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Back From the Big Smoke

May 25, 2010 | By David Savona
Saturday night, Mashantucket, Connecticut, about 8 pm. I’m standing next to the Quesada Cigars booth at the Big Smoke at the MGM Grand at Foxwoods, puffing on a Coronado by La Flor Double Corona and talking to Hostos Fernandez Quesada. A guy walks up to me and says hello. We chat for a bit, and I ask him where he’s from.

“Canada,” he says. “Cornwall, Ontario. All four of us.”

His name is Paul Desnoyers Jr., and he and three friends drove 400 miles, or more than seven hours without traffic, to make it to Cigar Aficionado's Big Smoke at the MGM Grand at Foxwoods. That’s dedication to the craft. Paul wrote me last night on Twitter and attached a copy of the photo (see below) we took together with buddies Matthew Clarke, Scott Lafave and Bernie Bougie. “The trip from Canada was worth every penny!” Paul wrote. “What a great night!”

I felt the same way. It was a great night, with a beautiful room filled with cigar lovers—most of them from places a little closer than Canada. There were plenty of people from around Boston and Providence, lots of aficionados from Connecticut and plenty from New York and New Jersey who made their way to our first Big Smoke of the year.

I smoked more than my share of great cigars, starting off with a corona-sized Room 101 (the 213) made by Camacho before lighting up the Coronado, which lasted quite awhile. My final cigar of the night was a Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial by My Father Cigars.

The cigar stars were impressive: Carlos Fuente Jr. of Arturo Fuente cigars, Rocky and Nish Patel, Orlando Padrón, Tim Ozgener and Jon Huber from C.A.O., the Newman brothers (Eric and Bobby) from J.C. Newman, Te-Amo’s Alejandro Turrent, Alan Rubin of Alec Bradley, Sam Leccia of NUb, Joe Chiusano of Cusano, Mike Giannini of La Gloria Cubana, Pete Johnson of Tatuaje; Hostos Fernandez-Quesada of Matasa; Eric Hanson of Hammer + Sickle, Matt Booth and Dylan Austin from Camacho; Andrew Brennan of La Flor Dominicana cigars; Frank Santos for Reyes Family Cigars; Carlos Llaca of Toraño Cigars and Roberto Pelayo of Dunhill; Dave Wagner of Oliva; Andrew Brennan of La Flor Dominicana cigars; Michael Walter and Andy Green of Ashton; Les Mann of Colibri and Sean Knutsen of Humidipak. I know I’m forgetting somebody.

The drink selection was as impressive as the cigar choices. I was working, so I took it easy, refreshing my palate with Pilsner Urquell beer, then a small taste of a Woodford Reserve Manhattan, then a little Talisker Scotch for my final quaff. There was also Dewars, Glenmorangie, Remy, Macallan, Sheep Dip Scotch, Wild Geese Irish, Hammer & Sickle Vodka, Ron Matusalem, Classic Malt Collection, Oban, Singleton, Zacapa, Appleton Estate Rum, Don Q, Woodford Reserve, Tullamore Dew on hand, plus a buffet dinner.

Even Luis “El Tiante” Tiant was there, although as a guest and not as a cigar participant. I shook his hand and told him I was a fan. (And let me point out to Red Sox fanatic Gordon Mott that good old El Tiante also pitched for the New York Yankees.)

The smoke was all about camaraderie and great cigars. So here’s a special thanks to Paul and the Canada crew for making the long trip, and to everyone who participated in the Big Smoke. Great seeing you there.

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