Sunday, August 15, 2010

IPCPR: Day 4

Miss Day 1? For shame! Catch up here.
Miss Day 2? You are a terrible human being. Get up to date here.
Miss Day 3? Nice things: we can't have them. See what you missed here

It's still raining and I'm popping antibiotics and painkillers like Rush Limbaugh. We're on day three of the show and day four (out of five) for my IPCPR vacation. It's still raining and it's still oppressively humid. I'm not complaining though. I'm enjoying every minute. My hotel is a five minutes walk from the convention center and it gives me time to build up my excitement to hazardous levels. You can always tell you're getting close to the convention center by two things. One is the pervasive smell of cigar smoke ringing the center like a fragrant halo. The other is the sheer amount of cigar butts littering the ground as you get closer to the epicenter. By the hotel you see an occasional cigar butt, swollen and burst in the rain. But as you get closer it's like one of the plagues. Butts are in every planter, in every bush, and strewn about the sidewalk and gutters. It almost makes me sad to see so much wasted tobacco but what can I do? They've been consigned to a damp existence at this point.

I get into the center and get a call from my cameraman. He's running a bit late as he has to stop at Walgreens to get new batteries. The camera we're using is a veritable energy hog; using two AAs for every 100~ish photos. I tell him to bring me an iced tea. He wisely brings my favorite tea in the entire world: Arizona Sweet Tea in the $.99 can. Yummers. I meet him outside of the Drew Estates booth, pound the tea, and begin the day. Ready? Here we go.

Drew Estates: You thought I was going to skip Drew Estates, didn't you? That slaps me on the knee. Drew Estates actually has quite a few things coming out and there's definitely something for everyone. For the traditional smokers, hold onto your socks because they're releasing the Dirty Rat for commercial release. The 5 type blend crammed into one delicious corona comes in boxes of 12 with a MSRP of $12 a stick. Frankly, I'll probably be buying a box of those delicious little bastards. Also, the Liga line is getting some new sizes. In the T52 stalk cut line, look for a belicoso (6 x 52), a corona doble ( 7 x 54) and the piece de resistance, the T52 Flying Pig (4.125 x 60). There's also hints at a Liga Privada JD #4 but the specs on it are super duper secret. I'll do a bit of research.

For the flavored smoker, there'll be some extensions of the Acid line as well. The Blondie gets a Belicoso size (5 x 54) as opposed to the normal Blondie which is 4 x 38. As for new additions, look for the Kuba in a maduro wrapper and the brand new Toast, a 6 x 50 maduro wrapped beauty.

Finally, remember how in yesterday's post I said that I was chatting with some guys about hookah? Well, Drew Estates has partnered with Starbuzz, a maker of premium shisha to market an Acid line of shisha tobacco. I got to try the Red (which was slightly cinnamon-y) and the Purple (which was berry-like and very fragrant). Both were pretty outstanding and very complex.

The Drew Estates booth was definitely crazy this year. The Subculture studios had been absolutely busting ass decorating the booth. They spent something like 3 months hand-painting a whole range of shoes with Drew Estates brands and motifs on them. It earned them the nickname of "Shoe Estates" from some, which I found delightfully entertaining in a self-depreciating humor kinda way. The entire time the booth was bumping a lot of Bob Marley from speakers hidden behind those walls. It was pretty funny to watch Bob Marley on speakers duel with the Jazz group at the AVO/Davidoff booth next door. I was honestly hoping that the jazz group would take up the initiative and maybe play ALONG with Bob but that was hoping for a lot, I suppose.

Padron Cigars: Stopped in to say hello to the Padrons and deliver a greeting from Isy of Uptown Cigar. I got talking to one of the Padron daughters, Kassandra. We were chatting it up for a good bit. She just started smoking cigars (imagine that, a Padron that didn't smoke) and we were talking about the strength of Padron as compared to other cigars. Nice to talk shop with her. She informed me that the newest release is the Padron Family Reserve 46, made to celebrate 46 years of manufacturing fine cigars. It is a box pressed 5.5 x 56 cigar that looks distinctly like a very small chocolate bar. She also informed me that the Padron Family Reserve 44 will see a larger distribution as well.

Rocky Patel: The Rocky booth was paaaaaacked. And for good reason. Not only did Rocky have new cigars but he had a literal smorgasbord there. Seriously. He had food and beverages for everyone. Rocky had trays of sandwiches and chafing dishes full of taquitos and meatballs. I took the liberty of nabbing a taquito and parading around with it in my mouth like it was a cigar. I made one guy laugh so hard he started choking on something and a few other guys at a table nearby were almost in tears while asking me if "I needed a light". I love cheeky shenanigans. There was also Pilsener Urquelle on tap, wine, and rum as well but I refrained from drinking (gasp) because I'm unfortunately sick. A shame, because it was a rum I'd never had. Rocky and Nish were walking around the booth the entire time and I really wanted to talk to him but he was pretty busy. Besides, I don't think he'd enjoy the fact that one of my favorite smoking challenges is"Edge Maduro Races" with my camera guy. Just a hunch though.

Anyway, Rocky is coming out with a few new things. On the premium side, there's Rocky's 15th Anniversary. While it's been making the rounds on the blogs lately it was officially released at the show for retailers. The 15th sports an Ecuadorian Habano with Nicaraguan fillers. Comes in a corona gorda (6 x 46), robusto (5 x 50), toro (6.5 x 52) and a torpedo (6.125 x 52). There's also the Cargo, a Nicaraguan puro through and through. Comes in toro (6.5 x 52) and super toro (6 x 58) with boxes of 25 as well as 500! As far as bundles, Rocky has the "Outback Cigar Co. Inc.", or Outback. With a Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper (no info on the binder/filler), it comes in a robusto (5 x 50), toro (6.5 x 52), torpedo (6 x 52) and the Fifty-Eight (6.125 x 52). Apparently a milder cigar according to Jamie Millard, the Sales Manager I talked to (as well as the literature). I've got samples of all three so I'll let you know how they go. Bro.

Note: I'm not sure if EO is putting anything new out at this point because I only got info on the Rocky stuff. I hope they are because the Murcielago and 601 Blue Labels are pretty fantastic. I'll put another one on the "investigate" list.

Felipe Gregorio: Sat around and shot the shit with the salesguy at the Felipe Gregorio booth. It was here that I learned probably the greatest thing ever. Did you know the IPCPR has a chaplain? I didn't. But the good father stopped by while at the booth and lit up with us. Nothing like smoking with a man of the cloth. It was definitely another highlight.

Felipe has three things coming out: the W20, the Vallejuelo, and the Minotaur. The W20 is their 20th anniversary cigar, wrapped in a Habana 2000 wrapper. Not too shabby, eh? The Vallejuelo is Ecuadorian Habano wrapped around a healthy dose of ligero (not sure what country, I forgot to ask). The Minotaur is a big, beefy rosado wrapped bastard. I say it's beefy only in the fact that it's got a high price tag and it probably won't be seen a lot in the States (France bound, mostly).

HBI: I know, I know. You're thinking "What the hell Bacchus?" Yeah, alright, they sell mostly skins (rolling papers). But damn it, sometimes you just want to smoke a hand-rolled cigarette (that's not a joke). I'm partial to one and their Raw papers are pretty damn nice. They also sell Three Castles Virginia rolling tobacco which I've heard is pretty good with a clean, bright Virginia taste. But that's not what I'm writing to you about. What I'm writing to you is actually something I discovered that they were doing that should probably get a lot more attention than it does.

They're selling tobacco seeds.

Under the Raw line, HBI is selling packets of 100 seeds in three different types: two burley and one habano. This is GREAT. While no, the homegrown stuff won't be as good as the stuff, say, Pepin or Padron, or Drew is putting out, the fact that someone has taken the initiative to say "Well, if there's huge taxes on tobacco, let's help people grow it themselves" is a goddamn great thing. I managed to get some packets of seeds (along with a hearty supply of rolling papers at the urging of Niki Crowder, the woman I talked to). I'll be buying a pot and soil while in Scotland and growing some 'baccy. Damn tootin!

At this point we broke for lunch. In all fairness, you probably need a break too. So here ya go:

Muppets make everything better.

Menendez Amerino: An interesting company to be truthful. They deal mainly in 100% Brazilian cigars, cigarillos, and filtered cigars. Their two main brands are Dona Flor (which consists of the Dona Flor, The Dona Flor Selecao, and Dona Flor Reserva Especiale) and the Alonson Menendez. Both come in a variety of sizes. They also have Dona Flor and Gabriela cigarillos and Royal Choice filtered little cigars. A huge catalog with a variety of packages. I've got some samples so I'll let you know how they smoke in the coming weeks.

Cuban Crafters: I've heard of Cuban Crafters but I hadn't had any of them. I knew them mainly through their Don Kiki line (in which Isy just gifted me a few) but it was nice to finally get the low-down on things. As for new products coming out, they've got quite a few. The Guantanamera 310 comes in a variety of sizes: robusto (5 x 52), toro and torpedo (6 x 52) and churchill (7 x 52). It's a Cuban seed filler with a Desflorado wrapper. Comes packed in boxes of 25. The Cuban Crafters Medina 1959 Miami Edition are hand-rolled in the CC Miami factory using Habano long-filler and binder with Cuban-seed wrapper. Comes in: robusto ( 5 x 50), Churchill ( 7 x 50), Torpedo ( 6.5 x 52), Lancero (7.5 x 38) and Corona gorda (6.5 x 64) in boxes of 25.  They're also releasing a Cuban Crafters Cubano Claro which is made from Nicaraguan habano filler and binder with a Deslforado wrapper. Comes in a shitload of sizes at 20 (with one at 24) per box. Lastly is the Cupido Tuxedo which I'm assuming is like their Cupido line with a maduro wrapper (the specifics aren't shared). Comes in 25 count boxes in four sizes: torpedo (6 x 52), churchill (7 x 48), toro (6 x 50), and robusto (5 x 50).

Perdomo: For some reason when we stopped by the Perdomo booth there were HUGE pictures of guns. I guess it was advertisements for selling those padded hard cases but it was pretty shocking to see huge pictures of what looked like an Uzi with scope and extended barrel and another gun. It was kinda surreal. Regardless, I actually got to shake hands with Nick Perdomo again. I say again because I first met Nick awhile back at an event at Uptown. I got to talk with Nick and smoke a fresh rolled that a roller made right before my eyes. It was pretty great. I still even have a box signed by him, an empty box of my favorite Perdomo, the Champagne. The Originals, bitch! No 10th Anniversary in here. Anywho, I think the only new stuff they had was the Cuban Bullet v. 2.0 (the actual name). I didn't really get a chance to talk to anyone here because everyone was busy (I just managed to sneak in a handshake with Nick) so I'm not sure of the specifics. But if he keeps cranking out the Champagnes, the Habanos, and the Lot 23s, I'm perfectly content.

Battleground Cigars: This rivaled the Torano booth for my photographers favorite. He's a huge Civil War buff so he kinda nerded out at this booth. I don't know shit above what public school taught me about the Civil War but I know I love smoking cigars. They had vitolas under many of the generals (like Stonewall Jackson and Pickett) as well as Old Powderkeg brand as well. If you want to talk Civil War, I'll refer you to my cameraman. You can find him here.

Signature House Blend: A division of Superior Cigars U.S.A. I can't find much information on it (the booth didn't have pamphlets since they just redid their marketing). Alls I know is they look good and they have a huge variety of barber-pole cigars. They're meant to be sold as "house blends" for retailers but the packaging looks pretty damn nice for that. I'll contact them and get you more info so check back here.

Torano: My cameraman's other favorite place and one of mine as well. Torano has three new cigars coming out. First is the Single Region. Much like Tatuaje's La Verite, it is tobacco from a single farm from a single year. They're a Nicaraguan puro with a Criollo '98 wrapper (from jalapa), a binder from Jalapa, and a filler from el Estero Farm in Jalapa. It comes in a robusto (5 x 52) a toro grande (6 x 54) and a churchill (7 x 50). Next is the Master, by Carlos Torano. With a Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, a Nicaraguan binder, and an Esteli/Jalapa filler, it comes in a 5 x 50 robusto, a 7 x 50 churchill, and a 6.25 x 52 torpedo. Finally is the Brigade, a bundle cigar. An Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper with a Nica filler and binder, it comes in the robusto, toro, churchill and torpedo. I have samples of all three so I'll put a review up once I've burned through 'em.

My Father Cigars: When I got to the My Father Cigar booth everyone was just lounging about with no one in sight. This isn't because people weren't buying. It's because people already bought. Apparently, Pepin SOLD OUT of stock on the first day. So he just got to chill with Janny and Jaime. Anyway, the Garcia's have three releases. Two are the release of two La Relobas. La Reloba Seleccion Sumatra is a Sumatran wrapped Nicaraguan filled and bound cigar. The Seleccion Habana is a Habano wrapper around Nica. binder and filler. Both are offered in robusto (5 x 50), toro (6.25 x 52), torpedo (6.125 x 52) and corona (5.625 x 46). The next is the Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial, a broad leaf wrapper around a Nica. binder and filler. Offered in robusto (5.25 x 52), toro (6 x 54), belicoso (5.5 x 52), petit robusto (4.5 x 50), and toro gordo (6 x 60). Oh, and how can I forget. There's also the My Father Limited Edition, a cigar made by both Jaime and Pepin Garcia.

Tatuaje: Pete's got some tricks up his sleeve for this year. This year's Halloween release is...DA FAAAAACE. The Face gets its own really sweet "spooky box", along with a paired cutter and lighter thanks to S.T. Dupont. His Tat line-up also gets new sizes too (mostly shorter ones which make me super happy). Finally, Pete has agreed to take on distribution of the Schrader cigar, which is a Dominican blended especially for the Schrader wine company as well as the Para Te, which is a Dominican that Pete has also agreed to take on. I got to talk to Pete (albeit briefly) and I've come to the conclusion that I really...really want to go drinking with Pete. He seems like a bourbon kinda guy.

Illusione: Oh Dion, you're so crazy. Dion has decided to be super crazy and extend the wrapper selection on his ~hl~ line. It gets a new maduro wrapper...and a claro wrapper as well. Seriously, a claro wrapper? That's ballsy. I've only seen one candela/claro wrapped cigar and that's the 8-5-8 Flora Fina by Fuente. We'll see what it's like when they release. He also decided to do the Singulare which will change blends/vitola every year as Dion sees fit. The Eperney also gets "Le Matin" or "The Morning", which is a boxed press variety.

Lastly, when you check the photos, you'll see that there's some more CAO pics. That's because we went back to the booth to make sure we had the correct run-down. I also managed to have a power-talk with Jon Huber, CAO's Director of Lifestyle Marketing. He's a great guy and a pleasure to talk to. We talked about the professional/business usage of Twitter (which he was reluctant to do but eventually caved to participating). My cameraman described him as "like the Tony Stark of the cigar world" which is probably the coolest thing he's ever called anyone.

Well, that's about it as far as event coverage. I've been ruminating on the show since I got back and I've still got one more post I'd like to do on IPCPR just to sum things up. Hope you enjoyed my (late) coverage. Sorry about that. I'll try not to get sick next time. Oh, and indulge in pictures:

What did I learn at IPCPR?


  1. If I remember correctly, EO Brands stated very early this year that they would not be releasing anything new this year, working instead on better marketing what they already have.

  2. Those Cuban Crafters cigars are great!!! I live the lifestyle and feel these guys don't get enough credit for what they out out in the market an for the prices they do it. They have by far the best Cameroon on the market for the price. Check it out you will not be disappointed for about $6 a stick. Great blog keep up the good work.