Beam to Buy Cooley Distillery

**This article is a reprint from The Irish Times, final print 16 December 2011**

US firm to buy Cooley Distillery

Global spirits company Beam is to buy whiskey producer Cooley Distillery in a €73 million deal.

The independent distillery owns and produces the Kilbeggan, Connemara, Tyrconnell and Greenore brands. It was founded by John Teeling, who also heads up a number of natural resources companies.

The acquisition will mark the maker of Jim Beam bourbon’s entrance into the expanding Irish whiskey market, which grew by an estimated 11.5 per cent last year.

“Cooley is one of only three sources for Irish whiskey, and the only independent player, so this transaction is a unique and compelling high-return opportunity to enter one of the industry’s highest growth categories,” said Matt Shattock, president and chief executive of Beam.

“We see the opportunity to leverage our combination of scale with agility to further build consumer demand for Cooley’s award-winning brands, and to expand distribution off a relatively small base in key export markets for Irish whiskey across North America and Europe.”

The distillery is being bought for $95 million (€73 million) on a debt-free basis. Share holders will be offered $8.25 in cash for each outstanding share. The offer must gets at least 80 per cent approval from shareholders if it is to go ahead, but more than 75 per cent have already agreed to the deal.

Beam, which also makes Teacher’s scotch in addition to a number of brands of tequila, rum and gin, said it expected the transaction to close in the first quarter of 2012, and the acquisition will be earnings neutral next year.

December 16, 2011Lindsay No Comments »
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Get Your Tickets to NYC’s Big Smoke 2011 Today!

November 12, 2011Lindsay No Comments »
FILED UNDER :Cigar Industry , Cigars

Cigar-Inspired Thoughts

The other day I finally fulfilled the request of my good friends over at GC Puffs to write a piece having to do with cigars (of course).   In any case, here is what came across my mind while relaxing with one of my all-time favourite sticks.  Enjoy!


Simple Pleasures

Not a day goes by where I am not doing something to fight for the rights of cigar smokers and for the wellness of the industry as a whole.  It is no surprise to even the most casual of smokers that we are at a critical juncture at both the state and federal levels.  I could easily go on and on about why we are the good guys and always play by the rules, but I know you are all just as sick of hearing it as I am regurgitating it to politicians and health care groups in an effort to get my points across.  With that being said, I would much rather share this zen-like “ah-ha” moment I had the other day because I know those of you in this forum will appreciate it.

*                      *                      *

With the summer rapidly dwindling I took what seemed like the last nice, warm day and dedicated it to being a beach bum.  I live off the Great South Bay on Long Island and to me the smell of sea water is just intoxicating.  It seemed like a brilliant idea to grab some coffee, my lounge chair, some cigars and some music and waste the day watching the seagulls act like silly idiots.

After getting settled and tuning into my favourite Italian radio station via my iPhone, I lit up a cigar I affectionately refer to as my old friend: a Don Pepin Garcia Black La Perla.  I have consistently smoked this Pepin line in that very size roughly since its inception and after sitting back, I realized this is one of the few sticks that I smoke regardless of occasion. No less than a few puffs in this song came on that spoke of the joys of summer, friendship and how everyone should take time out to enjoy the simple pleasures life gives us.  If you were not expecting me to get cliché here I apologize in advance, but after all it is the little things we should treasure most, right?

So here I am philosophizing over an Italian pop song and a cigar and I realized just how many happy memories I have made simply by being a smoker.  From my earliest encounters with cigars as a toddler when my Grandfather would let me chew on one as he puffed outside after dinner, to the numerous fun events I’ve attended and even down to the wonderful friends I have made.  Cigar smoking has enriched my life on so many levels: this industry introduced me to my best friend, has taken me to remote parts of the world and brought people into my life that I have learned to love like family.  The more I sat back with the sun on my face the more I realized I have known some customers long enough that I was there through their engagements, weddings and the birth of their children, and of course the one thing that brought us all together was this little thing we call a cigar.

Putting aside the artistry and talent it takes to blend a cigar, at bare minimum what we enjoy today was nothing more than wild “sweet grass” the Taíno people used to roll up and smoke to mark both joy and pain.  In fact the smoking of cigars today often encompasses those emotions and the gamut that runs between them.  Regardless of when, where and why you choose to light up, the next time you do take a moment to reflect on how something so minute as a cigar has lead your own special memories.

In the 21st century we are inundated with technology and life in general tends to be made overly complicated by our own volition. After you strike a match take a deep breath, savour the flavours of great cigar and be thankful that simple pleasures still abound if you know where to look for them.

September 15, 2011Lindsay 1 Comment »
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PRESS RELEASE: Jose Blanco Named Sr. VP of Joya de Nicaragua Cigars

August 31, 2011–For Immediate Release
For additional information contact:Contact: Norman LugerPhone: (561) 470-9834
On August 29, 2011, Joya de Nicaragua, S.A. (JDN) appointed Jose Blanco, formerly a director of La AuroraCigars, as Senior Vice President. Blanco is bringing his 29 years of marketing,  public relations, and tobacco-blending experience to this legendary Nicaraguan cigar company.   He will be responsible for overall brand andblend development and will be reporting directly to its owner, Dr. Alejandro Martinez Cuenca, and the company’s Board of Directors. Working closely with Drew Estate, their US Distributor, and their worldwide partners, Blancowill also be responsible for interacting with the public. He will be relocating from the Dominican Republic to Nicaragua in order to fulfill his duties.
Blanco, age 61, is a cigar expert held in high esteem throughout the industry who is known for beingsimultaneously outspoken and gregarious. Cigars and tobacco have always been part of his life. As a youth he was tasked with sorting tobacco from his father’s farm and began regularly smoking cigars at the age of 16. He was hired by Empresa León Jimenes CxA in 1982 and spent 18 years in its core beer and cigarette divisions. In1999, due to his passion for cigars, he was promoted into their historic cigar company, La Aurora S.A. Utilizingtobaccos from many nations, he was instrumental in the development of new products such as the 100 Años, Aurora 107 and 1495 Series. He also served as the public representative for the company and is heralded for his tobacco blending and tasting seminars until his retirement from the company in June 2011. Guillermo León, the owner of La Aurora, credited Blanco for being a big part of the company’s success in a statement to Cigar Aficionado.
In comment to why he decided to accept the position at JDN, Blanco states, “Joining Joya De Nicaragua allows me to do what I love and feel passionate for: working with tobacco.  It is a choice that I feel very happy about and makes me look into the future with great enthusiasm. Joya De Nicaragua is in my opinion an honorable company with strong tradition and history, which I value highly. Furthermore, it will be a great honor to work with my dear friend Dr. Alejandro Martinez Cuenca.  In this company I visualize growth, creativity and overall great potential.”
Of Blanco says Dr. Martinez Cuenca, “Welcoming Jose Blanco as Senior VP of Joya de Nicaragua is a profound honor and pleasure for me. Jose will bring new blood and fresh ideas to our legendary company that will allow us to expand our lines of production. His experience in blending and marketing will complement our own efforts andwill undoubtedly result in a great contribution to the development and growth of Joya de Nicaragua in both theUS and worldwide markets.”
“I have always respected Jose,” states Steve Saka, President of Drew Estate, “He is one of the few guys in our business that will tell you what he really thinks. I like that in an individual, plus he is as crazy about cigars and tobacco as I am. He is a total cigar geek so I am really looking forward to having the opportunity to work with him to grow the love for Joya de Nicaragua. He is going to be a great fit.”
Jonathan Drew, Owner and Co-Founder of Drew Estate added this comment via an iPhone video, “Yeah, yeah,yeah, sure he knows all about cigars, but the thing I like best about Blanco is his accent. Sometimes it is Dominican, sometimes it is Bronx, but it is never one of those Dominican-Bronx accents.”

About JOYA DE NICARAGUA S.A.JOYA DE NICARAGUA S.A., is a family owned, Nicaragua-based cigar factory that handcrafts traditional cigars for the premium luxury cigar market. First opened in 1968, it is Nicaragua’s eldest factory in operation and home to the legendary JOYA DE NICARAGUA brand of cigars. JdN is regarded by many as the patriarch crafter of robust,unique puro blends of locally grown black tobaccos. For more info, please visit

From CRA: PROGRESS IN WASHINGTON, DC: New Senate Bill Calls for Protection of Cigars from FDA Regulation

S. 1461 will work with H.R. 1639 To Protect your Passion for a Great Cigar

By Glynn Loope, Executive Director

Cigar Rights of America
Amidst all of the chaos in Washington, DC this week, a quiet but amazingly significant action took place that goes to the heart of insuring your ability to have a great cigar, and that will work to protect the production, distribution, selling and enjoyment of cigars across the nation.

Two members of the United States Senate proved this week that as broken as Congress can seem, there is still the ability to protect freedom from activist federal bureaucrats that want to instill a new era of prohibition in America – the prohibition of tobacco products, and specifically cigars.

Two U.S. Senators proved that bi-partisan cooperation can work for this passion we share, much less work to protect a significant cornerstone to the economic foundation of their State of Florida. U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, D-FL, and US Senator Marco Rubio, R-FL came together and introduced S. 1461 as the companion bill to H.R. 1639, so that the Senate legislative process can now consider the Traditional Cigar Manufacturing and Small Business Jobs Preservation Act .

They know what this industry not only means to Florida, but to America. They know that small family owned professional tobacconists from Boston to Seattle are part of the community fabric, represent thousands of jobs, for a product not addictive, nor marketed to children, and enjoyed for leisure by adults. In other words, not any of the reasons Congress passed and the President signed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. Regulating cigars simply goes beyond any legislative intent. H.R. 1639 and now S. 1461 clarify that point.

This week, the CRA Board of Directors and staff met in Washington, DC, and subsequently made calls on members of Congress in an effort to advance this legislation. In cooperation with industry allies such as the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association, progress is being made against those dedicated to the prohibition of tobacco.

It’s Time to Thank Them for Their Leadership

We want to extend a sincere word of thanks to U.S. Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio for this action, and we hope you will join us in expressing that appreciation. Please call, email or drop a note to these two US Senators for this act of leadership on your behalf. We can assure you, our opposition will be making their feelings known. Let them know, they did the right thing for the cigar enthusiasts of America.

Please call the offices of your members of the United States Senate, and ask them to join S. 1461 as a Sponsor!

NEW SPONSORS FOR H.R. 1639 in the U.S. House of Representatives

There was progress on the other side of the U.S. Capitol, as well. H.R. 1639 now has 43 sponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives, with Congressmen Sanford Bishop. Howard Coble, and Patrick McHenry of North Carolina, Dennis Cardoza of California, and Tim Ryan of Ohio joining with many of their colleagues in standing up for liberty.

They join the ranks of not only their fellow members of Congress as sponsors of H.R. 1639, but specifically join the bi-partisan leadership of Congressman Bill Posey and Congresswoman Kathy Castor. Republicans and Democrats are coming together on this issue, and we need to recognize it with our appreciation.

Please join your brethren cigar enthusiasts in thanking these members of the United State Congress for this act of leadership, on your behalf.

What you can do:

  • Cut and paste the CRA link to our petition, and spread it among your own network of cigar club members, fellow cigar enthusiasts, and for cigar shop owners, place on your web site and in your promotional emails, so that we can reach all of Cigar Nation.
August 5, 2011Lindsay No Comments »
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VIDEO: The Art of Cigars at El Titán de Bronze

Before I leave for IPCPR 2011 in Las Vegas I wanted to share with you all a brilliant video that was sent to me the other day by independent filmmaker, Héctor Landaeta.

Read about Héctor’s inspiration for this beautifully done short video on the art of cigars: something that is undoubtedly a symbol of Little Havana’s Cuban soul.



Hello Lindsay and everybody, my name is Hector Landaeta.  I wanted to express my sincere respect for this forum where much wisdom is so graciously shared.  I’m an independent film producer from Miami and I wanted to share with you this video I shot earlier this year at “El Titán de Bronze” at the famed “Calle Ocho” in Miami.
I’ve been looking for some time for a subject that appealed to the essence of Miami and you really don’t need to look too hard to realize that the Cuban influence is one of this city’s most striking features.  Within what that torn island has bestowed on this community is one of the richest cigar cultures in America.  I found it interesting that though most, if not all, cigar manufacturers based in Miami have at least a token presence in SW 8th St. with the distinct purpose of being seen rolling cigars there for the tourist’s sake, they are very secretive about letting someone film their “torcedores” at work.  I Had been bounced from three or four places before I found Mrs. Sandy Cobas, owner of “El Titán”, behind her small shop’s counter with a wholly different attitude and here’s the result: <>
(or if you prefer YouTube):
Thanks in advance for your time and comments.

July 16, 2011Lindsay No Comments »
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Toraño Family Cigar Company Unveils New Blends from the “Vault”


(Miami, FL) July 12, 2011: Toraño Family Cigar Company is excited to unleash Vault, the family’s newest cigar creation. The Toraño family will unveil Vault at the upcoming 2011 IPCPR in Las Vegas.

Blends from the Vault originate from the family’s cigar “blend book” which was started by Carlos Toraño, Sr. in 1982.  The blend book, which is now almost 30 years old, has a record of every blend concept the Toraño family has ever worked on. The tobacco stained pages of this book include blends that could only come from a family with the history, knowledge and tobacco experience of the Toraño family. Amongst the blends recorded are many which the family has released over the years, together with some blends which were deemed to have tremendous potential, but fell short of the family’s high expectations. This book has come to symbolize the Toraño’s blending expertise, creativity, and is now securely stored in a safety deposit box in a bank vault.

Charlie Toraño, current president of Toraño Family Cigar Co.(and son of Carlos Toraño Sr.) along with VP of Sales and Marketing, Bruce Lewis, revisited the blend book and discovered an intriguing, yet unreleased blend, Liga A-008, which was first recorded in 2000. The original Blend A-008 consisted of heavy filler tobacco from Estelí and Condega, Nicaragua, one single binder from Jamastran and was finished with a shade grown Nicaraguan Colorado wrapper. Charlie and Bruce decided to embark on a project to enhance this special blend.

After numerous attempts to slightly modify the original recorded blend, the missing ingredient was discovered – tobacco from Ometepe, Nicaragua.  Ometepe is an island located on Lake Nicaragua.  The island is home to two volcanoes and its soil is rich and fertile. Adding Ometepe to the original Toraño blend, specifically as a second ligero binder, brought an added layer of complexity and strength to the blend.

Vault blend A-008 opens instantly to reveal a rich and flavorful base of spice and earth which is quickly rounded and complemented by notes of ripe fruit and a nutty creaminess. Complex and exhibiting a multi-layered taste profile, this full bodied blend coats and satisfies the entire palate.  Vault comes in three sizes:  6 x 50 Toro; 6 1/8 x 52 Torpedo and a 5 x 52 Robusto.  The MSRP is $7.20 – $7.95.

The Toraño family heads into the IPCPR in Las Vegas boasting two new brands in Vault and Loyal along with the launch of the new 6 × 60 Exodus 1959 – 50 Years BFC. The Toraño Family hopes to see you at the IPCPR in Las Vegas at booth 0584—0693.

A leader in the cigar industry, Toraño Family Cigar Company is a four generation company currently based in Miami, FL. It enjoys a rich heritage and history in tobacco growing and manufacturing. For more information: Please also follow Toraño on Face book: Toraño A Family Cigar Company or on Twitter: @TORANOFAMCIGARS.

July 12, 2011Lindsay No Comments »
FILED UNDER :Cigars , Tobacco Industry News

First Native Bourbon Whiskey of Arkansas Now on the Market

Rock Town Distillery has introduced its first whiskey, the Arkansas Young Bourbon Whiskey. This young bourbon is touted to be the first legal bourbon whiskey ever commercially produced in the state of Arkansas.

Rock Town, known to be the first legal distillery since the Prohibition Era, said their Arkansas Young Bourbon Whiskey is handmade in very small batches.  Only around 114 cases were bottled of this first roll-out and can be purchased various retailers in Arkansas, Tennessee and Illinois.

Arkansas Young Bourbon Whiskey was pot distilled from a mash of Arkansas Corn and Arkansas Wheat.  Aged in five and ten- gallon new charred oak barrels at the distillery in Little Rock, this new spirit will also be available at select restaurants throughout the South.

The company noted that it was aged between three and six months using accelerated maturation techniques that includes small barrels and temperature cycling.

Arkansas Young Bourbon Whiskey is bottled at 92 proof (46% ABV), with a suggested retail of $24.99/375ml.

July 7, 2011Lindsay No Comments »
FILED UNDER :Articles , Bourbon

Learn About How I Used Social Media to Break the Gender Barrier in the Cigar Industry

Many thanks to the folks at LinkedIn and New York’s own Newsday for this article published in today’s paper.


Manager uses social media to break gender barrier

Updated: Jul 05, 2011 06:18 PM

As a woman in a male-oriented business, Lindsay M. Heller says she knows what it’s like to be mistaken for a cashier “simply because of my sex.”

Still, Heller, general manager at J Barbera Tobacconist, in Garden City, points to a resource she says has helped her break the gender barrier — social media.

Sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn have helped her establish her personal brand and “assert myself globally in the tobacco industry,” where she serves on executive advisory boards and speaks at major events.

Indeed, a new report from LinkedIn , with more than 100 million members, says that women in some nontraditional fields are particularly well-connected, more so than their male counterparts, with the same true for men in some female-dominated industries. This is based on a networking “savviness” formula that considers the ratio of the number of men’s to women’s connections on LinkedIn , and the ratio of men to women in given fields. So in an industry where 45 percent of profiles are women’s, but women have 70 percent of the connections, women would be considered the savvier networkers.

The top industries where women were deemed the savvier networkers, according to LinkedIn, were tobacco, ranching, international trade and development, alternative medicine and alternative dispute resolution. As for men, they trumped women in online networking savviness in law enforcement, medical practices, capital markets, hospital/health care, and cosmetics. Across all industries, both globally and in the United States, men took the connectivity prize, according to the LinkedIn report.

In industries dominated by one sex, the “minority sex” may just be networking harder to break in, say the LinkedIn data crunchers.

Chandlee Bryan, a career coach and co-author of “The Twitter Job Search Guide,” says that social media “can be a huge barrier buster.” Engaging and sharing know-how can demonstrate professional chops and “really bring down the walls,” she says.

Heller, who got her start at Nat Sherman tobacconists in Manhattan, says her activity on Twitter has “allowed me to dispel a lot of myths.” Known there as @TheCigarChick, she has more than 2,500 followers. On LinkedIn she has 164 connections and belongs to groups such as the Cigar Group and the Social Cigar Professionals Network.

The “magic number” of connections on the site is 50, which shows you have a solid professional network, says Nicole Williams, LinkedIn’s connection director. The next tier to shoot for — 500, she says.

As for LinkedIn’s finding that men are better connected in the cosmetics industry, Eric Neher says he thinks men may have to work a little harder in a field where he sees so many women executives, especially in independent, niche, medium-sized firms. With more than 160 LinkedIn contacts, he’s brand marketing and merchandising manager with Manhattan-based Birchbox, a start-up e-commerce site for beauty samples and products.

Just as in the tobacco business, “gender assumptions are made,” says Neher, 29, who says he’s received several emails with a “Dear Erica” greeting.

There’s also that bonding advantage women have, he says, in the ability to immediately “connect on a basic level, as they’re all users of the products” and can compare personal notes on, says, eyeliner and face creams.

“I don’t wear makeup or nail polish,” he said. “I need to find ways to connect with executives on some other level.”

TODAY: Join Bill Paley & Glynn Loope for a LEGAL Outdoor Smoke in NYC

William C. Paley
Proprietor of La Palina Cigars

J. Glynn Loope
CRA Executive Director
Join J. Glynn Loope & William C. Paley For An Outdoor Smoke in NYC

William C. Paley, Proprietor of La Palina Cigars
Glynn Loope, Executive Director of Cigars Rights of America

Invite you to Enjoy a Legal Outdoor Smoke in Celebration of
the Anniversary of Samuel Paley Park

Monday, May 23, 2011
5:00 pm to 7:30 pm

Samuel Paley Park
3 East 53 rd Street
(Between Madison and Fifth Avenue)
New York, NY 10022

Attendance is limited to all individuals 18 years of age and older who present a sales receipt from
any New York City tobacconist dated anytime from May 20 – 23, 2011


May 23, 2011Lindsay No Comments »
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