76th IPCPR Annual Convention & Trade Show
With 1680 plus booths, the show looked to be one of the largest in recent years. I don't know the final count on attendees, but it appeared that those that were there were there to buy.
Sands Convention & Expo Center
To give you a walking tour of the Sands Convention & Expo Center floor would be an onerous task, and might be a little tedious for you.
In trying to recapitulate the event, I'm reminded of the story of a U.S.A.F. Captain, in the China, Burma, and India Theatre of WWII. His plane was shot down and he survived. He made his way to a Maharaja's palace; and the Maharaja took him in. When the airman was fully recovered, the Maharaja led him to his harem and threw open the doors, revealing twenty-two voluptuous women ... the Maharaja's wives and concubines. "By way of thanking you for what you have done for my country," he said, "I want you to enjoy yourself here. "The Captain stood, immobile for twenty minutes, when his host said, "Don't you know what to do?" To which the officer replied, "Oh, I know what to do alright; I just don't know where to begin."
And so, I'll try to find a place to begin ...
Jesus Fuego, of the eponymous brand, was located at the Xicar booth, for which he makes the Defiance brand cigar. He was very active, with retailers ordering his J. Fuego Corojo and Natural cigars, with which he started his line. The excitement, however; centered on his Delirium maduro line and the newer than new 777. All are excellent cigars, made by a very knowledgeable cigar maker descended from several generations of tobacco farmers.
La Flor Dominicana had several 'special' items along with their well regarded regular product line. Litto Gomez had created a third issue of his Limitada along with 300 of a new issue of Factory Press. When those three hundred were sold, there was no way to get one. And, I am here to tell you they were sold out by Tuesday. La Flor also released another batch of their 'A' ... on very limited availability as well as a fantastic sampler called Los Perfectos; an exquisitely styled prefecto in a box of five, made from a variety of their blends. The five pack of Carajo, a ligero blend in a 34 x 4 come packed in beautiful wood packets. How they hell Litto packs all that flavour in those little sticks is beyond me!
The Ashton booth, elegantly laid out, as always, featured an exquisite new line extension of their highly regarded and highly successful La Aroma de Cuba. This time, the cigar is made for them by Pepin Garcia, who has already produced Holt's Old Henry, and their San Cristobal, which took the smoking world by storm after last year's RTDA (now the IPCPR). It is not hard to understand why Pepin is El Rey de los Habanos!*
Ashton did their usual series of dinners for the tobacconists, hosting about seven hundred and twenty plus customers, at three dinners at Wolfgang Puck's Postrio in the Venetian. Manny Ferrero, Ashton's V. P. of Sales, was kind enough to invite me, to enjoy a fabulous meal in the company of many, many old friends that I rarely get to see.
MATASA, whose sister company, S.A.G. Imports lost the distribution of Joya de Nicaragua, 'struck back' with an superb new line, made in Nicaragua, called Casa Magna. Manuel Quesada also introduced a cigar called Cubano Viso Fuerte. Your correspondent enjoyed both of them, perhaps, in excess!
Replica of original La Aurora cigar factory at the La Aurora booth
The La Aurora booth was bustling, but I managed to get some time to sit down with Jose Blanco, who had brought me a special gift from Santiago. Enough said. The Barrel Aged was doing very well for them, albeit it was introduced last year.
This year they brought out their Puro Vintage 2003, which Jose, always passionate about his product, was kind enough to describe in detail; but rather parsimonious when it came to giving me one!
I did smoke several of their new LJ robusto and enjoyed them tremendously.
Source: Cigar Review