Ashton VSG, Dunhill Pipes Make Hacker's "Best List"

Los Angeles - Richard Carleton Hacker, Smokeshop contributor and Smoke & Spirits Editor for luxury lifestyle magazine Robb Report, has selected the top pipe and cigar for Robb Report's coveted Best of the Year awards.

Beating out every other premium pipe for the second consecutive year was the Alfred Dunhill Root Briar. Hacker commented that the pipe's flawless appearance "has become the hallmark of perfection" and cited its "purity of grain." In the cigar category, Hacker ranked the Ashton VSG, made by the Arturo Fuente factory in the Dominican Republic, at the top. "It is rare when a new cigar surpasses all those that have come before it," commented Hacker, "But that is exactly what the full-flavored Ashton VSG Cabinet Selection has done."

Tabacalera Tambor, Bahia Cigars Split

San Jose, Costa Rica - Tabacalera Tambor, based in Costa Rica, and Tony Borhani Cigars, of San Diego, Calif.,have separated into two companies. The split was announced by Douglas Pueringer, president of Tabacalera Tambor.

Pueringer said the separation would allow Tabacalera Tambor to develop its "free agent" status as a private label cigar manufacturer and enable Bahia Cigars to expand blends beyond cigars from Costa Rica. The operation of the two companies as individual entities will begin in January, 2001.

The two companies had entered into a strategic merger in 1998, at which time Tabacalera Tambor ended several private label arrangements, and dedicated production nearly exclusively to Bahia brands.

Altadis Completes Habanos Purchase

Havana - October 2nd marked the completion of the sale of 50% of Habanos, S.A. to Altadis, the European tobacco conglomerate formed last year by the merger of the Spanish and French tobacco monopolies. The deal cost Altadis $477 million. Altadis hopes the acquisition will reach its expected earning of $1 billion euros in 2001, with its cigar operations contributing around 20% to the total earnings.

Sseparately, Altadis announced that it is planning to sell its match business because the manufacture and sale of matches has become a marginal activity that the company feels does not fit strategically with its core cigarette, cigar, and distribution businesses.

Sancho Panza Awards Custom Harley-Davidson

Salem, N.H. - David Garofalo, owner of Two Guys Smoke Shop and winner of a one-of-a-kind Sancho Panza Harley-Davidson motorcycle, recently received the new Dyna Super Glide at his store in Salem, New Hampshire. Sancho Panza, introduced in August 200 at the RTDA show in San Antonio, TX, teamed with Harley-Davidson to launch the new premium brand with the retail promotion.

Villiger to Increase Production of Indoneasian Cigar Wrapper, Binder for Machine-Mades

Ngoro, Indonesia - P.T. Villiger Tobacco Indonesia, a unit of Swiss-based Villiger Group, plans to increase production of wrapper and binder "cuts" for cigars. The facility, which opened in November, 1999 and employs 160 workers, processes mostly Indonesian-grown Java and Sumatra tobacco leaves into pre-cut shapes that are spooled onto bobbins and shipped to Europe for use on machine-wrapped cigars.

The state-of-the-art bobbining factory is equipped with refrigerated areas, a water conditioning system, emergency power generation sets, and a computerized management system. Several production shifts allow Villiger to serve third-party customers; Increased output is now planned following successful operation since the plant's inception.

"In the manufacture of wrapper cuts, you must work to Swiss quality standards," says Heinrich Villiger, owner of the Villiger Group. "We guarantee this to our various customers of wrapper cuts."

SMOKESHOP - December 2000