I think there might be some confusion between the terms box-pressing and trunk-pressing. You hear the word box-pressed used to describe any cigar that's taken on a flattened, rectangular shape, but it's not totally accurate. One happens in the box, the other outside the box.
I berate myself every year for not visiting the Davidoff factory during the ProCigar festival. I've been to their field tour in Jicomé plenty of times, but the factory has always escaped me. Not this time. People may not be aware that the facility is broken up into three sections: Cigars Davidoff, where White Label, Davidoff Nicaragua (aka. Black Label) and Puro D'Oro are made. That's on the top floor. Then there's OK Cigars where they produce brands like Avo Uvezian and Zino. It's on the ground floor. And in an adjacent building is another factory altogether. That's where they make Cusano, Hammer + Sickle, Corazon and other ancillary or third-party brands. All, of course under the watchful eye of Davidoff's master blender and primary operations manager Hendrik "Henke" Kelner.
Before last week, I had never attended the first part of ProCigar's yearly festival. It always came at a time that was difficult for me to get out of the office, and it only has one cigar-centric tour anyway. Seeing how this year was my fifth ProCigar Festival, and how we had a bit of downtime here in our editorial cycle, I decided to go for the whole trip. Plus, there was always the guilt factor nagging at me. Outside of a factory tour on the way to Santiago, the first leg is pretty much a vacation at Casa de Campo. Yeah, there are cigars waiting for you in your hotel room, and yes, there is a cigar dinner every night, but let's be honest—it's a vacation. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. Not at all. The warm weather was a welcome change from the winter wasteland I left behind in New York, and I was much happier sunbathing on the sapphire shores of Minitas beach rather than shivering on the dirty platform of a subway station, merely looking at a billboard of Minitas beach. So I jumped straight out of the misery of a New York winter and right into the pages of a brochure.
I still haven't cleaned the Ecuadoran soil off my boots. Something about that dusty patina on top of the black leather makes me think for a second or two that I'm some sort of a cowboy, or at the very least a rugged ranch hand. Never mind.
We're in the middle of our IPCPR wrap-up coverage. By "we" I mean the Cigar Insider, and by wrap-up coverage, I mean an A to Z recap of everything we saw at the trade show in as much detail as possible. Or as much detail as we deem to be relevant. We released our first Cigar Insider installment a week ago and made it to the letter "D."
If you've followed Fuente's elusive lines of exotic smokes, you've probably seen a Fuente Fuente OpusX in the BBMF shape. And if you've been to Las Vegas, you've seen a ForbiddenX in the BBMF shape. But have you ever seen an Ashton VSG in the signature Fuente BBMF shape? I'll explain all these acronyms momentarily.
I fell from the sky last week and landed directly on the My Father Cigars/Tatuaje 10th Anniversary party in Miami. Let me explain. If you were in South Florida (or like to watch The Weather Channel), you'd know that the region recently experienced monsoon-like storms. Well, I flew in those storms, if you can call that flying. After being chewed up and spit out by one storm cloud after the next, my plane was the last one to land before Fort Lauderdale airport finally suspended service for a while. I'm an anxious air traveler as it is, but once the flight crew could no longer hide their panic, I didn't think we were going to make it.
It was almost 12 years ago when I first had an Avo Uvezian cigar. I was on a business trip in downtown Chicago and ordered it from a cigar menu after dinner back when restaurants in the Windy City still allowed you to smoke and actually provided table side cigar service. I even convinced the waitress to ring it up on the bill as dessert so that it wouldn't look questionable on my expense report when I got home. This, of course, was before I worked for Cigar Aficionado. I recall it was a Domaine Avo Robusto. Believe it or not, I still have the band. Yes, I collect bands. Call it a form of philately combined with a generally geekish instinct to collect things. No matter.
Don’t ever start a ProCigar Festival with an empty stomach. I don’t care how tough you think your gut is, if you start smoking at 8:30, that’s about 4 hours of power puffing until lunch, and I refused to make that mistake. My key to survival was this: mangú. It’s a dense dish of mashed plantains often eaten for breakfast in the Dominican Republic. This is why I could spend each morning smoking one cigar after the next without keeling over.
I’m smoking something right now that you’ve never smoked. Nobody has. It’s a combination of Dominican and Nicaraguan ligero with a Brazilian Oscuro wrapper, but it’s all blended around a particularly mouth-coating bunch of Connecticut Broadleaf. I put it together myself. Or, more truthfully, I told Abe Flores of PDR Cigars what I wanted in terms of flavor and he chose the tobaccos during my visit to his factory. This was at last week’s ProCigar Fest. Though not officially part of the ProCigar tour, it was one of my many stops during this annual Caribbean celebration of the Dominican Republic’s cigar industry. More on my blend later.
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