2014 Big Smoke Las Vegas Evenings

A cheer went up over the crowd Friday evening, when the doors to the Mirage Hotel & Casino Event Center opened promptly at 6:30 p.m., allowing thousands of eager cigar fans to pour in and kick off 2014 Big Smoke Las Vegas the only way they knew how—with a torrent of wild energy and a mad dash to their favorite exhibitors.

"The thing to do is arrive three hours early," said Joe Salas, a grinning cigar enthusiast from California. "Get at the front of the line, start early, make your rounds. Then spend the rest of your time enjoying the food, the people, the cigars. That's the key."

Salas isn't the only one with this kind of passion. Exhibiting a zeal typically reserved for pro football fanatics, there's no end to Big Smoke attendees who are willing to talk strategies, plays and group formations for maximizing Big Smoke enjoyment.

Take David Heinzel and Mira Han from California, for example. Quickly becoming old pros on the Big Smoke circuit, this is David's third year attending and Mira's fifth. "You've got to have a strategy," said Han. "Always arrive early...know the floor plan."

Scattered throughout the massive events center, it's not uncommon to see larger groups huddled together discussing their total coverage strategy—splitting coupons, sending teammates to far corners of the space to wait in popular lines, gathering signatures and other memorabilia from celebrity cigarmakers, claiming rare cigars and dividing the bounty amongst team members afterwards.

"It's a lot of fun, and worth the wait. We usually come both nights," says Han. "We get doubles [of cigars], share the wealth with our friends."

And what a wealth of smokes to share. This year's list of cigar exhibitors consisted of Aging Room, A.J. Fernandez, Alec Bradley, Arturo Fuente, H. Upmann, C.A.O., Casa Fernandez, Casino Gold, Drew Estate, Kismet, Cohiba, Cubanacan, Diamond Crown, Dunhill, Eiroa, E.P. Carrillo, Foundry, Gurkha, Joya de Nicaragua, Kristoff, La Aroma de Cuba, La Flor Dominicana, La Gloria Cubana, Macanudo, My Father Cigars, Nat Sherman, Nestor Miranda Collection, Oliva, Padrón, Partagás, Quesada, Rocky Patel, Romeo y Julieta, NUb, Sublimes, Ventura and Villiger.

 

For many other attendees, though, the evening was less about the dragon's horde of cigars and more about the emotional experience.

Harry Martin from Kayenta, Arizona, drove to the Big Smoke to meet his son from Alaska. "This is the second time for both of us. It's more about the time we get to spend together. A bonding thing. My brother-in-law from Riverside, California, is also here."

Asked about his favorite part of the event, Martin replied, "It's interesting to watch all the different kinds of people. They come from all over the world. Young people, old people, men, women, weird people, crazy people. It's pretty cool."

Martin is on to something here. This year's Big Smoke attendees came from as far as Australia, South Africa, even the Himalayas. All for the love of cigars. It was truly the gathering of a dedicated tribe—to eat, drink, smoke and be merry.

"There's better food this year," Martin added. "The roast beef is excellent."

Provided by the Mirage Hotel kitchens, the enormously popular Baron of Beef was served alongside tables offering huge cuts of glistening turkey breast, pastas, BBQ pork sliders as well as Asian options such as dumplings and vegetable spring rolls. For those still hungry, there was also dessert: coffee stations and maple bacon miniature cupcakes.

As attendees walked the floor smoking and laughing and eating, they invariably worked up a mighty thirst—and thankfully there were many alcohol exhibitors offering high-end beverages to the gracious and boisterous crowd.

Exhibitors in this essential category were Bulleit Bourbon, Crown Royal Canadian whisky, George Dickel Tennessee whisky, Glenfiddich single-malt Scotch, Guinness beer, Jose Cuervo tequila, Ron Diplomatico and Ron Zacapa rums, Sledgehammer and Gabbiano wines, as well as Stolichnaya vodka and Carpano Antica Formula vermouth.

Cigar fans also leapt at the chance to chat with exhibitors offering luxury gear, gadgets and getaways, including S.T. Dupont, Daniel Marshall Humidors, Rabbit Air, Craviotto Drums, Boveda, Upper Deck, destination resorts such as Casa de Campo, Casa Vieja Resort and Nizuc Resort and Spa, as well as gorgeous timepieces from BALL Watches, Carl F. Bucherer, Graham, Maurice Lacroix and Oris Watches.

"It's like being a little kid in a lollipop shop," said George Skiadas from Melbourne, Australia. This is his sixth Big Smoke Las Vegas weekend. "I'm just one of these guys who like cigars," he said. "This year I took the whole family—and I took the whole family to Havana as well."

Skiadas bemoans the strict smoking regulations in his country. He says he can't smoke anywhere in Australia. For just this reason, many impassioned smokers were seen alongside the Cigar Rights of America booth—brushing up on cigar politics, impending legislation, and the importance of getting out to vote.

Another densely populated area of the event showcased new muscle cars for 2015. The set-ups featured the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat, the 50th Anniversary Ford Mustang and the Nissan GT-R, each complete with promotional models and photo opportunities. The souped-up rides naturally saw plenty of action from the crowd.

But Dodge hit a home run with its virtual "Dodge Challenger Challenge" racing simulator. The booth encouraged fans to hop in the driver's seat of an actual Dodge Challenger, modified with a reactive seat and movement platform, which gave the effect of working the car's muscle and allowed users to burn off at top speed on three panoramic high-definition screens mounted in front of the vehicle. A fitting end to a wild, smoke-filled night.

The Big Smoke evening was repeated the following night, on Saturday. Some intrepid cigar lovers attended both shows.

At 9:30 p.m. on both nights, as the event came to a close and attendees reluctantly dispersed off the floor, the resounding sentiment was one of wild-eyed joy and anticipation for the next Big Smoke Las Vegas. As one departing cigar fan put it, "Are next year's tickets on sale yet?"

Big Smoke Evenings

2014 Big Smoke Las Vegas Evenings

Big Smoke Saturday Seminars

Top 3 Legal Cigars of 2013
Fat Cigar Trends
Different Tobacco Varietals
Unique Tobacco Farms and Valleys
Lunch with Alec Bradley Cigars

Big Smoke Sunday Seminars

Cigar Lovers Breakfast
Roll Your Own, Seminar No. 17
Canadian Accents



"Wow! This is outstanding. I have thoroughly enjoyed this. Thanks a lot for sharing." —April 20, 2015 04:16 AM
"This was my 6th year and the camplaints that I have had each year are STILL valid. It is amazing that they aren't taking steps to fix these issues... especially since the same issues I have are EXACTLY what others have in here. #1 - Seating. WOW... There just isn't enough of it. #2 - Waiting in line for over an hour just to get in #3 - Line control. If you are going to cattle people in control the lines. I saw two VERY NEAR fist fights this year! #4 - AFTERPARTY, AFTERPARTY, AFTERPARTY?!?!? The Rum Bar is GREAT but fits 100 people? The Mirage has a poolside bar that is closed and could easily be open up to house 300 people who would love to enjoy their smokes after the event. OK --- Now after all that complaining... This is the 6th year I've gone for a reason... It is absolutely the most fun year after year and I will struggle with the very few cons I listed for life long memories and amazing times!!!" —January 29, 2015 14:35 PM
"I understand the investment made by the manufacturers in order to be there and that this costs them a lot of money to participate, even though we pay for a ticket. I appreciate their time and effort and I was thankful to see so many there. The lines to get to all 37 booths did take me the entire three hours. Perhaps the sticks could be passed out in a grand bag at the beginning, but I also understand the manufacturers want to interact with the customers. Perhaps a passport or stamp book, which each booth provides a stamp to discuss some of their key features, or a trivia quiz? A complete book is stamped and then a prize drawing? Then those that are in a big hurry could get their bag, grab a shot and move on. Or perhaps two pricing levels? Pay $300 get the sticks and leave or get all 37 stamps and get $50 bucks in casino play, or a coupon? It was a great time, and thanks to the CA staff for being there. For those of you considering the price tag for next year, I know it is hefty, but when you take a day off, enjoy it; this was definitely worth every penny. As for the crowds, it was a bit tight, but who wants to party by themselves, right?" —November 12, 2014 22:06 PM
"My first time. Lots of standing in lines. I agree with another. Put the cigars in a grab bag and allow the attendees to wander around and talk to the manufacturers and each other. Still, I had a blast. Great cigars, fine rum, excellent food. Not what I expected but I'm trying to get 30 high school buddies to come out next year! Just say when and where!!" —November 12, 2014 21:19 PM
"This was my first year and had a blast! Yes, the lines were long and started early. Just like the old days in Vegas when that was the norm from room check-in to the Showgirl shows. You wanted to see Sinatra? Get there 4 hours early. Part of the blame for the smoky rooms must go to the PC crowd as most of the convention venues were planed and built at the beginning of the no smoking era. Maybe some large fans or Rabbit Air might have have an idea or two. The lack of seating for the evening events was a problem for some. A bigger room might help but the hotel will charge more so our cost would go up. There's always trade offs. Personally, I'll be back. Meet some great people, learned a lot at the seminar sessions, and the kitchen at the Mirage did an unbelievable at providing wonderful food for the horde in attendance. No easy feat. " —November 12, 2014 15:36 PM
"Sure, show up 3 hours early to sit in a line for a cigar related event that YOU CAN'T SMOKE in? I mean, REALLY?!? NO SMOKING? REALLY? Come on you guys. Plan better please. This is my 12th Big Smoke and I love going. Great event. However there are some obvious issues you guys never address. There are ways to control lines. I spend the entire event now in lines instead of walking around enjoying the event. It never used to be that way. You're way over booking this event. Please do something about it, please. The overcrowding is making the event not fun." —November 12, 2014 14:41 PM
"Went to my first Big Smoke Friday night. Enjoyed the number of cigar vendors there, even if they weren't handing out their newest product. Enjoyed the spirits samplings, even if there was only one Scotch brand represented, and they ran out of product way too early (Zacapa Rum and Bulleit Bourbon were especially great hosts). Enjoyed the food, great selection and pairings. Enjoyed our hosts, but wish that someone was there to cut and light cigars while we waited in line for other products. Enjoyed the venue, and agree that better ventilation and more ashtrays would help. Hope you can add a warm-weather location in the future (Miami in February?), to make sort of a early "Spring Break" for northern cigar smokers. Look forward to attending another one soon." —November 12, 2014 13:41 PM
"Had a good time as usual - this was my 4 year attending. The ventilation at the Mirage is not adequate - in the conference room and the exhibit hall. The exhibit hall for the Big Smoke night was too small to accommodate the large crowd. It would be more enjoyable if we had more space. The long lines we a hassle as well. The Alec Bradley lunch was a hoot and a lot of fun. I really enjoy the cigar rolling and whiskey parring event. I always learn a lot attending and always come home with a new whiskey to try. Thanks for another successful event." —November 12, 2014 01:10 AM
"This is was my first time. Disclaimer: I only went Friday night. Here were my pros/cons: Pros: - Good quantity of cigars. 40+ since some cigar makers game out more than two. - Other vendors, like cars, watches, liquor, etc. - Food was great - Vegas A+ Cons: - The hunting for cigars plus the lines. Rather were be given the cigars at the door in a nice bag or case. - Did not really need the magazines in the bag. The bag was not that great. - could have use more vendors like Xicar or other accessories companies. There was one guy with custom humidors. - I know we are cigar smokers but the room was not ventilated well or filtered well. - not enough ample seating. Folks were hogging seats. The seats were basic. - the lines. no traffic control either by event folks. - I was not impressed with the overall quality of the cigars by some of the makers. Most of those cigars I could have ordered online. I would love have seen some samples on newer cigars or hide to find cigars. Maybe a cigar that is about to come out to the market. Overall I had a good time. Might consider coming back. " —November 11, 2014 23:41 PM
"It was a fantastic weekend. " —November 11, 2014 23:21 PM
"This was my first attending and we had a wonderful time and will be back next year. Donna " —November 11, 2014 21:28 PM
"I had a great Time all weekend long. Constructive comments: 1. The Manufacturer's booths should be set up in sequential order and then mapped accordingly to avoid searching for a specific booth on the map. 2. You guys need to drop the "Spirits Dude" from you seminar. For being such an Aficionado on Bourbon he didn't seem to be able to answer many questions, and it was embarrassing. All in all, a Great Time. Ron " —November 11, 2014 20:25 PM
"I attended this year and it was excellent!!! Have it in Vegas Next Year and ill be BACK!!!" —November 11, 2014 20:09 PM