After a night of partying with the La Zona crew at En Fuego Las Vegas, where we smoked the new Protocol Probable Cause and sipped on Papa’s Pilar Rum, we got some rest and headed back to the Sands Expo Center for Day 2 of the 84th Annual IPCPR Show!
We started the day with Casey Haugen of Crux cigars who showed us their newest offerings, including a new line to their portfolio: the Crux Epicure. The Epicure is a Nicaraguan Puro featuring a Nicaraguan Connecticut Shade Wrapper with Nicaraguan Binder and Filler. The Epicure is being released in a 5×50 Robusto, 6-1/4 x 52 Robusto Extra, and a 5-3/4 x 54 Toro Extra. Crux also announced their first ever IPCPR Exclusive, which is their Limited Edition PB5 with a Las Vegas themed box and secondary band.
Now here’s something from Crux that we found very interesting: Crux University. We sat down with Brandon Frakes, Founder of Go Local Group, who designed and is implementing this program. Crux University is a program for retailers to help give advice on how to effectively sell, upsell, and market cigars and related products. They’re providing this video based educational tool as a way to truly partner with retailers and better assist local businesses in their everyday operations.
As we proceeded with our morning, we made our way over to one of the most talked about Manufacturer’s at the show: Foundation Cigar Company. Foundation Cigar Co. was founded by Nicholas Melillo, former VP of International Sales for Drew Estate who, in 2015, launched his own company with the release of El Guegense. This year, Nick and his team have announced 3 new releases: The Upsetters, Charter Oak, and Tabernacle.
The Upsetters is Melillo’s way of “putting Jamaica back on the map.” It is a little known fact amongst the cigar industry that Jamaica has a rich history in growing premium tobaccos; Nick Melillo wanted to bring these tobaccos back into the limelight and is doing so with this cigar. The Upsetters is also blended with Nicaraguan tobacco and will be released in 8 vitolas; this cigar will be distributed by Miami Cigar Co. To read more about the story of The Upsetters, check out Foundation Cigar Co.’s website by clicking here.
Now we have all been expecting Melillo to release a cigar with a Connecticut Wrapper, the tobacco he is most known for, and when he released the El Guegense last year with a Corojo wrapper, it came as a surprise to the whole industry. But this year, he is not releasing one, but two cigars with a Connecticut wrapper. The first of which is the Charter Oak.
“I wanted to create an economy-minded, everyday smoke for connoisseurs; something tasty and delicious but didn’t break the bank.” -Nicholas Melillo
Charter Oak is being released in two different Connecticut Wrappers: a Connecticut Shade Grown Connecticut Broadleaf (Maduro) with an MSRP ranging between $4-$6, depending on various State and Local taxes. The filler and binder consist of tobaccos from both Esteli and Jalapa, providing rich flavors and exquisite quality.
Finally, we have The Tabernacle: Foundation Cigar’s newest super premium cigar, bearing a rich Connecticut Broadleaf Wrapper.
“Broadleaf is more than tobacco for me. It is something sacred.” -Nicholas Melillo
The Tabernacle will feature San Andreas Mexican binder along with filler from Jamastran Valley in Honduras, plus the Esteli and Jalapa Valley in Nicaragua. It is a complex blend of premium tobaccos from some of the best tobacco farms in the world. This cigar will be released in six vitolas: a Torpedo, Corona, Robusto, Toro, Double Corona, and Lancero.
On our way over to Hammer + Sickle for some lunchtime Vodka tasting, we first stopped at the Prometheus booth and checked out their beautiful display of humidors, Opus X, God of Fire, and, of course, snap a pic with the Prometheus girls.
When we finally made our way over to Hammer & Sickle, we stopped to admire their newest release: The Hammer + Sickle Museum Series.
This jar will contain 20 of the original Hammer + Sickle cigars, which have been aging for over 5 years and will be a limited release. We also had the opportunity to smoke the original Hammer + Sickle paired with a glass of their very own Vodka, made in Russia and distilled 6 times.
After our tasting at Hammer + Sickle, we stopped at Caldwell, where art covered the walls, and people crowded the booth to check out what’s new with one of the fasted growing boutique brands today.
This year, Caldwell has announced a number of line extensions as well as new cigars, including a collaboration with Drew Estate: All Out Kings.
“All out Kings debuts with Tobaccos from La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate in Esteli, Nicaragua including Connecticut Stalk Cut and Sun Cured Habano Wrapper, with Indonesia Sumatra Binder, and filler comprised of Jalapa Viso, Esteli Viso, Dominican C-98 Seco, and Connecticut Broadleaf Ligero. When asked about the blend, Willy Herrera, from Miami, Florida noted “Working with Caldwell was challenging because he is very specific on what he likes and does not like with a maduro blend. Creating a cigar that he could enjoy while still staying true and giving it my signature spice was a delicate balance that I looked for in our numerous blending sessions at Joya and Drew.”
We left Caldwell with a craving for something, but we couldn’t quite put our finger on it, until we stopped by Dictador and saw exactly what we needed: rum!
Dictador has been around for over 100 years, originally producing high quality rum, but their portfolio now also includes: Gin, Chocolate, Coffee, and Cigars. Their cigars use wrappers which are aged in their rum barrels, providing sweet and oaky overtones in the flavor profile. They are also planning on using these barrels to age rum in after the tobacco is aged to produce a tobacco infused rum! We were invited to enjoy a cocktail, one that was as enjoyable to watch being made as it was to drink. Dictador had hired Slick Bartender to pour their rum and create the best Old Fashioned I had ever had. It took a few minutes to make the drink as every part of it was carefully and artfully crafted.
After our short break to enjoy the rum, we made our way over to visit the team at LUJ cigars where we had the pleasure of meeting Luj Oluyeba and Heather Lebos who showed us some of their newest offerings for this year, including the LUJ Kuro.
The Kuro is a beautiful perfecto bearing a gold band and offered in a slide top coffin. As with all cigars from LUJ, this is a small batch release. The Kuro was originally made as a private blend for gifts in Japan, but will now be available here in the U.S. Although the blend is not released, the Kuro is made in the Dominican Republic and will be available in a Toro, Perfecto, and “00.”
We finally end the day with Alex Mendez of American Caribbean Cigars who introduced us to their newest cigar line: La Rosa de Sandiego. Although this cigar was released at last year’s IPCPR, ACC has released a 5 count sampler pack which they are very excited about.
The sampler pack contains all 5 blends of the La Rosa de Sandiego line, including a Cameroon and Sumatra which are new to the lineup this year. Although they are considered a boutique brand, American Caribbean Cigars has been producing cigars for companies such as Gurkha, Leccia Tobacco, and Toraño for a number of years.
“We are a boutique company with large scale capabilities.” –Alex Mendez
Well, that is all for Day 2! If you missed our Day 1 Recap, Click Here to check it out!
Check in tomorrow for our recap of day 3 where we check out Crowned Heads, Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust, Xikar, RomaCraft, and more! Also, make sure to check out our Facebook and Twitter for photos, videos, and updates!