RTDA Blog: Day Two

It’s still a rather thin crowd here at the RTDA show. "It’s under populated," said one industry veteran, starting out at the aisles. It seems as if Houston in the heart of summer just hasn’t pulled in the crowds the same way that Las Vegas did a year ago. But I have heard people say that the retailers who have made it here are buying, so no one is crying the blues just yet.

Last night I had dinner with Gordon Mott and the CAO/Henri Wintermann’s team at a great Houston steakhouse called Vic and Anthony’s. I ordered a Texas-sized ribeye, medium-rare, and it was as big as some phone books. My kinda steak.

This morning, right after breakfast and a little stint in the gym (hey, you have to work out the cholesterol somehow, right?) I lit up a new Paul Garmirian Soiree cigar to start off the day. Garmirian told me it was a near carbon copy of his popular 15th Anniversary blend, only with a touch less piloto Cubano in the filler blend. I found it a good morning smoke, with a dry flavor that faded after a half-inch or so. It was floral and oaky, with a bit of a white wine character. It’s been on the market since July, in three sizes, all around $10 or so per cigar.

Philip Wynne, owner of Felipe Gregorio, has a slew of new smokes. The most dramatic involves what he’s done with his Felipe Power line. He’s come up with a range of wild looking smokes with mixed wrappers (one has some candela, some natural), a flipped perfecto (imagine the nipple that you would normally find on the foot at the head of the cigar) and various other designs. I smoked a cigar he calls the Pelo de Oro Fletcha, for arrow, a slim figurado that narrows right to the tip, rather than to the shoulder, and I really enjoyed the sweet, medium-bodied flavor.

I knew this was going to be a day of many, many cigars, and soon I was talking to Pepin Garcia and his son, Jaime. These are the guys who make Tatuaje and Padilla cigars, along with a growing number of their own brands. I smoked their latest, called El Centurion. "Like old Cohibas," Pepin said. "Aromatic." I got the aroma, but what I really liked was the chocolaty flavor and the balance of the smoke. Good stuff.

Litto Gomez has a ton of new things, including an "A" size in his La Flor Dominicana Double Ligero line (9 by 47, $18) and a reverse version of last year’s Mysterio. This one is made with Ecuador Sumatra wrapper with Connecticut-seed natural wrapper on the foot and tip. It looks great, but I didn’t have a chance to light one up.

The Te-Amo folks are trying to change the public’s perception of their cigars as only a Mexican brand. They are releasing the Te-Amo World Selection, which has three varieties: a Honduras blend, Nicaragua blend and Dominicana blend. I fired up the Honduran blend, which mixes Mexican and Honduran tobaccos, and I greatly preferred it to a traditional Te-Amo. It had good flavor and a nice earthy taste.

There might not be many retailers here, but there are lots of new cigar makers. One is Joseph Adduci, who is making Jamaican puros in Kingston. He’s been doing that for a while, but he’s now bringing the cigars to the American market via Philips and King. Those will be on sale in January, if all goes well. I took one, but I’ll smoke it later.

The best cigar I smoked all day was a Casa Fuente, given to me by Michael Frey, who owns the store. It was a double robusto, and it was full-bodied, spicy, rich and round, with a long, long finish. I smoked it after lunch -- it was probably my sixth cigar of the day -- and it really impressed.

Tonight it’s dinner with the Ashton folks, which means another taste of San Cristobal, which shouldn’t disappoint. It’s only 5 o’clock here, which means there are many hours of socializing left before the day is over.
Andy Klueber Terre Haute, IN August 6, 2007 11:47pm ET
Hey, David since you are in Houston. Maybe you should take a look at these.Kinky Friedman Cigars http://www.kinkycigars.com/
Trey Boring Texas August 7, 2007 5:05pm ET
Sorry, I missed seeing you here in Houston. I walked the show day one and day two, and I must say it did not look as busy as I thought it should. I will be very interested in hearing your take on day three. I would like to see the final opinion of the manufacturers on the success of the show for them.http://cigarvagabond.squaresource.com
DAVE Savona August 8, 2007 3:12am ET
So far people seem a bit miffed that the overall traffic is down, but happy with the amount of business that they're writing. What I'm hearing is there aren't a lot of people, but the ones that are here are buying cigars.

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