May 2014 Newsletter


May 21, 2014

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Kurt's Corner
On April 10, 2014 my iPad was stolen, along with
other “personal effects” (my briefcase and suitcase),
from my vehicle in Houston.  Theft is a crime that deprives
us of our property, and to some degree our liberty (having
to go shopping for clothes and sundries instead of calling
on customers), and ultimately of our enjoyment or prosperity
in life.  Our criminal laws are very clear on this matter –
theft is a prosecutable crime.  I have been very
impressed with the Harris County Sheriff’s
department’s handling of the matter – I may even get my
iPad back!
Our Constitution’s laws are also very clear on the matter of theft: Article V. states “(No person shall) be deprived of life, liberty or property, without due process of law.”  On July 8, 2014, you may be the victim of a crime.  You may be deprived of your liberty and ultimately your property by the FDA, who will on that date decide how to regulate your enjoyment of cigars.  Unfortunately, when the perpetrator and the prosecutor are the same, the handling of the matter is much less impressive.  You will not get due process of law from a regulatory agency whose purpose is to eradicate your access to a legal product!
I know some smokers who are complacent on this and other smoking issues.  They say, “I don’t mind warning labels”.  “Won’t regulation of production protect us?”  Don’t be fooled – you already have the choice, the liberty to smoke or not to smoke, to choose between brands, and try new products, to congregate with others of similar tastes.  Through regulation, the FDA will create a burden on manufacturers that will effectively eliminate new items, killing small manufacturers and also small retailers.  This will be a theft, a death by decree. 
But we have a chance!  You do have a voice – the FDA has given us a sliver of hope by suggesting that they may choose to not regulate premium cigars.   We now have 48 days left in the “comment period”.  Your comments will count!  Go NOW to the 
CRA website. Review the situation, click the link, make your comment.  Our passion for cigars, our business, our industry depends on YOU!


Kurt Van Keppel

April 2014 Newsletter


April 23, 2014

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Kurt's Corner
I love to eat – I always have.  Over time, it’s become more of a “living
to” than a “living for”.  Cigars are also like that for me – I live for the
moments to smoke them.  This month, we discuss cigars and eating,
which share more in common than just our palate (which truth to tell,
is enough!)
Last week’s trip to New York City provided my passion
extraordinary satisfaction.  The Comfort Diner extended day-after
comfort, while Mario Batali’s Esca found a way out of NY – to heaven
(try the Branzino), and The John Dory Oyster Bar gave me the need
for Comfort – along with the best oysters and lobster po' boy
imaginable. You can find my list of favorite haunts for both food and cigars right here: Kurt's NYC Food & Cigars. Add one of your own!
New York City has among the world’s best cigar shops – with something for every taste, in both cigars and atmosphere.  And rather than pick favorites, I invite you to visit them all.  The cigar world in New York occupies a small space, with just enough stores for the intrepid smoking traveler to visit (most of the others are gone, victims of New York’s draconian tobacco taxes and anti-smoking laws).  Among them you will find sophistication, relaxation and lounges large and small.
For all my passionate eating, my weight hasn’t changed. Some might call it “discerning,” or less kindly, “picky”. Really, I just eat what I like, and beyond that I don’t have much interest.  However, I practice intrepid eating, meaning I’m willing to try anything once. The same is true for cigars – this is key to really, really understanding cigars.  And if you also read about them, study them, perhaps write about them, you will soon find your own expertise.  Howard, who I first met in the Dominican Republic, recently said hello at the TX Cigar Fest.  He carries a cigar dossier with him – of descriptions of almost every cigar he has ever smoked.  Now that’s personal expertise!
At events, consumers often ask what cigar I might recommend.  I always reply, “what do you drink: beer, wine or whiskey?” I find the palate for drinks matches cigars (beer – mild, wine – medium, whisky – strong).  I also find the palate is indifferent to gender: once I suggested a strong cigar to a woman who was sipping a bourbon – she loved it. 
Whichever palate you have, I invite you to intrepid, travel-smoking discovery.  If not to NY, then travel around your city, visit a variety of shops.  “Travel” through the humidor, practice intrepid smoking.  Above all, enjoy!


Kurt Van Keppel

March 2014 Newsletter


March 20, 2014

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Kurt's Corner
We've been talking a lot about Innovation lately, at the office, with our
customers and even on these pages. You see, we believe that 
Innovation (and extraordinary customer experience), is key to growing 
a business that attracts consumers like you to our products and brand.

Innovation began at XIKAR in my hand.  As I observed my hand cutting a 
cigar, I realized that the entire palm could be used to create a much 
more powerful cut - and the Xi cutter was born.  We have made this 
process, of seeking better solutions by observing consumer interaction,
core to our innovation - and now a formal process at XIKAR.  Not only
do we observe, but also we strip away comfortable assumptions of past
solutions, by asking: what's the problem  / what's the goal?

I take great pride in announcing the latest result of this process. Our PuroTemp Wireless Hygrometer System solves the problem of both neglect and hyper-attention to your humidification systems. The system not only gives you a desktop readout of your humidor's temperature and humidity, but also alarms you when either surpasses your set limits.  Now you give both your cigars, and yourself, a worry-free rest. You don't have to open the box to see what's going on in there!

You can find one at your local tobacconist - ask him for a demo.  And while there, pick up a bottle of XIKAR PG Solution, the other key to maintaining proper humidity.  (For more education on this topic than you imagine or perhaps even want, check this link).

In the meantime, we'll be back at XPDS (XIKAR Product Design Services) center, dreaming up more ways to improve your smoking experience.  And on these pages, and on Twitter and Facebook, we'll ask for your help, opinions and advice.  Keep an eye out! 


Kurt Van Keppel

February 2014 Newsletter


February 11, 2014

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Kurt's Corner
    "What's new?" is something our team gets asked daily through
social media, customer service or even at events. The answer for
XIKAR is, "What isn't new?" XIKAR's focus on quality and continuous
improvement is obvious throughout our new product offerings.
Our design team is constantly hard at work to bring you the
next great thing in cigar accessories whether it's a current product
upgrade or a brand new launch. We will now introduce 
cool new products to make your smoking experience more
enjoyable all year long, not just at IPCPR.
    For example, we have just released a new double jet flame lighter. 
As you will read below, our popular Enigma lighter is now redesigned
as the Enigma II. This new model has an amazing new feel/power in your hand. Check in with your local XIKAR retailer to pick one up and feel for yourself.  
   Also, stay tuned for an exciting new product launch coming soon! We have been working hard to develop a humidification product that will make the hobby even more simple for you to relax and enjoy. 
    Perhaps the best closing in answering the "what's new" question is always stay tuned. You won't have to wait long to get more truly innovative new products from XIKAR.  


Kurt Van Keppel

December 2013 Newsletter


December 2013

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Kurt's Corner
  Happy Holidays XIKAR Nation! It truly is the most wonderful
time of the year, and the season for giving. It's easy to get swept
up in the momentum of the holiday season with travel plans, gifts,
(getting and giving), but I'm asking you to take a step back with me
and think about those that have to be away from their loved
ones this season. 

    The US Armed Forces make up a large part of XIKAR Nation, and
we do our best to show how thankful we are for their sacrifice for
our country. Over the past 2 years, XIKAR has donated over 2,040
accessories in care packages.  We plan to expand that number in
2014. XIKAR will partner with Cigars for Warriors next year to send even more care packages.  Cigars for Warriors’ mission is to collect and disperse premium cigars to US Military Personnel stationed abroad. Their goal is to let the men and women of our Armed Forces enjoy well-deserved moments of reassurance and relaxation. 

    To kick off our relationship with Cigars for Warriors, we are currently auctioning off our 1,000th Fossil Mammoth Xi3 Cutter, with all of the proceeds going to Cigars For Warriors.

The Xi3 Mammoth cutter builds on XIKAR’s long history of design, elegance and engineered performance with unique handles assembled by Scrimshaw Artist, Rick “HutcH” Hutchings. The highest bidder will receive the one-of-a-kind cutter, free inscription from HutcH AND get inducted into the XIKAR FOR LIFE Hall of Fame. Please join me in showing our US armed forces some love this holiday season and visit the auction site to contribute before it closes this Friday! Also, if you know anyone currently stationed abroad, feel free to submit a care package request to 

Wishing you and your family a wonderful holiday season,

Kurt Van Keppel

1,000th Mammoth Xi3 cutter to be auctioned to benefit Cigars for Warriors

December 2012 Newsletter

December 2012

How to Cut with an Ultra Slim Cutter

XIKAR Co-Founder and CDO Scott Almsberger demonstrates how to properly cut a cigar
with an Ultra Slim cutter, a mere 3.5mm thick.

November 2012 Newsletter

November 2012
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Kurt's Corner

     Sometimes (mostly at cocktail parties), someone will ask, “what's your (company) goal?” It makes me chuckle to hear it – reminds me of “what do you want to be when you grow up?” I suppose the question really means, “how big do you want to be?” Unfortunately, I can’t answer that – I don’t set goals by an arbitrary figure that may sound impressive. Instead, I have set XIKAR’s goal to be about performance.

“Our goal is to be great at our mission, and achieve our potential through the highest capabilities of our people, enhancing and developing those along the way” 
     Performance means many things, for instance great function of high quality goods. It means creative innovation to answer the perennial question, “what’s new”. And, performance at XIKAR means providing extraordinary customer experience to both retailers and consumers. This is organizational performance, which we focus ourselves around and accomplish as a team.
     How then, do team members perform? What does it mean to our people every day? I love the Army’s slogan, Be All You Can Be! At XIKAR we work to develop strengths, and improve on our weaknesses. Back to the sports metaphor, the quarterback throws, the receivers catch, the blockers block. We don’t ask our team to do things that don’t suit them, and we don’t focus too much on improving their faults. Instead, we make sure they are in the right “position” and we ask them to build on their strengths.
      But it’s not enough to field a good team – if we don’t communicate the goals properly and regularly. And then, we must exercise the discipline to work them by priority, day by day, week, month, year. We take this work seriously and spend a lot of effort to plan the work and work the plan. In fact, we are right now finishing up the plan for 2013, and will begin to work the plan in January.
     We bring enthusiasm to our work, and look forward to presenting the results (cool new products!) But, we try not to take ourselves too seriously, by displaying humor and humility (interesting that both begin “hum”, like “human”). And at the end of the day, we give thanks for what we have, and what we did. So in the spirit of Thanksgiving, here's what I am thankful for at XIKAR: my team, who works hard at improving themselves and the business every day, my partners, who take the risks with me and apply all of their strength to our goals, and especially my wife, who signed up to be my life partner and supported XIKAR all the way!

I wish you a peaceful, happy and safe holiday season,

Kurt Van Keppel
President & Founder
New Hunter
Stratosphere Lighter!
     Fire up at any elevation! The popular XIKAR Stratosphere lighter is now available in a durable Hunter (green-colored) rubber body. This high altitude lighter works at up to 12,000 feet above sea level and is perfect for hunters with a handy lanyard, protective lid and windproof flame.


XIKAR U: How to cut your cigar with a Punch

     XIKAR President and Co Founder, Kurt Van Keppel demonstrates how to properly use a Punch to cut your cigar. View XIKAR’s three punches in 7, 9, and 11mm here.

If you are new to this hobby, you can visit to learn how to properly cut, light, smoke or store your cigars. 

Cooler Weather =
Watch your RH%

     The days are getting shorter, the mornings are a little more brisk and it's time to winterize those lawn mowers.  Have you been 'winterizing' your humidors?  Summer months allow us to get a little lax in how often we check our humidifiers because of all the humidity present in the environment.  Winter months, on the other hand, require a vigilant spirit to combat the moisture-sapping season ahead.  
     To fight the effects of forced-air heating and sub-zero temperatures, make sure you are educated about proper humidification.  While the two-way nature of XIKAR's humidity products is critical during the summer months to remove excess moisture, the large-volume and open-to-the-air attributes of XIKAR jars and humidifiers make them perfect for winter as well.  

  • Some humidification products work by waiting for moisture to be pulled through a paper and plastic membrane.  XIKAR jars and humidifiers allow our specially-mixed PG solution to replace that lost moisture directly into the air, preventing cigars from seeing a roller coaster of humidity levels.  
  • XIKAR jars and humidifiers are sized for your ease of use.  Why worry whether those thin envelopes of gel are dried up already when you can have a humidifier that can hold up to 4 ounces of PG solution that keeps on working?  When the fluid level does get low, just refill with our economical PG solution instead of throwing another humidifier away. 
Featured Product:
Ceramic Stair Step Ashtray
     From first light to the last ash, smoke in style with the XIKAR Stair Step Ashtray. This unique stair step notch design ensures that your freshly lit cigar doesn’t fall down into the ash prematurely, and that tasty smoke you burn down to the nub has a rightful place to breathe until the last puff.

     Perfect for the patio, smoking room or man cave! Fits 5 cigars and is available in white or black. 

Upcoming XIKAR Events

     There are a lot of great events across the country for you to check out. Here are a few coming up from our XIKAR retailers.  
11/23 Emerson’s Cigars 
in Virginia Beach, VA 11 a.m.- 3 p.m.

11/23 Cigar Warehouse
in Plano, TX 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.

11/28 Goodfellas Cigar Lounge 
in Mahtomedi, MN 5-8 p.m.

11/29 Finck’s Cigar Company
in Helotes, TX 4-7 p.m.
11/30 Fufiokas Wine Times
in Honolulu, HI 6-9 p.m.
11/30 Liquid Smoke/The Humidor
in Murfreesboro, TN 4-8 p.m.
12/1 Stag Tobacconist
in Colorado Springs, CO 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
12/5 Metro Cigar
in Germantown, WI 4-8 p.m.
12/5 Tobacco Junction
in McGregor, TX 7-10 p.m.
12/6 Emerson’s Holiday Open House
Event in VA Beach, VA
12/6 Jerry’s Cigars
in Tucson, AZ 3-6 p.m.
12/7 Humidor Pipe Shop
in Huntsville, AL 1-6 p.m.
12/8 Cigar Studio “57”
in Cumming, GA 2-6 p.m.
12/8 Briar Shoppe
in Houston, TX 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
12/8 Cigar! Cigar! Christmas Party
in Sugarland, TX
12/11 John B. Hayes Tobacconist
in Fairfax, VA 5-8 p.m.
12/13 Emerson’s Cigars
in VA Beach, VA 12-8 p.m.
12/13 Grand River Cigar
in Grand Rapids, MI 4-8 p.m.
12/13 Finck’s Cigar Company
in San Antonio, TX 4-8 p.m.

12/14 The Cigar Shop
in Biloxi, MS 12-9 p.m.
12/14 Cigar Warehouse
in Plano, TX 10 a.m.- 9 p.m.
12/14 Tobacco Plaza
in Great Neck, NY
12/15 CI Superstore Holiday Sale
in Bethlehem, PA
12/16 Tobacco Road
in Arlington, TX 12-4 p.m.
12/21 Don’s Cigars
in Phoenix, AZ 11 a.m.- 6 p.m. 
Happy Birthday Scott!
     XIKAR Co-Founder and CDO, Scott Almsberger celebrated his birthday at a Halloween-themed event in San Antonio, TX at Club Humidor. The turnout was awesome and they even surprised him with a XIKAR birthday cake. Thanks Club Humidor

Custom Travel Case for Rush Guitarist

     Below is a custom travel case we designed for Alex Lifeson, the guitarist for Rush. Alex had the travel case sitting on stage with him at the concert he played in New York City where Ron Melendi from De La Concha presented it to him.

Be a part of XIKAR Nation! Follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook to see daily updates of events, pictures and even weekly contests to win XIKAR swag! 

XIKAR Accessories by CigarBunch
Watch full review

Xi Cutters with Lighters Direct
Watch full review

Tech Lighters with Lighters Direct
Watch full review

Xi2 Cutter with The Cigar Crook
Watch full review

XIKAR For Life Hall of Fame

     The XIKAR For Life Hall of Fame Award is designed to recognize an individual who has demonstrated exceptional support and commitment of the XIKAR organization. Nominees are selected based on their affiliation with XIKAR plus their passion and commitment for the cigar industry.

Carolee Martin
Fraser Monk
Jeff McDowell
Robbie Morton
Daniel Dwyer
Jay Bitzer
Michael “Moe” O’Donovan

Each year, four individuals are inducted into the XIKAR Hall of Fame. The next inductee will be announced in December. All retailers and consumers can submit their nominees to XIKAR at


Manliest Meal Winner: 
Congratulations to the winner of an X8 Carbon Fiber Cutter, Russ Page! He sent in the manliest meal celebrating National Men Make Dinner Day on November 1st!
Here is Russ Page’s winning entry:
“Beef Stew? More like MEAT EXPLOSION!!! I have had this crock filled with the best potatoes, babiest of carrots, stalkiest of the celery, some of the rarest cuts of beef, and strips of smoked bacon. Did I mention I paired the beef with VENISON CHUNKS!?!? I did. That is not a regular sized spoon you see, it is Thor's Hammer melting into the stew after he was defeated by the overbearingly manly aroma that exudes from this primal crock. But seriously it’s delicious.”

Here are a couple other great entries...

James Miller

George Krichbaum Jr.

     Tis’ the season XIKAR Nation! Send us a picture of you getting into the holiday spirit to Dress up as Santa, cook up a storm, stand out in the snow (or under a mistletoe), give XIKAR as presents, etc. It doesn’t matter what holiday you are celebrating, the possibilities are endless so don’t be afraid to get creative!  Always remember, it doesn’t hurt to incorporate XIKAR into your entry (hint, hint). Our favorite entry will receive the perfect present of a 5ct Travel Case and red Executive II lighter. All entries must be submitted by December 19th 11:59 p.m. CST. The winner will be announced December 20th in our next newsletter and on Facebook/Twitter.
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