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2013 Big Smoke Saturday Seminars—Top Three (Legal) Cigars of 2012

G. Clay Whittaker
Posted: November 13, 2013

(continued from page 1)

After a break for the seminar on Second Acts in the cigar business, the attendees were greeted with their second smoke break, this time hosted by Altadis U.S.A. Inc., the makers of the No. 3 Cigar of the Year: Romeo by Romeo y Julieta Piramide. The company produced a video for their 94-point cigar, featuring members of the masters' panel who created the award-winning blend in 2012.

Altadis general manager Javier Estades took the stage to applause and, after a short video, he addressed the crowd, thanking Cigar Aficionado for the honor and thanking the audience for enjoying the product of their hard work.

Estades spoke of the road to creating a cigar that would eventually garner the third spot in the Top 25 for 2012. "When I took this position some two and a half years ago," he explained, "I made this plan: whatever we bring to market has to be 100 percent adapted to the taste of U.S. consumers, not only because this is the biggest market for non-Cuban cigars by far, but also because it is the most competitive one."

Estades named all the strengths in the Altadis stable: iconic brands, extensive resources, experience and opportunity—"We have all these things, so the only ones to blame [for not making a great cigar] are ourselves."

The final smoke break of the day was greatly anticipated and made by the Garcia Family: the Flor de las Antillas Toro. As Janny, Jaime and Don "Pepin" Garcia approached the stage with company representative José Ortega, the applause took on a fresh energy and the audience quickly broke into a standing ovation for the group. It's a rare occurrence at a Big Smoke. Later that afternoon, Janny Garcia was still in shock on the floor of the Big Smoke Evening. "I saw and I wanted to cry," she said.

But back in the seminar hall it was Ortega who was first to take the stage, thanking the attendees and Cigar Aficionado profusely for the honor bestowed on the Garcia family, and a cigar operation that began ten years ago in a little shop in Florida on Calle Ocho in Miami

Don Pepin and Jaime, assisted by Ortega with translation, answered questions about their cigars for the seminar attendees. The family was asked about their blending process, how they create a cigar and where a blend will come from. More than anything, the attention and care about the process to was obvious. But their attention to the interplay of flavors drove the conversation.

In the end it was an attendee from Texas who asked, simply, what beverage the Garcias would pair their award-winning cigar with. It was Jaime who chimed in, discussing the flavor interplays and various spirits choices that he appreciated. But capping it with an all-encompassing and simple recommendation, "Drink what you like, brother."

Jaime could very well have given the Big Smoke seminar attendees much the same advice about the day's activites. Some participants chose to smoke along with each of the day's presenters, while others kept their prized giveaway cigars to enjoy at a later time. The point, as ever, is to enjoy it—however you like.

Big Smoke Evenings

2013 Big Smoke Las Vegas Evenings

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