I paid a visit to Juan and Bill at the Cubariqueño booth at the show and did a little video with them where they tell us about their latest releases. I smoked the Themis Toro this week and was really impressed! The Themis has a Ecuador Connecticut wrapper around Nicaraguan binder and filler and is available in Toro and Robusto sizes. The band has the Protocol stylized “P” in gold with a gold foot ribbon. It’s a beautiful looking cigar crafted in the La Zona factory like the rest of their cigars. The cigar is absolutely delicious, smooth and rich with a creamy texture and loads of flavor, this isn’t a mild Connecticut, it’s a solid medium. The signature shade wrapper nuttiness/grassiness is there a little in the background, but the Nicaraguan fillers compliment it very nicely. The Themis might be one of the best cigars I’ve smoked from the show so far, not that I’ve gotten started really, but it’s setting the bar pretty high.
I last night I grabbed a Protocol Probable Cause Churchill, I could have gone with the Lancero, but I decided to save that for another time. I love Lanceros, but I have to be in the right mood. The Churchill is a bit on the short side at 6½” x 48 with a box press, giving it more of a Lonsdale feel. Not a bad thing at all. The Probable Cause has a San Andrés wrapper from Mexico, again with Nicaraguan binder and fillers. The wrapper is a rich, dark brown, and I was excited to smoke it. I had smoked this last year, my thoughts can be found here, and really liked it. I thought the Churchill format made it a little less strong, if you know what I mean, but it had the same great espresso/cocoa flavor with a unique spice that I really like. I can see digging into the Lanceros in the not too distant future. Another great cigar! One of the things I really like about the Protocol line is that they have limited their sizes to only two or three per line, with a Corona Gorda, Lancero, Robusto, Toro and this Churchill spread across the three blends.
Here’s the video I shot at the show with Bill and Juan. I’ve done better video work than I did this time around, but I had help in the past, which makes a difference. It gets the message across though. Thanks again to Juan and Bill for spending a few minutes with me! This is truly a brand that’s made it because of social media!
I’m back from the annual trade show and trying to get organized. First and foremost, I’d like to extend my thanks to The Wooden Indian in Havertown, PA for their support, I couldn’t have attended without Dave’s help. They will be having their annual pig roast supporting Drew Estate Charities on September 16, and I think this will be an event not to be missed. The Wooden Indian raises more money for Drew Estate Charities than any other shop in the country, and I heard that from Jonathan Drew with my own ears. Trust me when I say that if you are a Drew Estate fan, you won’t want to miss this event. Again, thanks to Dave for helping me attend this years IPCPR show.
All in all I thought the IPCPR did a great job with this years show, considering a relatively late change of venue. General Cigar Co. sponsored the opening gala Monday night and absolutely killed it. Open bar, loads of food (carving stations! They had frickin carving stations!) DJ and places to sit and relax. While there seemed to be fewer other manufacturers there as there have been in the past, I saw a full compliment of Perdomos in attendance, family and staff alike. To the Perdomo’s credit, they were also present at the hotel bar where many congregated in the off hours and fully were a part of the IPCPR trade show. Altadis sponsored the breakfast meeting on Tuesday with a tote bag with cigars and info for each attendee. I personally was less than thrilled with the keynote speaker, Rudy Giuliani. His nearly one hour speech was far too political, did way too much bashing of the former administration, and made bad analogies and offered poor council in my opinion. I have a hard and fast rule in a cigar lounge, no talking politics or religion. I regret staying through the whole thing, honestly. I’m sure my views on this my not be popular, but it is what it is. I liked Ron White’s keynote speech in 2011 a thousand times more. Other than getting started on that down note ( for me, at least) the show was it’s normal labyrinth of vendors, most of which were relevant to the industry. I question the one vendor with cell phone external battery cases that had a team of aggressive salespeople insisting that you tell them what phone you have so they could sell you a case. I heard one report of them breaking someone’s case removing it to demonstrate theirs. The second time I was harassed I just told them I had a flip phone and kept walking. Now that I think about it, I only saw them the first day, so perhaps the IPCPR dealt with them. I’ll share more thoughts on the show in future posts, but it seemed like while retailer attendance may have been low, several people I talked to were happy with the orders that were written.
I’ve known Steve Saka of Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust for 20 years and actually found myself near the spot we first met face to face in Caesars Palace near Cleopatra’s Barge back in 1997. Knowing Steve that long has given me some advantages over the years but I never push that and generally keep a respectful distance at the show as he always seems to be busy, which is a good thing for him. In keeping with his “Sakasquatch” theme, I snapped a picture with the night vision camera ( like they use in all the best squatch hunting shows!) and titled it “The elusive Sakasquatch in his natural environment”. I guess one would have to have watched one of those shows to get the joke. My only regret is not having tagged “Finding Bigfoot” on the Instagram post. However, as the show closed on Thursday and I was getting ready to make my exit, I came across Steve engaged in an interesting activity that I thought was unique and wanted to share. I’ll be surprised if any other cigar media outlet has this kind of information. Check out the video below.
After a nap on Friday following a red-eye flight home, I sat down with a Protocol Corona Gorda which was fantastic, and I wanted to try out a couple of gifts I received from a couple of companies whose products I am I huge fan. I have a couple great desktop humidors from Adorini, and they have a punch cutter that has two sizes of punch and a magnetic closure. The larger punch is bigger than I’ve ever seen, slightly over 1/2″ in diameter. I’ll be putting this through it’s paces, I can’t wait to use it on a CAO Flathead 660. Cigar Oasis celebrates its 20th anniversary this year and gifted me a Jetline dual flame lighter (with a flip out punch on the bottom). Fortunately it made it through TSA undisturbed in a checked bag. Put a Cigar Oasis in an Adorini humidor and you never have to worry about your cigars. The Protocol was excellent, and Juan and Bill hooked me up pretty good with samples, which are resting from their journey. More on Cubariqueño in a future post.
That’s enough for today, I need to try to get back into going to work mode for tomorrow, it sucks going back after a week of fun. Until the next time,
One evening at the IPCPR trade show Corey and I were hanging out at the Laguna Champagne Bar in the Palazzo Hotel, which was the big after hours spot at this year’s show, and Juan Cancel handed me a Protocol Corona Gorda and a Probable Cause robusto. I was thrilled to finally get my hands on some of the Protocol cigars, as I have yet to find any in the year that these have been on the market. Juan and his partner Bill Ives started Cubariqueño Cigars last year, having their cigars made at the La Zona factory in Esteli, and they’ve been a runaway hit. Tonight I smoked the Probable Cause, a lovely box pressed robusto measuring 5″ x 52, although the box press makes it seem smaller than that. The cigar has Nicaraguan binder and filler, covered with a Mexican San Andrés wrapper that is dark and oily. I found this to be a powerful cigar, and, like the rest of the cigars manufactured at La Zona, the burn and draw were perfect. They say this is a medium strength cigar with full flavor, but I thought it was a little powerhouse. It was loaded with dark, rich espresso flavors and had a unique spice that I couldn’t put a finger on, but was quite entertaining. Juan and Bill have a winner with their sophomore release, it’s a shame that the FDA and our government is against this sort of creativity and entrepreneurship. Two cops from New Jersey/New York have brought some exceptional cigars to the market!
Last week’s poll about the possibility of a CigarCraig.com Secret Santa program results are in 96% of respondents are in favor, with 4% not in favor, so if I can’t pull off a big holiday giveaway like I’ve done in years passed, we can have some fun among ourselves, at least with the 23 people who registered a “yes” vote in the poll. Hopefully we can get more of you interested. I haven’t written off a giveaway of some sort.