Trade Show, Day One
Posted: Aug 10, 2009 11:08am ET
I took the early flight yesterday morning with Gordon Mott to New Orleans, taking off at 7 a.m. from JFK and landing in NOLA at 9. We were able to get to the convention center just after 10, right at the time the show floor opened for the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers show. Perfect. We stepped in and were immediately greeted by the aroma of fine cigars.
This trade show is the gathering of the premium cigar industry. They show off their latest creations and retailers—ideally lots of them—walk the aisles and buy (hopefully) lots of cigars. The editors at Cigar Aficionado? We walk around looking for great stuff to smoke so we can tell you all about it.
And I did indeed smoke some great ones yesterday. One of my favorites was the La Flor Dominicana Double Press.
The Quesada family was in great spirits, riding high on the success of Casa Magna Colorado. I happily accepted the new Casa Magna Colorado Extraordinario (I tweeted about this smoke the first time I puffed it, one week ago—love it) and lit up the new Honduran Casa Magna, the Casa Magna Oscuro. I find this one drier than the Colorado, with more roasted flavors and not as much sweetness. Fans of really dark cigars will love the near black wrapper.
Ernesto Perez-Carrillo and his family were set up at their new EPC Cigar Co. booth. I lit up the new E.P. Carrillo Edicion Inaugural 2009 cigar, a one-sized special release measuring 5 3/8 inches by 52 ring.
Around 1, I felt my stomach growling, so I grabbed Greg Mottola of Cigar Aficionado and we headed to Mufates, a casual and huge restaurant. A bowl of Zyadaco gumbo fixed me up nicely, and I was ready for more smokes.
I tried Ashton’s new Aroma de Cuba, rolled by Pepin Garcia. Delicious. They’ve swapped the somewhat speckled Cuban seed Honduran wrapper for a Connecticut broadleaf, and its nice broadleaf, really dark and unusually clean. It has good spice and taste, with that hearty broadleaf signature.
I puffed on a Padrón Serie 1926 (always good, no surprise) in the Padrón booth and Jorge Padrón showed off the new Family Reserve. His father was in great spirits, but he wasn’t happy with the espresso from the counter outside. This man misses his homemade Café Cubano. Can’t blame him—that stuff is hard to beat.
My last stop of the day was at Rocky Patel’s booth, which was set up like a mini party. Rocky handed me his new 1961 cigar, named for the year he was born. Sam Philips from the company handed me a Pilsner Urquell—they had a keg at the booth! Do you know how good a cold Pilsner tastes after seven hours of smoking cigars? The cigar was lovely as well, with a balance and elegance that I appreciated.
After the show, I cabbed it back to the hotel, where I had about 20 minutes to unpack and change for the Altadis U.S.A. cocktail party. We cabbed it over there (I think I dropped $100 on cabs on Sunday) and after having a drink, a quick smoke and saying hello we went on another cab ride to the Elms Mansion, where C.A.O. International was throwing a dinner party. The party was wonderful, with good company, rich New Orleans cuisine and (of course) great cigars. I lit up a CAO Lx2 Salamone, a blend I truly enjoy. It was big, flavorful, and nicely sweet.
Team Cigar Aficionado got back to the hotel around 11:30 and headed to the courtyard for some smokes—but I was gassed. Having woken up at 3 a.m. local time, I was pretty spent. I made it all of about 45 minutes before ducking out for my room, where I got some much needed sleep.
Now it’s time to get back into the fray. Day two of the trade show is here, and the show floor opens at 10. I’m going back in.
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