New Topper Cigar Celebrates 120 Years
In 1896, the first movie theater opened in the United States, legendary actor George Burns was born and B.P. Topper founded a cigar company bearing his name.
Today, 120 years later, Topper cigars are still being made, and B.P.’s great-grandson Chris is honoring his family’s heritage with the release of the Topper 120th Anniversary, a handmade smoke crafted in the Dominican Republic.
“I’m just trying to pay homage to how I got here,” says Chris Topper, owner of Topper Cigar Co.
Topper began as a handmade product, first rolled in McSherrystown, Pennsylvania, with then-legal Cuban tobacco on the inside and dark, Connecticut broadleaf wrapper on the outside. When labor became more expensive in the U.S. in the 1960s and Topper was faced with an aging workforce, the company changed its cigars from handmade to made by machines. Unlike many machine-made cigars, though, the company kept the blend 100 percent tobacco.
In 2013, Chris Topper returned the brand to its roots, creating handmade Toppers in the Dominican Republic. Those smokes were made from chopped filler leaves, allowing Topper to charge less than $3 per cigar.
The Topper 120 is much higher end, crafted from long-filler tobaccos and packed ten to a box. There are two wrapper styles in each box: Nicaraguan Habano and Pennsylvania broadleaf.
Topper is headquartered in Connecticut, but he chose Pennsylvania broadleaf to pay homage to the state where his cigars were born and had been made for many years.
The smokes are 6 1/4 inches long perfectos, with a ring gauge of 54 at their fattest part. The cigars were blended by Topper and Phil Zanghi (creator of the Deboinaire brand) and were rolled at Augusto Reyes’ De Los Reyes cigar factory in Santiago. Topper says they have been aging for three years.
Save for the wrappers, the blend of the two cigars is identical: a mix of Dominican and Nicaraguan filler with a Dominican binder leaf.
The inside-lid of the box contains the image of all four generations of Topper men to run the company since 1896: founder B.P., his son Curtis, his son Frances (known as Frank) and Chris. “All four have owned and run the company,” says Chris Topper. Beneath their pictures is each man’s signature.
Chris almost didn’t join the business, as cigar sales were poor in the 1980s and very early 1990s. “I graduated in 1990 and my dad didn’t want me getting in the business,” he says. The cigar boom began soon after in 1992. Topper has endured two World Wars, the Great Depression and more. “After World War II we had a cigar called Topper Victory,” he says.
The cigars are pricey for Toppers—about $14. “It’s definitely a realm I haven’t been in before,” Topper said. He also said the components are more expensive than any he’s worked with before.
Each box is numbered, and the size of the production run hasn’t been disclosed. Topper said the cigars would begin arriving in stores this week in the Connecticut area, with a broader rollout to follow.
Aug 3, 2016
Category: DR News |