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RTDA Blog: Day Three

My voice went out sometime around 8 last night, the victim of lots of cigars and maybe a little too much talking. Occupational hazard. I’ll be fine.

The voice aside, last night was a good one, with a great dinner hosted by Ashton Cigars at the Petroleum Club overlooking the city.  I ate blackened snapper while drinking Caymus Conundrum and smoking Ashton Heritage Puro Sol Belicosos. It was great food and great service, which seems to be a standard at any Ashton event.

Since we’re on food, I have to mention today’s lunch, which really didn’t feature great service at all. I ate with Matt Arcella from the Las Vegas Davidoff shops at the restaurant in the lobby of the Hilton America. The waiter was an interesting sort, brutally honest at times (Question: “How’s the grilled shrimp?” His answer: “I’ve never had it.”) and a bit unpolished in the art of fine service. He waited, somewhat patiently, for me to move and hold my appetizer plate before putting down my entrée. What a guy.

I stopped at the Camacho booth today, and they have a strong array of new cigars, including an attractive Camacho Ten Year Anniversary. The company has been around longer than 10 years, but Christian Eiroa says they’re celebrating 10 years of growing “the authentic Corojo leaf.” It’s a good looking cigar, with a Colorado sheen, and it’s box pressed. Christian said it would be creamy. Look for it in October, if all goes well.

Alan Rubin of Alec Bradley cigars showed me his baggies of test smokes. “I haven’t smoked a banded cigar in months,” he said. He’s working on lots of new stuff, and he handed me samples of several new blends. He has added a size to his Maxx line, a small smoke called Nano. It’s four inches by 46 ring, a size I love, and it breaks the Maxx trend of $5 cigars with a $4 suggested retail price. He also has a big box pressed Maxx called The Vice that’s $8.50, and measures 6 1/2 by 62.

The Dunhill Signed Range now comes in these attractive burgundy tubes. I like the Dunhill blend—it’s medium bodied and savory, with a pleasant character that makes for a nice morning smoke.

Big news from the Pro Cigar folks, the association of several Dominican cigar makers. They’re hosting their first cigar festival in March. Here’s the deal: for $595 (not including airfare or your hotel) you can spend three days in the Santiago area touring cigar factories, tobacco fields and dining with cigarmakers. General Cigar, La Aurora, Tabadom (Davidoff), Matasa and Tabacalera de Garcia are the factories that are part of the trip, which runs March 4-7. For more info, go to They only have room for about 280 people.

I stopped by the Fuente booth to congratulate Carlos Fuente Sr., Carlos Fuente Jr. and Wayne Suarez on the news from today's Cigar Insider. They  rarely release a new smoke at RTDA, and this year is no exception, but Carlito did tell me that he’s working on a cigar called King T, which will be his company’s first tubed cigar. I’m not sure when it will be out, but I’m sure it will be good.

The best cigar I smoked all day was an experimental cigar. Jose Blanco of La Aurora got to talking with Pepin Garcia. I told you in my first RTDA blog that La Aurora had a barrel of Dominican tobacco on display at its booth. Jose got to talking with Pepin, and Pepin took some of the filler, rolled it up with some of his Nicaraguan filler, binder and a wrapper leaf, and gave it to me. Fresh off the table, it smoked great: rich, delicious and sublime. I don’t think it will make it to market (at least, not with some type of joint venture) but damn it was good.

After the show I had a drink with Josh Meerapfel, who grows incredible tobacco in Cameroon. He’s speaking on a panel at the Las Vegas Big Smoke. Did you know after they grow a crop in Cameroon they wait six years before planting on that same land again? It’s one of the things you can do when your growing area is nearly the size of France. I think that’s why Josh’s Cameroon (which is used on Don Carlos, Aurora and Partagas cigars, among others) tastes so damn good.

I'm heading out for dinner with Rocky Patel, and a taste of his new Decade cigar. Tomorrow's the last day of RTDA, so I bet it will be a late night.
Jose Blanco August 10, 2007 3:43pm ET
Dave as you know Pepin and I have been friends for years, and it was a honor to give him barrel aged filler to blend with his tabaccos,as you wrote the cigar is great, after he made me smoke one I ask him to make me 5 more and he did,they will sit for some time, and I will treasure them.I will save one for you when you come down.
pete johnson Los Angeles,CA August 10, 2007 7:11pm ET
Yes, it was a sublime cigar. The wrapper was a treat from a friend and the filler from Jose smelled beautiful. Going to smoke another on Monday night after we pack boxes all day.

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