Before I dig into some of the IPCPR samples I smoked this week, I have a few more thoughts on the show I wanted to get out of my system. I made some notes for Thursday evening when I was on the Cigar Federation’s Cigar Chat IPCPR Recap show (go give it a listen, it was a good panel of cigar media folks), but, as usual, I didn’t pay attention to them much. I did get some numbers on the show attendance. I had read various opinions on the attendance this year, one retailer claiming there weren’t more than 300 retailers there, other’s talking about how empty the floor was. I have numbers from the IPCPR, which were 2314 attendees representing 877 stores, up 17.7% over last year in New Orleans, and up 6% over 2014 in Vegas. There were 324 exhibitors (no number on badges issued, but my guess would be in excess of 1500) in 178,100 square feet of space. They had a contest on the last day of the show as an incentive to attend where they gave away $10,000, and there were 561 entries, so there were more than 300 retailers at the show. I have to assume that the people who were there were in booths buying instead of milling around the aisles. The other thing I noticed that I thought was interesting was that the samples, where they were largely robustos in years past, were a wide variety of sizes, mostly larger vitolas. I don’t know what to make of that, except that perhaps this year was a focus more on getting cigars ready than producing show samples. I don’t have a problem with larger cigars, so I am not unhappy. Enough of that, lets move on to some cigars.
Friday I wrapped the week up with a cigar I had been looking forward to trying since last year when it came out and never got around to acquiring. I got to meet up with Enrique Seijas in the Quesada booth where the Matilde line was being displayed. They seems to be distributed by Quesada, but the cigars are made at Tabacalera Palma (Boutique Blends, Senorial, etc.). I had met Enrique way back in 2011 when he worked for Altadis, and hadn’t managed to see him since. His father, Jose Seijas, was also there and I managed to meet him and speak with him briefly. I smoked the Matilde Renacer a couple years ago and wasn’t awfully impressed, I had a bad construction issue with one, and the second one was just OK, but the San Andrés wrapped Matilde Oscura had my interest. The sample Enrique gave me was a 6″ x 60 “Grande”, which had a beautiful dark, oily wrapper. I am in love with this cigar, and easily see why it was so highly acclaimed last year. The burn was perfect, with a solid white ash, and the flavor was right where I needed it to be. Rich, decadent and mouthwatering with the chocolate and coffee flavors I love, along with a little spice. This was the best cigar I’ve smoked in a while. Yum.
You all know by now that I have a maduro weakness, so when I heard that La Gloria Cubana was adding maduros to the Serie R Black and Esteli lines, I was quite pleased. I already love the Serie R Esteli, although I found the Serie R Black (the Black is for the catalogs, the Esteli is Brick and Mortar only), to be a blander version to my palate. I grabbed the Serie R Black Maduro in the No. 64 (6¼” x 64) size for an afternoon smoke, expecting it to be not quite as good as the Esteli. I was wrong. This is another cigar that is in my wheelhouse as far as the flavor. It was loaded with rich, dark flavors that I loved. Two hours later I didn’t want to put it down, quite impressive and not priced badly. These are out there now, and I’ve seen this cigar for sale for $82.99 for a box of 18 (at one of my advertisers, who also has 6% Ebates!), so they are very reasonable. Not a damn thing wrong with this cigar!
Of course, I had to compare the Serie R Black Maduro to the Esteli Maduro, so I smoked the Esteli after dinner. I smoked on of these in Vegas, and it was good, but it was Vegas, it was a sample fresh off the show floor, and I was talking to people, so it wasn’t a good time to form an opinion. This cigar, the No. 54, a 6 x 54 toro, is a Nicaraguan blend with a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper, the same basic make-up as the Black. There is something different in there though, there’s a subtle exotic spice that is very entertaining, and not present in the more straight forward Black. This one would have benefited from some more humidor time, as the first third just wasn’t quite right in terms of moisture content, but it worked itself out and turned into a really good smoke. This is another La Gloria Cubana that is quite welcome in my LGC humidor (and, yes, I do have one humidor that is just La Gloria and Foundry products, I like them that much, and I’m that big a geek). The Serie R Esteli with the Jalapa wrapper has the edge over the Black (also a high priming Nicaraguan wrapper), but with the Maduros I think it’s a tie and there’s room in the humidor for both.
In other news, thank you to my publicist and beautiful wife who decided to issue a press release this week pointing out the fact that Google searches for “Cigar Blog”, “Cigar Blogger” and similar list CigarCraig.com as the number one result, which is something I’m kinda proud of! The press release can be found here. I’ve noticed that I’ve been high on the results for a while, and wondered how this might be, but I guess consistently posting original content has its reward. Thank you all for reading along for the last seven years. Unfortunately, one of the things I do ever year to thank my readers may have ended last year, as I think the FDA might prevent me from having the 12 Spectacular Days of Cigar Giveaways, unless I can come up with some workaround. Like I always say, I could do it without the manufactures sponsoring it, but it would be very expensive!
That’s all for today, until the next time,