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In New York, if it's humid and it rains, the humidity gets better. Generally, the rain saturates the air, causing more water to condense from gas phase (humidity). It hits the pavement and, once the rain stops, slowly dries. When it cools at night, more comes out and is dissipated. When it warms the next day, there is less humidity. Everyone is happy.
Toto, we are no longer in New York.
The rain only serves to make it even more impossible to sweat. Coating you in a fine mist of "fuck you", you now can't even sweat right. Perspiration beads in your hair, on your arms, everywhere; slowly falling off and blending in with the rain around you. So you're soaked and continue to be for at least a few hours after you get out of the rain. This is what I wake up to.
My body, in its infinite and unpredictable wisdom, decides to say "fuck it" and turns off my immune system. Between dealing with the rapid and unavoidable overheating of my entire body and the intake of what would amount to several cigars worth of ambient smoke (on top of what I was smoking), it just couldn't handle it. So I wake up this morning to rain. And a kidney infection.
But the battlefield painters of the Civil War didn't stay home from Gettysburg just because of a cold. The reporters in the field from WWII (like Ernie Pyle) didn't take a break for a sore throat. So I popped one of my painkillers, got the home phone number of my doctor ready for later, and hit the show. Dedication. It's what I do.
Here are the show notes:
Cusano: Got talking with Jeff Aronson, Cusano's first employee who joined them back in '95. Jeff is a stand-up guy. I would totally go drinking with Jeff. Only five minutes after meeting him we were busting balls like we'd known each other for years. Great guy. He gave me the low-down on the Cusano lineup, from their bundles (Cusano blends of popular General Cigar lines) to their new stuff. Look for the Cusano 15th Anniversary to come out (in boxes of 15). A heady lancero with a Dom. wrapper, it looks absolutely excellent. Also, look for more from their Cuvee line in the form of the Cuvee Cusano Signature. They look really tasty. Cusano is also a part of DomRey, who now own (EDIT: They just distribute them. Whoops) the Agio and Panter brands. I finally got to try some of the Panter stuff and they were surprisingly good. The Blue (a more mild) and the Sprint (a more full bodied) were actually pretty decent smokes for dry cures. The Dessert wasn't that good, I have to say. It lost a lot of flavor to the filter.
Stopped at the Social Smoke booth where I got to try some of their mint hookah tobacco. It was delicious. I find myself really enjoying the hookah. I got talking to some other guys about hookah tobacco (which'll be in the next post) and we shared the sentiment of how awesome hookah is socially and economically. For $15, you can share a hookah for a few hours with a couple of friends and shoot the shit. It makes me want to travel to the Middle East just to sit around, drink mint tea, and smoke hookah. That's legit, right? Traveling to a region just to smoke?
Jameson Cigars: I don't actually think they're releasing anything new but I finally got to meet Brad Mayo. He's cool. I like him. And he's got some killer cigars, from what I hear. Do I need to say any more?
CAO: Their big release is their La Traviata Maduro. The same La Traviata blend wrapped in a maduro wrapper. However, for me, their big release isn't the La Traviata Maduro. Or their Brazilia Corcovado (4.25 x 60). Or even their LX2 Gordo (6 x 60). Nope. It's the fact that they're extending their range of smaller, tinned cigars. The Brazilia Cariocas are so good. There's tinned cigars in everything but the America, including the original Traviata. Yummers! Oh...and one more thing.
DUNHILL PIPE TOBACCOS ARE BACK.
CAO negotiated the rights to distribution in the United States. For awhile, Dunhill wasn't being imported to the States which made me a sad, sad panda.
Camacho: I know that there's a new Room 101 coming out but that's about it. The booth was packed and almost everyone was busy so I didn't get a whole lot of info from there. I'll do some digging though. Or, y'know...you could check out Stogie Review. But I'll dig anyway.
Bossner: First off, there's a cigar named Don Willi. If this isn't intriguing enough, it's named after Willi Tokarev, a Russian singer. If that's not good enough, the man sports a moustache that would make Tom Selleck weep and shit his pants in fear. I'm of the opinion that Don Willi isn't the man but rather the 'stache. The body is but merely a host for the demi-god of facial hairriffic aspects. The cigar comes in both Dominican and Nicaraguan varieties, with a Connecticut wrapper on the Dominican and an Ecuadorian maduro on the Nicaraguan. I've also heard that these cigars are like Rogaine for the upper lip. But that's just hearsay.
Have a video to sooth your aching eyes.
Ok, break time's over. Back to it!
Berger and Argenti: On top of the well received Entubar and Clasico, they're releasing the budget-minded Mooch. They're also extending the Entubar line with the Quad Maduro. All of them look delicious. I had a picture of the Quad Maduros but the glare on them made it almost impossible to see. Blame my camera guy.
Great Wall: This, to me, was one of the more interesting booths at the show in terms of new stuff. A company based in China that imports its wrapper, binder, and filler leaves (mostly from Indonesia), cigars of a variety of shapes and types are rolled in China and then exported. The lines range from premium hand-rolled cigars to machine-made cheapies and also filtered cigars. I'd be lying through the teeth if I said I didn't want to try their offerings. Note: Site is in Chinese. Use Babelfish to translate.
Cigar Family: The Fuentes have decided to add on to the Diamond Crown line by adding on the Julius Caeser (which the fucking spelled wrong and it pisses me off). However, that's not the cool part. The cool part of their new additions (because these I can afford) are the additions to the Flor de Ybor City line. The original lineup, wrapped in one of three wrappers (Connecticut shade, Connecticut broadleaf maduro, or Ecuadorian sun grown) now has another sister line, the Ybor Gold "Broadway Series". Each vitola is named after a special aspect of the history of Ybor city. Some names include the Bolita (after the lottery in the late 1800s/early 1900s), the Lector (the reader that would entertain rollers as they worked), and the Carrito 413 (a double name of both the streetcars of Ybor City and the date of manufacture for the first handrolled cigar in Ybor City). Details on composition are unavailable but I'll do some investigation on this one too.
Cuban Stock: I can't actually say what's new from here because I've never heard of them before. But their cigars look delicious. They have a lot of cigars covering a broad range of price points. From the looks of things they use a majority of Dominican filler, binder, and wrapper with a few exceptions to the rule. They offer a lot in their Cuban Stock line (includin both boxed, premium and bundle), Chubby (appropriately named fat-as-hell ring gauge cigars) as well as some exclusive and limited stuff (appropriately titled Exclusivo). I talked to Yaniv Levy, the President of the company and he said that, by far, the "Everyday Joe" line of short-filler corojo wrapped kick-around cigars. I don't know if my cameraman got a picture of it but their Cuban Stock bundled short perfectos looked sublime. I got a sample from Yaniv that I'll review soon.
Villiger Stokkebye: I just absorbed Villiger, really. It was great to talk to (and thank) the guys that make my favorite beater cigar: the Villiger Export Natural. It's not the most glamorous cigar but you don't need to humidify it, cut it, or baby it. It's a rough and tumble little bastard that you can chew the shit out of, smoke like a chimney, and ditch half-way through when it gets too cold out. It will still love you. I was pleased to hear that in addition to their Villiger 1888 premiums they're rolling out the La Libertad, a Peruvian wrapped and bound cigar with Dominican and Nicaraguan fillers. I got a sample so stay tuned for a review on this one. I'll also probably be ordering some more of their dry cured cigars to try. They have a dry cured culebra that needs a good home.
Miura Cigars: Hadn't heard about Miura either so I'll just give a run-down on what they've got. They've got two semi-premiums and a sandwich. The first is the Directo de Fabrica which has a Nic and Panamanian filler with a Nic. binder. Comes in wrappers of: Ecuadorian Connect., Braz. Maduro, Panamanian Rosado, and Nic. Habano. A variety of vitolas including some barber-pole wrapped cigars. Next is the Novillos, which is the same stats as the Fabrica (no Rosado though). These are their fat bastard cigars with ring gauges of 60 and 62. They're short and chubby, just like me! Yay! Finally are the Havana Sandwiches (WHAT'S THAT SANDVICH?). Indonesian wrapped, Nica. bound, and filled with Nica and Peruvian tobaccos. Looking at mostly big honkin' sizes (Churchill, super Chruchill, and 7" torpedo). Mixed filler too.
Exclusive Cigars: The highlight of Day 2. By sheer coincidence I got a short interview with Glen Case, the Big Pappa of Exclusive Cigars (that's President in layman's/non-insane terms). We talked about my favorite topic: following your passion. Glen was originally in the banking industry and he HATED it. So he decided to bail on that bullshit and pursue what he loved: cigars. So he got in contact with a manufacturer, blended the tobacco himself, created the logo, printed it on a dot matrix printer himself, bagged, AND shipped from his house. All. On. His. Own. He originally created bundled cigars but his brand really took off with the introduction of the Kristoff (which is how I knew of him). While I'm not sure what he's got new, I do know that Glen is a fantastic person that I admire. I sure as shit ain't running a website because I'll be rolling in the dough. Sadly, I've never had anything of his lines so, along with the Villiger stuff, this will probably be one thing I order before I leave. Them Kristoffs look pretty...pretty gooooood.
Note: We also went back to La Aurora to thank Amaury for the invite to the Guillermo Leon party. The pictures from the day before didn't come out so hot (stupid camera) so we snapped some new ones.
After going back to the hotel and nabbing a shower, I knew it was time to call the doctor. A quick call at about 9pm meant I had to get my medicine at a local 24 hour pharmacy before the Twitter Brothers of the Leaf Cocktail Hour, put on by the fine fellows at Stogie Review. While I couldn't drink at Dos Jefe's (antibiotics and booze is bad, mmmmk?), a glass of water was all I needed. It was great to finally meet Brian, Jerry, and Walt. I also got to schmooze with the fine fellows at The 7th Reserve. I somehow was quick enough on the draw to end up with one of the mammoth TBOTLCH Swag Bags of Doom. This behemoth contained samples of MANY of the new lines from participating cigar manufacturers. I overheard someone there saying that with a bag of that caliber, you didn't need to visit the booths during the show. But hell, I love seeing people that I've only seen in magazines.
Well, here's to a belly full of cranberry juice, cigar smoke, antibiotics, and dedication. It is filling. Oh, right. HAVE SOME PICTURES!
On to Day 4!