We got back from the IPCPR show yesterday, and it was a whirlwind 3 days at the show. I didn’t do the video interviews like I’ve done in the past, I figure other people are doing them and I don’t do what everyone else does. The only one I did I posted Sunday, and I’ll try to fix the audio when I get a chance. I will have a video montage of the “secret question” which I did for fun. Two years ago I put together the montage (here), and when I get the video put together I’ll post it. It’s a bit of fun and something different. I encourage you to visit my colleagues sites who did run around interviewing everyone, I just didn’t have it in me this time around. Obviously when I got Dunbarton Tobacco and Trust‘s Steve Saka alone at the end of the first day, and was the first blogger type to have talked to him, I had to scoop the competition. I’m not proud of my competitiveness in that regard, but I am proud to have gotten the first interview with Steve out. I asked some questions I’m sure nobody else did. I’ve known Steve for nearly 20 years, which might have given me a little advantage. I’ve gt samples, and you’ll hear more about them as I smoke them. They are taking a rest in the humidor, and I even shipped a box back that’s due tomorrow. Anyway, here’s the quick day by day recap.
Friday we drove two hours to Newark, NJ for a 5am flight which took us through Chicago then finally to New Orleans. Once checked into our hotel, the Hilton Riverside, which is next to the convention center, more or less, we walked to get our badges. This convention center had to have been nearly a mile long, it’s one enormous building, and the IPCPR was on the far end. We went to our hotel and took about a three-hour nap before heading back to the convention center for the gala grand opening reception, which followed the Government Affairs Briefing. This has been poorly attended in the past, and it was quite important to those who make a living in the cigar industry, so it was a stroke of genius offering cocktails to the attendees. The gala offered food and a cash bar, which was exorbitantly expensive. We caught up with quite a few old friends here, spending some time with the Two Guys Smoke Shop crew, as well as many others. I had run into Scott Weeks of Recluse Cigars, who handed me a Recluse Amadeus in Connecticut and the new Habano, and I smoked the Connecticut at the event, which is a great Connecticut shade cigar, lots of flavor. I can’t wait to try the Habano version, as I’ve been a Recluse fan since their release. I also smoked something else, but I can’t recall what it was. The evening was sponsored by Fratello Cigars. It was a fun evening, but even after the nap we were running at a sleep deficit, and wanted to be awake for the opening of the show.
Saturday morning we arose refreshed and went to the opening breakfast at the convention center. Smoking is allowed at the breakfast, but I was holding off until we got to the show. There is a business meeting that takes place, with recognition of the outgoing and incoming presidents and the introduction of the new IPCPR CEO, as well as some industry awards. All quite uninteresting to the consumer, but the officers and board of directors do this in their spare time on a volunteer basis, so there behind the scenes work deserves recognition. They always have a keynote speaker, and this year it was Larry Winget, a motivational speaker who was quite insightful and entertaining. I bought his book. He and I have a similar sense of humor, and many of his observations were quite funny. Breakfast was good, the coffee was great and it was a nice way to spend the morning. The show floor opened to the masses at 10:30 and we ran into quite a few old friends on what seemed like a half mile walk to the entrance of the show. Upon entering, Drew Estate‘s elaborate and expansive booth is straight ahead, so it was mobbed. We had a couple of appointments in the afternoon, so we went to the far end of the show floor and wandered, saying hello to friends, meeting up with fellow bloggers and media types, and getting the lay of the land ( taking note of where the food court was, bathrooms, etc. The first appointment was with Victor Vitale of Tortuga and Legacy brands, where I was reintroduced to the new Tortuga Connecticut, which was my first cigar of the show. This is a very smooth, creamy cigar with great flavor. I have smoked it before, and it’s a very enjoyable Connecticut, not to be missed. You may begin to notice a trend, I do’t smoke a great many milder cigars, but I’ve been to enough events and trade shows that I know how much it can suck if you blow out your palate early with strong cigars. I typically don’t go through a ton of cigars on the show floor as it’s awkward talking to one manufacturer about his cigar with another manufacturers cigar in your mouth (in the interview with Steve Saka I was smoking the new Leccia Luchadore, more on that later, but I couldn’t put it down and Steve didn’t have any samples of the Sobremesa). Victor was struggling with having his display cases broken and not having the right furniture, so it was a rough show for him, but he kept a smile on his face. This is another trend we saw: broken displays and what appeared to be poor service by whoever was in charge of moving things around with at least one booth never receiving a couch or chairs. I attended a media briefing at Rafael Nodal’s Boutique Blends/Aging Room booth with was informative, with Rafael telling us about his current selections. This factory continues to put out some great cigars, I just enjoyed the joint venture between Rafael and Altadis, the Romeo by Romeo y Julieta Aging Room Small Batch F25 in the Cantoar belicoso size and it was very nice. Not a show sample, by the way. After visiting with Rafael and his boys we went to the General Cigar booth for our traditional 3:00 on the first day of the show tour. General always rolls out the red carpet for us, and we saw some great looking new products including new branding on the Macanudo line, a Partagas Aniversario which looks really tasty, Bolivar and Ramon Allones reboots from the Foundry division as well as the Leccia Luchador El Gringo line extension (I mentioned before that I smoked it and really liked it, despite the example I smoked being a 70 ring). CAO has the Pilon, Margaritaville and added a round cigar to their Flathead line, the Steel Horse, paying homage to the motorcycles as opposed to the automobile reference in the previous five sizes. More about all of these as I smoke them after the samples have a chance to rest. Cohiba has a new very expensive Luxury Selection No. 2, which is beautiful, and Dunhill has the Heritage and Seleccion Suprema. Finishing off the tour was the Toraño line with the repackaged Brick bundle brand. I like a lot of cigars in the General Cigar portfolio, so I am looking forward to trying a bunch of the new cigars. Stay tuned for a giveaway here in the near future so you too can try some!
We free-ranged around the show floor some more until getting to sit down with Steve Saka after the show closed. I had to get the video interview out, which meant napping in between video processing, editing, and uploading over hotel WiFi so I could publish it for you first thing Sunday morning. Needless to say, the first day was fun, exciting and tiring, and I’m going to Post about days three and four on Sunday. Lots of great cigars and great people.
Until the next time,