Big Smoke Meets WhiskyFest Returns

Aficionados come together at the Seminole Hard Rock for a celebration of handmade cigars and fine whisky
| By Garrett Rutledge | From Cuba After The Embargo, July/August 2022
Big Smoke Meets WhiskyFest Returns
Photos/Josh Ritchie

Premium cigars, exceptional spirits, quality food and the chance to meet industry luminaries were all part of the second-ever Big Smoke Meets WhiskyFest, held on May 28 at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida. It was hosted by Cigar Aficionado and its sister publication Whisky Advocate, and as the name suggests, this hybrid event is the confluence of two shows that combine the best in whiskies and cigars. 

The VIP attendees lined the hallways of the hotel’s ballroom long before the start time, eager to make their way inside and shake hands with the biggest names in the cigar business.

As guests entered the main ballroom, they were greeted with a festive atmosphere. Big Smoke weekends have long been an opportunity for consumers to meet the men and women behind their favorite brands. Most everyone strolling the showroom floor was puffing on a cigar, and the energy was high while a live band played in the background. Exclusive whiskies and savory food stations could be found around every corner and for four hours, like-minded cigar and whisky aficionados mingled.

Attendees could pair their cigars with fine spirits and drinks, primarily high-end whiskies, but also Tequilas, Cognacs, wine, and even beer and cocktails. No one went thirsty at this event.

But Big Smoke Meets WhiskyFest began far before guests started lining up outside the ballroom. The event started that morning with a series of cigar and whisky seminars featuring the rock stars of the industry: Alan, Alec and Bradley Rubin of Alec Bradley discussed the dynamics of running a family cigar business; industry veteran Benjamin Menendez and Rafael Nodal talked about the history and the future of the Montecristo brand; and Liana Fuente, Pete Johnson and Rocky Patel had a conversation about the meteoric rise of Nicaragua. 

The morning was topped off with a feature seminar quite unique to the Big Smoke Meets WhiskyFest weekend—a chance to not only pair the Cigar of the Year with the Whisky of the Year, but to puff and sip along with emissaries of the brands. This year, the pairing was the Padrón 1964 Anniversary Series Torpedo with the Lagavulin 11-year-old Offerman Edition: Guinness Cask. Before he took the stage, an emotional Jorge Padrón, maker of the 2021 Cigar of the Year, was awarded his Cigar of the Year plaque. It’s the fourth time that Padrón has won this award, the highest accolade in the industry. Rasmus Just of Diageo led the tasting of the Lagavulin, revealing its nuances to the appreciative crowd.

Cigar Aficionado will be back this year with the Big Smoke Las Vegas Weekend on November 11 and 12 at the new Resorts World Las Vegas. Visit for tickets. 

For complete coverage of the Big Smoke Meets WhiskyFest, go to