

As the seasons change throughout the country we, at The Cigar Thief, want to thank you for your patronage and patience. Over these last several months our small family owned marketplace has experienced both growth and growing pains. While growth is a good thing, pain hurts. Unlike our giant multi million dollar competitors, we have relied on your input and requests to guide us in our quest to provide the best cigar selection and customer service.

In case you didn’t know, we are a team of four. Not fourteen, not forty, not four hundred. Just the four of us. If you visit our site on a regular basis, hopefully you’ve noticed the new brands we continue to offer. We all work diligently each week to make additions, content enhancements and improvements. Our young webmasters continue to firmly remind me that all of what I’d like to see and do can’t happen as quickly as I’d like.

Being a very small firm we are proud to be more reactive than large companies. We follow one rule: Without our customers, we don’t have a company. We listen to everything you say and want to hear more from all of you. Unlike virtually all our competitors, if you want us to get you a product and we can get it, we will! Many of the offerings on our site have been acquired on behalf of our customers requests.

We are excited about offering virtual events on a seasonal basis at least four times a year to begin with. My hope is to have them monthly. The ability for us to meet and speak with any of our valued customers like you will continue to be a guiding factor for our growth.

Thank you for your business. And please, please continue reaching out to us offering you requests, suggestions and yes…even your criticism. We want to be the company you want to do business with on all levels and need all of you to accomplish that goal.

Cheers! Richie

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Taxes, Taxes, Taxes!

There’s an old saying, “Only two things are inevitable, Death and Taxes”. I kind of agree about dying, but when it comes to taxes, we’ve all see countless examples of folks successfully evading them.

When a tax is attached to a product such as a sales tax, you must pay it if you’d like to buy it. Let’s forget about where this money ultimately goes because that’s a whole other story! Gas tax, you pay it along with everyone else that has a vehicle to keep it going. I really don’t mind these two taxes because the vast majority of people pay them.

Over the years I spent in the industry it was interesting to watch cigarette and cigar taxes continue to increase across the country. Throughout my travels many people would always ask me why these tax increases always passed on the federal and state levels. The answer is simple. They only piss off a small percentage of voters that smoke. Try passing a $1 tax per six pack of beer and and a huge amount of people across the political spectrum will overwhelmingly reject it. And don’t forget about Political Correctness. Smoking doesn’t fall in that realm either.

While increasing the price of a pack of cigarettes gets noticed, many smokers don’t know that just about every state in the union has some sort of cigar tax which retailers must carry over into their prices. We’re not talking SALES TAX here. We’re talking about a specific, separate state tax on the cigars you buy.

Some states have a percentage base tax on the wholesale price. For example, New Jersey’s is 30%, Massachusetts is 40%, Alaska is 75% and on and on. Other states calculate this tax per cigar. Connecticut charges .50 cents, Arizona charges around .22 cents. It’s not hard to see how this tax effects your overall purchase depending on where you live. If you’re fortunate to reside is states like New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Florida, they have no cigar tax.

For example, if a wholesale box of 20 cigars cost a Massachusetts retailer $50, he then has to pay the state another $20 now costing $70. If they’d like to make a 15% profit for operating their store, they’d add on around $11 bringing the price to $81. If this particular state’s sales tax is 7%, then your paying about $87. Buy the same box in Pennsylvania and it cost you $67. I think you get the picture.

We’re fortunate at The Cigar Thief to be based in the great state of Pennsylvania where lawmakers have upheld a zero tax status for premium cigars. As our valued customer, you’re fortunate to benefit from this. While we must collect your state’s sales tax, that’s it … at least for now.

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Do Ratings Count?

While living in New York the majority of my life I had a vast network of contacts for most every need like trusted plumbers, electricians, carpenters, handymen, masons and mechanics. I also had my favorite restaurants, hotels, beaches and local travel destinations.

As a cigar smoker I’m sure you have favorites as well. Many of us are creatures of habit and gravitate to the same selections on a continual basis while more and more of us seem to search for new and different choices. I’ve often said if you like or love a cigar it’s a good pick. If you don’t, it’s not. No matter what anyone says. I think we can all agree that variety is a good thing. Trying new and different things is fun and interesting no matter what.

At Cigar Thief we are constantly working to provide our valued shoppers like you the best arena of brands to browse to decide what cigars you’d like to purchase. As our customer, you make the final decision of what you buy.

No doubt when you want exactly what you want, we hope to have it at the best price and ship to you at no charge as quickly as possible. It’s when you want to venture into uncharted cigar brand land, we want to give you as much information as possible to guide your decision. At the time I’m writing this, we’ve just added a bunch of new cigars for your review. I make a weekly effort to post my opinion of each brand style we offer so at least you know what I think. In many of my reviews I refer to the higher ratings certain selections have garnered over the years by respected industry publications.

While your personal taste perception is the most important factor deciding if a cigar is good or not for you, my thoughts and information posted will hopefully serve as a friendly barometer when you consider trying something new to you.

I understand that a 90 plus rating does not necessarily mean you will automatically love a particular cigar. But I do think certain brands that have consistently scored high numerical ratings over extended periods of time, years and even decades are worth noting. I’ve seen a zillion cigars come onto and go off the market as others became the flavor of the day only to be forgotten and lost in time.

I still believe favorable ratings can be relevant guideposts in your searching for new choices of cigars. I’ve listed a few for your consideration. And most importantly, please don’t hesitate posting you own review on our site so others can read your opinions as they make their own decisions as well.

 

Cheers!

Richie

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Goodbye Nat Sherman

As the attached article states, Nat Sherman International will be out of business sometime next month. I have fond memories of being the company’s Regional Manager of New York State many year ago. They were a great family to work with. As a retailer, I was the first tobacconist the carry their premium cigars in my Long Island store.

Over the years their cigar offerings expanded appealing to virtually every smokers taste. The Host line became a barometer for mild, sweet cigars while the Timeless brand achieved high ratings for robust, complex medium to full bodied flavors.

We have been proud to offer their cigars on our site and will try to keep as many of them in stock as possible. If you’re a fan, you’d better stock up. While industry rumors are saying that Altria will attempt to find a buyer after the pandemic subsides, don’t hold your breath! Farewell to a great American Company.

Ninety years after it opened its door for the first time, it is closing down. Nat Sherman International Inc., which has been owned by cigarette giant Altria Group Inc. since 2017, will cease operations by the end of September, shutting down not only its midtown Manhattan cigar store but also its entire wholesale business.

The decision comes several months after Altria began looking for a potential buyer for the cigar subsidiary; the company announced it as considering the sale of Nat Sherman in October.

“We worked hard to successfully transition Nat Sherman International to a new home. The Covid-19 pandemic created new challenges that were unfortunately too big to overcome,” said Jessica Pierucki, general manager, managing director for Nat Sherman.

Premier cigars were never a part of the Altria story. While the company had cigars in its portfolio prior to the acquisition of Nat Sherman, it is a machine-made cigar operation (Black & Mild) that is far closer to its core cigarette business than to handmade cigars Back in October, Pierucki told Cigar Aficionado. “While we recognize the strength and values of the premium cigar business, it’s not core to Altria’s tobacco portfolio.”

Altria is one of the largest tobacco concerns in the world, with annual revenues of $25 billion. It acquired Nat Sherman in January 2017, buying it from the Nat Sherman family for undisclosed terms. Altria’s major interest in Nat Sherman was the company’s cigarette business, which began in the 1940s.

The Sherman cigarette division, which Altria separated from the cigar division after the acquisition, will remain in business.

The story dates back to 1930 when the first version of the store opened in Manhattan at 1400 Broadway. The current location at 12 East 42nd Street, marks the fourth location of the shop.

Nat Sherman International has 24 employees. The cigars store (now known as the Townhouse) is not owned by the company, and is leased. All of the company’s cigars (such as Timeless) are made under contract, so the company does not own a cigar factory.

Check out what we have left here!

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New addition!

Hey wait a minute you may be saying, this is a cigar site not a motorcycle store! I guess your right. However, by this point in time, I think you’ve all gotten to know me a bit as I’ve gotten to know many of you. As the summer moves along I’m hoping you’re out and about having fun and enjoying some great cigars we’ve delivered to you! As expected, it’s very, very hot here in Arizona. As I write this the temperature has been over 110 for a while and looks to continue that way into many of the days ahead. “Dry” heat or not…..Hot is Hot!

My wife and myself rise early around 4:30 to enjoy the comfortable mornings watching the night sky turn to daylight in our backyard with the help of some strong coffee. I’ve confined my cigar enjoyment to this time along with evenings after 8pm when the sun goes into decline. It’s a small price to pay for the other ten months of pristine weather.

Big Sky lookout!

I’ve spoken about some of the things that I feel seem to go with cigars like beverages which many of us enjoy. I’ve smoked many cigars by myself and value the alone time and almost Zen like solitude a great cigar combined with uninterrupted thought offers.

Back east, I rode a motorcycle for many years. The ability to focus totally on the ride offered a great escape from all the things that occupy your mind when you lead a busy life. I gave it up because even the most unused, scenic roads I did most of my riding on became frightendly crowded with distracted drivers that seemed hell-bent on running me over so I no longer enjoyed this solitary sport. I combined smoking many a great cigar after finishing my rides finding both experiences very rewarding and therapeutic when coupled together.

As I’ve said more than a few times, I’m an old guy. I’m also blessed with good health and mobility……at least for now! Soon after moving west to the area we reside in I came to realize that much of our new lives were being spent where there were very, very few cars on the beautiful roads that surround our community. Since 90% of my riding was done with my wife on the back acting as my trusted co-pilot, I suggested we may want to revisit riding together on a much less powerful and smaller bike than I previously owned . As much as she enjoyed riding, I also thought fondly about getting back to an activity that went hand in hand with my love for cigars.

So after sitting on a few models to make sure my wife was comfortable and going back and forth with a couple of creepy dealers, I found this brand new  leftover 2019 Ducati Scrambler Full Throttle Edition at a dealer in California for considerable savings. After leaving Italy in 2018 and spending 18 months at his west coast foster home, he was delivered to us yesterday. We’ve yet to name him.

Thanks for allowing me to share one of my life’s pleasures that I’ve found to be a great counterpart with my cigar enjoyment. I know there’s a multitude of interesting and different activities many of you enjoy along with your cigars and I’m looking forward to hearing about them! Enjoy the summer!

Cheers!

Richie

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Whisky or Whiskey? But Never, Ever say “Scotch”!

Many of us that enjoy cigars undoubtedly savor a favorite Whiskey, Bourbon, Beer, Wine or other relished libation along with it.

My wife Jennifer happens to be Scottish. Shortly after we met, given her heritage and my love of Single Malts, I suggested a trip to Scotland. After pulling her off the ceiling and calming her down from an extremely elevated level of raw excitement, we made plans and off we went during the horrific winter of 2010.

All in all, it was an amazing trip on many levels despite the bone chilling weather. After touring the great city of Edinburgh and visiting a proper Tobacconist with all employees donning suits and ties, we headed to the renowned highlands to tour some distilleries and enjoy this very special “Water of Life” at its source.

To say the least, it was wonderful seeing may of these companies producing their brands continuously for over a hundred years. Each one had their own uniqueness and character. It was also very interesting drinking ” Wee Drams” known as samplings throughout the entire day non stop. I’m glad we had someone driving us around!

While owning cigar stores, I held many cigar dinner events which is how I got introduced to Single Malts. I recall one such gathering in 1997 where the featured Whiskey was Glenmorangie 10 year old. The company had a representative from Scotland in the US at the time and dispersed him to our get together as the brand’s ambassador.

I remember casually asking him if his company offered any other older or one off batches. His difficult to understand accented response was blunt, “This is our only whiskey which has been made with water from the same stream at the same facility for over 150 years.” When I attempted to respond, he raised his fingers over his lips signaling me to be quiet and continued, “We and only we have the tallest stills in the world and the taller the still the purer the Whiskey so science dictates we produce the purest Whiskey in the world which is why this is the best Whiskey on the planet…..do you fully understand sir?” I had no choice other than to nod in agreement and apologize for my obvious stupidity.

As our trip abroad continued on, we finally arrived at the Glenmorangie distillery on the banks of the Dornoch Firth in Tain. It just so happened that  before our trip, the Louis Vuitton French luxury goods company  purchased Glenmorangie in 2004. Needless to say, the locals as well as the employees were not pleased. But that’s a whole other story!

I know there are countless, great whiskies available and you probably have more than a few favorites. I’ve lost count of how many I’ve tried. I have more different brands on hand than I’ll ever drink.

So why do I keep coming back to this heritage rich brand again and again? And why do seasoned drinkers I introduce it to quickly attest to it being their new found favorite?

All things considered, the most interesting aspect of Glenmorangie’s being for me is the 170+ year tradition dictating that it takes 16 men to complete the production process. “Perfected by the 16 men of Tain” can still be found in the tiniest of print on the bottle’s label. During our visit we were told by our guide that no one person knows how to produce their Whiskey. Each one of the 16 people performs a single specific task that when combined, the end result is produced. In fact, each person has an apprentice so that if one of the 16 men either retires or dies no interruption will occur.

Whatever my particular reasons are for gravitating to this wonderful Whiskey are, they’re mine. As I’ve often said, taste is a personal preference and everyone has their own. It’s been a pleasure to share my experience with you and hope you’ll share some of your own with me.

Robert Graham

Each customer is escorted by an extremely knowledgeable personal assistant through your entire visit no matter how long you take or what you buy.

Cubans, Cubans, Cubans!

If you visit Arizona, I promise to share!

Very cool process.

Long History

Same Location for over 170 years

Tallest stills in the world!

The VAT

Let sit for 10 years

Still my favorite 

Paying Homage

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I couldn’t resist!

While I’m an avid fan of of single malt whiskeys, I really appreciate a great beer as well. After spending some time in the U.K. I came to appreciate the many pubs I visited and the interesting brews they served. Craft beers have become extremely popular in this country and the British have been creating them for over  two hundred years!

Quite frankly, I’ve been overwhelmed with the countless new entries over the last several years in the US. It seems like there’s been a continuous flow of never ending ales, porters, stouts, lagers and even flavored beers. In fact, I’ve come to learn there are thousands of American companies making up this amazing category of offerings for our thirst quenching pleasure and overall enjoyment.

When I moved here to Arizona in the summer of 2019, I found myself in a local supermarket looking at a pretty extensive array of beers. One caught my eye for a bunch of reasons. Boddingtons Pub Ale has been produced in England for over 240 years. Oddly enough, this isn’t really unique considering Bass Ale and Samuel Smith’s breweries have been around even longer.

Not being a fan of bitter or flavored brews, the words “Smooth and Creamy” sounded good. The red banner exclaiming, “Imported from Britain” was comforting since some of my favorite ones are no longer made in their country of origin. What I read on the back of the can what extremely interesting as you can see for yourself in the picture below.

It appears that this iconic brand employs what’s called the”Draughtflow System”. What this is is a tiny dome shaped device containing nitrogen gas and a small amount of beer. The pressure inside the can is greater than atmospheric pressure so when you open the can, the higher pressure is released allowing nitrogen to stream through a tiny hole in the device, which creates a steady surge of hissing gas. The  result is a successful replication of a pint poured in a pub.

So, not only was this one of the tastiest beers I’ve ever had, opening the can and watching the process was totally unique and wonderful. I immediately began researching this amazing “new” technology which I went on to find out was created 24 years ago. So much for being in the loop!

Enjoying this great product with your favorite cigar makes it taste even better!

Cheers Mates

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Ask “Doc” Harold #2

Spanish Cedar, Spanish Cedar, Spanish Cedar. You’ve all been told or read that this is the absolute best wood to store or age your cigars in. Some cigar producers even wrap selected sticks in thin Cedar jackets. Check out virtually any cigar cabinet making company and they’ll proudly exclaim that their products are lined with Spanish Cedar for optimum storage enhancement.

Ok. So why? Then I realized who better to answer the questions than “Doc” Harold! It was very interesting to hear what he had to say as follows.

Firstly, it’s interesting to note that Spanish Cedar does not come from Spain but from Central and South America. But that’s another story!

While virtually all unfinished woods are porous and absorb a percentage of moisture, the natural spacing of and specific characteristics of the grains in Spanish Cedar execute this process in the unique way resulting in a humidity level in and around the 70% range which happens to be the sweet spot for storing premium cigars. As a bonus the resin contained in Spanish Cedar makes it resistant to fungi and mold and insects like tobacco beetles that reject the underlying aroma of this unique wood.

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Is my cigar out of stock or discontinued?

“Is my cigar out of stock or discontinued?” Has been a good question some of our valued guests have been asking us about certain cigars offered on THE CIGAR THIEF shopping site. Because we pride ourselves in being fully transparent to our everyone, I wanted to share some pertinent thoughts about this important matter. Part of the reason we can keep our prices so low and offer FREE shipping is because we don’t keep millions of dollars wrapped up in inventory of every cigar and size; but rather work directly with suppliers on obtaining certain cigars when they are ordered.

While you will see some brand selections plainly labeled, OUT OF STOCK or BACKORDERED, if we have a limited quantity of a specific product on hand that sells through quickly on an given day, there may be a small gap in time before we realize that we can’t fulfill your specific order.

When this happens, we’ll notify you asap via email, text or phone call to discuss all available options such as,

  • Picking a different size that’s currently available of the exact brand you ordered.
  • Having us inform you of when we expect your exact choice to be delivered to us and offering to ship it to you ASAP at that time

When it comes to manufacturer’s discontinuation of entire brands or brand styles, we may very well have some in stock and listed on our site in limited quantities with no ability to get more. When these are gone, they’re gone. As with out of stock and backordered items, we will reach out to you with our apologetic findings and offer whatever available options we have such as,

  • Allowing us to reach out on your behalf to our friends and associates within our industry to try and locate any properly maintained inventory of the requested discontinued product for us to secure for your purchase
  • Issuing you an additional discount code that can be immediately applied to a purchase of available products
  • Issuing your Cigar Thief account a bonus credit that can be used the next time you place an order with us

Whatever the case is, we may make unintentional mistakes along the way and are striving to keep them at a bare minimum. And no matter what specific situation occurs, our ability to communicate with you quickly is very important. Please make sure that all your contact information we have is current so we can rectify any matter in a timely manner to your absolute TOTAL satisfactory.

Again, thanks so much for your support and valued patronage!

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Cigar Samplers or Cigar Gift Packs?

First off, on behalf of our small crew here at The Cigar Thief, thanks so much for your business! We have been humbled by your heightened interest and increasing patronage on our young website marketplace. We follow one simple principle,

“No Customers, No Dinner!” and don’t discriminate against money no matter how small the amount you spend.

We’ve had some very good questions about our biggest selling category, Sampler Packs. I wanted to share some thoughts to help guide our valued guests as they search and enquire within this part of our site.

First off, there is a distinct difference between a Sampler pack and a Gift pack. While all our offerings are formally labeled as Sampler packs, we need you to look carefully at the product’s picture. When you come upon an item that shows a group of cigars standing alone without any kind of packaging, these are considered Sampler packs. They will be securely packaged in clear cellophane  and remain fresh throughout their journey to you. I like to call items like this “Humidor stuffers”  as they are usually purchased by smokers that want to replenish their stock with assortments of different styles of well know cigars. These folks are buying the cigars and really don’t care about their packaging. I guess they can be wrapped and given as gifts but I don’t feel they have the needed sizzle that’s goes along with the steak!

You’ll also notice many items in this category pictured in their own special wooden boxes, containers or branded packaging. As you can see, these types of items are designed as gifts worthy of giving. Depending on what a smoker has tried or  enjoys, you’ll see a wide selection of items to choose from to pleasantly surprise any cigar lover and make them very happy. Check out the items description or review to help guide you through making a decision or give us a call if we can help in any way.

Thanks again for your highly valued patronage.

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