WHAT IS A ROTHSCHILD?Plus: General Cigar wants you to play dominoes!

Los Angeles, November 2 – In compiling our 2005 edition of the Perelman’s Pocket Cyclopedia of Cigars, we see all kinds of shape names, sizes and packaging. One constant is the misspelling, misuse and general mess made of the name “Rothschild.”

Always used to describe a short cigar with a thick ring gauge, this shape is most often called “robusto” today, following the Cuban factory name for shape no. 435, measuring 4 7/8 inches long by 50 ring.

However, the same shape was – for many years – referred to as a Rothschild, with reference to the famed European family of bankers.

Starting with Meyer Amschel Rothschild in Frankfurt, Germany in the 1760s, the Rothschild banking interests expanded with his five sons, who established banks in London (by Nathan), Paris (James), Vienna (Salomon) and Naples (Carl) to go along with Amschel, who helped his father in Frankfurt.

Like the rest of aristocratic Europe, the Rothschilds enjoyed the fascination with cigars in the 19th Century. According to Joel Sherman in Nat Sherman’s A Passion for Cigars, in the 1880s, Leopold de Rothschild (Nathan’s grandson) asked the Hoyo de Monterrey folks for a short cigar with a large ring gauge. Voila!

However, the Rothschild connection to cigars did not end there.

Rothschild interests grew to include the Mouton (1853) and Lafite (1868) vineyards in Bordeaux, leading to the production of some of the world’s finest wines. In the 1920s, Philippe de Rothschild, the great-great-grandson of Nathan, took over the management of the Chateau Mouton Rothschild.

When the famed Swiss cigar merchant Zino Davidoff introduced his own line of cigars as a part of Cuba’s Hoyo de Monterrey line in 1946, it was not long before several of the shape names reflected his admiration for the Rothschild’s wines. He named his shapes the “Chateau Mouton Rothschild” (6 1/8 by 42, shown above), the “Chateau Lafite,” the “Chateau Lafite Rothschild” (both 4 1/2 by 40) and three others in the “Chateau” series. When Davidoff introduced a premium Honduran-made “Zino” line for the U.S. in late 1983, the line was named “Mouton Cadet” and the cigars were developed with interest from Philippe’s daughter Philippine.

Today, the Baroness Philippine de Rothschild, who succeeded to management of the company upon Philippe’s death in 1988, runs a much-expanded Chateau Mouton. And although the family’s favorite shape is most often referred to today as “robusto,” there are still many reminders of the Rothschild name in the lists of brands we cover in the Cyclopedia.

But it’s Rothschild, not “rothchild” or “rothchilde” or “rothschilde” or “rothshield.” Get it right! Seven generations of Rothschilds are watching . . .

Fired up for Diablo:
The big launch events across the country for Diablo were held on Friday and over the weekend by General Cigar, celebrating the availability of this new, spicy blend.

General is giving away some Diablos as well. In a program similar to our “Register & Win” giveaway, they are registering smokers on their CigarWorld website with winners drawn daily for 30 days.

The contest started on October 12 and continues through November 12 and each winner receives one box of Diablo Calientes (a 5-inch by 50-ring robusto), with a retail value of $131.25 before local tobacco taxes. The winners (must be 21 or older) are also posted on the site.

Seeing Spots:
Not that General Cigar is only concentrating on its Diablo promotion. They now have a domino tournament promotion for La Gloria Cubana, to go along with the “La Gloria Cubana Photo Night” and the as-yet unscheduled “La Gloria Cubana Old, Rare and Unavailable Cigar Dinner,” not to mention a bevy of programs for Macanudo, Partagas, Kahlua and Punch.

The domino tournaments will start in Texas this month, with a swing through Addison Cigar (in Addision, TX), Old Grapevine Cigar (Grapevine), Richmond Avenue Cigar (Houston) and McCoy’s Fine Cigars in Houston from November 8-11. Later dates in the middle of the month are in Florida.

Naturally, a raffle will be held to win a box of Wavells (5 x 50 robustos) and there will be “buy some, get some free” promotions at each stop.

Head in the sand . . . er . . . jar:
Not all that is auctioned turns to gold. A seller named from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida found that out late last week when his auction for a Montecristo (Havana) Millennium Robusto Jar – apparently with some, but not all 25 cigars – drew no takers.

The reason?

The opening bid was set at a preposterous $1,200! Although the jar appeared to be in excellent condition and had the accompanying box, these jars (without cigars) normally go for between $125 and $250, depending on condition. With a full complement of cigars, the price might get to around $900. But not this.

Interested, anyway? The item has been re-listed, again with a starting price of $1,200. The auction ends next Monday morning. Caveat Emptor!
~ Rich Perelman

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