Not even counting the free sample cigars flowing from some of the booths, SWAG was everywhere. The goods ranged from free luggage tags and lanyards (courtesy Nat Sherman Cigars) to free T-shirts, torch lighters and laptop bags (from Nino Vasquez at APS Distributors).
Cigar & Spirits Magazine sponsored the Lounge, with comfortable chairs for a smoke, and various companies pouring liquor to sample. 35 Maple Street Spirits had the best tasting sips with their Bib & Tucker Bourbon that matched well with a spicy cigar.
Best story behind their company:
Graycliff Hotel, Chocolatier and Cigars. In 1740, notorious Caribbean pirate Captain John Howard Graysmith traded in his plundering for a pardon from the British, and settled down in Nassau, Bahamas to build his home, Graycliff. The company has since released the Graysmith blend using some of their stockpile of original tobacco. The sticks are hand rolled without molds, and come in a larger 60 x 7 inch format for around $30.
Best story behind their new blend:
Boutique Blends (with Oliveros) showcased the La Boheme Encantador. This new blend was named for the way a sample of it was described – ‘Enchanting’. This box pressed cigar is a medium to full smoke with an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper and Habano Dominiano filler and wrapper. It will retail for $10.50-12.50.
Missouri Meershaum Companies authentic looking Corn Cob pipe was the best recreation of Old America. The pipe looks like the kind from the 1800s, but smokes much better.
Best new idea:
Perdomo premiered their new line, Special Craft Series, for beer enthusiasts. The three blends were created with a specific type of beer in mind. The Connecticut shade grown is to be paired with a Pilsner, White Ale, Golden Lager, Cream Ale and Light Lager. The Nicaraguan sun grown is meant to complement Amber, Pale Ale, Lager, IPA, Oktoberfest or Double IPA. And the Jalapa Valley Maduro wrapper cigar should be paired with Stout, Porter, Brown Ale, Bock, Dunkel or Imperial Stout.
For those caring about the future of premium cigar smoking in the United States and attending the Government Affairs briefing, it was a pleasant surprise to get two cigars to sample from the Mexican La Casta Cigars. They provided attendees with a nice Nicaraguan/Mexican blend Toro Capa Flor and a La Casta.
A Pennsylvania company, Evil Genius, set on world domination one cigar at a time.
The yet-to-be-released-in-America Rauchvergnugen Cigar has a totally unique push, claiming to be a ‘German Engineered Cigar’. Oliver Nickels is promoting his new sticks, which come complete with blue prints. Nickels is looking for an American distributor.
Hands down, Drew Estate wowed the crowd upon entry with their booth design and cigars. They appeared under the bridge, and allowed convention goers to get a better look with upstairs seating.
Top 10 things at Sunday’s IPCPR in New Orleans
Foundry’s creator has a new full-flavored Ramon Allones and classic-taste Bolivar, at just $6.49 – $7.49 retail. Michael Giannini took the Old Cuban Heritage brands and reimaged them. Each has leaves from six different farms, including wrappers and fillers. The pigtailed stick with unfinished foot in a uniquely designed box looks interesting, but one look at Giannini explained why. His floral jacket stood out but matched him. He said of his cigars, “When you first light it you get a taste of the wrapper, that’s an appetizer and then once you get into the blend, that’s the entrée.”
The pride in his company’s work but not in himself was pleasantly refreshing at the Curivari Booth. Described as ‘too nice’ by his customers and his workers, Andres Throuvales grew up in Greece. After an American college education in Food Science, he moved to Cuba, where he discovered cigars. When he moved back home, he realized there were more cigars in the world than Cubans, and at half the price. Early on, Andres developed a Maduro for the European market. But it didn’t catch on until the Cubans brought in their own cigars with the darker wrapper. And then he couldn’t keep them on the shelf. Curivari’s Buenaventura was one of 2013s top 25, and this year his firm has released six new sizes along with two new lines.
Best thing in the morning:
Psyko 7 coffee and cigars. Ventura Cigar Company is marketing its 100 percent Arabica tobacco-infused coffee that comes in three flavors – Bourbon Blend, Havana Blend and Mint Chocolate. It’s a smooth, dark roast, and will pair well with your smoke. Medicate your mind early in the morning with one of the new sizes for their successful cigar line, Psyko 7. It’s a Dominican Hybrid wrapper, Mexican Samatra binder and multiple-country blend.
Best grandmom story:
Ted’s Cigars owner has an amazing story behind his Farris Cigars. Ted’s grandmother spent every Sunday with her bible, not at church, but at a women’s prison. Ted named the cigar after her (Lois Ferris), and asks his customers to share their stories online with him (whereupon he will send them a cigar). Remember the Maker’s Mark cigar? Ted’s has done it again with their new Single Malt Scotch cigar, The Glen. It comes in a glass tube so the infused alcohol won’t evaporate.
To promote Luchador’s latest cigar, who else would be at their booth but a Luchador costumed helper. The Luchador team is promoting their new El Gringo, a strong yet smooth Nicaraguan with three ligeros. The sticks were aged three years, and proved to be good smokes. And they’re not just for gringos.
Best free lunch:
Retailers and press were given some somewhat good free food for lunch. (Saturday was paid for by Quesada Cigars, and Sunday was Padron Cigars.) Don’t forget to thank the sponsor.
This comes out to be a tie between Lighthouse cigars and Flor de Gonzalez Cigars. That pushy old guy who kept dragging people back to his booth at Lighthouse Cigars believed in his product so much that he grabbed anyone nearby (and not so nearby) to get them to try the Dominican Golfer’s Blend (mild for the beginning smoker) and Limited Edition (new for the show). Also, Senor Gonzales at Flor De Gonzales loves his cigar so much that he asked anyone who walked by (whether they were smoking a cigar or not) if they wanted to smoke a good cigar. If you replied, “I am”, he’d tell you, “No, a really good one.”
Best name story:
If you go by the 262 Cigars booth, they will first tell you about the two new sizes of their Peacefield – the lancero and the lancero plus – before embarking on a tale of where the company’s name came from. If you know anything about the Cuban Embargo, you can probably already guess, since JFK signed the papers on the second month of 1962.
Ever seen a rolled-by-hand Culebra? How about the three-foot-long Culebra at the Rocky Patel booth rolled at the convention and by none other than Hamlet Parades. Hamlet is promoting his new brand, Tabaquero. The name means cigar roller. Glad the company name was not already taken.
If you skipped the GMD booth because you thought the company looked too expensive and snooty, go back and take another look. This European company has expanded to the United States, and hopes to make a splash with its Heritage 1942 Nicaragua, Heritage 1942 Tradicionales, Euforia Nicaraguan and Euphoria Dominican. I smoked the Euforia Perfecto tonight accompanied by a Don Julio Anjeo Tequila and a New Castle Brown Ale. The cigar was smooth and spicy, and went well with both drinks.