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Part Two: Las Vegas Big Smoke Saturday Seminars

Lunch with the Experts
David Savona
Posted: November 10, 2005
Smoking a trio of gutsy cigars in the morning isn't an everyday event for most people, and it's certainly hungry work. After reducing the Seijas, Núñez and Fuente to ashes, the roughly 400 Big Smoke Las Vegas seminar attendees sat down to a well-deserved lunch.

The audience was split into tables of 10, most of which were hosted by a member of the cigar industry, who shared his or her cigars with the other tablemates during the meal. It's a great way for a cigarmaker to get to know the audience, and a memorable experience for the consumer to get to know a Carlos Fuente Jr., Litto Gomez, Tim Ozgener or Ernie Carrillo on a much more personal level than most ever can.

Kiki Berger of Cuban Crafters explains the ins and outs of cigars to his guests.
The remaining tables were hosted by Cigar Aficionado editors. We typically bring along a mixed bag of smokes for our table to enjoy. This year, however, we had something extremely special.

One of the panelists from James Suckling's Collecting Cuban Cigars seminar, Thomas Bohrer, brought pre-Castro Cuban cigars with him from Hong Kong. He had hoped to bring enough for the entire crowd, but he just couldn't fit that many cigars in his luggage. He did manage to bring about 100, most of which he generously passed out to each editor.

James Suckling enjoys a pre-Castro Cuban cigar with a tablemate.
As I walked to my table, I took out a pair of Humidipak bags, each containing five of the small cigars. They were Los Statos Brevas, machine-bunched, hand-rolled cigars dating from the early 1960s. Each was perhaps four and a half inches long, with about a 42 ring gauge.

"Guys," I said to my tablemates, "today's your lucky day. We're going to smoke pre-Castro Cuban cigars."

Cynthia Fuente-Suarez shares Arturo Fuente cigars with her appreciative fellow diners.
Their eyes lit up. None had smoked such an old cigar before. Most were attending their first Las Vegas Big Smoke, and were already having the time of their lives. Adding a 40-year-old Habano to the mix just made things that much better.

The meal was tasty, but I think everyone was really looking forward to the smoke. We lit up even before our coffee reached the table. The cigar had that dusty, slightly musky taste at first, a signature of very old cigars, and when it began to warm up it took on nutty, woody notes. It was rich and surprisingly strong for such an old smoke -- a true pleasure.

We all marveled at how well the cigar tasted after four decades. Not a bad way to end a great morning.

Photos by Camilla Sjodin Hadowanetz

CLICK HERE TO READ PART ONE

CLICK HERE TO READ THE SUNDAY SEMINARS

CLICK HERE TO READ ABOUT THE SATURDAY SEMINARS:
CIGARS FOR THE DECADE
HOW TO BLEND A CIGAR
COLLECTING CUBAN CIGARS
ASK THE EXPERTS
LUNCH WITH THE EXPERTS

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