After months of waiting and a Sunday filled with seminars, (and, admittedly, a few drinks), the show floor finally opened at the Sands Convention Center in Las Vegas, NV for the 84th Annual IPCPR (International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers) Trade Show! The atmosphere is electric as we walk onto the show floor and hear the sound of Kanye West songs playing from the enormous two-story booth that Drew Estate has located front and center on the show floor. As we begin our four day journey through the show, we start off with Drew Estate who has made a remarkable impression this year by releasing a number of new cigars, line extensions, and expanded the Drew Diplomat program. After taking some time to check out the Liga Privada Piggies, Tubos, and Velvet Rats, we were escorted to the media booth by Sam Morales, Lifestyle Marketing Manager of Drew Estate, who presented The Cigar Nut with a beautiful Handmade Pewter and Wood Ashtray before giving us a tour of their new products, which you can read about by clicking here!
After leaving the Drew Estate booth, we headed across the show floor where we stopped to watch Mike Baca of UR New York working on a brilliant canvas for a display on the wall of Zino Platinum’s booth. We spent some time with Mike and his team as he shared their passion for inspiring creativity through their artwork as well as sharing his love for the Zino Platinum brand.
After some great discussion and a couple selfies, we moved on to visit another creative mind – Andre Farkas of Viaje Cigars.
Since 2014, Viaje has been collaborating with fellow cigar manufacturers to create an annually exclusive cigar; first was the 2014 Collaboration with TABSA, then came the 2015 Collaboration with PDR Cigars, and now the 2016 Collaboration with Quesada: the “Juntos,” which means “together.”
In addition to the Juntos, Viaje also showcased this year’s Farmer Bill Hatchet, a familiar face in the Thanksgiving lineup from Viaje, who are apparently big fans of creating cigars to celebrate the holidays – all of them; and we couldn’t be happier about it!
Before we took a break for lunch, we had an opportunity to sit down with Kevin Talley, Senior Director of Federal Affairs, and Matt Dogali, Senior Director of State Affairs for the IPCPR to discuss the proposed regulations by the FDA, what they are doing to combat it, and what we can do to help. As we do not feel that a short paragraph would do this half hour long interview justice, we will be sharing the full interview and further information and discussion on this topic early next week. We will note; however, that the IPCPR is currently working on a lawsuit against the FDA along with providing up to date information to the public to provide a better understanding of the FDA Regulations along with feasible ways to take action. To read more about this from the IPCPR, please check out their FDA Toolbox by clicking here and check in early next week to read through our interview with Kevin and Matt!
After grabbing a bite to eat, we headed over to one of the newest and fastest growing cult brands in the industry: Jas Sum Kral, which translates to “I am King’. As we approached the booth, one of the first things to catch our eyes was a shirt draped from their booth which, appropriately enough, read “Fuck the FDA.”
Following a great conversation about the FDA regulations, which was the main talking point this year at the show, Riste Ristevski, founder and owner of JSK, showed us his newest offerings for the line. Initially only the “Red Knight,” a traditional 6 x 52 Toro, was available for purchase; but this year Riste is releasing the JSK in a 7 x 38 Lancero, 6-1/2 x 42 Lonsdale, and 5 x 50 Robusto along with the Toro. The cigar, which is a true boutique blend manufactured by Noel Rojas, bears an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper along with a binder consisting of Mexican San Andreas and Jalapa Seco; the filler is top secret. Although only a handful of retailers currently carry the brand, we can certainly expect to see this cigar in more shops later this year. To read more about the JSK, check out their website by clicking here!
Now we couldn’t leave the first day without visiting Padron to see their new offerings, and we weren’t disappointed! It is not often that Padron releases new products, but this year is different as many manufacturers are pushing to release new products before August 8th, when the final FDA ruling goes into effect. This year Padron has announced 2 new sampler packs which showcase their offerings. Additionally, Padron has released the Padron 90th Anniversary Blend, not to be confused with the elusive 90th birthday blend. This is a first for Padron for two reasons: first of all, this is the first Anniversary Blend offered as a Parejo, instead of the traditional “Cuban Box Press,” and secondly, this cigar will be offered in an aluminum tube or “en tubo.”
Across from Padron, a stunning display by My Father Cigars caught our eye leading us to view the Garcia & Garcia Limited Edition box on display. We spoke with Alcides Montenegro, Pepin’s nephew and the company’s Creative Marketing Director, who shared the vision for this cigar with us.
“This cigar is very important for us, it is a symbol of the father and son working together to create something beautiful. I designed the box to represent the elegance of the tobacco and the band is designed to respect to traditional design of My Father Cigars.” -Alcides Montenegro
Now here’s something that we did not expect to see at a cigar convention: Virtual Reality. As we made our way through the Oliva booth, we were introduced to Oliva’s Virtual Reality Experience; a perfect experience to have after 5 hours of walking around, smoking cigars, and drinking rum. After following instructions to sit on a comfy leather seat which swivels 360 degrees, put on a pair of virtual reality glasses, and place noise cancelling headphones on, the experience began. The experience began with a brief visit to a tobacco farm in Esteli Nicaragua where I was guided through the tobacco growing process, after taking in the smells of the tobacco fields (provided by a small scent machine sitting on the floor next to me), I walked into an aging room where I was presented with 3 Oliva cigar blends and asked to choose one. I chose the Oliva Series V Melanio and was then transported to the Oliva Factory where I watched the cigar being made in the factory. At the end, my tour guide handed me a cigar in virtual reality, and as I reached, a cigar in real life was placed in my hand by a member of the Oliva team. Oliva will be equipping their sales reps with a pair of VR glasses to provide a similar experience to retailers and consumers across the nation this year.
We ended the day with a visit to the guys at Espinosa where Anthony Jimenez, Creative Director for Espinosa Cigars, walked us through their newest offerings. We began with the “Alpha Dawg,” which is the product of a creative blending session at LaZonaPalooza. This cigar is a blend of Nicaraguan filler and binder with a Habano Rosado wrapper, providing a rich and spicy yet balanced and flavorful cigar. Espinosa is also introducing their “Crema” which will be the official Connecticut Shade offering to their Espinosa line. Now, for those of who you who I lost at the mention of “Connecticut Shade,” here’s something you will love: The Warhead III. The 601 La Bomba Warhead 3 is being released as a 7-1/2 x 38 box pressed lancero with a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper and Nicaraguan filler and Binder, available in boxes of 10.
Well, that is all for today – Check back in tomorrow for our IPCPR Day 2 Recap where we check out Foundation Cigar co., Crux, Caldwell, LUJ, and more! For Live Updates of the show, follow us on Facebook and Twitter!