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Big Smoke Saturday Seminars: Top Legal Cigars of the Year

David Savona
Posted: November 17, 2010

The Big Smoke Las Vegas seminars began bright and early on Saturday morning. A crowd of 500 cigar lovers from around the United States and the world streamed into the seminar room at the Venetian Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, and as each person walked through the doors they were handed a Humidipak bag containing three very special cigars.

They were the top legal cigars of 2009 from Cigar Aficionado's annual Top 25 ranking of cigars, Nos. 1, 3 and 4. The U.S. embargo against Cuba prohibits the inclusion of Cuban cigars (and this year the Cohiba Siglo V Tubo ranked No. 2.)

Gordon Mott, executive editor of Cigar Aficionado magazine and the master of ceremonies for the morning program, welcomed the crowd to the Big Smoke, a cigar in his hand and a smile on his face.

"How many of you are here for the first time?" he asked. More than half the audience raised their hands, prompting Mott to smile in surprise. He thanked everyone for attending, noting that the seminars sold out more than six weeks prior to the show.

Mott then welcomed the first speaker of the day to the stage, Jorge Padrón, the president of Padrón Cigars Inc. in Miami and the maker of the 2009 Cigar of the Year, the Padrón Family Reserve No. 45 Maduro. The audience members lit up their samples of the Nicaraguan smoke, which has a suggested retail price of $25 and was rated 95 points, classic on our 100-point scale.

Padrón said it was a "tremendous honor," to have his cigar named Cigar of the Year, an award the Padrón family has won three times out of six contests. "It's a humbling experience," he said.

Padrón apologized for the absence of his father, who was unable to make the trip to Las Vegas. He then went on to explain the values that his father had imbued in him over the years, lessons that have served him well in making cigars that people enjoy so much.

"I've learned more in the 20 years working next to my dad than I did with my MBA," he said. He spoke of how his father came from humble roots: growing tobacco in Cuba as a younger man, coming to Miami with next to nothing, forming Padrón Cigars with all of $600 in his pocket and selling mixed-fill fumas to the Cubans in Miami. He also spoke about the Nicaraguan tobacco that gives Padróns their distinctive flavor.

"My dad immediately recognized that tobacco from Nicaragua was the second coming of Cuba," said Padrón. The crowd, puffing away on the immensely rich and full-flavored Padrón Family Reserve, agreed.

The No. 3 cigar of the year is also Nicaraguan, and when it came time to light up that cigar after a conversation about lands that grow tobacco, Mott invited José "Pepin" Garcia and his family up to the podium.


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