OK, I’m back from the 84th IPCPR Trade show and it was a good trip. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but while the FDA was a big topic at the show, the seminars were reportedly well attended. Attendance was reported to be 30% over last year, but I think last year was about 30% under the year before, so it was typical Vegas numbers to my mind. I thought the booths were busy, but the aisles weren’t very crowded, which tells me retailers were there with a purpose and not browsing. Certain booths were constantly packed. Rocky, Saka, Caldwell, My Father and Tatuaje come to mind immediately, Others I’d walk up to empty and they would tell me it was the first time all day they had a break. Despite rumors otherwise, I think it was a good show and a lot of exhibitors were successful. What will follow here are some of the interesting things I saw, cigars I smoked, and things I did. Check out some of my friends in the blogosphere for the interviews and in-depth coverage, and please feel free to leave comments with links to site where you saw some good IPCPR stuff!
Sunday evening we (and when I say “we” I’m referring to my son Corey who attended the show with me), went to the Gala Opening Reception. This is always a fun time to hang out with certain folks who decide to attend, and it’s a select few manufacturers who make an appearance every year. I had the opportunity to hang out and chat with Dave Garofalo and his crew (daughter Gianna and Mr. Jonathan) from Two Guys Smoke Shop and The Cigar Authority for a while, and it’s a good thing because every time I went through their booth which featured United Cigars and Selected Tobacco’s Byron and Atabey cigars, he was either busy or not there. A couple of downsides of the evening was the very short window of opportunity to get the meager appetizers that were offered and the very high prices at the bar (water was $7, even for Fiji that’s exorbitant.) I suppose whoever the sponsor was gets the blame for that, and it wasn’t clear to me who that was, and I’m not going to name them anyway. Previous years were much better. I smoked cigars I brought with me as cigars are not usually distributed at the opening gala. We finished the evening at the Circle Bar in the Venitian talking to Michael of Whiff Industries and Ricky and Ed from General Cigars who shared the new CAO Consigliere with us. This was a very nice cigar and is supposed to be the same blend as the Sopranos and has the same band.
Monday was a whirlwind of activity at the show. The breakfast meeting was very well attended, Jon Taffer from the TV show Bar Rescue was the keynote speaker. In years past the speakers have been entertaining, this was a motivational speech which was short on entertainment value, although I was not the target audience not being a retailer. I took the opportunity to make a contribution to the IPCPR PAC so I could get in to the show an hour early like media used to be able to do a few years ago. This turned out to be advantageous as I got to talk to some people I rarely have the opportunity to see. I figured the money was going to a good cause too. We had some appointments through the day and saw a lot of people. The one cigar I smoked on the show floor was a Recluse Amadeus Habano Lancero which was very, very good. Corey smoked the Connecticut which he enjoyed also. I did the one interview for the week with Z from Cordoba and Morales cigars which I posted Tuesday. I streamed that live on Periscope and I would have done more of that but I was limited by bandwidth and storage capacity. That evening we went to Davidoff’s Lounge at the Fashion Show Mall, a free-standing lounge with outdoor seating right on the strip. They debuted the new Davidoff Yamasa, which was an OK cigar, it’s hard to properly experience a cigar in a packed area, temps in the hundreds and music blaring. I guess I’m a curmudgeon, but I can never figure out why people have social events and have a DJ basting dance music. People were there to talk to one another, I didn’t see anyone dancing. At least Matt Booth was there. We finished the evening in a very crowded and loud Palazzo bar talking with Stace and Jon Saka from Dunbarton. I think I sampled the new La Gloria Cubana Serie R Esteli Maduro which shows a lot of promise.
You’ll notice that I didn’t really smoke a lot of cigars, I think I smoked 3 a day the time I was there. There are a couple of reasons for that. First, when I’m on the show floor I think it’s a bit rude to talk to one person about their cigars while smoking another vendor’s cigar. I also have other things I need to do that distracts me from the cigar. It’s also not a good environment to judge a cigar and many times the cigars aren’t at their best either for various reasons. Fortunately the few I did smoke on the show floor were excellent. In addition to the Recluse, the other cigars that I smoked were the Fonseca Nicaragua from Quesada and the Maya Selva Flor de Selva Box Pressed Toro. The Fonseca was a really good smoke, I look forward to smoking it again under better circumstances. The Flor de Selva was the cigar of the week for me. I think I smoked it for the better part of four hours, I kept letting it go out and every time I re-lit it was still amazing. So I got lucky with the cigars I smoked on the show floor.
Tuesday was another day on the floor. We spent some time hanging out with Pilar and Robert from Arandoza Cigars, and some other folks. After the show closed we weaseled our way into the RoMaCraft hospitality suite in the Palazzo. The had a really nice suite with a large outdoor area which was oddly not overbearingly hot. This was an oasis. Finally a comfortable place to smoke that was within walking distance and filled with friends. While it was unnecessary, we were provided with a Fable Fourth Prime Doc, a petite robusto with a PA Broadleaf wrapper that is made at Nica Sueño, Mike and Skip’s factory. We had the pleasure of meeting Mitul Shah, who in addition to being behind the Fable brand, works at Mom’s Cigar Warehouse in New York. The Fable Doc was a great little cigar, very strong to start out with but settling down. Excellent smoke, but of course it’s from the RoMaCraft guys so one would expect as much. I’d like to thank Mike and Skip for hosting us, it was a great place to hang out. I also smoked Steve Saka’s new Mi Querida in a toro while there. This is going to be a great cigar, it has all the markings, I hope I have another one floating around. While it’s not a Liga Privada, it’s along the same lines with the Broadleaf wrapper, but it seems to have a little something special. Again, not the place to properly evaluate a cigar, but I have a good feeling about this one.
Wednesday was more of the same on the show floor, we were able to meet with some people I hadn’t really gotten time with in the past, which is good. There were a couple of the interesting things we saw that were not cigars, and it’s notable the lack of vape and hookah booths this year. Last year they had them segregated, and stories from the year before got around about how aggressive the vendors were in the aisles, shoving their wares down passers by’s throats, so to speak. I explained to the one vape guy I saw and talked to that his product doesn’t really fit with a cigar blog and he understood and seemed to be running a very good operation. Xikar’s booth was huge and they had some interesting new things, including the very cool XO cutter which has gears to make sure the blades track together perfectly, and Xikar branded Boveda systems. There was a booth with high-end, flavored tooth picks. There were smoking jackets and the usual canes and lots of pipes, of course. To me, there was less “crap” and more cigars this time. After the show closed at 5 we heard Nick Perdomo playing the custom drum set he had made by Pearl Drums and went to watch, some of you may have caught the live streaming video I broadcast on Periscope. Wednesday evening we went back to the RoMa suite and hung out, if they were handing out cigar at the door we didn’t take any, I’m not one to push the weasel factor any further. I was grateful to have a cool place to chill out among friends. I smoked a couple of cigars I brought from home. I did get to meet the winner of the IPCPR’s contest, an enthusiastic young dude from Alabama (I think), who brought his dad along. He was excited to meet his heroes, I think the right guy won, although I would have liked to see one of my readers win.
That’s the basic wrap up, I’ll have a load of new cigars to smoke in the coming weeks, so stay tuned, and I’ll be posting my special “secret question” project mid-week, hopefully. The photos are interspersed throughout the article are fairly random. I didn’t really take a lot of photos this time. Feel free to ask any questions in the comments and I’ll answer. Another trend I noticed was bright-colored packaging. Yes, we all know that the new Toraño bands look like Camacho bands, but the bright colors is something we noticed several places. One wonders why it’s taken so long for that to happen? That’s it for now, until the next time,